F2P sub options, and NFS: Hot Persuit

Sorry for the lack of blogging around here in the last week or so, RL kicking my ass a bit.

Quick observation; if F2P is so great, why do they often provide a subscription-like option?

And, why is it that more often than not, the subscription-like option is incomplete; you still need to buy additional stuff to get the ‘full’ game?

Random sandboxish note; my buddy let me borrow his PS3 to play some Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which overall is a lot of fun and puts my recently installed home theater to good use. The game itself allows you to drive around a fairly large city/map looking for cars to collect, signs to smash, and races to complete. The races take place in a ‘phased’ version of the map, but once the race is over you flip instantly back to the full map and continue driving (and the cops keep chasing you if the race happens to feature them).

It’s not a super-deep game, and you will repeat races often as each car has 8 difference races to collect all of the upgrade parts, but just driving around the city looking for things to collect or smash is pretty fun, and running from the cops will often result in some rather spectacular crashing.

The game is made by EA sadly, so in addition to the box price it also has a few DLC packs you can purchase. The game is very persistent about remind you about them too; from loading screen messages, a blinking “shop” menu item, to seeing the cars you can’t drive until you pay in-game. It’s also pay-to-win in a fashion, as all the best cars are DLC cars, but as this is a single-player game, I don’t really care about that, other than the annoyance of not having some of the game’s cooler cars (Diablo SV for example).

Fun game for a week or so. The GW2 of racing games.

24 Responses to F2P sub options, and NFS: Hot Persuit

  1. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    “Quick observation; if F2P is so great, why do they often provide a subscription-like option?”

    Short answer: More options. f2p doesn’t take anything away from the game, it just gives you more options.

    Longer answer. If you want to play one game (almost) every day for a month or so, maybe it makes sense to buy a subscription for that month. If you want to play two or three MMO games at the same time, it would be ridiculously stupid to pay monthly subscription to all of them, but F2P gives you an option to play any of them any time you like. You can subscribe to your “main” game at the time and any other game any time you like as well. Why would you want to limit yourself to just one game? And if you really don’t have any other games to play, why not buy a monthly subscription and enjoy the f2p even more?

    I have LoL, Lotro, Rift, SW:ToR, Planetside 2 and GW2 all installed on my computer. Because they’re all f2p, I could just log in to any of them and continue playing where I left off. If they were all subscription-based, I’d have to chat with my friends and agree on what game we’re going to play for the next month and then we’d all have to subscribe to that particular game and we couldn’t play any of those other games. Even going soloing for one day or two would cost you 15 bucks per game per month. Are you seriously suggesting that people should use 900 bucks a year to play all those games whenever they want?

    “And, why is it that more often than not, the subscription-like option is incomplete; you still need to buy additional stuff to get the ‘full’ game?”

    Why do you have to buy expansions if you pay a monthly fee for the MMO game? Or if you didn’t mean expansions, can you give examples what I’m missing and what I’d have to buy, for example, in Lotro, Sw:Tor, and Rift to get the “full” game experience if I have the monthly subscription?

    • SynCaine says:

      “f2p doesn’t take anything away from the game, it just gives you more options.”

      I guess if ‘more options’ means ‘pay for hotbars’ then yea, F2P totally gives you more ‘options’ than a sub model that simply gives you everything (but fewer ‘options’).

      As for playing with your friends, in my circle time is far more valuable than money, so we don’t jump between 3-4 MMOs at a time; we either play one or we don’t. And as was the case with DDO (the ‘best’ F2P MMO model…), it quickly became a pain to coordinate who bought what in the cash shop, both in terms of content and character power.

      • Anti-Stupidity League says:

        Syn: “I guess if ‘more options’ means ‘pay for hotbars’ then yea, F2P totally gives you more ‘options’ than a sub model that simply gives you everything (but fewer ‘options’).”

        So if you don’t want to pay for hotbars, you can pay a monthly fee. Remember when somebody asked something like “if F2P is so great, why do they often provide a subscription-like option”? I wonder who it was. Well, in any case, for that person who asked that question – there’s one reason why they provide that option. You don’t have to pay for things you don’t have to like to pay for if you prefer to pay subscription fees.

        In f2p game you have an option to either pay a chuck of money each month and get everything or pay for just those things that you need. In subscription based game you either pay the subscription fee or you don’t play. Thus, more options. How can this be so difficult to understand?

        Syn: “we don’t jump between 3-4 MMOs at a time; we either play one or we don’t.”

        A few days ago I played Planetside 2 because the outfit I’m in had an event I wanted to participate. While waiting for the event I did some Guild Wars 2 dailies. Today I checked my auctions in Old Republic and played Rift for the rest of the evening. Soloing in PS 2 is pretty dull so I prefer to play leveling up game while solo, and why shouldn’t I be able to use the auction house even while I’m not actively questing or doing instances in TOR? I absolutely love it that I can do this without paying close to 100 bucks a month. You know, more options.

        I just don’t get it how the situation would be oh so much better if only these games weren’t free to play but subscription based games instead. People shouldn’t be able to enjoy multiple games at the same time but everyone should do just like you and play just one game for four months until they grow bored to it? Hello, McFly? Maybe there’s some other option how you play these games that some people might like?

        ASL: “Can you give examples what I’m missing and what I’d have to buy, for example, in Lotro, Sw:Tor, and Rift to get the “full” game experience if I have the monthly subscription?”

        You forgot to answer this question. Here it is again. Happy to help.

        • Rammstein says:

          I don’t play those games, but there’s one option missing from those games that you get in a sub game, which I can name without even playing those games: the option to play a game without F2P players in it.

          I’m guessing ‘timely customer service, like that provided to an audience that actually all pays money’, and ‘longer lasting content with only normal mudflation and not ‘mudflation * pay to win’ are also there, but I don’t know without playing them. I do know that the last sub/f2p hybrid game I played, all kinds of customer service were super slow–unless you selected ‘billing/payment issue, in which case the wait time was under 5 seconds, always.

          This debate is pretty stale, TANSTAAFL and “if you’re not the customer, you’re the content” always hold. It’s great if you disagree with Syn; put your opinion out there. But put YOUR opinion out there, make predictions, do analyses. Don’t just share your experience; no one cares that you’re the special snowflake who likes free things for being free. That’s not special. You’re not a snowflake. Everyone likes free things, until they realize the hidden costs.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          “I don’t play those games, but there’s one option missing from those games that you get in a sub game, which I can name without even playing those games: the option to play a game without F2P players in it.”

          Yes, so true, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games would be absolutely so much better if there just weren’t those other online players there ruining your personal and unique experience, playing your very own game as if they’d have the right to do so, too, damnit.

          You’re not the first one to the first one to bring up this elitist arseholery and I’m sure you won’t be the last. Let’s agree to leave it to that unless you really want to divulge into your idiotic opinion even more.

        • Rammstein says:

          I think you’re making my point for me; feel free to continue.

        • Sjonnar says:

          @ASL: you don’t ‘divulge into’ anything. to ‘divulge’ means to reveal or to give access to information. don’t use the big words unless you understand what they mean.

    • Rose says:

      Since you’ve asked… Is there any way for a subscriber to remove relics from a weapon in Lotro without visiting the cash shop? It used to be simple – break the weapon and get your relics back; intuitive and no break in immersion. Now I have to use the cash shop to buy a scroll, even if I am a subscriber. This is one example of a number of things that are only available through the cash shop, no matter what your subscription level. I appreciate that for many players immersion does not matter, but if I subscribe I would like to play the game as if the cash shop did not exist – that is clearly not the case in Lotro (and I think Syn’s original point)

      • SynCaine says:

        Just one example I’m sure.

        That’s the point I’m trying to make to ASL, although I believe he knows it already and is just semi-trolling. Even with a sub to F2P, there are still items you have to pay for. If LotRO or SW:TOR had better shop interfaces, I’m sure I could pick out a bunch, but alas, their UI is F2P-quality.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          As I’m sure you know but forgot to mention for some reason, as a subscriber to most f2p games, you receive a certain amount of cash shop credit each month that you subscribe – so if you’re paying for the monthly fee, you don’t have to pay extra if you want to buy some item or service from the cash shop. In fact while I was still subscribing to Lotro I collected so much cash shop credit that I didn’t have to pay for the first two expansions at all and I just picked them up “for free” from the cash shop when they were released.

          Of course, if you want to buy every vanity item and sparkly horse from the cash shop, this “free subscriber credit” won’t be enough, but do you really need every vanity item for “the full MMO game experience”? Really? You can’t enjoy MMO without owning every vanity pet? Jesus fracking Christ.

        • SynCaine says:

          Point stands: you don’t get ‘everything’. If I subbed to LotRO today, I would not even be close to being able to afford all of the cash-shop gear, would I?

          Edit: The F2P math tax also got you I see; thinking you got the LotRO expansions ‘for free’. What would those expansions have looked like if LotRO had been successful and not gone F2P? Would you have ended up getting more or less for that sub fee than you do now?

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          Huh? I don’t get what you’re saying. If I subscribed to Eve today, would I get everything right away that’s available in the game just for my subscription fee? Is it usual in subscription model games that you get every item, vanity or some other kind, that you want without any extra fees the first time you log in to the game?

          No, you cannot afford to buy every gorram vanity item, talent respec, name or server change, hairdo, or mount skin with the “free money” that you receive when you first subscribe to the game. You cannot afford to buy every vanity item, talent respec, server change or new mount in subscription-based game when you first subscribe, either. How is this any different? f2p is stupid because you have to actually play the game to get that stuff?

          *sigh*

          Ok, let’s try it this way. I assume that you’ve subscribed to Darkfall at the moment and you’re paying the monthly fee. Would you have paid one month subscription for “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” to test it for a few days if it required you to do so? In essence, it was f2p for you now (with cash shop included as you mentioned, just like in f2p games), wasn’t that fun? How a monthly subscription would have made it better for you?

          If you’re not subscribing to Eve at the moment, would you still like to visit the auction house / mine some ore / pew pew some lazers / whatever people do in the Excel online, but you can’t, because the game won’t let you log in without subscription? Wouldn’t it be fun if you could log in every now and then even if you weren’t actively playing the game and you didn’t have to spent 15 dollars each month to do so?

          I’ve spent about 50 dollars on LoL, Lotro, Rift, SW:ToR, Planetside 2, and GW2 during this year, combined. About 20 dollars was spent to buy the SW:ToR expansion that I would have had to pay even if the game was still a subscription-based game (although apparently, it’s free for subscribers now). If I subscribed to just one single MMO game each month, I would have spent over 100 dollars this year already and instead of being able to play 6 different MMO games whenever I want, I could have been able to play just one game at the time and then maybe switch to another when my subscription ran out. And coordinate all this with my friends and guildmates.

          If I wanted to play 2 subscription games, say Darkfall and Eve at the same time, double that expense immediately, now it’s over 200 dollars spent this year already. If you really wanted to waste those 200 dollars in some vanity cash shop in a f2p game because you really cannot enjoy League of Legends without owning every Annie skin there is, I’m sure you’d be able to buy most of that stuff that makes you happy and you would have still spent less money than if you were paying subscription fees the whole time.

          How much money have you spent on MMO games this year? How many MMO games have you played during this year?

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          “What would those expansions have looked like if LotRO had been successful and not gone F2P?”

          What would your aunt look like if she had a dick and balls?

        • Rammstein says:

          I’m guessing she would have strongly resembled you.

        • SynCaine says:

          The moment you mix getting everything in-game by playing (EVE) as being the same thing as getting everything in-game by paying (LotRO) long enough, is the moment the F2P vs Sub discussion ends. Thanks again for proving my point.

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          I understand, this seems to be a religious battle for you and your subscription fee zealotism is so strong that you cannot think straight or act rationally. That’s why you are blind to all my questions (why wouldn’t you answer my NfS question otherwise, it was an innocent question but your would have gone against your monthly fee religion) and points that would make you too uncomfortable (“so you’re saying that playing subscription-based games is more expensive and you get to play less games that way, die heretic!”) and to think about whether f2p might actually be better than a monthly fee sometimes (it is – you said it yourself in your original post, you just didn’t realize it before I pointed it out to you).

          As no rational argument will ever change your religious faith in subscription fees I guess it’s pointless to continue. Let’s just agree to disagree – I’m right and you’re wrong and I cannot change your mind.

        • SynCaine says:

          Others provided answers to your original question (why you don’t get everything in F2P when you sub vs a real sub game).

          “Would you have paid one month subscription for “Need for Speed: Most Wanted” to test it for a few days if it required you to do so? In essence, it was f2p for you now (with cash shop included as you mentioned, just like in f2p games), wasn’t that fun? How a monthly subscription would have made it better for you?”

          NfS has a box cost+DLC. If it was F2P, I doubt it would have come with all of the cars and races it did. Most likely it would have come with 2-3 trash cars, a limit on upgrades, and maybe 3-4 races that earn you 1/10th of the money for winning. Then I could have paid more than a sub for ALL of the content, or maybe I could have ‘subbed’ and gotten everything the box came with but still not the DLC.

          If NfS was a true sub game, $60+$15 would have gotten me everything, and yup, that would have been ideal.

          Ignoring the negative effect F2P has on MMO design, the fact that you don’t see the F2P math tax is somewhat sad.

        • Sjonnar says:

          @ASL: ‘If I subscribed to Eve today, would I get everything right away that’s available in the game just for my subscription fee?”

          yes, you would. you can do absolutely every activity available to players the moment you sign up, and you have the same access to every functionality as everyone else. and if you don’t believe me, let me refer you to the example of Gevlon, who used his market knowledge to amass a fortune in excess of half a trillion isk in less than a year.

        • Rammstein says:

          @Sjonnar+ASL: Well, strictly speaking, character transfers (account to account) are 2 plex, character reskin is 1 plex, dual character training is 1 plex per month, and aurum-costed vanity items are initially obtained through plex, although they can be freely bought and sold for ISK later on. It seems like EVE is about the worst example for subscription/F2P dichotomy that one could find, as one can, practically not theoretically, pay for one or many subscriptions without actually paying real world money.

          Secondly, let’s take another look at the reason for this comparison. ASL is basically pointing out that the option to spend even more money in the sub game, EVE, makes it more similar to an “F2P” game. The incoherency of implying that paying MORE money for a sub game somehow makes it more “F2P” must be noted. If something costs MORE money, it is not MORE free, it is LESS free. This example indeed shows something, but all it shows is why people have started to refer to F2P by the term Pay2Win instead. Clearly, even F2P’s advocates don’t believe their own terminology.

  2. wartzilla says:

    That game disgusted me. It was the first NFS game I played in a long time, and made me realize they have removed the option for manual gear shifts entirely. And, of course, there’s still no in-car camera.

    It’s the stuff that makes me lose faith in humanity.

  3. Jenks says:

    “And, why is it that more often than not, the subscription-like option is incomplete; you still need to buy additional stuff to get the ‘full’ game?”

    This is my second biggest problem with F2P. In terms of gameplay I’m a whale, but I’m not retarded. My $15 a month is all it takes to run a game and then some, if everyone is paying in. I’m not financing the game for a bunch of people I don’t give a shit about. The idea that they’re providing ‘content’ for me so I should spend a few hundred bucks in a cash shop is so absurd I don’t even know how to address it.

    (note that this isn’t even my biggest problem with ‘f2p,’ which is the immersion destroying nature of a cash shop)

  4. With the games that have moved from subscription to F2P I get the sense that the companies still secretly love the monthly subscription model. SOE wouldn’t bug you about going “gold” every time you logged off, LOTRO wouldn’t keep bringing up VIP access, and SWTOR wouldn’t be selling you hot bars if they were all not still completely down with the subscription model in some sense. They have designed their “free” experience to drive you to subscribe.

    So, in a sense, these so-called “hybrid” model games are offering a limited free trial in hopes that you will subscribe. And anything you buy from the cash shop, subscriber or not, is gravy.

    What will be interesting is to see how Neverwinter progresses. I have not gone far in the game, but it does seem to be “substantially free” relative to the examples above. Can it stay that way?

    • Rammstein says:

      That’s mostly correct, so far as it goes. More specifically, they have details that show the conversion rate from partial free players to actual subscribers is super high, and so they design the game so that in every single facet of the game, there’s something you can pay money for to lessen an artificial hurdle. Free xp, limited auction slots, limited character slots, super low ‘gold’ limits,, etc. Then, once you’re subscribed, comes the attempt to get you to go over the monthly sub fee. Again, they have data that shows that if they can get you to buy even a few things extra, the initial resistance will be lowered and you’ll be likely to become a ‘whale’, buying large quantities of extra stuff if you can afford it. Some games offer limited free “bonus points” to subscribers, similar to drug dealers offering the first hit of heroin for free.

      This is where the sub/F2P dichotomy breaks down: the future is all about games which have more and more tiers. Free, mostly free, sub, sub+, whale. Luxury entertainment is all about progressive levels of spending enabling new tiers of spending; I know videogaming executives make enough money that they’ve experienced those kind of tours/resorts/etc personally. There’s no reason to believe they won’t expand the MMO market to include more and more of that kind of experience.

  5. Spidubic says:

    EQ2 is F2P with a sub option. Going F2P means not being able to equip Legendary items. Not a real problem at lower levels as quest gear is rarely Legendary. But oddly enough once to about level 88 every piece of gear you get from quests is Legendary. SO you get to a point where you either sub or run around naked. ;)

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