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[Column] General: F2P and the Consumer Choice Narrative

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,596MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

Free-to-play games have swiftly become the norm in the MMO space in the last year. In a new column, we take a look at the phenomenon and what it means to we, the consumer. Read on before heading to the comments to tell us what you think.

I think there's no longer any argument about the direction in which the MMO market is heading, with the proliferation of free-to-play titles and decline of subscription-based games over the past five years.  In fact, while there are still more than a few MMORPGs out there that employ a subscription-only payment model -- you can find most of them on our game list -- only a handful can continue to boast "blockbuster" success.  This trend doesn't necessarily suggest that subscriptions are completely going the way of the dodo, or that there is no room in the genre for pay-to-play monetization, but it does indicate that developers have been increasingly required to think differently about how to implement subscriptions within free-to-play and freemium models.

Read more of Som Pourfarzaneh's Free-to-Play and the Consumer Choice Narrative.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • LegendtriggerLegendtrigger SoestPosts: 39Member
    try avg free adition :D
  • FearumFearum Cinnaminson, NJPosts: 1,166Member Uncommon

    I disagree entirely. Its ruining the genre into a type of fast food crap fest where nobody is part of a community within these games anymore. Your just a random number drooling ATM machine for these companies that try to entice you into buying some crap from a cash shop to make some money off you. 

    When I play a game or go out to eat, I expect top notch service and a quality experience. I don't go to buffet's because you get neither, as I don't play F2P because you get neither.

    F2P just allows a crap game to stick around longer than it should, there is no quality control built in with it. A subscription game allows players to show if the game is good or not, if the game is crap you lose all your players, hence you lose your income. F2P you only need a few players who dish out tons of money to keep it alive with droves of others that just pop in to try it out, which is the same as the old free trial system which had nothing wrong with it.

     
     
     
  • Jerek_Jerek_ tulsa, OKPosts: 409Member

    "There's no question that free-to-play MMORPGs are here to stay"

    If you mean there will always be at least some f2p MMORPGs then fine, but I do question f2p as a major long term trend.  F2p expansion in the west has happened in a fairly brief amount of time, shorter than the development cycles of many major MMOs.  We haven't seen proof that players will continue to spend in cash shops long term, especially as the average time players stick with the games stays so low.  Just from following the gtn prices and availbity of cartel shop packs in SWTOR its clear that the market has fallen quickly and gets weaker with each pack issue.  I just don't see this trend being good for paying customers or generating much profit for developers long term.

  • AeonbladesAeonblades Home, GAPosts: 2,083Member

    I could not disagree more, F2P is a passing fad, all we have to do is wait for people to catch on that they are wasting 30 dollars a month for a new dress and a new dungeon when they could be paying a flat rate for all new content at a far cheaper price.

    F2P is basically a response to the ADD generation, poor development choices, and shoddy game releases and should no way be considered the future of MMOs.

    F2P will always be around in some form, but as we already see the most populated and played MMOs are sub based in some form or another.

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

  • LegendtriggerLegendtrigger SoestPosts: 39Member
    i agree, i really really hope Teso will be p2p. without stupid cash shop.
  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Aeonblades

    I could not disagree more, F2P is a passing fad, all we have to do is wait for people to catch on that they are wasting 30 dollars a month for a new dress and a new dungeon when they could be paying a flat rate for all new content at a far cheaper price.

    F2P is basically a response to the ADD generation, poor development choices, and shoddy game releases and should no way be considered the future of MMOs.

    F2P will always be around in some form, but as we already see the most populated and played MMOs are sub based in some form or another.

    Of course F2P "payment models" are aimed squarely at the "gotta have it now" mentality. Most people will make the bulk of their cash shop purchases in the first month or two of play. That's fine, seeing as most people move on to the next game after 2 or 3 months anyway, because they'll be bored with the endgame grind by then.

    And because the game is free to play, there's a constant stream of new players arriving to try it out. And they all "need" that extra bag space, and that slightly better mount, and those XP potions and scrolls and such.

    And it's always more economical to buy large chunks of "ingame currency" rather than multiple small lots. Better to spend $20 on 40K GC than to spend $10 on 15K GC. So you end up with a big pile of "platinum slabs" or "gems" or whatever. And because you now have a lot of them, it's very tempting to spend it on cash shop stuff....

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,717Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Legendtrigger
    try avg free adition :D

    or avast... or comodo... etc :)  +1, this was my first thought as well when red that, free AV progs keep getting pretty high scores on bulletin boards in the last years, so your free-to-use antivirus request is already outdated.

     

    To the topic, I too had my bad feelings against f2p model, but when my favourite games went freemium one by one (and the runner-ups as well) I slowly got used to it. Not saying that it will be good for the mmo genre on the long run... But until my games are up and running, I'm fine.

    Btw. nice pics, for illustrating the "subscription-only models of monetization are becoming more and more archaic" part the templars are a perfect pick :) Loomies ftw. (and the Tiger mount - though I like my mammoth better, a tiger mount is always cool)

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    F2P is here to stay, because it's a "win-win" all round.

     

    The game companies love it, because it makes them more money.

     

    The players love it, because they can choose whether to spend any money or not.

     

    Ironically, it appears that the average gamer actually spends more money in F2P games than they did on the old P2P model. But that's OK, because they can stop anytime. Just not this week...

  • orbitxoorbitxo fort lauderdale, FLPosts: 1,405Member Uncommon

    its nice to see  you guys educating  us on  mmo genres now n again, so perhaps now more comments can be valid  and not just presumptious.

    from what ive read in other posts - alot of comments here can be ignored.

    thanks mmorpg!- nice article.

     

    iam abig example of F2p...never played TERA, started playing it f2p model actually enjoying the game, bought a few things from their cash shop, =win /win.

     

    same for GW2.

  • FromHellFromHell NY, NYPosts: 1,311Member

    without subs, no further development.

    I like subs because I want the premium package not the free sample for cheapskates

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  • orbitxoorbitxo fort lauderdale, FLPosts: 1,405Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by FromHell

    without subs, no further development.

    I like subs because I want the premium package not the free sample for cheapskates

     

    there is no reason you can't have both in an mmo. Tera has a great  monthly package now that its gone f2p-i was impressed!. it was tempting for me- but i have a few games i play which limits my time in TERA.

    its not abt beign cheap its abt time investing-imo

  • TookyGTookyG Warhammer Online Correspondent Alameda, CAPosts: 1,188Member

    The "consumer choice narrative" is just that, a narrative.  It's fiction.  There's no such thing as a free lunch as the saying goes.

     

     

    Also, it's warehouse as in a house for wares as opposed to a wherehouse.  Which I suppose is a question?  "Where house?"  "Here house!"

    Until you cancel your subscription, you are only helping to continue the cycle of mediocrity.

  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,717Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by FromHell

    without subs, no further development.

    I like subs because I want the premium package not the free sample for cheapskates

    More precisely, without subs, to ensure the steady income the devs should heavily focusing and promote the store, which can easily affect the gameplay as well. To be honest, the games I play all kept the subscription option when switched to freemium, so I'm not sure how will a full-blown f2p perform on the long run. I'm really curious about Neverwinter's in-game store and prices...

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Aeonblades

    I could not disagree more, F2P is a passing fad, all we have to do is wait for people to catch on that they are wasting 30 dollars a month for a new dress and a new dungeon when they could be paying a flat rate for all new content at a far cheaper price.

    F2P is basically a response to the ADD generation, poor development choices, and shoddy game releases and should no way be considered the future of MMOs.

    F2P will always be around in some form, but as we already see the most populated and played MMOs are sub based in some form or another.

    Interesting spin you have there.  I have my own.

    With sub-locked games you must spend your $15/mo ($180 per year) + box/expac fees + cash shop items or you can't even play.  If you stop paying them all the money you've spent on the game is useless unless you pay them more.

    With sub-free games everything you spend on the game is accessible and adds to your account until they shutdown the servers.  I have yet to spend more than $100/year (far less money than sub-locked games) per game.  I can spend more or less based on my decisions.

    The sub only proponents often claim that sub-free games are more expensive and then relate a "whale" anecdote, but the ability to spend more doesn't translate into the necessity to spend more.  None has actually proved that it *is* more expensive to play sub-free games.  I know I haven't spent more.

    The tripe you posted about sub-free game quality can be applied to subscription locked games as well.  Rift's Storm Legion has been a huge buggy mess.  The subscription didn't mean the players received a higher quality bug free game.

    A game doesn't become better because of its payment model, but it can become worse because of it.  Sub-locks are a barrier to entry and that can inhibit financial success.  Poorly implemented sub-free models can ruin the enjoyment of a game.  There have been some horrible F2P implementations (TOR, early SoE models with EQ2 and Vanguard).  Just because a game is F2P doesn't mean it is poor.  That is subjective.

    I don't mind sub-locked games, but I'm not supporting that model anymore.  I have no intention of ever renting restricted game play access ever again.  The only thing I resent is the idea that I should feel obligated to subscribe and rent access to a game in order to support other subscribers.  If there is not enough of you then too bad for you.

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Fearum

    I disagree entirely. Its ruining the genre into a type of fast food crap fest where nobody is part of a community within these games anymore. Your just a random number drooling ATM machine for these companies that try to entice you into buying some crap from a cash shop to make some money off you. 

    When I play a game or go out to eat, I expect top notch service and a quality experience. I don't go to buffet's because you get neither, as I don't play F2P because you get neither.

    F2P just allows a crap game to stick around longer than it should, there is no quality control built in with it. A subscription game allows players to show if the game is good or not, if the game is crap you lose all your players, hence you lose your income. F2P you only need a few players who dish out tons of money to keep it alive with droves of others that just pop in to try it out, which is the same as the old free trial system which had nothing wrong with it.

     
     
     

    So you believe GW2 is a crapfest?  Or is it "above" F2P titles because you have to purchase the box? You overgeneralize the concept to the point that its unrealistic.

    The bottom line remains in F2P you get to pick and choose what parts of the game you want to purchase/play.  Having the discipline to not use the cash shop or believe someone buying something they want somehow affects your gaming experience is a different conversation.

    And to your example, I prefer the buffet because the service you pay for is probably subpar.  Just because you pay for something doesnt necessarily mean you get (additional) value.  Its an assumption marketers have been gaming for years.

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  • lugallugal Escondido, CAPosts: 636Member Uncommon
    I wonder how much money the writers and editors get paid to promote f2p? It is well documented that game journalists are on the take and will do as they are told by their masters.
    The more articles they publish to herald f2p as the next best thing since sliced bread, the more obvious they are on the take. Wish the journalists would hold the game developers accountable for poor quality games, for f2p will not resolve the current problem we as gamers face, poor game quality at launch.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    The reviewer has a mishapen head
    Which means his opinion is skewed
    ...Aldous.MF'n.Huxley

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon

    Great article.  I dont think F2P can come fast enough.  Sub models are archaic and a waste of money (similiar to a cable subscription).  The fact that people dont understand they spend MORE from a sub than from an a-la-carte is astounding to me, but not surprising.

    P2W only makes sense is terms of PvP but even then I attribute it to time.  I have never seen a cash shop in the F2P titles I frequent that had a weapon or armor set that gave an obvious advantage over another player (doesnt mean it doesnt exist in some old asian F2P title).  What I have seen are XP boosters, revival jars, and other convenience items that doesnt change how a player progresses but merely how fast they can do it.   If you get upset because random player X can get more XP percentage than you then I'd say you are playing for the wrong reasons.  At the end of the day you should be enjoying your experience and how you share it with others rather than what the Joneses are doing.

    Best of both worlds.  Let those silly enough to sub continue and give the option to us who are more concious of cost to pay a-la-carte.

     

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  • FearumFearum Cinnaminson, NJPosts: 1,166Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by darkhalf357x
    Originally posted by Fearum

    I disagree entirely. Its ruining the genre into a type of fast food crap fest where nobody is part of a community within these games anymore. Your just a random number drooling ATM machine for these companies that try to entice you into buying some crap from a cash shop to make some money off you. 

    When I play a game or go out to eat, I expect top notch service and a quality experience. I don't go to buffet's because you get neither, as I don't play F2P because you get neither.

    F2P just allows a crap game to stick around longer than it should, there is no quality control built in with it. A subscription game allows players to show if the game is good or not, if the game is crap you lose all your players, hence you lose your income. F2P you only need a few players who dish out tons of money to keep it alive with droves of others that just pop in to try it out, which is the same as the old free trial system which had nothing wrong with it.

     
     
     

    So you believe GW2 is a crapfest?  Or is it "above" F2P titles because you have to purchase the box? You overgeneralize the concept to the point that its unrealistic.

    The bottom line remains in F2P you get to pick and choose what parts of the game you want to purchase/play.  Having the discipline to not use the cash shop or believe someone buying something they want somehow affects your gaming experience is a different conversation.

    And to your example, I prefer the buffet because the service you pay for is probably subpar.  Just because you pay for something doesnt necessarily mean you get (additional) value.  Its an assumption marketers have been gaming for years.

     Yes I think GW2 is a crap fest. They can't even fix the game becasue they are rushing out holiday events so they can cash in off the gem store while disregarding the actual game part.

    I'am not talking about chain restaurants chief. Really? You think you get more value out of free stuff when your talking about a product? Do you buy some cheap peice of crap in a store if it has some other peice of crap that comes with it free over something thats a bit more expensive and is built better and think you got a deal?

     
  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lugal
    I wonder how much money the writers and editors get paid to promote f2p? It is well documented that game journalists are on the take and will do as they are told by their masters.
    The more articles they publish to herald f2p as the next best thing since sliced bread, the more obvious they are on the take. Wish the journalists would hold the game developers accountable for poor quality games, for f2p will not resolve the current problem we as gamers face, poor game quality at launch.
     

    Paid or not, Im not hearing a valid argument of how why subs are better?  I dont think we can guess either way without trying it.   If it doesnt work subs (or something else) will replace it... but I doubt it in my opinion.

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  • RossbossRossboss Runes of Magic, TXPosts: 240Member
    Originally posted by lugal
    I wonder how much money the writers and editors get paid to promote f2p? It is well documented that game journalists are on the take and will do as they are told by their masters.
    The more articles they publish to herald f2p as the next best thing since sliced bread, the more obvious they are on the take. Wish the journalists would hold the game developers accountable for poor quality games, for f2p will not resolve the current problem we as gamers face, poor game quality at launch.

    Let me go get my tin foil hat for you.

     

    On a side note, the f2p business model doesn't promote expansions and doesn't lend it self to legacy titles that players can just keep playing for years. It however does support development of new titles and concepts with shorter content. This is good for all of us normal players that only spend about 1-3 hours a day playing video games. It's not a fad, nor is it a dying trend. It's bad for the hardcore players who like end-game and raiding and all those sorts of non-sense.

    I believe this is more of a "put your time where your mouth is" instead of "put your money where your mouth is". The field is simply adapting to a more short term business model to feed the needs of players who are the majority of gamers.

    I played WoW up until WotLK, played RoM for 2 years and now Rift.
    I am F2P player. I support games when I feel they deserve my money and I want the items enough.
    I don't troll, and I don't take kindly to trolls.

  • Shana77Shana77 UtrechtPosts: 207Member

    Dude are you from the 90-ies? You do know that there are already tons of high quality anti-virus products completely free of charge? Paying for an anti-virus program is done by companies who aren't allowed to use the free programs and by people who don't have a clue. 

    I use Avast myself by the way. It has never dissapointed me or failed to catch a virus.  

  • VesaviusVesavius BristolPosts: 7,643Member Uncommon

    "...not the least of which because I like to play a lot of MMOs concurrently and am cheap."

     

    Urgh... Nice that you got a platform here at MMORPG.com to evangalise your transient non-commital freeloading playstyle though.

     

    This type of gamer is as selfish as it gets tbh, pushing a bad value revenue model that comes with a big raft of game damaging design points at the expense of invested committed supporters of their chosen game.

     

    Ask yourselves how much does a cheap (his word) freeloader like this actually paying into your game (that you probably pay to support) as he pops into it for his 1-2 hours a week play stint, because he and his type are having a profound effect on how you pay for your games and the core design focus you are seeing.

     

    But, like I said, nice to see he is being given an 'official' voice here at MMORPG.com. I am sure we can expect to see a balancing article soon from someone who likes to invest themselves into their chosen game and wants to pay to support it?

     
  • Po_ggPo_gg Twigwarren, WestfarthingPosts: 2,717Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Rossboss
    Originally posted by lugal
    I wonder how much money the writers and editors get paid to promote f2p? 

    I believe this is more of a "put your time where your mouth is" instead of "put your money where your mouth is". The field is simply adapting to a more short term business model to feed the needs of players who are the majority of gamers.

    Second this. I said the same last year in an another f2p-based thread.

    There's no need to promote f2p (and especially no need to pay the writers for that), it's happening anyways. The playerbase is changing as time goes forward. Actually I wouldn't be surprised if outside the mmo sites (which are cramped with veteran players with many years of mmo history) nobody would raise concerns about f2p's becoming the trend. I know kids who are laughing their heads off from even the idea of subscribing to a game, while they spend 20-30 bucks in a month for lame (in my eyes lame) browser-based microtransaction games... And whether we like it or not, they're the target audience, since they will be playing 4-6-8 hours a day in the next 4-8 years (most likely).

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member

    Jebus jumped up...

    Yet another piece acting as if F2P is new and un-proven.

    GET OVER YOURSELVES ALREADY, there was F2P BEFORE Ultima Online, F2P created the second largest gaming company on the planet, Nexon Co a company so GOD DAMN LARGE it spent over 500 MILLION DOLLARS buying up companies in the last 1 1/2 years...they even bought a 15% stake in NCSoft.

    P.S. Stop calling Freemium, F2P...it isnt the same. FREE is free...freemium is like saying you are giving away free hotdogs...but only the toppings and the bun is free.

    “I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  • FonclFoncl UppsalaPosts: 197Member

    Nice try pushing F2P with phrases like "freedom of choice" and "consumer freedom". I'll use my freedom of choice to not support the trend of P2W, F2P MMO's. Give me a F2P MMO that doesn't sell power or advancement and I'll give it a fair chance.

     

    Who is Som Pourfazaneh and did he write this F2P propaganda on his own initiative or did someone pay him to write this?

     

     
     
     
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