MMO Future: Suits and timebombs

A lot of good back and forth dialog happened yesterday, which you should go read if you haven’t. Thanks go out to Brian (Psychochild) Green for putting up more of a fight than the hotbar salesmen from SW:TOR. I’d like to follow up on a few items today and hopefully keep the conversation going.

On suits only funding F2P MMOs right now: I don’t doubt that is the environment Brian has to deal with today (ignoring the next big MMO coming out, TESO, being a sub game). But since when do the suits know best? Remember, suits thought SW:TOR’s 4th pillar sales pitch was so hot they threw $300m+ at it. Suits also didn’t think Ultima Online would work. Suit after suit thought if you just copy/paste WoW, you too will easily reach millions of subs. Suits, by definition, are CHASING the latest trend, not setting it, and when that trend is a timebomb like F2P (more on that later), jumping on that train isn’t going to end well for anyone other than the suits (who usually include an out clause).

You know what the suits have missed? Things like Star Citizen, which right now has raised $25m+. That’s not 25m in sales of a completed game, that’s 25m in “I like your vision, hopefully it works out, take my money” wallet-voting. I wonder how much money suits would have thrown at Chris Roberts, and what their demands would have included? Hard to imagine which title is ultimately going to turn out to be more entertaining…

Or to look at it from a different angle, if what SOE showed at the EQN reveal (a tired cartoon look, parkour, and move out of the boss’s red box ‘gameplay’, yo) was put out as a crowdfunding initiative, would it even sniff 1m? “Oh the one-hit wonder factory SOE is making another F2P themepark with crap I don’t need/want, please take my money” – said by no one, ever. I’m sure they will have a wonderful selection of wings in the cash shop though, just don’t forget to pay your epic items upkeep license fee.

Brian took offense at comparing the stereotypical Walmart shopper to the stereotypical F2P MMO player, yet who really is the ideal F2P MMO player the suits are hoping to attract?

Is it the educated MMO player who has put time into titles like UO, DAoC, EVE, early WoW? Is that the kind of player who is going to become a whale in your cash shop? Is that the player who benefits from the zero-entry barrier of your amazing F2P MMO? Is that the type of player who NEEDS that zero-entry barrier when they find something worthwhile? Are they going to keep you in business through repeat fluff purchases? Are they the audience who is going to look at a P2W setup and jump in?

Or is the target someone less educated? Is the target someone who would be lured in by a shiny exterior with a clearly hollow center? (h/t Supplantor for the link) Someone who is into buying power without realizing what that ultimately means (a cheapened gaming experience for everyone)? Is it someone who can get hooked on the cash shop, buying just one more set of wings, a hat, or a pretty dress? Is it someone who hasn’t caught on to the fact that buying an XP booster is nothing more than just paying to play something you (should be) enjoying less?

If everyone in the MMO genre was an educated MMO player well-versed in both sub MMOs and F2P offerings, would F2P still be around? Are whales anything but simple, weak-willed individuals? The same people you shake your head at as you pass them in the casino, hopelessly addicted to a slot machine? Or the last few still standing off in a corner during their cigarette break, killing themselves slowly but unable to stop?

Now granted, stupid has existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist in one form or another, and finding a way to cater to stupid can be a successful business strategy. As the saying goes, a sucker is born every day. But the key to catering to stupid is you have to keep evolving the tricks as the populace catches on to the last batch.

The F2P MMO model was a nice trick when Zynga first pulled it off, and they made a killing. It’s a timebomb because at some point (and that point is basically now or very soon), too many former dummies/whales will have caught on to your trick, and they won’t be shelling out the hundreds and thousands you depend on for just another gem pack, or one more set of wings.

Solid design and content is worth paying for, and will continue to be worthwhile. The tricks of a hotbar salesmen are temporary, and that clock is about to hit midnight.

And now a little challenge to the F2P supporters; imagine you just launched the most successful MMO ever (2005/6 WoW level success). Millions of people not only showed up day one, but millions are still around years later, and for them your game is the absolute main focus and they can’t get enough.

Is that game better served by being a F2P MMO, or as a subscription title, for both your players and the developers?

I would love, love for some pro-F2P person to take the above and break down why a successful MMO is better under F2P. What benefits do I get as a player, and under those benefits, how are the developers better off? How have you maintained year-after-year success and prosperity under the F2P model?

We know, because we have seen it (WoW before the talent drain) and continue to see it (EVE after the correction of theF2P-error that was Incarna), that when an MMO is great, the sub model works for both players and devs. So unless the ultimate goal is mediocrity and a quick cash grab, I need someone to blog/comment on the above. What is the best-case scenario for a great F2P MMO?

(And it has to be an MMO, you can’t mention something like LoL, GTA, or CoD. LoL is not an MMO, nor is its F2P model ANYTHING like a cash shop-driven F2P MMO. Same for GTA/CoD, or any other title that is not an MMO.)

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in EQNext, EVE Online, Kickstarter, MMO design, Rant, RMT, SW:TOR, The Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to MMO Future: Suits and timebombs

  1. Jenks says:

    “(And it has to be an MMO, you can’t mention something like LoL, GTA, or CoD. LoL is not an MMO, nor is its F2P model ANYTHING like a cash shop-driven F2P MMO. Same for GTA/CoD, or any other title that is not an MMO.)”

    Here’s the real issue – prior to WoW, there was an ongoing discussion on the difference between a video game and a virtual world. M59, UO, EQ, EVE were virtual worlds. When WoW was released, the conversation stopped, because WoW made 75 trillion dollars. What’s a virtual world? Everyone is chasing the the video game player, who wants to play the game – click the exclamation point, get a purple. As it’s evolved over the past 10 years, it has gotten video gamey to the point that these people don’t see an issue with a cash shop because why would they? What really is the difference between LoL, GTA, SWTOR and TSW?

    My point is this: F2P is a fine model for these games. These are (subjectively) terrible games. Correct the course the entire industry was set on in 2004 and build me a real virtual world and it would be obvious to everyone how out of place a cash shop would be.

    • SynCaine says:

      Yea I’m looking to avoid that confusion; I think F2P works wonderfully for LoL, but the reasons it works in LoL don’t apply to an MMO, or at least the type of MMO that is closer to that virtual world you get sucked into.

      Defining what exactly an MMO is today is another topic for another day.

      • Jidhari says:

        A little off topic but I think you do need to start with a definition though. I think there are two types, the gamey and worldy MMOs. Gamey MMOs could work under F2P or B2P (they’re just single player games with less sophisticated mechanics but online). I cannot see a worldy MMO working under an F2P model though. If I have to pay a sub for an MMO, it had better be more worldy than gamey (eg Eve). Otherwise, I will play it like I play most games: to beat it and move on after 30 to 60 days (eg GW2, SWTOR).

        There is nothing wrong with gamey MMOs. However, the hooks aren’t there for long term participation. Once you master the game’s systems, what else do you stick around for? To socialize? MMOs have some of the worst socialization mechanics I have ever seen. /dance? really? Take a page from Sims 3!

        I would be surprised if TESO and Wildstar last on subs for very long. I think only a worldy MMO can last on a sub model. You need a certain level of immersion and player influence/participation in the world in order for people to keep coming back.

        Like Jenks said, the conversation on virtual worlds stopped since WoW. To me, Sims 3 and Skyrim seemed far more “virtual worldy”than most MMOs that I have played (and these are single player games).

  2. NetherLands says:

    An interesting question would be wether or not one type leads to overall higher customer satisfaction.

    With F2P it’s easy to gauge (if they are playing, they are happy, if they spend money on it, they’re even happier), with subscriptions it gets murkier because

    – you have to pay wether you actually log in or not;

    – you can only gauge wether they’re happy enough to keep paying, not wether they’re totally satisfied;

    – plenty of people don’t want to ‘waste their investment’/’only stay subbed for their Guild or firends/ ‘because there isn’t anything better out there’ (which can also stem from not wanting to re-invest in another game etc.).and hence keep paying a subscription game

    Eespecially with the last bit it is easy enough to just read e.g. the WoW forums to see plenty of people sub to it without being really satisfied.

    Similarly, while with F2P games the Devs better make sure to create content enough people want (even if that means silly hats), with sub games there is far more (some would say, too much) leeway for devs as then the point is to create just enough/just good enough content to keep players satisfied enough to not waste their investments etc. by unsubbing but are otherwise free to folow their own obsessions (as evidenced with e.g. WoW’s obsession with raiding, a pursuit the majority of the subscribers never did on a regular basis)..

    One could also ask wether it’s actually bad to sell virtual silly hats if virtual silly hats is what enough people want, we’re not talking illicit goods here but harmless entertainment after all.

    • SynCaine says:

      It’s not that complicated; if you are paying $15, you are saying (with your wallet voice, the only voice that matters) that what that MMO is doing is something you want. And if said MMO is structured correctly, that $15 is enough contribution from you to keep going.

      • kalex716 says:

        But what if its worth more to you than 15 bucks a month?

        What if you are spending hundreds of hours, and might pay considerably more in order to extract that fun how do the developers get compensated for this in a sub model?

        In games like EVE, its designed so superbly in that to people having that much fun, they buy plex and have multiple accounts to scale in order to cover the gap.

        But for most games, theirs too much money being left on the table under the old 15 bucks for endless fun model.

        • SynCaine says:

          Was the money left on the table a problem for Blizzard with WoW?

          I get the theory-craft problem, but its only a problem when you are successful to the point of people wanting to give you more money. That can be solved within the sub-model; EVE being one solution.

        • kalex716 says:

          I don’t know if I would identify it as a problem for Blizzard during their peak, but if you are asking if they left money on the table I would certainly say “yes”. They could have been making a whole lot more, and deservedly so.

          I admit though, when you are an industry leader, its not that big of a deal as long as you continue to provide a service that your overwhelming base see’s value in at a median price like 15 bucks.

          But if you are not a leader? If you are one of the guys in the middle of the pack? You gotta get particularly more flexible to pay the bills. Enter F2P.

          I’ve always believed, that theirs only 2 possible ways to make a sub work.

          A. You are an industry leader, doing things significantly better than everyone else.

          B. You are a targeted market provider (niche), and you are doing things that your users can’t get anywhere else.

          If you’re not doing either of those things with conviction (both development strategy, marketing, and business models), you’ll fail to sustain interest to make the “subcription as a long term service” work.

          They can’t all be winners.

        • SynCaine says:

          That’s exactly my point. F2P is the minor leagues; titles that just aren’t good enough to compete with the big boys. So long as F2P fans acknowledge that, no problems.

          As for WoW, maybe. Or maybe we go back in time, Blizzard adds F2P-influence from day one, and WoW peaks at 3m players and is LotRO/EQ2 by 2006 rather than dropping like it is now (with said F2P influence). We don’t know. What we do know is that as a sub-only influenced game, it was growing year after year.

        • kalex716 says:

          Yes but what I think you ultimately want is unachievable. You want every game that comes out positioning itself as an MMO to be the best game ever (either in a niche, or within a bigger market), as that is the only way to ensure a consistent stream of people willing to pay a premium each month.

          That’s not possible, and that’s why we have F2P. You need to come to grips with this still.

          Outside of MMO’s, theirs plenty of games that I think are quality with a more flexible monetization model. Planetside 2 isn’t terrible, Path of Exile is awesome, League of Legends and other MOBA’s are good. I’m enjoying Warframe too, and have event spent money on it and it doesn’t even have PVP in place yet, i consider it promising.

          While I haven’t personally played a F2P mmo longer than a month or two at best, I still don’t see good reasons why someone might not bust this wide open in the next couple years.

          While I stick to the notion that the most targeted of experiences are the only MMO’s that can have success at maintaining a subscription, i’m not convinced its the best\only way to do it.

        • Rohirrim says:

          Kalex, wow may left some money on the table but they also won a lot more because people were super excited about this game…I am very excited, I will tell my friends about, friends will come and play too and that will cause a domino and will result in 10 million playerbase.

          A happy player is the best advertise around…I know that I could give more money to blizzard in early wow but also I know that I brought lot of friends to play too

  3. kalex716 says:

    One might be able to argue that SC is the best cash shop for a game ever conceived. They have people spending money on sparkle ponies that don’t even exist yet.

    This would undoubtedly be a suits wet dream.

    • Jenks says:

      The real trick was getting you to believe that there are sparkle ponies that do exist.

    • spacepilot says:

      Terrible analogy.

      People are spending money on SC because they have a history with one particular dev and trust him to continue kicking ass. And frankly if you look at SC’s front-page counter, they’re still under 300k people which is niche status to most video game “suits.”

      There’s this undercurrent of disbelief from people who aren’t on the SC bandwagon for whatever reason, but the reality is that that dev team has already delivered a functional piece of the game when and how they said that they would.

      What evidence is there to suggest that that won’t continue? If anything, the historical evidence suggests that Roberts will do exactly what he says he will do and make a badass game.

      If he doesn’t, then yes SC will be a cautionary tale. But there’s a growing number of people out there who want it to be a cautionary tale before the game even ships, lol. Maybe they’re competing devs who can’t raise as much money or do as high quality work? Who knows, but it’s kinda funny.

      • kalex716 says:

        My skepticism breeds from the fact that I’ve been in AAA game development since 2006.

        Every project I’ve ever worked on has backlogs, and design docs early in pre production that never see the light of day. All games, particularly ones that end up clones have piles of un-used brilliance by the end simply because game development is really really hard. These ideas fail for millions of reasons during production. They fail cause they just weren’t as easy to integrate, they caused too many problems (technical or gameplay) with core features, suits kill them off, they weren’t fun, or sometimes its just a simple matter of the person who owned the feature quits and finds another job too late for you to replace him.

        The point is, these guys are selling users on stuff that they can’t possibly know right now in development if they’ll ever make good on it. Its borderline snakeoil. Games like star citizen don’t exist NOT because their isn’t anyone out there as passionate as Chris and his crew, or that no one has thought of this kinda stuff before. They don’t exist because the scope is completely unachievable as a AAA product in any sort of realistic time frame. That stuff is meant to be kept private, or at least if you make it public, you don’t start dangling it in front of peoples faces to milk cash out of them.

        I could be wrong. This is merely one dude on the internets opinion. They might have some sort of new brilliant project strategy, and the worlds greatest architects coding features for them. They might have a plan that will revolutionize the way video games are made from here on out…. If thats the case I’m actually excited.

        Let me know when one of their stretch goals is to actually peak behind the development curtain to see what kind of magic they have going on… Until then, I’m skeptical.

        • kalex716 says:

          I guess i’m coming off a little bit overly on the dooshy side of things on this one.

          In final I will say I have my reservations about this project, but I’m glad someone’s going big. I really do hope they succeed and theirs merit in that whole “aim for the stars, land on the moon” thing.

          Just trust me that its going to be a hard road for these guys moving forward, but they will undoubtedly have something special should they pull it all off.

        • I agree with kalex here. I certainly wish the Star Citizen team the best and hope they make a kick-ass game, but the reality of game development is that there are a lot of things that the end users doesn’t see. As a developer, I also see a lot of things that sound like feature creep to me.

          An easy example from MMO history, remember necromancy in UO? That’s one of those things that should have remained a discussion between developers until they could figure it out. Once they talked about it, however, people got excited about it.

          Now, who remembers how well that turned out?

        • SynCaine says:

          The possibility of necromancy made for some fun (if ultimately pointless) item collecting. I’m sure if it happened now people would rage to the moon, but back then? I don’t remember it being that bad, and I was on the major rage forums (Dr. Twisters, WTFMan)

  4. bhagpuss says:

    From my perspective I can’t say it makes a whole lot of difference to me how an MMO funds itself. I played sub games for years and I still have subs running. As F2P developed, like many players I ended up playing a lot of F2P MMOs. I’d be hard-pushed to tell the difference most of the time.

    F2P games may make design choices that do nothing for me as they fish for their whales and try to squeeze a few drops of blood out of the stony “I’ll be damned if I pay” crowd but subscription games equally make design choices that do nothing for me as they pander to their end-game-focused loyalists and implement mechanisms designed to keep everyone playing and paying for that next month.

    Its all a lot of fuss about not very much, in my opinion. If F2P had never happened and every new MMO that launched since WoW had required a sub to play, do you honestly think any MMOs that you’d really have liked would have been made?

    I found I liked playing MMOs from the moment I started and I find I still like playing them just as much as I ever did. Maybe that will change one day but if it does I very much doubt it will happen because of the payment model. If it does it will be for the same reason it always is: tastes change.

    • SynCaine says:

      “If F2P had never happened and every new MMO that launched since WoW had required a sub to play, do you honestly think any MMOs that you’d really have liked would have been made?”

      Atlantica Online and Allods Online are the two immediate examples for decent MMOs ruined by F2P. I’d say LotRO has gotten worse thanks to F2P. Who knows how many decent ideas got murdered by F2P business model influence; would GW2 have been designed to be a 3 week trip if the sub model was it? Or would the game contain a little more meat vs “come back and check us out” blips?

  5. My Video games suit opinion (worked in one of the largest F2P companies in the world)

    money flow to free to play for one and only one thing for which people won Nobel prizes long time ago

    Willingness to pay – one of fundamental laws of economics

    Products that serve WTP better will make more money. There always be players willing to pay 100 usd on games they enjoy. And there always be players who could only afford 12 dollars and cannot pay 14.99. That is why Toyota has Lexus and Scion, that’s why VW has Audi, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini and SEAT! People have different willingness to pay for the same thing -car.

    Same with games.

    But it seems to me you are discussing crap games vs good games which is irrelevant to why f2p will win.

    • SynCaine says:

      A Lamborghini is a Scion as much as a F2P MMO is a sub MMO. I agree.

      • On the base level yes there is no difference
        Cars deliver you from point a to point b
        Games entertain you for 1-3 hours a day. It does not matter if its sub or free to play

        In summary
        Great f2p game will make more money than great sub game, because it lets people spend as much as they want. And people love spending money on things they like. Sub games will only get customers in the 15 dollar price range

        In the long term great f2p game will be better than same sub game because they will be investing more because they just make more money

        With crap f2p game vs crap sub game it does not matter. They both will die

        • SynCaine says:

          So if you could afford both, would you drive a Lambo or a Scion?

          You would, of course, drive the Lambo, because its a better car.

          Same goes for MMOs. If you have the option, you play the better MMO, and the better MMO is a sub MMO (again, still waiting for someone to explain how a successful F2P MMO would be be better for players/devs, so far no takers.)

        • kalex716 says:

          What if I told you their was a game that you could subscribe to if you wanted, or you could farm in game money to pay for game time as well in order to play it if you wanted?

          In this game, you could also spend real cash or game cash on acquiring more and more characters and workers to get things you wanted done faster, rather than wait for training them up on your own? You could pay real money for basically anything you wanted legally in this game.

          If this game in addition to the above, also had a cash shop that you could buy widgets and doo dads for your character, but no one even really uses it cause its just fun fluff, would you call this game a Sub game or a F2P cash shop game?

        • You are missing this. Lamborghini is not a sub mmo and scion is not a FTP mmo. Those are products inside a FTP mmo allowing people to either get needed utility cheaper or show off with a bugatti. Sub based mmo has only one product (black ford t).

          And there are no good FTP games now that truly use that law of Economics. Currently they are squeezing money (pay to suffer less) instead of creating a dream to aspire to buy.

          Star citizen comes closest to this true f2p law
          We are also making a game like this now.

          Old FTP will slowly improve. We are in Stone Age now.

        • SynCaine says:

          Kalex: EVE is a sub MMO with PLEX. If you want to redefine F2P to fit EVE, then sure, that ‘F2P’ works. That’s not the kind of F2P Brian or current F2P fans are talking about I suspect, nor is it the kind of F2P that would work for anything SOE, Turbine, or NCSoft have going for them.

          Reformed: Gotta. So all current F2P MMOs are trash, BUT, the next wave of F2P MMOs are going to be awesome under F2P and work way better for the player AND the devs than sub MMOs. (Still waiting for someone to say why).


        • Simple
          this model makes more money all other things being equal. And it works even better in pvp as more players to kill – more fun

          Also wanted to add one thing on swtor
          Suits don’t care if it failed. Yes it was a failure, money lost blah blah, but for suits it’s just a portfolio. They don’t look at swtor separately. They look at dragon age, swtor, Battlefield, mass effect, ME, SImcity, etc together. And together they are doing ok. Better than 3% bank deposit.

        • kalex716 says:


          Just look to EVE’s integration of its business model into its gameplay and thats your reason why a well designed, flexible monitization model (We can call it F2P 2.0 if you want) is going to be at the core of whatever the next big MMO that launches in the future.

          Its superior to both a basic 15 bucks a month catch all sub model, and a run of the mill, old school korean cash shop with gated content. Thats why.

        • Rynnik says:

          reformedgamer are you seriously in the game business?

          You said:
          “In summary
          Great f2p game will make more money than great sub game, because it lets people spend as much as they want. And people love spending money on things they like. Sub games will only get customers in the 15 dollar price range

          In the long term great f2p game will be better than same sub game because they will be investing more because they just make more money”

          So add in a ‘tipping’ option to your subscription based game, do crowd source funding post-launch somehow, do PLEX like CCP, work SOMETHING out in the construct of a subscription based game. Basically use a little bit of brain power to solve the ‘money left on the table problem’ as kalex716 says it. You can even move away from the subscription business model if you want – I am not married to the thing (I have no idea what alternatives there could be), but what you CAN’T do is move to something like F2P is: where the paycheck is attached to the game being designed from the ground up as a marketing scheme.

          So here is the bottom line of why your statement above falls flat on its face:

          There is no such thing as a great F2P MMO because if you limit the creation/development process to those things that provide a direct line to the wallet through appeals and influence hooks into the human psyche then you have already ‘lost’. You can’t create the game I want under those conditions because despite what the suits want to believe the experience that is going to be worth my dollar is going to be someones brilliant artistic brainchild, invested in and delivered with a little integrity to the vision behind it.

          Fantasy publishers make money. MMO game companies can make money. But you don’t have a hope in hell of writing a novel worth reading or designing a MMO worth playing if the author/designer is pigeonholed from the start into a marketing process rather than a creative process.

        • Rynnik.
          What planet are you from

          Paycheck is attached to everything. Family guy writers, avatar cameramen, mmo coders. Everything people do they do for pay checks.

          So there is no such thing yet as work of art mmo where makers died in poverty but then that work became famous and enjoyed by millions of people

          Also wow is designed to keep you clicking too. They just did not know Bout FTP much back then

          And finally you forget that there are people who can’t afford paying. You want to keep them without entertainment?

        • Rynnik says:

          Lets see if sarcasm will translate through this medium…

          You are completely right reformedgamer and it is impossible to make money through art. I hear Stephen King doesn’t have two pennies to rub together. Google Damien Hirst – I had to. Guy is worth something like 500mil. Yup, no money around for that medium of artistic expression. Does John Williams count?

          Sorry what was your contention again?

        • Simple logical fallacy – you attack a position using completely irrelevant points. Moreover you use examples that further reinforce my point, thank you for that.

          Stephen king is FTP in a way because he used all potential price points. You could buy paper back or expensive hardcover, or see the movie or auction expensive original manuscript. Same with Hirst, you can buy his prints or try to get his originals for millions or you can enjoy them for free online.

          So in fact using various price points helped king and Hirst and Dali make more money. Would the be better off if hey sold everything for 14 dollars ? Definitely no.

          Sub based entertainment cannot make as much as willingness to pay based FTP products. Thus they are more beneficial for the artist long term


          FTP 1 – Rynnik 0.

        • Rynnik says:

          You are just so amazing I am going to have to concede the point to you. You totally struck to the pithy core in one fell swoop by using the term ‘logical fallacy’.

          Well played, sir, and if it makes you feel better please adjust the score:
          FTP infinity – Rynnik 0.

          I really hope your livelihood depends on the free to play business model being implemented in games.

        • Aww so nice of you wishing me well. But no thanks.

      • Jenks says:

        You should come up with a better analogy, reformed gamer, because this one will get you destroyed.

        You claim people want to spend different amounts on their cars. Some can only afford a scion (we’ll call them f2p free players, $0 a month) and some can afford a lambo (we’ll call them f2p whales, $200 a month). So in your ideal game, everyone can pay for exactly what content they deserve, based on what they’ve achieved in real life or how much of their real assets they’d like to invest in a virtual world.

        Now, considering the fact that subscription games are generally superior to f2p games, that means subscription players are getting something superior to your lambo – we’ll say a private jet – for $15 a month.

        So, by your own logic, why the hell would anyone who is serious about playing an MMO want to play a F2P game? Why am I spending $200 or more a month for a lambo, when a paltry $15 a month gets me a private jet? I’ll tell you why: psychological tricks to part the weak from their money. I’m sorry, but fuck that.

        • You forget the celestial steed that was not available as part of the sub.

          So smart devs will come up with those jets you mention will make you want it and will sell them to you for 200.

          And there is no fact like that you mentioned. Is all Subjective. And even if it was a fact now, horses were superior to trains at certain point of time. Just like people wer superior to textile machinery for some time. Luddism will never die )))

        • Jenks says:

          Let’s not forget WoW added a cash shop at the same time it altered its gameplay to appeal to a much more casual playerbase, and it was at the same time that its total subscriptions began to plummet. Less virtual world / more vidya game = less retention. That will *always* be true.

          WoW at it’s launch would have not been a good F2P game. Current WoW is a perfect F2P game. Look how fast the numbers drop after each expansion. People are buying a video game to play through, not a virtual world to inhabit (anymore).

  6. sid6.7 says:

    Challenge accepted.

    In my mind, EVE is the most successful F2P game that’s ever been made. I don’t think you would disagree that EVE’s implementation of PLEX is successful. I think what people would disagree with is that it’s F2P.

    Before you get defensive, think of this — the main traits as I see it in an F2P game is that:

    1) people who want to “spend” real money can turn that into real in-game success or rewards.

    2) people who do NOT want to “spend” real money can play the game for free.

    EVE’s PLEX system achieves both of these things. You can buy multiple PLEX cards, and sell them for in-game ISK used to buy in-game rewards. Or alternately, you can buy PLEX cards to pay for your subscription using in-game currency.

    By definition (according to our friends at Wikipedia), “Free-to-play refers to any video game or social or mobile application that has the option of allowing its players/users to play/download without paying.”

    • Jenks says:

      It fails that definition because you need to buy an account up front to play. At best, EVE is B2P, not F2P.

    • Rynnik says:

      EVE isn’t free to play. It just has a ‘get someone else to pay for you’ option.

      Their business model relies on having a great (regardless if they have achieved that or not in your opinion) MMO that people will keep paying to play, or put in the time to have someone else pay for them. They don’t make design decisions on how to bilk a few more dollars out of suckers (they tried and failed on that path), they make design decisions on how to keep their MMO healthy and growing, and PLEX ensures they get compensated for that in just about the most lucrative way you could imagine.

      • kalex716 says:

        Yea but don’t you understand thats the brilliance?

        A developer can write some web/net/server code, hook it up to a table and a shop that lets you spend money, on plex, then use the plex to vend a ‘Dreadnaught Pilot’. And the result is, the company makes money, and the player is served with a fresh pilot who can fly a dread.

        Instead, EVE has designers who script gameplay code that makes a market, and a meta game (time = plex = isk), that drives interests, and compels users to create their own fresh new ‘Dreadnaught Pilots’ for them, that they then vend to other players instead. The end result, while a little more elegant tends to be the same. company makes money, and the player is served with a fresh new pilot who can fly a dread that generally wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

        It is the most brilliant “F2P cash shop” ever devised. Humans do for CCP, what strict code does in other games.This complexity changes the ways we look at it, which is why its the best IMO. Its not egregious to the players due to the way the game is built and structured at the design level.

        Every game should strive towards this. Its better than a sub, and better than a primitive F2P cash shop.

        • Rynnik says:

          I love the brilliance of it and I agree with you about it being a better model, but we have to be careful and realize it isn’t in any way a free to play model.

          You can’t have an active account in EVE online without a subscription fee (trial aside).

          Now you have two options. You can pay for your account through several traditional methods like credit card, via steam sale, with time cards etc. You can also hire yourself out as a little asian gold farmer (provided you live in asia of course) where you work for someone who, through RMT, pays you to farm that gold for them. Of course CCP mandates that the very real money your boss pays you is laundered through their subscription process (would we be obligated to pay income tax for it otherwise? ;-P), as a control mechanism and because that is how they make their nice subscription model tick.

          Their clever use of RMT and the additional factor that they allow characters to be traded and have a ‘cash shop’ filtered through their RMT scheme doesn’t in any way make the game free to play. Someone has to pay a subscription price for every single non-trial account running in EVE Online.

          Maybe this is the ‘other’ model that Brian (in the other comment thread) and others are saying is needed. It certainly is brilliant. It also isn’t free to play, although it already treads dangerously close to some of the same problems with the way its design leans towards alt use (my chief beef with the game btw) and the hooks presented to get you in the ‘on top of subscription fees’ cash shop.

    • Rynnik says:

      To be more clear sid6.7 I think you are confusing f2p with RMT.

  7. Planetside 2 – very well done f2p system in it. F2p people can get “maxed” in one class/armor/weapon/ability in 2 weeks. Some of the base weapons are best in class. 1 week for subscription players. Wide variety of other things you might want to do allows for people to want to keep playing for months and years.

    Oh wait it’s not a tabtarget or fantasy based and that’s all you kids play….

    • Rynnik says:

      Not an MMORPG.

      • massively multiplayer – check
        online – check
        roleplay – check
        game – check

        can we already move on from all that “this is not mmorpg” movement.

        loose cannon literally meant loose cannon back then.. now its not.

        planetside, WOT, lol, dota, COD are all mmorpgs now. they are massively multiplayer, they have roleplay and levelling and they are games.

        • Rynnik says:

          They self advertise as an MMOFPS. I guess this particular time Sony’s opinion on the topic would be relevant.

        • SynCaine says:

          No I agree with reformed, PS2 is as much an MMO as LoL.

        • Lol and Dota don’t pass the massively test. Not to make anyone feel bad they are great moba.


          I don’t think you need to stretch mmorpg to accomodate PS2 but you do need to think about whats actually important about the definition (and by extension the genre).

          Lobby shooters (16v16) with persistence of effect (into Eve which is an mmorpg) like Dust514 honestly don’t even pass the test. I think they are much closer to being called a moba (multiplayer online battle arena) really. Dust514 has rpg tacked on the end though so MOBA-RPG?

          (Also “mmofps”? Um why does being an mmofps make you not an mmorpg? That not a sustainable objection to the mmorpg designation for ps2)

        • Rammstein says:

          @reformedgamer, @telcontar dunedain: “planetside, WOT, lol, dota, COD are all mmorpgs now. they are massively multiplayer, they have roleplay and levelling and they are games.”
          “(Also “mmofps”? Um why does being an mmofps make you not an mmorpg? That not a sustainable objection to the mmorpg designation for ps2)”

          Candy Crush has roleplay, you talk to little candy creatures and help them. It’s Massively Multiplayer, way more people play it than any of the games you’re talking about. It has levelling, as you go through the levels you get new features. And it’s a game.

          (Umm, why does being a puzzle candy moving game make you not an mmorpg? That not a sustainable objection to the mmorpg designation for Candy Crush)

          These are arbitrary categories. If you ask “why?”, the answer will always be “because.” If you apply lists of relatively subjective criteria blindly, you’ll get hilarious results. We’re all over here in the adult world, where Candy Crush isn’t an MMORPG. Feel free to join us here, if you like.

        • @Rammstein
          “””If you apply lists of relatively subjective criteria blindly, you’ll get hilarious results.”””

          Well indeed that’s what you did by not paying attention to the words in play.

          Why don’t you spend a few moments thinking about the word massively?

          Does it mean millions of players all sharing a scoreboard? ie the “way more people” definition?

          Does it mean hundreds of players sharing the same actual game space?

          It’s always been the latter.

        • Rammstein says:

          “Well indeed that’s what you did by not paying attention to the words in play. ”

          I paid much more attention to the words in play than you did, clearly.

          “Does it mean hundreds of players sharing the same actual game space?

          It’s always been the latter.”

          In the interests of humor(mainly) and conciseness(very secondary factor ;) ) , I omitted the section explicating how Candy Crush would still not be an MMORPG if the gameplay were slightly altered to be fundamentally similar but with hundreds of players sharing the same actual game space. I believe this section to be both obviously true, and obvious as a response to this line of reasoning, and obviously the real discussion was about the second half of the term MMORPG, not the first; but apparently we disagree on one or more of these beliefs.

          Now that this has been carefully pointed out to you, I believe you can not fail to apprehend the truth of this amended argument.

  8. I’m having trouble coming up with a definition of mmorpg that Planetside2 doesn’t actually fit…even if it makes you uncomfortable.

    • Rammstein says:

      It’s pretty simple: Think of WoW and EVE. At some point, if the gameplay and playerbase of WoW switched sufficiently to Arena players, or if the same occurred to EVE with Alliance tournament type content, those games would cease to be MMORPGs and would become MMOFPSs. Planetside is just that…much larger battle sizes, but the same basic gameplay emphasis. Most of the more active EVE players like to talk about EVE in a manner which sounds like they’re trying to pretend it’s an MMO(third-person shooter), but that’s kinda how you know it’s really an MMORPG. If it really were an MMOTPS, they wouldn’t need to pretend that it was so loudly.

      The key to explicating the difference is to focus on types of goals most prevalent in each genre. Small number of goals, all competitive in nature = FPS. The more variety in goals; the more you can achieve goals solo or through politics instead of competition; the more self-made the goals are; the more of an RPG it is. It’s shades of gray, not black and white, though…even if that makes you uncomfortable.

      • That’s quite tortured and not at all “simple”. The fact that you had to overload the First Person Shooter part with your new definition should have perhaps been a clue.

        I think the “small number of goals” is perhaps your inexperience in the game.

        There are a variety of roles for a variety of playstyles for a variety of goals in PS2, yes it’s a PVP game.

        It’s lacks PVE and a Market (though it has a resource system that has some monetary aspects to it).

        If I had a game that was like Eve (say 10k players on the shard) but had no pvp or pve but had a robust market would it not be an mmorpg?

        The roles would only be within the market but I would bet there would be some diversity in the roles that you could choose to play.

        How about one with only pve? Not an mmorpg?

        • Rammstein says:

          Nah, it’s quite simple. I’m sorry that you don’t find it so.

          “There are a variety of roles for a variety of playstyles for a variety of goals in PS2, yes it’s a PVP game.”

          No examples forthcoming, I see.

          “If I had a game that was like Eve (say 10k players on the shard) but had no pvp or pve but had a robust market would it not be an mmorpg?”

          Yes, it would not be an mmorpg.

          “The roles would only be within the market but I would bet there would be some diversity in the roles that you could choose to play.”

          You are confusing playing a role with performing a task. It is an easy mistake to make, for various tasks in society are routinized with various expectations that one could call roles. However, ‘role’ as a social routine, and ‘role’ as a reference to a type of masquerade more closely related to assuming a dramatic persona than to general day to day routinization, are pretty different in their common-sense usage, although indeed sharing some significant links when more closely analyzed. To disregard the differences between these meanings is to commit an equivocation based on misapprehension, a misapprehension which I attempted to convey with examples rather than scholarly references, for easier comprehension, to no avail.

          “How about one with only pve? Not an mmorpg?”

          The example is insufficiently descriptive, the answer is ‘it depends’, or ‘maybe’.

        • Rammstein says:

          BTW, just so you know, there’s no way I’m delving into this any more deeply after this post, which is my final word on the subject. The philosophical/sociological details could go on for hundreds of thousands of pages, with references to every significant such monograph in existence; but the entire point here is that none of that matters. The common sense references here are an ARBITRARY system of classification, settled upon by common usage. That’s it. Arguing about the semantics of arbitrary designations is so useless–and I’ve been willing to explain these things so far, but if you want to actually argue about it, sorry. Not happening. This entire debate is basically arguing over the fact someone riding a motorcycle is called a biker, but someone riding a bike is called a cyclist. Those are arbitrary names. mmofps and mmorpg are arbitrary names. Even if they don’t make sense, it’s still better to use the common terminology than to use your own terminology, unless you have a compelling need for more descriptive language. There’s no such need here, so even if you were right, you’d still be wrong. Just stop.

  9. Just curious, what are your thoughts on Mabinogi?

      • It’s a little cutesy F2P MMO which I think has one of the most diabolical yet clever cash shops around. They have large selections or fluff items, consumables, pets and the like of which only a few are persistent (in the store).

        The rest are always time limited offers, like – a scary horse is only available during halloween, as are zombie outfits. You don’t -need- either (there are events that give out free pets anyway so you really don’t need to pay) but because those things are either damned cute, pretty useful or both people will buy them – especially the “gotta catch em all” types who often purchase pets just for the sake of having them. I imagine the revive on the spot orbs and spirit weapon repair potions (consumable) are also high on the list.

        Even the higher ranked health potions (that heal more HP) are on the shop for those too lazy to simply learn the skills ingame (herb lore/potion making) to create them themselves.

        Anywho, if you can get past the “anime” graphics (don’t let it fool you as being for kids only) and the F2P bit it’s a pretty decent, albeit a little grindy, game. Here’s the site:

        Best of all it’ll cost you nothing to try it out. :)

  10. Kyff says:

    I think that your distinction between whales and walmart customers ist a bit artificial. I know a female hardcore gamer wo plays MMOS sinca DAOC launch and still buys fancy hats and wings in the SOE cah shop. (Maybe because of the free cash that comes with a subscription) But nonetheless liking fluff and playing hardcore aren’t opposites.

    • SynCaine says:

      That maybe part is pretty key. If she is just using what SOE gives her as part of her $15, that’s nothing close to a whale. If on top of the $15 she spends an additional 1000 on hats, get back to me.

  11. Red says:

    Have any MMOs tried different levels of subscription instead of free to play? If the subscription model works so well I’d think we would have seen something like that.

  12. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the RSS reader, so didn’t notice this post until now. I was focused on the discussion you linked to. Let me say, I appreciate your insight on this post more than I did on the previous post.

    As for suits, it’s all about the golden rule: they have the gold, so they make the rules. Free-to-play is massively more profitable. Instead of digging feet in and refusing to implement free-to-play, I’d rather figure out ways of doing it right. But, if your opinion is that it an never be done right, then it’s pointless. I’d rather design a free-to-play MMO and do the business model well rather than not design an MMO at all.

    As I’ve said before, as an MMO player I’m a fan of free-to-play. You can call me a lot of insulting things, but if you try to say I’m uneducated about MMOs, you’re obviously grasping at straws and going for false ad hominem attacks.

    So, who does free-to-play appeal to? Let me pick out a few attributes based on personal experience.

    1. People who don’t try every new game. If someone is playing an MMO and is happy with it, and has already invested a lot of time in it, why do they want to buy a $60 box and set up a new subscription? “Free” is a powerful incentive to get people to try out a game, and that’s the first step in getting new players.

    I try a lot of MMOs, but obviously I don’t have time to play them all. I only seriously starting playing DDO because it was free-to-play. I was playing LotRO at the time under a subscription, and I didn’t feel like paying for a second subscription. I switched over to DDO because I ended up liking the game more. Turbine got my continued business instead of me going to another free-to-play game.

    2. People with limited time. Can you imagine only playing once a week in a subscription MMO? It feels wasteful to do so. Yet, if you’re not paying for time, playing casually is fine. Even playing hardcore casually is fine. ;) And, yeah, sometimes cash shop purchases (like xp potions) allow someone with more time than money to keep up with others.

    I play DDO with a group that plays once, rarely twice a week. Most of us are free-to-play, so we don’t feel like we’re “wasting” our subscription by only playing four or five times per billing period. Compare this with the average WoW player who plays dozens of hours over several days each week.

    3. People who would play the game anyway, no matter what the business model.

    I gave DDO a serious go because some other people were going to play. I’ve played a lot of games because my friends played them. If certain friends were playing a game, I’d sign up and play with them no matter what the business model.

    There are plenty of reasons why an educated person might appreciate free-to-play more.

    • Rynnik says:

      “Let me pick out a few attributes based on personal experience.”

      1. So free to play has a built in ‘free trial’. Something impossible to accomplish under another business model…

      2. You are just talking price point here. Some people consider 15$ a very good price point for one evening of entertainment getting a movie ticket and a popcorn. Others consider it a waste for four or five play sessions per billing period. Your mileage will very.

      This raises an interesting discussion about the market and what people are willing to pay for games these days but is at best a weak support for F2P as a model. (What about the whale yo?!?)

      3. You are supporting the business model with an example that regardless of business model some people will play it anyways? Even if it is a $1,000,000 one time lifetime membership? Or a sub, or…

      That is seriously a reason why an educated person might appreciate F2P more?

      And this isn’t me being pedantic and following you around on here poking at you, Brian. You maybe have half a point towards supporting F2P on that list – with the very debatable argument around price point.

      And this is part of the big problem with discussions on F2P. There is a lot of time and effort put into shooting down the arguments against F2P, but when you get to reasoning through what is good about it (much less outlining Syn’s challenge in the post) it all falls flat other than, “Well it is fucking free dudes, what isn’t there to like about that? Come on, FREE.”

      • SynCaine says:

        That’s basically my take on this as well. If DDO had a free trial (as all MMOs should), point one is accomplished. Point two is a non-starter, because that kind of player is bad for F2P devs; unless you are still spending $15-ish but playing little, you don’t ‘count’, as you are also not providing content (cattle). Point 3, the whales, get screwed in a F2P vs sub. The devs get rich (off that one player), and ‘tweak’ the model to keep milking him (like, oh I don’t know, changing how rerolling works to make it more annoying in-game and pushing people into the store?)

        • Ettesiun says:

          So if you pay 15€/$ a year you do not count ? Or you count 1/10 (ok 1/12 ! ^^) of a 15€/$ player ? And if you are 10x time more numerous ? Or if nobody else is taking you into account ? Do you think that F2P you despise (such as LOTRO or SWTOR) make less money that they would if they have stayed sub ?
          But Yes, I am the sort of player that would love to be able to pay 10€ for my alt to be end-level instantly !

        • You’re wrong about “that kind of player is bad for F2P devs” In fact, most players are good and any paying player is great. You’re stuck thinking in terms of subscriptions. Which would you rather have, assuming $5 fixed cost to support each player: 100,000 players paying $15/month or 300,000 paying an average of $10/month? Yeah, many of those 300k might be spending little or nothing, but they’re still players and you’re still making a lot more money.

          Also, why do you think whales get screwed? Is it so hard to believe that someone would willingly and enthusiastically pay a lot of money for something they enjoy? Do people who buy expensive golf clubs and pay Pebble Beach green fees gets “screwed” compared to someone buying used clubs and playing a municipal course?

          Finally, you’re still using an example of people getting “screwed” from a beta change for an update that won’t be released for months yet. And, a subscription game can raise its prices, and has in the past. What would happen if Darkfall increased its subscription price? You’d huff and rage, and probably keep paying to play the game. Me? I can choose not to reincarnate my characters and keep playing alts if I want. So, who’s getting screwed now?

        • SynCaine says:

          Someone buying those clubs can afford them. Can you say the same for F2P whales? Because there have been countless stories about whales feeling duped by a game, sucked in and before they know it, they have spent WAY more than they ever intended just to ‘keep up’.

          Saying the $5 player is bad was a poor choice of words; the point was that a $5, unless in massive numbers, just doesn’t pay the bills. From all of the tradeshop presentations about F2P, not a single one has been about getting just a little out of many; its always about attracting a lot and hopefully cashing in on a few.

      • Matt says:

        1. Maybe for WoW it doesn’t apply, with its unlimited free trial (albeit heavily restricted), but most games only give you two weeks, which is barely enough to even figure out what is going on. And that’s only if you actually play enough, whereas most people, given the poor first impression that many MMO’s give, are likely to give up quickly. This is compounded when MMOs that contain the “hooks” that entice people to play are derided as “dumbed down”. If the only good way to design an MMO is by focusing on long-term incentives and social connections, then two weeks just ain’t enough.

        2. It is price point, sure, but for whatever reason people consider 15 a month a lot for an MMO. When you think that Netflix only costs 8 a month for streaming, a single MMO for 15 starts looking pretty lousy. It isn’t comparable to a night out at the movies for the same reason a can of Budweiser at home isn’t comparable to one in the bar which costs 10x as much.

        • Rynnik says:


          1. Are you saying that a two week trial is the only thing a non-F2P game can offer? You can make points about trial duration if you like but I hope you aren’t think that relates in any way to arguments about F2P. EVE Online has a 2 week basic trial, and a 30 ‘buddy’ trial system which is smart when you consider that making someone have a point of contact in game before they even start to play, which is a good way to lay the groundwork for social hooks to keep them there. The point being be careful with the phrase ‘most games only give you two weeks’.

          So points well made but I hope you aren’t trying to imply they are somehow relevant points to the F2P vs other model discussion.

          2. “It is price point, sure, but for whatever reason people consider 15 a month a lot for an MMO. When you think that Netflix only costs 8 a month for streaming, a single MMO for 15 starts looking pretty lousy. It isn’t comparable to a night out at the movies for the same reason a can of Budweiser at home isn’t comparable to one in the bar which costs 10x as much.”

          You realize how personally perspective driven this is right? I pay more than $15 a month for the HBO channels on my satellite package and don’t watch them. How do you judge if a can of Bud at home or in the bar have the same relative value to someone other than yourself?

          I wouldn’t argue that you don’t find $15 a month to be a lot for an MMO, but be careful extending your perspective on that beyond yourself.

          For specifically relating price point to F2P models it all sort of falls apart if I have the nice low price point (free!!!1one!) but unfortunately through some weird personal quirk I want to have enough hotbars to put all my skills on but getting them costs more than I was comfortable dishing out.

          Be careful with price point discussions as a strong supporter for any business model is all I am trying to say, because obviously the very best game is the completely free one (not F2P – really free) which is a ridiculous concept since everyone including myself wants the people who make games to get compensated for their work.

      • Rynnik: Except you are being a pedant. For example, I never said no other game could offer a free trial. I just said that free-to-play lets you get into the game without a box purchase and setting up a subscription. As a developer and as someone who has tried to get people to try a game, those purchases are a tremendous obstacle.

        Maybe you’re too young to remember, but at one time paying a subscription for an MMO was a crazy idea. One of the reasons why the original Planetside didn’t perform as well as it should have is because people thought, “I don’t pay a subscription for Unreal!” There are people who still are wary of paying subscriptions for various reasons. A game that requires up front purchases before you can play, even if it has a free trial, will not attract as many people as a free-to-play game will.

        And, this ignores that you can play some free-to-play games entirely for free. In DDO, you can theoretically unlock the entire game without paying anything. People like myself will prefer to pay a bit of money rather than grinding, though. Puzzle Pirates does it even better, where you can trade in-game currency for microcurrency on an exchange. Think of it like PLEX in EVE, only the stuff you buy can be spent in much smaller denominations than “we won’t hold your training queue hostage for a month if you turn this item in.” But, players get to play the game, people who don’t want to go grind in-game currency get it easily, and the developer gets paid.

        As for business model, you’re again pedantically missing the point. Which do you think is more attractive? “Hey, come play this game, just download the client and log onto my server!” or “Hey, come play this game. First, pull you your credit card and go buy the digital download version on the game’s site, then enter payment information to set up a subscription, finally log into my server!”

        But, this isn’t really a discussion, is it? It’s you going “nuh uh!” to my points, claiming that I’m not really playing free-to-play games for the reason I say I am. You’re refusing to provide any counter points of your own, just setting up straw men arguments with words I never said so you can knock them down and claim victory.

        Look, subscriptions obviously work for you for now. My advice is to not get too comfortable with it because they’ll become rarer as the years press on. And, contrary to Syn’s opinion, it’s not a question of game quality, it’s a question of getting players to even try the game in the first place.

        As a player, I’m happy playing games where I don’t have to splash out $30-60 and set up a subscription just to see if the game is worthwhile. I’m happy with games where I can get my friends to try out the game without them having to pay a bunch money. And, as a developer, I’ll happily design a game that will have players at least try it out rather than weighing my game down with a dying business model because, uh, you said so?

        • SynCaine says:

          “it’s a question of getting players to even try the game in the first place.”

          And if the game is F2P, what is the first impression? A giant cash shop add, a constant reminder about the cash shop in-game, and if it’s something like SW:TOR, a gimped experience until you pay up.

          Sorry, give me a clean game with a trial and a flat fee of $15 a month over being part of a constant infomercial that insults my intelligence and breaks what little immersion is left in the genre.

        • Rynnik says:

          I guess you changed your mind, eh?

          “Plus, my goal isn’t to win converts; that’s not likely for most of the people commenting here. I’m trying to raise the level of discourse, such as my discussion with Rynnik above.”


          “But, this isn’t really a discussion, is it? It’s you going “nuh uh!” to my points, claiming that I’m not really playing free-to-play games for the reason I say I am.”

          Oh, I definitely never said that and definitely never meant to imply it. You are more than welcome to prefer F2P games for whatever reasons your choose.

          To raise the level of discourse though and have an intelligent discussion about this like two educated people can, we need to bring more to the table than, “This is why I choose to play F2P games.” I haven’t been wasting your time with the reasons why I pay AV a subscription every month and feel happy to do so. That personal choice doesn’t have any bearing on the articulate academic discussion so I have left it aside and I have the expectation that you would bring something stronger to the table as well.

          Lets summarize what has been brought to the table:

          – capital a or small a art: can be created anywhere but it hasn’t under the F2P model (yet?). Examples have been given under other models of artistic integrity in MMOs, no examples for F2P.

          – free trials: are important and it allows people to try a game with a low barrier of entry. EVE Online and DDO are both MMOs that we are each alleging do this well. This isn’t a F2P issue.

          – price point: EVE Online has a steam sale right now, so you can play for 30 days free on a buddy trial, then pay the box price for $5 or something (just checked to clarify how low the price was and the sale already ended), and then work your ass off like a gold farmer and get someone to pay for your sub for you forever. Pretty low price point for MMO access. But F2P wins this one hands down, because FREE (unless you like hats, sparkle ponies, playing the whole game, hotbars or whatever else the games cash hooks are)!

          – business model doesn’t matter to some people who will play the game regardless of business model: this was actually one of your supporting arguments for F2P games and I am the one being pedantic?

          So you haven’t addressed my concern about the art issue where I am looking at a real world where game design has been sacrificed for marketing schemes in hordes of F2P MMOs while the only released games I see doing anything interesting are under a non-F2P model. But I am supposed to trust you that this is just an anomaly. I SHOULD trust you on it because you are a game designer. It is a much more compelling argument than just trusting me (who is most definitely not a game designer). So if you out of hand discount every concern I have mentioned and ignore the logical arguments I have presented you are left with:

          “And, as a developer, I’ll happily design a game that will have players at least try it out rather than weighing my game down with a dying business model because, uh, you said so?”

          Yah, I wouldn’t either. :-(

  13. mmojuggler says:

    >What is the best-case scenario for a great F2P MMO?

    Open a subscription server like Allods Online did?

  14. mmojuggler says:

    >But since when do the suits know best?

    Irrelevant, since they are the ones with the money to fund the product in the first place, and that gives them a certain amount of control.

    If you want to be able to call all the shots, then arrange to be independently wealthy and form your own studio. Like Curt Schilling did with 38 Studios. What could possibly go wrong? Oh wait…

Comments are closed.