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General: The Barrier Called 'Free'

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,619MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

There are many barriers barring players from successful entry into their favorite MMOs. Who would have thought, however, that "free" or "free to play" would be one of them? Check out today's Devil's Advocate to see why we think that free sometimes IS a barrier. Leave us your thoughts in the comments.

There are two big ideas that play in many minds when it comes to the idea of a free-to-play game, and these create the mental barrier that can create a dismissive attitude towards a particular game that waves the flag of “free.” The first is that the game is limited or encourages a “pay-to-win” system as a result of its free-to-play status, while the second is that the game may not be very good because it happens to be a free-to-play game.

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: The Barrier Called 'Free'.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • AeolronAeolron Ottawa, ONPosts: 648Member
    I'll stick with my sub based mmos one fee of 14 bucks per month is fine with me.
  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon

    My thought is that people will value something more if they have to pay for it. I understand that at some point there is a barrior to entry if one is paying subs to several games and a new sub game comes out.

    At the same time, what value is placed on a game where one can freely enter it, do what they want for a bit and then leave to do something elsewhere for a bit. Will this actually affect commuities essentially making them transient personalities? Does it affect how well people behave in these games knowing that if they act like an ass they will be banned and lose not only an investment in time but also hard earned money?

     

  • gaeanprayergaeanprayer Somewhere Out There, PAPosts: 2,320Member Uncommon

    Ugh, Ragnarok Online screenshot, damn youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu *fights urge*

    "Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."

  • mnemic666mnemic666 asdf, CAPosts: 157Member Uncommon

    Honestly, most of the F2P hate is unwarranted and I just don't understand the mentality.

    I have about 9 F2P games installed on my computer (Lineage 2, Aion, Allods, DCUO, Champions Online, City of Heroes, EQ2, Tribes, Age of Conan, Rusty Hearts, Vindictus. Also currently subscribed to Rift and have TERA pre-ordered...and I don't have nearly enough time to play any of them >.<) that I play off an on depending on what mood I'm in. I'm mostly a freeloader and In the years I've played these games I've spent a total of 25 dollars (10 of them last night on Tribes, 5 on EQ2, 5 on Champions Online and 5 on EQ2). I might be slightly limited in some of the games (the ones that transitioned from subscription to freemium), but I've never really felt as if I'm missing out on a lot because I'm not actively paying for a F2P game.

    I consistantly hear people dismiss F2P games because of, "lol cash shop" (as if it's an insult) and each time I facepalm. I think the ONLY two games I can think of off the top of my head that don't have a cash shop that are currently live are Rift and SWTOR. WoW has one, that's where you purchase your mounts and pets (I'm not including server transfers as part of a cash shop), and each time somoene denies it a million adorable baby kittens die (think of the kittens). Cash shops aren't bad, they're spectacular. Sure, there are always going to be a few games here and there that legitmately have a pay to win system, but that's the minority. The overwhelming majority of games sell cosmetic gear and convenience through their cash shop. An XP boost is a convenience, not power. A PvP currency boost is another convenience, not power.

    I'm just so frustrated by people  who blindly hate on free to play/hybrid games and smuggly look down their noses at those freeloaders while they pay their glorious subscription. The subscription doesn't make the game any significantly better, it's the company that develops the game.

  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon

    The thing is F2P ends up being more expensive for me. Don't even asked the absurd amount I've wasted on Mabinogi. So much spent on rebirth cards and VIP. It added up to $50+ a month. Subscription games are cheaper than that!

    Smile

  • RazeeksterRazeekster Solon, MEPosts: 2,201Member Uncommon

    By the way, what game is the picture with the two ships duking it out?

    Smile

  • thinktank001thinktank001 oasisPosts: 2,027Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by mnemic666

    I'm just so frustrated by people  who blindly hate on free to play/hybrid games and smuggly look down their noses at those freeloaders while they pay their glorious subscription. The subscription doesn't make the game any significantly better, it's the company that develops the game.

     

    People don't blindly hate on P2W games.  You just choose to ignore the game mechanic modifications that players can purchase through the cash shop.  

    P2W games by design are inferior to subscription based games.   All aspects are designed around the idea that they may be monetized in the future.   Developers are building their game so players can " Buy Fun ".

  • s1fu71s1fu71 fair oaks, CAPosts: 220Member

    I'm not opposed to the F2P games that I've tried. But, I've only run into a problem with two of them. And the problem was the same.

    AoC and EQ: The classes I wanted to try was not in the F2P model.

    It's not about fighting, it's about balance. It's not about enlightenment, it's about balance. It's not about balance.

  • UnlightUnlight Ottawa, ONPosts: 2,540Member

    Put a TV out on the sidewalk with a sign on it saying "FREE" and it will sit there for weeks.  Replace the sign with one that says "$25" and it will be stolen over night. 

    People fool themselves into believing the intrinsic value of something equates to the price tag that's on it.  Too bad for them.  They deserve to be parted from their money.

  • RollieJoeRollieJoe Raleigh, NCPosts: 436Member

    The author of this article massively understates the prevalence of pay-to-win in today's "F2P" MMO's, so much so that I wonder if he is doing it deliberately or is simply inexperienced and misinformed.  I have played 20+ major "F2P" games and every single one of them, without exception, had P2W/pay-for-advantage aspects to the cash shop.  I very much doubt if an exception even exists.

     

    The majority of "F2P" games have items in the cash shop that give advantage in PvE, PvP, or both - advantages that it is not possible for a free player to get.  The handful that allow free players to also acquire cash shop items make sure that there are stiff punishments in place to discourage this.

  • JenuvielJenuviel Seattle, WAPosts: 960Member

    I'm not a fan of free-to-play games because I don't want to be reminded every time I open a menu that my game-play experience would be better if I bought item X for dollars Y. Since free-to-play games derive all of their income from cash shops, they have to tweak game-play to encourage purchase of cash shop items. Are they selling mounts? Then expect travel times to be painful without them. Are they selling potions? Then expect combat to hurt without them. Inconvenience is coded into the game so you'll pay to make it go away.

     

    Subscription-based games are based on the opposite strategy: since they derive their money from selling you a month-to-month service, it's in their best interest to continually improve the game in order to prevent turnover. Also, I like the "set it and forget it" model of payment, in which I select what length of time I want to subscribe for, then never think about it again until I'm ready to leave the game.

     

    For some of us, free-to-play games simply don't offer what we're looking for. Sadly, fewer subscription-based games are offering what I want today, either, and that's because what I want is an escape, an immersive world experience, not a cash shop platform. If I have to think about how much money I have in my real life bank account while playing a roleplaying game, the developers have failed to understand what roleplaying games are all about.

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,460Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Unlight

    Put a TV out on the sidewalk with a sign on it saying "FREE" and it will sit there for weeks.  Replace the sign with one that says "$25" and it will be stolen over night. 

    People fool themselves into believing the intrinsic value of something equates to the price tag that's on it.  Too bad for them.  They deserve to be parted from their money.

    meh, not in an actual city.

    Put something on the sidewalk and regardless of the sign it will be gone the next day.

    It is true that people attribute a higher price to more value. Sometimes this is actually true. My roommate, who is a thrifty man, finally decided, in his late 30's, that he was no longer buying cheap things as they always ended up breaking sooner rather than later and he had to spend more money to buy them.

    I think the actual value of something depends on the item itself. And I still think that people value things they pay for more than things given them.

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    In college I once put a couch out on the sidewalk with a sign that said "free" and then went back inside to get the matching love seat, literally a minute later I'm back outside with the love seat and the couch is gone.

    Vanished.

    Never saw or heard anything.

    Oddly, the love seat sat out there for a week before the city came and picked it up for disposal.

    Also had a free sign on it.

     

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,752Member Uncommon

         Im probably in the minority but I like the f2p movement....Ive played alot of games I never would have played if I would have had to pay....I dont ever feel cheated or that I am missing something because I'm playing for free either......The cash shop for me is never a temptation so they can put whatever they want in there......In the last 7 years I have paid less than a hundred bucks to play all MMOs I have played....The 5 years before that (when there were hardly any f2p games around)  I probably paid about 1500 dollars to play the p2p games.

  • HerodesHerodes DannenbergPosts: 1,494Member

    I don´t care if it is P2P or F2P cash shop, even pay2win (except of gambling and rent-an-item for x time). The box price is the biggest barrier here.

  • Superman0XSuperman0X San Jose, CAPosts: 1,599Member Uncommon

    For those of us that have been around long enough, this is nothing new. The best example of this is email. At one time, free email was percieved as lower quality. Now it is considered the standard. In 5 years the same thing will have happened for gaming.

     

     

  • BurntvetBurntvet Baltimore, MDPosts: 2,945Member Uncommon

    The author missed several other bad aspects of so-called "F2P" titles...

    First, the CS and tech support for F2P titles is almost always worse (and sometimes non-existent) as compared to P2P titles.

    On the very few occasions I have played "F2P" titles and needed CS/Tech support, it was terrible. The reasons are likely one of two: either the company is not making much money from the title and have very few CS reps (of dubious quality) or the outsource it to people that know nothing about the game or CS is not a priority, OR they straight up do not care if you get frustrated and quit, because they lose nothing if you do.

    And second, F2P games are almost always over run with bots/spammers/cheaters and d-bags of every stripe, because they can't be gotten rid of. If an acct gets banned,and that is the only thing most companies do to "bad player", the player can come right back on another free acct and keep on doing the same thing. And that is if the company even does anything in the first place. The F2P asian grinders are rife with every kind of spammer and botter out there.

    And the companies don't care.

    And there are other negative factors about "F2P" games.

    Thanks, but no.

    I'll stick with P2P titles or play nothing (which is what I am playing now).

     

  • HammerfelHammerfel San Diego, CAPosts: 9Member

    Originally posted by Razeekster

    By the way, what game is the picture with the two ships duking it out?




     

    I would like to know this also. Is it Pirates of the Burning Sea?

    Nathan Pearce
    Director of Skunkworks
    Sony Online Entertainment

  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 5,590Member Uncommon

    If a F2P game offered the same level of game experience that any AAA title offered assuming you spend $10-$20 per month in the shop, then I'd consider it a value.  And assuming that the p2w aspect was not out of control. 

    I expect some measure of P2W from F2P Cash shops. They have to favor the gamers who pay the bills.

  • evolver1972evolver1972 Port Orchard, WAPosts: 1,118Member

    I don't understand the hate about games that either start as F2P or end up going that route.  Yes, I get that some F2P games are crap, but from what I understand, there are plenty of P2P games that are crap as well.  With F2P, when you find out it's crap, it doesn't hurt so bad.

     

    I say, just take each game on its own merits.  If you feel it has a Pay2Win CS (whether P2P or F2P), then don't play.  If it's an F2P and you find it fun and even want to spend some cash in the CS then, have at it.

     

    My personal opinion is that B2P is the best way to go - it's good for the devs and good for the players.  In most cases, you get a quality game that is fun to play and the devs make some money to pay for the costs of the game + develop a new one.  Just like console games, or most other PC based games.

     

    2nd to that for me is the hybrid model like the one in LotRO.  There you have P2P and F2P players playing the same game and the F2P people, with some frugality can even get many of the "bonus" areas/quests without paying a dime.  And the P2P people get a bunch of perks.   Works for me.

     

    One disclaimer:  I tend to be more PvE oriented so some things that seem to others as Pay2Win in a CS don't seem that way to me.  So, that could be a difference for some.  But, like I said, check out each game and judge it on its merits.  If it doesn't suit your needs in a game, move on to something that does.

    image

    You want me to pay to play a game I already paid for???

    Be afraid.....The dragons are HERE!

  • alkarionlogalkarionlog SPosts: 1,125Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by Superman0X

    For those of us that have been around long enough, this is nothing new. The best example of this is email. At one time, free email was percieved as lower quality. Now it is considered the standard. In 5 years the same thing will have happened for gaming.

     

     




     

    I nerver get my e-mails to ask me to buy extra space or new fonts, or color for fonts, also he never blocked me to send a e-mail to someone because I didn't have the permition and have to buy it.

    FOR HONOR, FOR FREEDOM.... and for some money.
    image

  • BMoorBMoor Boston, MAPosts: 202Member

    Originally posted by alkarionlog



    Originally posted by Superman0X



    For those of us that have been around long enough, this is nothing new. The best example of this is email. At one time, free email was percieved as lower quality. Now it is considered the standard. In 5 years the same thing will have happened for gaming.





     





     










     

    I nerver get my e-mails to ask me to buy extra space or new fonts, or color for fonts, also he never blocked me to send a e-mail to someone because I didn't have the permition and have to buy it.




     



    But email systems like that exist.  For example:

    Yahoo! Mail Plus - Gets you offline POP, 100 more filters, Live Customer Care (sounds familiar), Mail Forwarding, Disposable Addresses, and No graphical ads.

    GMail - More space is the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.  Reminds me of buying inventory space.

    Hotmail Plus - More space (sounds familiar), No account expiration, No graphical ads.

     

    Of course, you could also stick to the email system that your subscription based ISP provides.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,189Member Uncommon

    Nothing wrong with F2P games, but there are huge differences in this segment.  Many have little or no support mechanisms, those I tend to avoid.  It is nice to be able to try out a game without forking over a box price.  I have been burned by some games where I bought the box and found out I did not like the game.  Aion is a good example there.

    As to Pay-to-Win, I only associate that feature with PVP, who cares if someone can do better PVE than you, hence there are a lot of F2P games out there that are not Pay-to-Win in my mind.

    Personally I have found the games that offer a hybrid model, like Lotro or DDO to fit my playstyle far better than other things out there.

    Some of the F2P like Perfect World and Runes of Magic were initially really fun, but once you got to the upper levels of those games it became almost mandatory to start spending in the cash shop.  Don't mind spending a little in the cash shop, but games like those mentioned above quickly get expensive.

  • nuttobnuttob Plantation, FLPosts: 291Member

    I saw rant after rant that Aion is P2W.  If I look over what they have to offer, there is not a single P2W item there from what I can tell.  Can one of you ranters point out which actual items are P2W? 

  • BigHatLoganBigHatLogan Bellingham, WAPosts: 688Member

    Free to play is nice because it is easier to convince friends to play it with me.  Free to play can be dangerous though, I easily spent over a hundred on Atlantica Online in a few  months  (a great game though).   There are a lot of REALLY bad F2P games which is where the stigma comes from, generally Korean grinder clones.  

    Are you a Pavlovian Fish Biscuit Addict? Get Help Now!
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    I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

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