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[Column] General: The Wrong Way to Do Free to Play

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,632MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade and the developers’ decision to limit free players to the deliberately weaker Ork Boyz is a troubling precedent in the freemium game space. It’s not unheard of for some games to limit your race choice based upon how much you are or aren’t paying. Yet those races you can choose from aren’t usually so severely gimped that you need to gang up en masse just to take down one member of another.  This is the situation in the upcoming PvP-oriented game, and it’s concerning.

Read more of Christina Gonzalez's The Social Hub: The Wrong Way to Do Free to Play.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • Dreamo84Dreamo84 Niagara Falls, NYPosts: 3,437Member Uncommon
    I actually kinda like that idea. Play as a peasant for free =D. Not everyone can be the "hero" soldier.

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  • FelixMajorFelixMajor London, ONPosts: 576Member
    Haha this is actually pretty awesome.

    Originally posted by Arskaaa
    "when players learned tacticks in dungeon/raids, its bread".

  • AeonbladesAeonblades Home, GAPosts: 2,083Member

    Stuff like this is why older MMO players (before F2P) can't stand the wave of F2P games for the most part. I'm not saying all of us, but a fairly large portion anyway. We are accustomed to paying for everything in a game with the purchase and the sub, whereas as F2P you end up with debacles such as this. This will come back to haunt them if they go through with it, I don't think anyone will deny that.

     

    I could go on another rant entirely about gambling boxes and keys and other such F2P nonsense that serves no one but the misinformed and greedy, but that's a topic for another time.

    Currently Playing: ESO and FFXIV
    Have played: You name it
    If you mention rose tinted glasses, you better be referring to Mitch Hedberg.

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,367MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon
    It's sort of more a "free trial" this way, I think. I'll be curious to see how fun it is to play an Ork, but I can't imagine they'll be too underpowered, or none of these F2P players will spend money to unlock all the races.
  • NoshizNoshiz VolosPosts: 12Member

    Freemium is the Apocalypse of the gaming industry. It has destroyed and it will keep destroying as many things as it can just to milk that extra cash from a certain ammount of players.

    I tried a lot of freemiums (especially MMOs) and i never liked them, that's why as soon as i hear a game is freemium i turn away.

  • PioneerStewPioneerStew londonPosts: 874Member

    I don't mind this model.  A player who pays nothing has a more limited experience than a player who pays a sub; isn't that the way the world works?  You generally get an improved service the more money you pay in all walks of life.  

    I personally have a much larger issue with (as Aeon said) gambling boxes in games.  

  • aslan132aslan132 Tampa, FLPosts: 378Member Uncommon

    "Freemium already separates players into tiers - was another one really needed? Separating the community out into tiers of this nature, where even gear sold in the cash shop will be somewhat weaker than that found in the game for full-paying members, is a mistake. There’s just no other way to define this other than “pay to win”, since you’re drastically weaker if you’re a free player and if you spend money in the shop but don’t buy the game outright, you’ll still suffer possible penalty to your maximum potential. It’s obvious that games need to make money somehow, but this system is outright unfriendly to players that don’t pay and even hurts customers that choose to buy solely through the shop."

     

    Finally someone who understands what Pay to Win actually means. Its not about xp potions, or how fast you can get to end game, its about raising your maximum potential higher than a non paying player. This is pure pay to win, when you pay real money to literally become stronger than someone who didnt pay. Many people have lost sight of what real P2W is and started labeling all free to play games, or anything with a cash shop or convenience items as such. Now maybe people will recognize the difference, and we can stop with all the sillyness.

  • KyleranKyleran Tampa, FLPosts: 20,008Member Uncommon

    I've got no issues with it, always believed F2P'er should be strongly encouraged to sub up, and looks like the intent of the design here.

    Being subbed should be a clear advantage then more people would be encouraged to pay up.  Of course, this strategy only works if you have a great game that everyone wants to play. 

     

    In my day MMORPG's were so hard we fought our way through dungeons in the snow, uphill both ways.
    "I don't have one life, I have many lives" - Grunty
    Still currently "subscribed" to EVE, and only EVE!!!
    "This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    It's sort of more a "free trial" this way, I think. I'll be curious to see how fun it is to play an Ork, but I can't imagine they'll be too underpowered, or none of these F2P players will spend money to unlock all the races.

    Problem is that doesn't really work that well for PvP games.

    I'd much rather see them go more of the MOBA / TF2 route when it comes to F2P models. The warhammer IP has more than enough ways to monetize without going straight to the paying for power option.

    Having the ability to buy customization options, i.e. trinkets, custom banners / logos, or even the option to create your own custom army squad (which is a big component in the table-top), would be much better option imho.

    Nothing against playing as an Ork, but if there's too much of a handicap for being one, it'll be a huge turnoff for the game. Not to mention that most people will want to be a Space Marine. I haven't seen many F2P models that paygate the main content do well in the long run. 

  • FoobarxFoobarx Poway, CAPosts: 451Member
    Just put the Sword of a Thousand Truths into the cash shop along with the voice of Kenny and you've got me.
  • SlayblazeSlayblaze Ohio, OHPosts: 24Member
    First nail in the coffin. Will it also be the last?
  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon

    Here's a thought ...

    Game companies need money.

    The whole reason they are using "free to play" is so they can get more players trying their games and because it uncaps what players can spend and allows those players who have no issues paying a LOT of money to do so.

    But game companies need money. Free to play is difficult to budget off of because they don't know how much they will get at any given time.

    So they have these "freemium" deals but in the end they would prefer you to pay a subscription.

    These games cost a lot. They seem to cost more than their single player brethren in many cases and yet they struggle to make ends meet. Some of this very well could be the developers fault and some of it could be the nature of the beast.

    So any time a company hopes to steer players into a subscription I am not surprised.

  • kadepsysonkadepsyson sun prairie, WIPosts: 1,937Member

    I hope this model comes to an MMO with a modern day setting.

     

    Free players are limited to the Welfare class, and cannot own homes, businesses, or use any personal vehicles except those with terrible durability and are highly inefficient.

    Players with money get to have status, upgradeable housing, and all kinds of power and entertainment options.

     

    Just make sure the non-paying players truly feel like second class members of the game, that'll surely encourage them to pay more for this service they obviously enjoy so much!

    El Psy Congroo

  • jesteralwaysjesteralways ChittagongPosts: 1,040Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    It's sort of more a "free trial" this way, I think. I'll be curious to see how fun it is to play an Ork, but I can't imagine they'll be too underpowered, or none of these F2P players will spend money to unlock all the races.

    Not at all Mr. B. It is just like SWTOR, because it has the name Star Wars no matter how crappy f2p model is many f2p players became sub on the 1st day of their playtime. it will be same with WH, f2p will dump cash on it just becasue of the name. Sometimes a name is all the standard people need to start spending money.

    On the other hand, what i think is that it is still better than monetizing quick bar or show title option or hide helmet item or quest reward or terribly gimping gameplay experience  for f2p players like no chat until level 10 like swtor. i think it is far better than at least swtor. but let's see if they also go swtor way.

    i want an open world, no phasing, no instancing.i want meaningful owpvp.i want player driven economy.i want meaningful crafting.i want awesome exploration, a sense of thrill.i want ow housing with a meaningful effect on my entire gameplay experience, not just some instanced crap.i want all of these free of cost, i don't wanna pay you a cent, game devs can eat grass and continue developing game for me.
    Seems like that is the current consensus of western mmo players.

  • FoobarxFoobarx Poway, CAPosts: 451Member
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    Here's a thought ...

    Game companies need money.

    The whole reason they are using "free to play" is so they can get more players trying their games and because it uncaps what players can spend and allows those players who have no issues paying a LOT of money to do so.

    But game companies need money. Free to play is difficult to budget off of because they don't know how much they will get at any given time.

    So they have these "freemium" deals but in the end they would prefer you to pay a subscription.

    These games cost a lot. They seem to cost more than their single player brethren in many cases and yet they struggle to make ends meet. Some of this very well could be the developers fault and some of it could be the nature of the beast.

    So any time a company hopes to steer players into a subscription I am not surprised.

    If these games have been so bankrupting to the industry, then why do they continue to make them?  Clearly they make a small mint, regardless of how many subs they have or don't have. The fact that they can repackage their product to make it more appealing to a wider audience doesn't change the fact that they are still getting their investment back and then some.  

     

    Players use the 'try before they buy" excuse all the time... the reality is, if you give them 2 weeks to play it, they know they will have done all they really care to do in the game and not bother with it.  You don't try a car out for 2 weeks and then say, meh, I don't think I want it.  Anyone trying a game, has no intention of buying it.  If they really wanted to buy it, they would.

    Freemium is just a cloak to hide the real issue plaguing the game... that there really isn't enough interest in the game to keep people playing it, so we'll let some play it for free and it will appear to be populated.  You take away the freemium... are there any players playing it at all?

     

  • CrusadesCrusades Columbus, OHPosts: 480Member
    While I do not wish to see this in all games, I do agree with the first comment about being a peasant and the comment that not everyone can be a hero. Let the whales spend away and be the hero that's on my side, I will gladly serve as a peasant. I don't care about my personal stats, I just want to win. As long as it's not all whales on one side, I'm fine with this.
  • SkuallSkuall UnknowPosts: 1,285Member Uncommon

    would love to see thousands of f2p Orks killing every P2p marine on sight lol , the cry on the forums from the paying players

     

    omg !! im paying to get slaughtered by 100 orcs!!!! nerffffffff them !

     

  • danwest58danwest58 Cincinnati, OHPosts: 989Member Uncommon

    The problem with MMOs is it is too crowded yes.  Too many publishers keep eyeing the WOW dream and turn what should be a Single player game or an Online Mutliplayer game into a MMO.  Making it a Solo MMO with a cash shop just so they can make money and try to out do WoW.  Problem is this model will not last as fewer and fewer people will get involved in MMOs and go back to single player or MO games that they can buy and go on.  The way it should be.  Too many MMOs are not good for the gaming industry as a whole because how much they cost to develop and keep running plus its bad for gamers who just want to play a few hours here and there.  These type of player do not belong in MMOs.  They really dont its like a person who wants to play Golf but only wants to play for maybe 30 minutes bitching to a country club and the PGA to change the game of Golf to only be 3 hole instead of 18 so this 30 a minute a week player can play a full round of Golf.  It waters down the sport just like having Single player MMOs waters down the MMO content to 15 min instance runs, and people who do not want to make friends that will protect them while crossing from 1 area to another so Pirates dont kill them and take their gear.  It does nothing but cheapen the experience for people who make these activities a Hobby vs just something to do for 30 minutes.

    The people that just want something to do for 30 minutes should stick to single player and online games that are not that in-depth and stop trying to change games to suit themselves.  Its like when I played in A level Hockey leagues there were people who wanted to make the game for their skills and their time.  They wanted to only allow 2 good players per team, (players over 20 goals) and they only wanted to allow teams who won more than 3 years straight to no longer be allowed to play. These people wanted the game and leagues changed to their level of effort, skills and level of commitment.  They didnt care that the people playing in that league like myself played the game because we loved the game and the way the game was played.  We didnt want to play a watered down version of it, if we wanted to we would go play in a co-ed D league designed for watered down game play.  But no instead the wanted to ruin it for everyone else because they wanted to feel special.  

    Until we stop needing to make everyone feel like a winner and they belong anywhere they choose to be we will keep getting crapping F2P games, and crappy MMOs as well as games that should not be published.  Sorry folks not everyone should be allowed to make the team.  Try harder next time.  

    image

  • isslingissling San Francisco, CAPosts: 157Member Uncommon


    Shaky start for some of us that is for sure. I am old enough to know free never means free:) So another title to ignore and I say this because for this type of model the game is designed around how to sell stuff in the shop and not necessarily designed for fun   imho.

    I don't even want these games to be free I just want to pay a monthly for a game I like. I laughed so hard I just signed into ITunes for the first time in six months and they have to the right a list of top free to play apps, bought apps, and top grossing apps. Well I got a chuckle out of the top free to PLAY app was Kim Kardashian or some silliness and then if you look at the top grossing apps she was #4 LOL.

  • thinktank001thinktank001 oasisPosts: 2,027Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    It's sort of more a "free trial" this way, I think. I'll be curious to see how fun it is to play an Ork, but I can't imagine they'll be too underpowered, or none of these F2P players will spend money to unlock all the races.

     

    Then why is it called " F2P "?       

     

    I think this kind of development is just the natural progression of microtransactions.   Publishers have realized it really isn't a holy grail of money and offering a majority of the game just doesn't get the revenue they want.  

     

    IMHO, this will just push the industry closer and closer towards government intervention.   Although one could say we have already reached that point as the new rules in EU will be presented within a year anyways.

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Foobarx
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    Here's a thought ...

    Game companies need money.

    The whole reason they are using "free to play" is so they can get more players trying their games and because it uncaps what players can spend and allows those players who have no issues paying a LOT of money to do so.

    But game companies need money. Free to play is difficult to budget off of because they don't know how much they will get at any given time.

    So they have these "freemium" deals but in the end they would prefer you to pay a subscription.

    These games cost a lot. They seem to cost more than their single player brethren in many cases and yet they struggle to make ends meet. Some of this very well could be the developers fault and some of it could be the nature of the beast.

    So any time a company hopes to steer players into a subscription I am not surprised.

    If these games have been so bankrupting to the industry, then why do they continue to make them?  Clearly they make a small mint, regardless of how many subs they have or don't have. The fact that they can repackage their product to make it more appealing to a wider audience doesn't change the fact that they are still getting their investment back and then some.  

     

    Players use the 'try before they buy" excuse all the time... the reality is, if you give them 2 weeks to play it, they know they will have done all they really care to do in the game and not bother with it.  You don't try a car out for 2 weeks and then say, meh, I don't think I want it.  Anyone trying a game, has no intention of buying it.  If they really wanted to buy it, they would.

    Freemium is just a cloak to hide the real issue plaguing the game... that there really isn't enough interest in the game to keep people playing it, so we'll let some play it for free and it will appear to be populated.  You take away the freemium... are there any players playing it at all?

     

    They make them because they believe their is interest in online games. I would say there is but where that interest lies is the real question.

    I would offer that they look at WoW numbers and say "there are x million players out there and we want a piece of them".

    I would then offer that the a good deal of WoW players are "WoW players".

    Twice being at PAX I started up discussions with people about mmo's and for the most part they only knew WoW, SWToR and of course Elder Scrolls online as one of the times I was in the ESO line.

    At work the few people who played an mmo played WoW (with one exception). I've met completely new people at dinner who played WoW but didn't know much about mmo's.

    Given how weighty WoW's numbers have been, regardless if they have lost a few million (probably to gain a lot back once an expansion has come out) when compared to other games it seems that the mmo pie really isn't that large. Not as large as developers want it to be.

    And as I've said elsewhere, do some math. How much does it take to develop the game and then look at initial sales. I've not seen a lot of evidence to show that their initial development is covered by those initial sales.

    Additionally, with the surge in f2p, developers think that they will get a LOT of money that way.

    But one thing I remember listening to was an interview by this guy who does a lot of chinese f2p games. He described their system as pretty much a churn. Deliver a game, open as many servers as you can and then when it slows, shut it down and do it again.

    Western developers seem to want to open a game and keep it open (understandably so).

     
  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by thinktank001
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    It's sort of more a "free trial" this way, I think. I'll be curious to see how fun it is to play an Ork, but I can't imagine they'll be too underpowered, or none of these F2P players will spend money to unlock all the races.

    Then why is it called " F2P "?

    I think this kind of development is just the natural progression of microtransactions.   Publishers have realized it really isn't a holy grail of money and offering a majority of the game just doesn't get the revenue they want.  

    IMHO, this will just push the industry closer and closer towards government intervention.   Although one could say we have already reached that point as the new rules in EU will be presented within a year anyways.

    Huh?!

    There are plenty of F2P games that r doing it correctly, and not paygating their game's features. The problem is that most of them aren't MMOs atm.

    What we're seeing w/ most MMOs is greedy publishers who don't understand how F2P actually works. So they're willing to implement anything that sounds like it will yield money, from a conventional business perspective. Problem is, F2P isn't a conventional business model. And while you can make some quick short-term income from selling features, it tends to do more poorly over a longer period of time.

    Sadly, a lot of publishers are okay with that, because standard business practices thrive on quick turnovers, and selling new products frequently, over having a consumer base that uses one product over a long period of time. There are exceptions to this, but a lot of companies don't actually function this way. They want the profits of WoW, but they don't actually want to do what's necessary to achieve it.

  • CrusadesCrusades Columbus, OHPosts: 480Member
    I want an all out balls to wall pay to win game that pits whales vs whales yet still allows pure free people to remain viable. Warhammer is the perfect game for this to happen. Let the free players be peasants and let the whales be the awesome dude on your team ripping shit up and showing off to all the free players, let the whales be the rockstar on your server in your faction leading your guild. Peasant players still need viability, but let the whales be Rockstars and don't shy away from it. Warhammer 40K - where you can be a Rockstar!!!
  • WightyWighty Westbury, NYPosts: 665Member Uncommon

    F2P is the equivalent of going to a restaurant and when the server takes your drink order you ask for a water with lemon...

     

    This is basically the same thing... You get to play a scrub race/class to get the taste of the game... You are the equivalent of a side salad, yet you want the appetizer, main course and dessert all for the cost of the lemon water.

     

    Game companies can only be successful when players actually pay money... they make nothing when tens of thousands of freeloading content locusts come in a "pump and dump" the game.

    What are your other Hobbies?

    Gaming is Dirt Cheap compared to this...

  • turinmacleodturinmacleod Staff Writer Mahopac, NYPosts: 120Member Uncommon

    From the Eternal Crusade website (color emphasis is mine):

     

    "Eternal Crusade will be available for digital purchase, with a free-to-play option we call “Free-to-Waaagh!”. By purchasing a copy of the game, you will have access to it forever with no need for a subscription. There will be post-launch expansions as well as a cash shop for aesthetic customizations and side-grades.

    If you don’t want to buy a game key, you can still try the Free-to-Waaagh mode and play Eternal Crusade as an Ork Character. In contrast to the premium Ork progression, some options will be locked off, but you’ll be able to go anywhere and fight for the Waaagh! If you like it, but don’t want to pay the full price, you can unlock some of the missing options with micro-transactions."

     

    Nowhere is the game presented as Free to Play. That is an OPTION, for the people who prefer it. The Free to Waaagh players are no "weaker" than any other, and a skilled Ork Boy will certainly rack up the kills over less-skilled opponents. The FtW player has less horizontal growth, but, after playing for a bit and deciding if the game is worthy of their time and $$, they can purchase the game and enjoy all the same benefits as anyone else.

    I'd appreciate it if more games went this route, there are more than a handful of games that would never have gotten purchased if I could have tried them out for free beforehand.

    T

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