I have a great pre-order offer for you!

Tell me if you’ve heard this before:

Subscription MMO hypes pre-orders with exclusive content, early access, special bonuses, rainbow sherbet, etc. Beta is still under NDA and although all of the hype and writing still talks about 100s of features, beta itself only has about 10% of all of that working, with the rest ‘coming soon’.

MMO launches, devs promise to deliver the 90% of the game that is missing ‘shortly’, and everyone realizes they pre-ordered or just bought a pile of crap.

A month or two later, the MMO in question goes F2P, with everyone who already bought the game (and god help you, a lifetime sub) getting some ‘exclusive’ bonuses for being loyal sucke… err fans. Said bonuses may or may not be wanted, may or may not be available to everyone else for half/full/double the cost, and the game itself may or may not still be a total trainwreck of fail.

The latest winner of this great MMO scam practice is Need for Speed World (and am I reading this right, you can actually BUY speed enhancers to ‘aid’ you in winning? Why not just sell wins directly?), but NFSW is certainly not the first MMO to pull this off, and certainly won’t be the last.

And lets be honest here, if you can pull off the switch from sub to F2P that quickly, that seamlessly, does anyone really believe you intended to go with the sub model to begin with? Of course not, but how else can you cash in on any of the fans who bought into the hype and supported you day one than to pretend you intend to go with a subscription model (that includes an upfront box cost), collect the suckers cash, and then switch into your real model and pray no one notices your trash game is trash because it’s in the F2P bin.

Now excuse me, I have a feature list to put together, some screen shots to doctor up, and a pre-order page to launch.

Chuck-o-the-day: A solar eclipse is the suns attempt to hide from Chuck Norris.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in DDO, EQ2, FreeRealms, Lord of the Rings Online, MMO design, Rant, Warhammer Online. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to I have a great pre-order offer for you!

  1. Wilhelm2451 says:

    I think your random category/tag generator must have kicked in there.

    Or are you suggesting that this scenario applies to DDO, EQ2, FreeRealms, LOTRO, and Warhammer Online?

    • SynCaine says:

      Does or will. No error.

      Edit: To some extent anyway. Obviously DDO was not a launch and switch plan, and certainly when Turbine put out LotRO they thought it would stay sub. Point still stands though, if you paid for a lifetime account for LotRO, you now instead get some points, whether you wanted it to work like that or not. Better than a Hellgate lifetime sub, but still.

      • Bhagpuss says:

        Six years for EQ2 is a bit of a long bait and switch. Oh, and the whole “different servers” thing.

        Other than that, yes! Spot on!

        • SynCaine says:

          But would you be surprised if in a few months they ‘merge’ the servers and put everyone under one umbrella, especially if the ‘F2P’ servers catch on faster than the ‘normal’ ones?

      • Zubon says:

        LotRO lifetime subscribers seem to lose only in the sense of opportunity cost, that developers are not developing as much new (free to subscribers) content as they might have expected. Despite removing the cover charge, LotRO is still very much a subscription game. It now also has an item shop and an option to play free through the early levels, plus a bonus option to grind at painfully great length if you never want to pay.

  2. Aikar Walmoor says:

    The fucking joke was Age of conan. That game was designed to rip off some retails and as much money as they could prerelease… The only good things where the graphics (only to lure ppl to preorder etc) and sound. Rest was shit or halfhassed… I bought the special edition and quit after a month. Extremely dissapointed.

  3. Sean Boocock says:

    Haven’t tried it myself but your comment

    “if you can pull off the switch from sub to F2P that quickly, that seamlessly, does anyone really believe you intended to go with the sub model to begin with?”

    suggests that Need For Speed: World was a sub based game in the first place. It wasn’t. Instead, as the Massively articles phrases it, it was “free-to-try” up to level 10 with a 20 dollar fee to unlock further level progression and micro-transaction options sprinkled throughout. The only change is that there is no longer a one time 20 dollar fee that gates further progression. It was and still is a micro-transaction game; there is just now no not-so-micro-transaction that gates level progression.

    • SynCaine says:

      Listen you with your facts and accuracy, no one cares! There is a point to be made here, companies to ridicule, and blog entertainment to provide. You and your ‘facts’ just screw with all of that. Not cool man, not cool.

      • bonedead says:

        I’ve got my lol face on, can ya tell?

      • Sean Boocock says:

        Well I could swing the other way for you:

        umadbro?

        I agree with your sentiment though. Free-2-play shouldn’t be the Plan B in your pitch to publishers. If you want your micro-transaction golden parachute to work, the hooks for it will need to be implemented throughout the game during the development process. That seems to be setting your ostensible, original monetization scheme – a monthly sub – up for failure, and more cynically, a bunch of day one adopters for a quick bait-and-switch.

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