I’m guessing someone has made this point already, but I haven’t seen it so here you go:
The recent trend of paying for the beta and/or alpha of an upcoming F2P MMO is just a re-branding of an MMO launching as a sub game to milk it’s core fanbase, failing with everyone else (and perhaps even the core), and switching over to F2P in 3-6 months, without all the obvious bad PR about moving down to the minors.
It would be cool if the genre could focus less on how best to position sub-par games and squeezing every last penny out of them, and more on producing something worthwhile that players will happily pay for.
There could be a slight bit of additional honesty to be argued they are using with this approach. Aren’t 99.9% of MMOs buggy and basically beta at launch anyway? It is a sad trend, agreed.
a worthwhile game is rarely popular. It is much easier to make money from high expectations than from a worthwhile game that is doomed to be niche.
LoL – Worthwhile, printing money, and the most popular game out.
CoC – Worthwhile and one of (the?) highest-grossing iPhone game out.
WoW pre-WotLK – Worthwhile and the most successful MMO of all time.
FFVII – Worthwhile, massively successful, and changed the face of RPG gaming.
I could go on, but the point being that if you make something really worthwhile (and not niche worthwhile), you do reap the rewards.
The major problem is you can also make garbage (Kim K game, Farmville) and strike it rich without any of the effort/talent, which a lot of developers do because it’s easy.
I am talking about MMOs, so lol, coc and FFVII is out of the list. Warcraft pre-wotlk was worthwhile but still was the easiest/casual game of its time (except maybe lotro).
With the current playerbase, anything worthwhile (MMO) will be a niche game. 80% of players will quit if there is no LFG tool. The old playerbase have moved on to their lifes. People that played pen and paper RPGs.. very few of them are still around and are the vast minority.
Yea only MMO here is EVE then. But given the utter lack of design talent in the genre, having at least one example isn’t terrible.
its just a viable bussiness model.
See wildstar, design a game f2p, but target it at the hardcore audience who will happily pay box price ,subscription and what not.
After 3-6 months when the hardcore devoured your content, you can target f2p market,who will get a ‘sub’mmo for free.
Really why would you go one or the other when you can get both.
This is the sad reality.
The only dev you can trust (for now) to stay sub at this point is Squeenix.
In this day, beta has lost its meaning. Now it’s just another way to sell games. To be honest, if a game charges or even lets players in to play, I consider the game launched. If it isn’t ready, well, maybe they shouldn’t be charging for beta access.
Example: ArcheAge. It’s essentially ready to go, having already been launched in the East for a year+. A lot of good content is already there and in place and ready. Maybe translations need to be worked and prices figured out, but that’s it. Charging for beta, then, imo, not terrible.
Caveat: Shroud of the Avatar. Because Shroud is a Kickstarter darling, I give it a lot of leeway. Each successive beta has been adding features, removing features, tweaking features, upgrading graphics, combat, etc. More and more comes with each one, and they’re very realistic about what is there and what couldn’t be in this time. Yes, you can still pay to be included in the betas, but theses betas aren’t just marketing ploys, they’re literally for testing.