Back in the early days of the “F2P revolution”, the biggest challenge for the average MMO gamer was trying so sift through the hundreds of terribad titles to find the one or two semi-decent (for a ‘free’ game) titles to kill a few hours with. As this mighty revolution continued, we started to see failed subscription games reborn as F2P titles, hoping to cash in on the few people who actually cared about them while letting everyone else see (for free) just why those games failed in the big leagues. And finally, in its third and hopefully final act, the minor leagues of the MMO space has pulled out its final trick: ship a more-than-decent (for a ‘free’ game) title to attract a big crowd, and then quickly turn around and screw each and every one of them by showing not only your ridiculous item shop, but also changing the game to force your players to pay far beyond $15 a month or play while walking uphill, both ways, without legs while the game devs laugh and throw stones at you.
Brilliant really. What better way to turn so many people off from the whole F2P concept then to gather as large a crowd as possible, and leave the absolute worst impression on all of them. Make that impression so bad, and so memorable, that many will never touch another ‘free’ MMO again. Them and their whole guild in fact!
But who could have possibly predicted that a business model designed around forcing people to pay for ‘convenience’ items could ever effect how a game is designed? Quests that fill up your limited bag space (buy more bags!), travel that takes forever for no reason (buy a TP scroll!), content gated by certain items (on sale now at the shop!), character choices that cripple you before you know it (undo the damage at the cash shop!), XP grinds of silly proportion (buy an XP potion!), money sinks of incredible depth (in-game currency is this weeks special buy!), and my personal favorite, new content additions that makes all your previous purchases obsolete (bet you can’t wait for the next patch!); with player-friendly design choices like that, its a miracle the subscription model is still around today. Viva the revolution!
May your death be quick yet painful F2P devs, and hopefully the hundreds of terrible titles won’t clog the sewer system as they circle the drain. You will always (until that fad dies anyway) have Facebook.