Yes yes, but its FREE garbage!

Catching up on blogs, and I just came across this line from Lum:

Everything is free to play, because the financial barrier entry for MMOs is fiercely competitive and in the end it’s very difficult to compete with zero.

I think we have all seen similar thoughts from lots of different places, and it seems pretty obvious right? It would be hard to argue that FEWER people will be willing to try SW:TOR for free than to pay $60 to try it. 0>anything here, duh.

On the other hand, if GW2 had a $70 box cost instead of $60, how many people who pre-ordered would cancel? Some, sure. But many?

EAWare could offer to pay me $15 a month and I’d still not bother downloading SW:TOR, and CCP could start charging $30 a month for EVE and I’d still pay/PLEX for 3 accounts.

~$15 a month is not the great wall of China in terms of a ‘barrier of entry’. Your game being good/garbage is. Or in other words, SW:TOR is a failure not because it costs $15 a month, it’s a failure because the game sucks as an MMO. Focusing on the business model behind the pile of fail is missing the point. Remember all those amazing numbers Turbine brought up the first week of DDO/LoTRO going F2P? Why is it we only hear from them once? Oh right, because F2P or sub, DDO/LotRO are still DDO/LotRO (mostly, but that’s a different topic).

Dropping down to F2P will get you some freeloaders, those who that $15 a month or so really is an issue, and they might even toss you a buck or two occasionally, but F2P is not a magic cure that turns a bad game into a good one. It might help people justify spending time on something average-at-best, but the better ‘business model’ is to make a game good enough that people actually, you know, want to play/pay for. That has been in very short supply the last few years.

29 Responses to Yes yes, but its FREE garbage!

  1. Maxwell Albritten says:

    You are the smartest man on the Internet.

  2. Chris says:

    So in your estimation it’s a smarter business decision to just shut it down? Yes yes, seeing TOR fail makes you feel superior. It doesn’t do much to support your view to then oppose a F2P transition that could only help EA recoup some losses. I thought you were pro-business, Syn?

    • carson63000 says:

      The smarter business decision would be to keep calm and carry on.

      I can easily see the vast majority of current SW:TOR players continuing to play, but taking advantage of the opportunity to do so without spending $15/month. And I can easily see far too few new players who come along AND SPEND MONEY to counterbalance this loss.

  3. Chris says:

    To be clear, I’m wondering what it is in all your wisdom that you’re suggesting. If you headed EAware, what would your next right move be — realistically. They’re not redesigning the game here, TORtanic and all.

    • SynCaine says:

      TOR is a lost cause, so yea, it might be better to shut it down and cut your loses than to keep dumping money into it (unless they cut the staff to almost zero). It’s just not close to being decent as an MMO. And now EAWare are giving away the only decent party (sRPG) for free. Just too much fail to really fix.

      • carson63000 says:

        I’m sure SW:TOR will wind up being a poor investment when all is said and done, but I find it hard to believe that the ongoing maintenance expenses could possibly exceed the $7.5m – $15m monthly revenue they’d be pulling in from their claimed 500k – 1m subscribers. Surely it’s a long way away from “cut your losses” territory?

        As I said to Chris above, the huge risk EA are taking with this F2p move is that they could easily flush away most of their current revenue whilst increasing their maintenance costs.

        • Ano says:

          A move to F2P could also result in further reductions to the dev team. SWTOR is already suffering from lack of content updates and less resources equals less regular content updates.

          I firmly believe to revive this title the devs need to consider massive upgrades to the graphics engine and a freeform space module, and some type of dynamic mission content on planets.

        • professer says:

          @Ano

          Reviving the game (aka completely redesigning it) seems too far out of the question.

  4. ausj3w3l says:

    Can I do a slow clap or would that be considered cliche

  5. Pitrelli says:

    Yeah but you paid for darkfall …… Just sayin

    In all seriousness SWTOR was a clusterfuck of fail. In my opinion they should close down the small MMO part of it and just resell it as kotor3.

    • professer says:

      Equating TORtanic to Darkfall?

      Pff. You make me laugh.

      • Pitrelli says:

        Well they are both shit games *shrug*

        • SynCaine says:

          Most ‘shit games’ don’t stay as a sub MMO for three years and get a sequel, do they?

        • Pitrelli says:

          Most MMOs dont look like early 90’s throw backs with awful animations. Darkfall whilst chugging along is hardly a success, did they not peak at 75 k subscribers? Must be down to lowly 30k or so by now. And this ‘sequel’, isnt it just a revamp of the original game? You never know they might actually spend some money on the graphics engine and hopefully movement animations…..

        • John says:

          Most MMOs don’t get funded by governments, let alone the Greek government. Do you really, honestly think that Darkfall would have survived without government grants and “partnerships with defense contractors?”

        • SynCaine says:

          I thought government-funded MMOs was the new thing? :)

        • Shadow says:

          “The graphics are bad” is probably one of the worst possible arguments you could ever make about a games success. Darkfall was interesting, and from all accounts it’s still earning. If the measure of success is visual stimulus, AoC blows everyone else away. However, if it’s maintaining a (profitable) business model and expanding past your initial starting point, declaring FAIL is a bit harder to do without coming across as totally incompetent.

  6. Ano says:

    If SWTOR was a consistently good MMO I and my guild would still be playing it even with the $15 monthly fee. Going F2P isn’t going to change that fact.

    Bioware still doesn’t get it and probably never will especially with their EA overlords breathing hot foul gasses in their faces.

  7. Joe says:

    It’s always amusing to watch gamers who are clueless about the business side of things start making pronouncements about business decisions.

    (Also, DDO just released its first expansion pack… not bad for a game that was nearing death pre-F2P)

    • SynCaine says:

      Yes, not bad for a game using perhaps the most popular fantasy IP from one of the few studios with prior successful MMO experience that released the game at perhaps the prime of the genre.

      • professer says:

        Speaking of it, have any of you checked out AC Darktide now days? Was my fav older MMO and I still have a blast whenever I go back for a couple months.

  8. Hehe – you’ve released me from the mental trap I’d sprung on myself. I was thinking about downloading and playing SW:TOR now it was F2P but that was just me being stupid. I didn’t like SW:TOR, so whether it’s free or not doesn’t matter. You’ve just saved me some bandwidth and some time. Thank-you.

    • professer says:

      You should know not to bother anyways.

      Tbh, you shouldn’t bother with the current MMO market at all. Free yourself from this crap…

  9. Antivyris says:

    You know, I always figured people need to stop and take a look around. With a global economy like this, OF COURSE free to play is booming right now. When it kicks back up and people have more than $20 a month disposable income, the F2P market is going to look like the next .com bubble.

    When you can afford either a sub MMO a month, or basic cable and f2p junk that barely entertains you, if you have a family guess which one you usually go to?

  10. Morgs says:

    It is sad how little value game developers put on my time.
    I will spend to enjoy my 2h of game play on weeknights after hte kids go to bed. That time is very valuable to me.

    So I will spend my time where i have the most fun. The barrier to entry is NOT $15 a month. But that I don’t have the time to play something I do not enjoy.

    Produce a fun game that I enjoy playing, and enjoy playing with friends and your business model does not matter…

    You will get my cash if you make it worth my time to play your game.

    Don’t make it worth my time…no cash.

    Treating the sub fee as a barrier to entry is silly. I can see it as a barrier to try it out…but really with free weekends, beta’s, trials….those intrested in TOR have already tried TOR.

    Please value my time….

    • Xyloxan says:

      Wholeheartedly agree. My game time is surely more valuable than $15/month. It doesn’t matter to me whether a game is free or not if it’s not enjoyable.

  11. […] subscription is only a barrier to entry if your isn’t good enough.  I agree with Syncaine that free garbage is still garbage.  If you have the best game out there, or the most popular, […]

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