F2P All The WAY! doing it big again

Whale Hunting!

Funny story, and yet again provides some nice insight into just who the F2P MMO business model is going after; it’s not about getting little Billy to spend a buck no matter how many times a hotbar salesmen tries to sell you that line, its about hooking that whale and bleeding him dry.

On top of that, if you are an L2 player, how excited are you that your devs are promoting something with the tag line “Earn rewards just for shopping!” Wait, am I playing an MMO or am a ‘competing’ on the Home Shopping Network?

“Oh Syn that’s just one example out of a thousand this year, what about all those MMOs that do F2P right?”

Which MMO?

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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33 Responses to F2P All The WAY! doing it big again

  1. I don’t think you are doing the program justice by merely quoting “Earn rewards just for shopping!” That is such a broad net to cast when the program in question is so bad on so many levels. Like the fact that the rewards currency isn’t account-wide, but accrues only on the character that gets the cash shop item. Or that the reward currency expires at the end of every calendar year, so there will be none of that pesky saving up your coins over the long haul!

    It is simply an amazing program, where they have taken the idea of giving players something extra with their purchases, and managed to turn it into a focus of player rage.

    • Anti-Stupidity League says:

      F2P growth +45% last year, subscription-based games lost -21%. But these are just facts and statistics, they’re not magic like monthly subscription fees.

      But let’s not focus on which business model is growing and thriving (F2P) and which is dying (subs-only). As we’ve all know, TESO will be the next great subscription-only success story, just like Warhammer Online and Darkfall 2 before it. Remember that you heard it here first! (Because after 4 months, it’s possible that you’ve forgotten about the whole game already.)

      • SynCaine says:

        DoTA 2 is considered an MMO in that data, but cute that you missed that. Or that you missed this under the sub section:

        “In recent months, overall micro-transaction spending has continued its decline, now accounting for 21% of monthly revenues.”

        • Anti-Stupidity League says:

          “The free-to-play online games category totaled $2,893 million in sales in 2013, up from $1,991 million in 2012 (+45%). The pay-to-play segment totaled $1,126 million in sales in 2013, losing 19% from 2012.”

          Truth hurts, right?

          But no worries, we’re all sure the next subscription-only game TESO is the second coming of Jesus and everything will be fine and well again in the subscription-only magic land. At least there’s no way a dirty rotten free-to-play game like sw:tor would generate any earnings ($139 million in additional revenues last year) and thank TESO-Jesus for that! Hallelujah!

        • Rammstein says:

          Syn, did you miss the part where ASL admitted the only reason he posts on your blog is to troll? Why do you even leave his comments up after that?

      • Kyff says:

        Reading comprehension isn’t for everyone. Syncaine never denied that F2P was on the rise. However, he is of the opinion that the F2P mechanic is neither good for the consumer (who gets artificial obstacles or unwanted advertising for ingame items etc.) nor for the company (which usually does not benefit from turning a shitty subscription game into a shitty F2P game).

        Keen and Sycaine have maintained that the quality of a game usually trumps over the payment model. Ask yourself, would you rather eat decayed food for free and get sick or spend some money for a decent meal in a restaurant?

      • Raelyf says:

        Comparing “F2P online games” with subscription MMOs is silly. LoL is not an MMO. WoT is not an MMO. They’re MOBAs, and there’s a difference. I don’t think anyone here has argued that F2P doesn’t work well for MOBAs.

        They also haven’t provided us with numbers of games in each category. If you’re comparing 10 sub games with 1000 f2p games, it says very little that f2p has a higher revnue. More than that, adding things like WoW’s micro-transaction revenue to the “F2P online games” category is, frankly, insane. It makes me wonder where else they’ve cooked the methodology to get the results they want.

        In other words, these numbers are worthless.

    • Asmiroth says:

      Cause there are plenty of sub-MMOs that succeeded in the past 5 years right? Does FF14 count or is the first launch the stain left over?

      I consider Neverwinter and Marvel Heroes to be pretty decent F2P games built that way from the ground up. Rift has a good F2P model too. EQN/Landmark sound cool. Planetside2 (outside aimhacks) is ok. Path of Exile is up there too.

      Anyways, trolls be trolling.

    • Hrmm, how does SWTOR make $139 million in revenues with ~2 million players and WoW only make $213 million with more than 7 million subscribers? Either somebody is comparing apples and oranges or that is a lot of hotbar sales.

      Of course, on that chart, TF2 also comes in at $139 million, and all Valve does there is sell hats.

    • John says:

      Does this data count the subscriptions on f2p mmos as f2p revenue? Does they count the micro-transactions of Warcraft on the sub revenue or the f2p? There was a graphical information in massively lately similar to this and if you read carefully, subscriptions in swtor did not count as subs income but as f2p income. Also micro-transactions in wow was in the f2p side!

      I have to admit they try hard to cook results to prove something but I don’t know i they try to prove it to us or themeselves…

    • Matt says:

      Subscription is in a worse place than that chart lets on. The lion’s share of sub revenue comes from WoW, and WoW draws in a lot of people who otherwise would not play MMOs at all.

  2. sid6.7 says:

    This isn’t exactly insightful or surprising stuff — the model subsidizes the “free” by allowing others to pay for the ride. I also don’t make much of a distinction here between this approach and the pay 2 win approach.

    The reason I refuse to play these games is simple: I’m not going to give my $$s to a company who is motivated by profit to make things artificially more difficult than necessary for enjoyable gameplay in order to encourage me to pay them more money.

    • kalex716 says:

      You might just never really end up playing a video game you’ll feel happy about playing ever again then.

      Times are changing.

      • sid6.7 says:

        They are getting more inventive for sure. Even console games for young children like Skylanders and Disney Infinity have come up with some ingenious ways to get more money out of consumers.

        That said, I’m more forgiving if there is some other benefit to the experience that they are monetizing.

        Skylanders is a good example here — the mechanics are definitely more exploitative than a traditional game but there is some intrinsic value in ‘collecting’ and ‘trading’ of the action figures that’s appealing to kids. It’s also finite since there are only so many figure you can buy or need to buy. But I don’t walk around with blinders on and call it a good model.

        On the other hand, I have zero tolerance when there isn’t some other obvious or intrinsic benefit other than simply a fast-forward button to get past artificially built obstacles. The key is to vote with your wallet and when a company is doing this — avoid it like the plague. Otherwise, all your doing is teaching that dev that it’s ok to exploit you.

      • Rammstein says:

        There are free video games, there always have been free video games(except when there weren’t any video games at all), there will always be free video games(except that hte human race will annihilate itself soon, but until then). Do you seriously believe otherwise?

    • Isey says:

      Isn’t this exactly what MMO sub companies do to keep you paying a monthly sub? Gate content (number of times you can do daily), slow progression, lockout raid timers… etc. At least F2P companies are honest about it. Tired of slow xp? Buy an XP boost! Whereas a sub based company keeps the xp slow so you have to play longer.. to pay more subs…

      I find F2P companies more upfront and honest about their sinks, and at least they provide an option to move past them

      • SynCaine says:

        What sub MMO has punishingly slow XP gains like some F2P offerings, tuned not for any kind of ‘fun factor’ but to get you into the shop?

        Raid timers are another issue. While certainly stretching the content is one factor, I also think its a bit of a sanity mechanic; if you allowed people to chain reset raids, they would ruin the content for themselves. MMO players are really good at that.

        • Isey says:

          I haven’t played a game with punishing xp (I don’t include original EQ xp as punishing either). Gating is gating, regardless of how it is hidden and each model does its best to slow players along to get money from their chosen method. WoW is a better game now that you can get permanent xp boosts (heirlooms) and they are already gearing up to trade sub time for cash shop money with buy level 90s. For the record I have gladly paid for subs (and will again)

        • sid6.7 says:

          The issue isn’t gates. It’s what currencies you can use to pay to pass the gate. I’m OK with a gate that costs real cash. I’m also OK with a gate that costs “time” as a form of currency.

          However, gates that allow both forms of currencies (time or money) is flawed because the consumer willing to pay money is preferred over the one willing to pay with time.

          This shift is significant because the motivation is no longer to produce the best game for all consumers, but an experience that subtly and overtly encourages more cash customers.

          This is the worst form of the F2P model and it needs to be strongly discouraged because it’s not only the most exploitive, but it’s also the least rewarding experience.

          By comparison, a model that has you purchase “unlocks” and that’s the only way you can get those unlocks has more in common with traditional board and card games. In other words, the developer actually has to produce something useful and unique to the consumer rather than just a way to circumvent an artificial barrier that they created to maximize profits.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m pretty sure every F2P game ever is designed around whale-bleeding. Just the other day I walked into a casino, was handed a $10 card for being there for the first time and the roulette pit had free drinks forever. Nothing stopped me from playing that $10 for an hour and drinking god knows how much money in cocktails. And yet the casino still makes bajillions. Gee I wonder how? F2P online games are the scaled down (or up) version of this. Also if you haven’t already, read this here link: http://insertcredit.com/2011/09/22/who-killed-videogames-a-ghost-story/

    • SynCaine says:

      Actually a casino doesn’t make the bulk of its revenue off whales, it makes it off the countless dummies who play slots (highest return game in a casino). The whales are more of a PR thing; to make the slot dummies feel like they are someplace important as they get math taxed.

      Edit: Also yea, I’ve read that link before. That’s basically the core of F2P. Companies like SOE or Turbine will try to dilute that core with more ‘game’, but ultimately getting someone on the wheel to whaledom is the name of the game.

      • kalex716 says:

        I think you are completely wrong on this whole “whale” thing.

        Sure, bottom feeding mobile companies, some strange web brands, and zynga are definitely in that sector primarily, but theirs plenty of high end game development companies that are not purely designing and monetizing with the notion of attracting whales alone.

        With an open and flexible economy, theirs always going to be outliers that would be considered “whales”…. But the goal isn’t to tap those players alone, the goal is to make a great game, with proper hooks in place so that players that enjoy your game can get into it for reasonable amounts of money and feel like its worth it to do so. This isn’t that much unlike any other business.

        • SynCaine says:

          I agree the above is how something like LoL works. Whales exist (people with dozens if not hundreds of skins), but whether a skin is sold to a whale or a first-time buyer, the result and motivation for Riot is the same.

          Problem is, what MMO is like that and is successful? It’s not LotRO, it’s not SW:TOR, it’s not EQ2, and it’s clearly not L2.

  4. KennyG says:

    Juggernaut IGN has wayed in i guess its sink or swim year for the sub


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