Something I’ve noticed for a while now, that’s really come to the foreground with the release of Allods, is how some people play both sides of the fence when talking about Free to Play MMOs. In one sentence they will tell you F2P games are just as good as subscription games, while in the next they will say that for a free game, what they do is rather exceptional. Which is it? Are F2P MMOs ‘real’ games, or are they ‘not that bad’ for something that’s ‘free’?
And to me the whole ‘free’ aspect of any F2P game is actually a sham. If the game is second-rate in terms of gameplay, I don’t care how free it is, it’s still not worth wasting my limited gaming time on it; time that is far more limited than money when talking in the price range of $10-$100 a month. If a F2P game IS worth playing like I play a sub game, it will cost me MORE than $15 a month to play, and at that point it better be X amount BETTER than my $15 a month sub game to justify the increased cost.
The problem I have with the model is that spending more does not get me more; it simply allows me to continue playing like I have before. Spending $50 at the cash shop does not upgrade the graphics, sound, or gameplay, it simply buys me potions/books/perfume to sustain the level of progress/power that was available earlier for ‘free’. The further you get from level 1, the more you need to spend just to maintain the SAME level of progress. If you are someone who actually gets into an MMO and invests themselves into one title fully, it’s not hard to see why doing so in a F2P game is a quick way to jack up your gaming expenses for little to no gain when compared to a subscription MMO. (Unless someone feels strongly that F2P MMO X is indeed a better overall themepark than WoW, or better than EVE/DF for sandbox/PvP gameplay.)
For instance, Allods is a nice little WoW clone, and if I continue to play it casually as something to do with my fiancé, the free aspect works (for me, the company gets screwed here). But it works here because I already play DarkFall as my ‘real’ MMO, the title I spend far more time with and actually care about what happens with/in it. That’s also where my money goes. Allods fits the second-tier spot nicely because of how on-rails it is, and the near-zero difficulty of a themepark MMO means I can step away for a week and not suffer from any player-skill loss, nor do I have to keep up with balance changes or dig deep into the mechanics. As long as I hit tab-1-2-3-1-4, I progress down the line.