You get what you pay for. Such a simple adage yet it is unequivocally true when it comes to Massively Multiplayer games. I used to be adamantly against free to play games on the principle that the few I tried were just not very good. It wasn’t illogical to then connect the free to play model to the inferior play and the subscription model to superior gameplay. This lasted many, many years for me until I tried a free to play game that contradicted what I had previous thought.
So I was entirely wrong about free to play games being 100% unable to provide the same quality of gameplay. However, I reinforced the other half of my thoughts on F2p games: The business (f2P) model is incapable of sustaining a game, regardless of quality, on the same level as a subscription game. It is inherent to all F2P games that the cash shop must be used. It is thus inherent to all F2P games that the developers must be constantly thinking of ways to get players to use the shop. The result is a conflict of interest between developing a quality product and developing a product that makes money. I submit that the two can not ever exist in harmony.
It’s for this very reason that I have now sworn off any free to play game, regardless of how good the gameplay may be. I played Allods Online to the max level yet was blindsided (foolishly, I should never have let my guard down) by the free to play model and its impact on the design of the game. So, while a great game can be free to play, it will never remain a great game because of the inevitable self-defeating nature of the free to play model. I will never, ever, play a free to play game. I would sooner quit gaming altogether than ever play a free to play game.
I’ve realized that I would actually be willing to pay more than I’m paying right now. There was a time — in fact it was before WAR came out — that I was absolutely unwilling to budge from the $14.99 / month subscription price. I’ve changed my mind. I’m now willing to pay for quality. If someone can make a better MMO and improve upon the quality then I am willing to pay more. If I get what I pay for, then I’m willing to pay a lot more. If we’ve plateaued with the $14.99 price point then let’s raise it. With that raise better come a big improvement to the gameplay though. Don’t think for a second that I’m willing to pay more for what we currently get.