The magic future should be here any minute now

The Massively comments section giveth once more:

My favorite part of F2P is how most people perceive converting to that business model is a failure when the two MMO’s on that spear headed the movement, LOTRO and DDO, saw revenue increases of 200-500%.Doubling your revenue will be the cancer that kills the industry apparently. – wakwazu

Yay regurgitating a (very old) PR release. It must be true.

Do NOT quote numbers that have NEVER been claimed and are not true. I am a long term shareholder in Time-Warner and I can for certain tell you that is and has never been the case. The gaming arm of Time-Warner has been losing money every year since the Turbine acquisition (look it up in their public documents) and has only been kept from complete disaster from their one-off titles, not their MMOs.

Turbine only ever claimed the doubling of revenue in their first quarter following F2P, when they still had long-term loyal customers. Now that they have completely alienated that base, they have never said anything about their revenue again since that time and choose to talk about their users (of which 90% don’t spend a dime on the game). Now Turbine is dealing with a shrinking paying customer base so they come up with increasingly more expensive expansions ($70 for Riders of Rohan) with less content than a typical expansions would hold.

Turbine may be making more money on F2P than they did on P2P, but it doesn’t mean they are making money. There is a big, big difference. – Stock

Oh.

Well at least LotRO improved overall after going F2P, actually making money or not, right?

In the case of LOTRO specifically though, it is my personal opinion that WB’s greed spoiled the game after it went F2P. The in-game ads are garish and too numerous, “lockbox” drops too frequent, and the final nail in the coffin (for me) was the selling of improved stat gear (better than what crafters could create) in the cash shop. For me, LOTRO is a prime example of a great game sliding too far down the F2P “slippery slope.” – Eve

Clearly just one rogue opinion everyone! Surely LotRO players overall love immersion-adding in-game ads, The One Ring in the item shop, and being reminded to pay every few seconds. Sounds like the LotRO I originally hoped for back in 2007, that’s for sure!

But then, I’ve sorta forgotten what the um… mainstream MMO market is like, since I’ve been playing ‘niche’ titles like EVE for so long. Oddly I have a feeling Goonswarm has more active members than all the players logging into DDO today, and CCP is making money off EVE while LotRO is not, but still, EVE is niche yo, so it’s really apples to oranges.

Or rotting graves to fine wine, but whatever. Much like repeating “F2P is the future” every year, repeating that EVE is a niche game compared to… something will surely make it true eventually.

24 Responses to The magic future should be here any minute now

  1. wloire says:

    And yet this is the path the industry is taking. Even Hilmar was once (still?) convinced F2P was in EVE’s future. This perception hasn’t even been dented yet.

    It’s only going to get worse before it can get better.

    • SynCaine says:

      I’m not so sure.

      I view the current F2P hype much like the tech bubble. Everyone jumping in to make millions, most with no actual plan on how to make a dime. At some point (hopefully soon), the bubble bursts and we return to businesses/games that are founded on sound ideas/solid gameplay rather than pie-in-the-sky expectations/cash-shop gimmicks.

  2. tithian says:

    F2P is the future of MMOs…. for the marketing team behind it and for the people that have the attention span of a goldfish and like to switch games every 2 weeks.

    For me, when a game goes F2P I will probably drift away because (almost always) the loyal (up to that point) player base gets thrown to the gutter all efforts go to appease and draw in the crowds – and potentially those who splurge 50-100$ on the cash shop on a whim.

    I have yet to see a F2P game that has managed to sustain its initial player base after the switch.

    *sigh* maybe I’m just getting too old for the industry

  3. Ravious says:

    The only benchmark I use is the quality of expansions. LOTRO’s expansions after F2P have remained good quality, which means they have money to make them good quality. If the expansions suck and look like milking for money, then that’s obviously telling in the other direction. Best conjecture I got.

  4. Gorbag says:

    I think you meant here, instead of hear

  5. Stormwaltz says:

    That last post you quoted seems like the griping of a butthurt freeloader. As a subscriber, I have *never* seen an ad in LotRO aside from the initial login screen (and there’s a simple mod to replace that).

    I can truthfully say that I’ve never seen a lockbox in the game. For the last anniversay they passed out lockbox keys like candy – I still have all mine because I have nothing to open with them. It’s not like STO, where you can find a dozen in an hour and you’re constantly spammed by global “Soandso won a Rareshiptype!” messages.

    As for the stat gear – well, yeah, actually I agree with that. But since the hue and cry that went up last spring, they haven’t added anything beyond those three sets of level 10-20 armor.

  6. F2P is like any other move to find a market advantage. DDO/LOTRO made an early move from subscription to F2P and likely benefited from it due to the newness of the idea.

    Now however, finding an MMO or MMO-like game that isn’t free to play is starting to be the challenge. F2P turned out to be a very short term advantage. Now you have to explain why you ARE NOT F2P.

    Games that went F2P will have to find the next factor by which to differentiate themselves in the mass of F2P.

    Price is usually just a short term, and often a dangerous way to differentiate yourself.

  7. Okami says:

    Free to play just isn’t going to work for a North American audience. It works in Asia and elsewhere because people wouldn’t pay for a game(or any other software) in the first place. Where I live, Wii only took off and sold units because the games were pirated and cheap/free. Buying an actual computer game in Asia(except for Japan)? Gtfo is there typical attitude. PS2 is still huge due to the large catalog of pirated games and PS3 is an orphan. The video game stores do actually carry catalogs of pirated game titles.

    Nobody in NA that plays MMO’s wants to feel like a leech or have constant ads while playing unless they’re poor or their parents won’t buy them games. Even then there are better alternatives for your money/time. In Asia, it’s just expected, because what else are you going to do after school, cram school and homework? The games are all put out under the same umbrella company in each country with a defined currency for purchases(Gash in Taiwan).

    F2P is marketing bs. They see how well it has worked in Asia without understanding what it actually means. The Asian consumer is extremely price sensitive with only marquee items able to charge a decent price(liek WOW, Benz, LV). Anything in the middle tier is pretty much non-existent or only available at Costco. What you buy is either cheap crap that will wear out quickly or extremely high quality products that cost you and arm and a leg and may be counterfeit, too. F2P is in a bubble atm. When it pops, it’s going to be ugly all over again.

  8. kalex716 says:

    I’m not so sure that the types of gamers we are here on this blog, are not slowly being relegated into the enthusiasts sector.

    I still collect and buy vinyl records, to me they just sound better and i enjoy the act of listening to music in that way. It makes complete sense to me, but i could never argue that the way the music industry now would turn back to albums and vinyls.

    Removing the barrier of entry (subscription) is a powerful thing, and I can’t think of an example in consumer culture were barriers were EVER put back once gone.

    Sub games, will likely be the exception from here on out, not the norm.

    • carson63000 says:

      I’m surprised not to have seen anyone attempt the opposite of the “B2P” model: remove the barrier to entry of an up-front box price, but keep the sub.

      A lot of MMOs seem to end up like this as they get older, with a two week free trial that you can convert into a regular account by activating a subscription. But I’ve never known anyone to launch that way.

      I dunno, maybe not many people feel the way I do, but the appeal of F2P to me is that I can check out a game for no reason beyond mild curiosity, and if it sucks, nothing lost. I’m not after free entertainment – an MMO sub is already vastly cheaper than any other form of fun, and I’ve got no difficulty or unwillingness paying it. But I don’t want to drop money on a box and feel that I got ripped off by a bad game.

      • Shadow says:

        This has been the primary thing keeping me from getting TSW. What I played of it, I liked enough to at least give it a bit of time and couple months sub, but I’m not going to drop $50-60 on any game WITH a sub when I have lots of other gaming to take up my time.

  9. Barrista says:

    As for the comment from “Stock”, it could also qualify as “if you read it on the internet it must be true”. Not that I see the profit for LotRO being that great since I have enough Turbine Points after 1 year of sub to play the game for another 10 years.

    I have to say that I have never seen an ad while actively playing LotRO. They have them at the loading screens and if you go into the actual turbine store.

    Just curious here, but what annoys you so much about someone calling Eve a “niche” game? You seem to take it negatively while to me a describing something with the term “niche” means it is unique. I thought you felt Eve was unique as well? To me saying something is a “niche” means it is filling a void that nothing else does.

    • SynCaine says:

      People say niche as in small player base. I laugh because WoW aside, what has a larger paying playerbase?

      • corehealer says:

        People who refer to niche in such a way are doing it wrong. Niche is supposed to mean unique; whether or not that implies how many people actually enjoy the thing that is niche is mostly irrelevant. And as SynCaine is always eager to remind us, EvE is not niche in that low playerbase kind of way, and rightly so.

        If people had a good long term retention game like EvE to play that they enjoyed long term like some people enjoy EvE, then I guarantee we’d see less “Eve is a niche game” and more “EvE should be more like this”. And then there may actually be a valid argument, provided the game in question had merits and paying, long term players.

        As for F2P, I still think the business model can be done right for both MMOs and games in general. It’s simply being abused as a get rich quick/shore up lazy game design scheme and it’s a bubble that will burst, to be replaced by some new big thing. After that bubble bursts, F2P as a model will still exist for those with the capacity to do it right (which might also involve making games that cost money to buy to shore up larger investments).

  10. Much as with all of your articles, I get 2/3 of the way through, nodding my (figuratively) in agreement, and then we get to the ubiquitous EVE paragraph.

    It’s not for me. It’s not for everyone. I don’t want theme park ad nauseum either, and I loved UO and other sandbox titles, but I tried EVE and it didn’t really grab me. It’s not because it’s “niche”, it’s because, as with most artforms/media, liking or not liking EVE is highly subjective. The snippy EVE worship that marks the conclusion of most of your posts kinda irks me, but it’s your blog I guess.

    I *wish* there was an MMORPG with the depth of EVE that I actually enjoyed. But at present there isn’t.

    • “nodding my *head* (figuratively)”

    • Rammstein says:

      Much as with all of this blog’s comment sections, I get 2/3 of the way through, nodding my (figuratively–sweet, sweet, figuratively) in agreement, and then we get to the ubiquitous “Eve isn’t for me” comment.

      This deja vu-inducing poster says that EVE just isn’t for him…it’s not for everyone. He doesn’t want theme parks either, but he plays them anyways, like a blushing school girl that says no but means yes. He doesn’t know why, it’s subjective man, like art, but without the paying 1000 times what some random object is worth part. This snippy superiority of subjectively not knowing what the hell he’s saying kinda irks me, but it’s his surfeit of sibilant snarkiness, I guess.

      I *wish* there was an MMORPG with the depth of EVE that he actually enjoyed. But at present there isn’t, because he isn’t voting with his wallet and playing something resembling what he claims to want, and instead joins the herd in sucking that sweet sweet themepark nectar, drugs and all, thereby convincing the gaming execs that sandboxes aren’t commercially viable, even though EVE proves they are even without him and his ilks’ subscription valuta.

      (don’t be offended, this is tongue in cheek, I don’t really blame you for playing some boring themepark because EVE is too spreadsheety for you– though EVE is way better than whatever game you’re playing and I blame you for the gaming apocalypse and also the real one in 2 months. Ok, that was tongue in cheek too, srsly, there’s no way I could blame you for more than one apocalypse.)

      • Hah, nice one.

        It’s not the spreadsheets, I just don’t dig the fairly bland space-y setting.

        And I play theme parks because I enjoy elements of those too. I’m not restricted to liking one thing and one thing alone, surely?

        Anyway, good retort. Touché.

    • Xyloxan says:

      I don’t understand why the fact that SynCaine likes Eve and often says so irks you. It’s his blog. I understand that you don’t like Eve, and it’s cool. It’s not a game for everybody. But, I’ve never read SynCaine’s statement that because he likes it you should like it too. Where is he saying so?

    • Stormwaltz says:

      Out of curiosity, Quin, have you tried Fallen Earth? It’s pretty undirected/sandboxy, with a massive salvaging and crafting focus.

  11. [...] having revenue numbers, I suspect Turbine is seeing this: excellent initial numbers, followed by decline and aggressive monetization of dedicated players, and flirting with blatant absurdity. You can get a feedback loop if players start feeling like the [...]

  12. Yousuck says:

    You can’t get more ridiculous than to quote some person who posts a rant on the comments section of a blog as if it were factually accurate.

    Clearly, you are biased against Turbine and utterly ignoring that they continue to expand their games.

    You have no evidence they are not turning a profit – none whatsoever.

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