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Opinion poll: At what point does free 2 play become pay 2 win?

XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,912Member Uncommon

I've been playing a game, I won't disclose which it is because last thing I need is to make an enemy of another dev.

 

I got up a few levels and out of curiousity started poking around the cash shop.  I was astonished at how much was available.  Gear, armor, consumables, even in game gold was all laid out in a nice presentation.  Anything and everything one would need or want to build an uber character was ready for purchase.

 

I was blown away by the blatant commercialism of it all.  Absolutely speechless.  Is this the future of gaming?

 

I'm not anti Free 2 Play, but I am struggling with one concept.  At what point does Free 2 Play become pay to win?

 

Your thoughts on where the line is drawn... How much cash shop is too much?


Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 17,949Member Uncommon

    In PvP is it easy, when more than half of the top people have bought part or all their gear from the cash shop. I think almost all F2P PvP games are P2win.

    PvE is a bit trickier, you can really blame the company for trying to sell you stuff, it is after all their income. If they either sell good stuff you can't get anywhere else (or stuff with the same stats) or if it takes at least 4 times as long to hit the endgame I would say it is P2win. 

    Most F2P games isn't really free but then again, nothing really is free and if someone is saying so they are selling something. That is the reason I hope for more B2P games instead.

    Of course B2P might become Pay2win fast as well, but I wouldn't be surprised if the P2P games itemshops turns them into pay2win as well soon.

  • BlasphimBlasphim San Diego, CAPosts: 349Member Common

    In my opinion, anytime you can buy with real money anything that can modify your characters stats, gear, or in game currency is pay to win.  Even if you can grind those things in game and never have to touch the cash shop at all should you choose, it's still pay to win, again in my opinion.  This has been my debate with a few f2p games with such cash shops in recent history.  My 2 cents...which won't get me much in game sadly :(

  • WhySoShortWhySoShort KunmingPosts: 315Member

    I'll make a little scale here:

    Ethical: Appearance items, race/gender.name changes, classes/races/expansions (Appearance and Content)

    Mildly unethical: Deed/experience accelerators, temporary speed increases, potions/revives, travel  (Convienience) 

    Unethical: Permanent stat boosts, levels (straight to level X), weapons/gear. (Enhancements)

    There are exceptions, of course. For example, even though Guild Wars allows you to buy all class skills for PvP, all that does it put you on an equal footing with the other players. Also, since LoTRO stat tomes can be found in-game, I would put them at slightly unethical. 

    image

  • SkuallSkuall UnknowPosts: 1,282Member Uncommon

    but the armor /weapons were inaccesible to others? or just normal crafted?

    gold in cash shop ? O_O thats strange.....but oh well...

    pay2win come more in a PvP enviroment , however when u cant do dungeons/raid w/o passing @ cash shop there is a problem

     

    example runes of magic....is p2w in a PVE enviroment.......diamonds, puri ,

     

    Allods.....after de FoD fiasco

     

    Conan ,seriusly wth?

     

    in a f2p game , exp boost , or something to lesser the grind time is ok....

     

    but when u put thing like gear enhancements that are only accesible in cash shop...pfffff

     

    oh almost forgot

     

     

  • WhySoShortWhySoShort KunmingPosts: 315Member

    Originally posted by WhySoShort

    I'll make a little scale here:

    Ethical: Appearance items, race/gender.name changes, classes/races/expansions (Appearance and Content)

    Mildly unethical: Deed/experience accelerators, temporary speed increases, potions/revives, travel  (Convienience) 

    Unethical: Permanent stat boosts, levels (straight to level X), weapons/gear. (Enhancements)

    There are exceptions, of course. For example, even though Guild Wars allows you to buy all class skills for PvP, all that does it put you on an equal footing with the other players. Also, since LoTRO stat tomes can be found in-game, I would put them at slightly unethical. 

    All this said, I think an MMO with PvE that you can "win" or "beat" is poorly designed. 

    image

  • pierthpierth San Antonio, TXPosts: 1,503Member

    IMO a game becomes pay to win when there are non-fluff items in the cash shop that are unobtainable by just playing the game or are better than what is available just by playing the game. For me it really comes down to gear if it's a gear-based game. Potions for exp and such don't really bother me and even gear purchases don't concern me so long as I can earn the same or better in game. Once something in the cash shop literally becomes a must have that's when it's pay to win.

  • DvalonDvalon IrvinePosts: 314Member Uncommon

    In Short, Any cash shop that sells items and stat boosts that make your character stronger in any way shape or form, is an instant turn off for me.

     

    Cash shops I like, ones that only ooffer cosmetic items, vanity pets, XP boosts.

    And

    Potions for Health and Mana, but only when these are also available in the normal game, at a respectable drop rate.

     

    AND with mobs that do not require a cash shop purchase to be able to kill.

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,912Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by WhySoShort

    I'll make a little scale here:

    Ethical: Appearance items, race/gender.name changes, classes/races/expansions (Appearance and Content)

    Mildly unethical: Deed/experience accelerators, temporary speed increases, potions/revives, travel  (Convienience) 

    Unethical: Permanent stat boosts, levels (straight to level X), weapons/gear. (Enhancements)

    I think this is close to my perspective also.  The way I see it is that a game would have to be pretty damn extraordinary to go fully ethical and make a buck.  GuildWars is like this.  Bank slots, alt slots, hero henchman slots... but not so much as even a healing potion in terms of anything game imbalancing.  That clean of a cash shop has to be very rare.  I'm guessing GW can do it because of box and expansions.

     

    Thanks, very helpful.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • DvalonDvalon IrvinePosts: 314Member Uncommon

    I should point out, I have noticed recently that some free to play games state that items can be obtained via normal game play as well as part of the shop, but what they dont mention is that the grind involved in getting them is far longer and harder than what the actual value of the item is worth, which is another kick from the devs to get you to save time and just buy the damn thing.

    Its a horrible dispicible and I beleive illegal act and I wish the courts would get off their ass and audit and govern this type of thing.

  • tom_goretom_gore TamperePosts: 1,796Member Uncommon

    Simple rule. If it's obtainable by just playing the F2P part, it's fair game in the item shop.

     

    If however you can purchase items that are not obtainable by other means, and those items give superior stats and/or other advantage, it's P2W.

     

    I'd like to think the cash shops as "shortcuts". If you don't want to grind, you can pay instead. If you don't want to pay, you can grind instead. There are people with too much money and too few hours to play, as there are people with too much free time and not too much money. Why not make both happy without stepping on either one's toes?

     

    This is what defines a succesful cash shop for me.

     

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,912Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Dvalon

    AND with mobs that do not require a cash shop purchase to be able to kill.

    That's one I hadn't heard of.  I can just see it.  Go kill Frogger and bring me the tongue.  But to do it you'll need to spend 2000 happy-fun points to get the Anti-Frogger sword.

     

    Pardon my being less than objective, but that is a wicked game mechanic.  I'm surprised we don't see more of it.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,912Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by tom_gore

    Simple rule. If it's obtainable by just playing the F2P part, it's fair game in the item shop.

    I'm mostly okay with that as long as it's not extreme.  I mean if there's a 0.001 chance of a drop, but it's $10 bucks in the shop, and it's such a thing (like a level unlock token) that must be had for progression, then I'm not so happy with it.

     

    For me things have to be black and white to be clear in my understanding.  This whole balance ethics vs income plus balance reputation vs income has a bunch of grey areas.  I'm leaning towards if it has stats, it doesn't go in the cash shop.  Anything else is fair game.  Only issue there is xp boosters because typically things like that don't drop or quest reward.

     

    Bah, more to work out.  Thanks for the response.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • crazynannycrazynanny PopowoPosts: 173Member

    I'd say store exclusive potions, scrolls, gear that changes challenging encounter into easy fight when You use those bought cash shop stuff(and in case of PvP when Your opponent does not). For example In PvE that can be special mana pots that make it easy to maintain Your power bar in long and difficult fights(LOTRO and minstrels) or in PvP special immunity to status effects(stun, fear, sleep).

     

    And lol at LOTRO stat tomes being "available" in game. It's like 0.0001% drop? But then they aren't really what I can call P2W as 50(or with Isengard xpac 60) more of a stat, when You have bout 1000 of it is like drop in the ocean.

  • rissiesrissies aurora, COPosts: 161Member

    Originally posted by WhySoShort

    All this said, I think an MMO with PvE that you can "win" or "beat" is poorly designed. 

     

     

    Pretty much this.

     

    in answer to the topic question: the point of cash shop-dissatisfaction for me, is when I feel I have to buy something in order to enjoy playing.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    The way I see it, offering something that a non-paying customer cannot obtain is clear P2W. If itemshop offers a shortcut for buying an item that would be otherwise very hard to get (a rare loot perhaps), then it matters just how hard the item is to acquire - and that is subjective. This is where the line gets unclear between F2P and P2W.

    For example, if the only thing you can buy in the game is an XP boost, paying and non-paying players will still be equal when they reach level cap (League of Legends). The game is not P2W. However If a player can buy an advantage from the itemshop that cannot be otherwise obtained, or it is very hard atleast, the game becomes P2W.

    World of Tanks is still in the gray area for me since you can buy gold ammunition which is better than normal ammunition, but it is still possible to get gold without buying it through the Clan Wars system. I understand if someone calls it a P2W game tho.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    Originally posted by WhySoShort

    Originally posted by WhySoShort

     

    All this said, I think an MMO with PvE that you can "win" or "beat" is poorly designed. 

    That makes everything poorly designed. image

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • blazin-aceblazin-ace Doomed, NCPosts: 302Member

    When “winning” is defined as having fun (the object of game playing) then Free to Play becomes Pay to Win at the point where spending money on offered cash shop goods results in a better gameplay experience for the shop user when compared to those who do not spend.  This makes the term “free to play” a misnomer in the current market needing change.



    It leads to a question of professional ethics that is not so clear cut in that the business model is based on taking advantage of a user’s desire for convenient advancements when presented with an intentionally frustrating game situation. This is because it is likely to result in a spur of the moment purchase or impulse buy of goods created by the developer to fill the need they have intentionally created for the player to attain a happier emotional state of being during play. 



    It is this designed situation that allows shop transactions to draw more money for a developer in the current industry market than simple flat rate subscription fees.

     

  • PhryPhry HampshirePosts: 6,289Member Uncommon

    its just too obvious.. a game is P2W if it has items in the cash shop that affect combat/gear/stats etc..  which basicaly means anything other than vanity items = P2W..  can include P2P games not just F2P. image

  • EmoqqboyEmoqqboy SINGAPOREPosts: 186Member

    Short answer: from the point the company decided it was going to take the free 2 play path.

    From a player's perspective, it depends how long you can live in self-denial that the game you love is not pay 2 win. Every game company will try as much as possible to reap as much revenue as possible without driving away all of its population. You can keep lying to yourself that it is balanced playing an F2P without spending a single cent, and of course there are gonna be numerous posts after this that point out they did not spend a single cent and are fine with it. Reality of the situation: the more serious you are about the game you love playing which has adopted the F2P path, the sooner you will see the truth behind the F2P business model, and along with that your hard earned money pouring out of your pockets. Here you are intending to play 100% for free and there the marketting team of the game company is trying its very best to do the exact opposite, and you can be damn sure if they are not hitting their revenue quota, they will MAKE SURE they add items to their cash/gift shops to make you spend.

    They usually start off with non game changing frills, like costumes, visual enhancement items for your chars. At this point, you pray to god there are enough vain morons playing the game alongside you that will spend loads of cash on these useless vanity items, because its pretty simple, if there arent enough vain morons, they decide vanity items wont be enough to gain revenue, and they are forced to add game changing items. (From my experience, games that only sell vanity items in their F2P cash shops dont manage to survive, as majority of the players will reach a decision that they can live without frills as long as it doesnt affect anything game changing, thus, back to my "Short answer")

    My 2 cents, flame on.

    <QQ moar plz. kkthxbai.>

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by ActionMMORPG

    I've been playing a game, I won't disclose which it is because last thing I need is to make an enemy of another dev.

    I got up a few levels and out of curiousity started poking around the cash shop.  I was astonished at how much was available.  Gear, armor, consumables, even in game gold was all laid out in a nice presentation.  Anything and everything one would need or want to build an uber character was ready for purchase.

    I was blown away by the blatant commercialism of it all.  Absolutely speechless.  Is this the future of gaming?

     

    I'm not anti Free 2 Play, but I am struggling with one concept.  At what point does Free 2 Play become pay to win?

     

    Your thoughts on where the line is drawn... How much cash shop is too much?

    The game you played is the exception and not the norm.

     

    As far as 'pay to win' is concerned - it's a bandwagon fallacy and only used as a stance against F2P when the person has no real argument against it.

    Pay to Win?  The term is used by a section of gamers that are predominantly PvE players (*cue the guy that doesn't understand the world 'predominantly' and contests the statement because he's a PVPer) so it's interesting where 'win' comes in... and that's where your answer is.

     

    The point at which F2P becomes 'pay to win' is different for each person because it starts at the point they feel the player next to them has something they don't. 'Winning' has to do with the imaginary race to cap or other personal competition that they have concocted, despite the group being one of the most vocal when it comes to 'enjoying the journey'.

     

    But, despite my personal dislike for this oft-regurgitated and blatantly false term, I do understand the sentiment behind it from at least one particular group of gamers.

    There's the argument from some that when they have played a game for free for 30 or so levels, they should not reach a point where money would need to be spent to continue further. While that contention may seem irrational to some and is decidedly false in most F2P games, it is more a cultural thing than anything else. The problem there has little to do with winning anything but rather the fact that someone just played a game for free for a month, enjoyed it and is unhappy that they would be asked to spend anything on the game. It almost sounds like there's a certain sense of entitlement there, but among Millennials, this is a logical and rational contention.

    They grew up with 100-400 channels playing 24/7 for one monthly price, text/data/voice bundles on their phones and various levels of unlimited service in all forms of their media, especially the internet. Video (hulu, crackle), music (pandora, slacker), games (flash, web, online) and the world wide web have been not only at their fingertips, but in their pocket, as many of them have grown up with cellphones, not tethered to a bulky desktop as their only entertainment and communiction tool.

    While Baby Boomers and Gen X are familiar with a la carte and premium services, the Millennial would look at such things and ask if there is a plan/bundle/sub that includes those extras. Their world is not really bound by a choice of prices but a choice of options within a price.

    ---==+==---

     

     

    "in answer to the topic question: the point of cash shop-dissatisfaction for me, is when I feel I have to buy something in order to enjoy playing." -rissies

     

    That seems to be the most universal sentiment. Kudos to Rissies for presenting it without the 'pay to win' spin.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • MMOtoGOMMOtoGO Freeland, MIPosts: 630Member

    Cash shop items could be put into the following categories:

    1. Time savers (mounts, xp boosts, gold)

    2. Power boosters (gear, potions/scrolls)

    3. Content (quest packs, new zones, classes)

    4. Cosmetics (dye, armor skins, non-combat pets)

    Many people on this site think that only cosmetics should be sold in a f2p cash shop, but I don't see how this could generate enough revenue to keep a game going.  I'm glad I'm not a game developer because I could never figure out how to make a game that feels complete, but also gets enough people shopping in the cash store to keep it running. 

    For those of you that think every game should have a sub fee, I think you overestimate how many subs gamers will have at one time.  I refuse to pay for more than one at a time, and I'm not alone.  

    As far as Pay to Win, I think that's a tough question becaue it depends on what the contest is that you are 'wnning'.  I personally only see the issue with PvP, and not PvE.  

    Personally, anybody that plays a f2p game...you should be happy your game has stuff people want to buy...if it's making money, then the game stays afloat.  If the game is so complete for totally free, you can kiss your game goodbye within a year.

     

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,453Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Loktofeit

    Pay to Win?  The term is used by a section of gamers that are predominantly PvE players (*cue the guy that doesn't understand the world 'predominantly' and contests the statement because he's a PVPer) so it's intersting where 'win' comes in... and that's where your answer is.

    I know perfectly well what predominantly means and I have to say that the term is used "predominantly" by pvp players.

    There's very little to win in a pve game. In fact it's silly to even think that someone can win anything in a pve game as eventually, if players keep playing they will all end up in the same place. Except for the few people who for some reason feel the need to stand in town in the most "bad ass" gear as they think this actually is impressing anyone.

    It's in pvp games where one can actually "pay to win" if one can buy abilities, gear, etc. that allow one to be victorious over other players.

    I would agree that it's an argument that is brought out whenever someone wants to argue against f2p games as I have tried many f2p games and have rarely ever seen anything that was truly "pay to win".

    The rest of the post rings rather true.

  • Snaylor47Snaylor47 Des Moines, IAPosts: 962Member

    Pay 2 Win when the only way to get Item X is from the cash shop.

     

    That is why I am playing EQIIX or LOTRO and not some second rate Korean MMO.

    I don't care about innovation I care about fun.

  • tkoreapertkoreaper Castroville, TXPosts: 401Member Common

    F2P becomes P2W when someone with money can have an advantage over someone who spends nothing. This of course comes with some exception IMO. Let me explain...

    If you're able to buy gear or anything else that makes you stronger in any way, shape, or form then it's P2W. I believe that microtransactions should be strictly cosmetic and, at the very most, grant you access to more content. This is where the exception come in... If you pay to gain access to extra content and that content can grant you the better gear or loot then I'm fine with that... It's no different than buy an expansion for a game. 

    There's also something else that may be an exception and it's a new feature that some upcoming games are implementing... a player run real money AH. I think people should be entitled to earn money in a game, be it artifical money or real... but I am, however, against being able to purchase in-game currency. 

    In all honesty that's my only problem with F2P games. It's going to take some getting used to by some people because F2P games in the past have left a sour taste in people's mouths making them immediately assume that just because a game is F2P it it P2W. The games, that I know of, that are looking to pave the way for future F2P games are Planetside 2 and Diablo 3. Rather than being subscription based they will feature things such as the aforementioned player driven real money auction houses and purchasable content.

    What's everyone's thoughts on this?

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,643Member Uncommon

    nvm

     

    modz plz delete

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

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