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With so many titles adopting the Freemium model and relinquishing their Pay to Play roots, it has come to my attention that I severly dislike the industry's new direction regarding business models. The Freemium model, that has been adapted to quite a few large MMORPG's, as of now, establishes complications that I, as an avid MMORPG gamer, find hard to cope with. Of course, the Freemium model does have its benefits, I will not deny such a thing. Yet, in all honesty, I believe it does not bode well with the qualities I look for when searching for a new MMORPG to play.
1.) The Freemium model affects a game's community.
Quite evidently, the Freemium model makes a game more accessible to the general populace. This in turn, however, has many negative impacts on a game's community. First, it absolutely cripples a game's ability to form and maintain a predominant, yet tight-knit community. The Freemium model makes it easy for completely new players to come into a game, yet not commit to it. This creates a flux that makes it difficult for a proper community to establish. Not only that, the players that are attracted to Freemium models can disrupt a community through their maturity level. Finally, the Freemium model has the tendency of separating the player-base into those that decide to spend some cash and those that do not. This leads to a sort of discrimantion within the community and only serves to fragment it even more.
2.) The Freemium model disconnects a player from the game world and lessens immersion.
From loading screens to NPC vendors, the developers of Freemium games are in constant action trying to promote their real-world-money-bought items. The ever-so present advertisements are a constant reminder that you are not role-playing your character within a virtual world, but playing a game where real-world money can net you benefits. It is also important to point out that developers in the Freemium model have the monetization of content and features as a primary concern. The way they develop content is drastically affected by the Freemium model, because they are constantly searching for the easiest ways to monetize the game.
3.) The Freemium model encourages Pay to Win.
The Freemium model allows players to buy items of power with real-world money. Sure, a lot of these items can be obtained through more standard means, like actually playing the game, yet it diminishes absurdly the feeling of accomplishment from obtaining these items. Imagine spending hours in a dungeon trying to obtain a powerful new sword for your warrior, finally getting it only to step out into the game world to see that someone else has the same item, and finding out that they didn't work for it like you did, they bought it off the store. It is absolutely buzz-killing. Not only that, the model tempts you into buying advantages for your character because MMO's are about playing with others, and most importantly against others. Even in a PvE scenario, you compare yourself to someone who has forked some cash over and they progress faster, they have access to cooler things, etc. No one wants to fall behind or feel less powerful.
Suffice to say, it is a model that goes against the MMO, in MMORPG, by crippling and separating communities, and against the RPG, by allowing players to take shortcuts by spending real-world cash, always reminding us that we are not role-playing a powerful mage or a renowned knight, but instead playing a game where money can absolutely dictate how we engage it.