Firefall’s Debut: The Good and the Bad

Red 5 Studios has finally revealed what they have been working on:  Firefall.  It’s a “ team-based action shooter combining deep character progression with an open-world cooperative campaign that can be shared with hundreds of other players.” That really doesn’t say much though in today’s industry. That’s why I’m very pleased that they have provided a significant amount of gameplay in a trailer comprised entirely of actual contiguous in-game footage (there’s also a cg trailer if that’s your thing).

The first few minutes almost had me closing my browser out of boredom. It appeared so generic that it could have been any game like Halo. I kept watching and then the part where they took off in the flying vehicle piqued my interest. It showed a lush world inhabited by creatures with lots of room to move around. They flew over a couple of outposts and landed in a city and then the realization of what they’re trying to accomplish with the game set in, even before I read the FAQ.

It appears to be a Borderlands meets ‘what Global Agenda should have been’. There’s clearly a campaign/story that I’m betting is linear but, according to their FAQ and the general ease of which a game like this can be designed, they can easily make room for a few dynamic gameplay elements.

How they plan to accomodate hundreds of players playing together on a mini-server could go several ways.  It could be Cryptic’s lobby based server method or Guild Wars’ style.  We might see a simple Borderlands method where a game is created and people join.  Through the use of a solid front end platform they could do great things.

There will even be PvP, which is where my impression that we’ll see a tad bit of what I expected from Global Agenda come in.  If they keep the PvP in the open world and do not segregate it with instancing then it might be interesting.  Perhaps allow players to join servers with PvP enabled fully.


A knife pierced my heart when I read this….

How much will Firefall cost to play?
We are so excited about Firefall that we want to make sure everyone can play it and join their friends in the game. When Firefall releases, it will be available online for download and play for absolutely free.

Will there be a subscription fee?
Absolutely not. We do not feel that a subscription fee best suits the style of game we are creating.

How do you plan to make money?
We plan to offer a marketplace for Firefall that will offer players items to enhance their gaming experience. We are adamantly against selling anything that might compromise the skill-based aspect of the game


Why? Why not just sell the box? Guild Wars did it. Why this need to be all ‘cool’ and come off like ‘hey our game is free, ohhh yeahhh’.  Good games are worth buying!

Ugh.  I can cross my fingers and hope for a cash shop that won’t impact gameplay or “compromise the skill-based aspect of the game” at all.  Hahahaha… who am I kidding?

  • Cash Shop is profitable. DDO and Free Realms has shown that. I agree though. CS games are a major turn off for me.

  • I will agree that the past has shown that CS games aren’t worth anything, but to be honest we have to just follow and wait for something redefining to come forth. The great thing about CS games is that they (usually) are free to try out, but require a later investment after you’ve already played. This kind of set up makes me feel of like a full-game trial and once the day comes that a gem surfaces with a CS that works, we’ll all be nodding our heads in approval.

    I mean look at the MMO market before WoW. WoW was that “gem” that set the genre and online gaming forward making developers realize that Online interaction is what millions want. Of course WoW created a lot of shitty clones and what not, but the revolution is started is something everything in technology goes through. You start out expensive and only the people with loads of money can afford it, until eventually the technology becomes affordable for the everyday citizen, which is when it enters common society.

    I have a feeling F2P is soon coming forth, just with the economy the way it is, and the casual gamers at the front, developers are looking to stay alive. We will see the day soon when developers are (again) looking at the players interest instead of (only) their own.

    Just my two cents 🙂

  • I truly believe that the MMO industry was never something that only the rich could afford. In fact, it’s the cheapest form of entertainment that I can name. I get more out of my $15/month subscriptions for that price than I could possibly get for anywhere near that price.

    In fact, it’s actually possible for them to raise the price up to $20 or $30 and I would still feel like I am getting a value (pending quality of the game).

    This F2P nonsense is like saying we should all only shop at the swap meet.

  • The base defence section towards the end of the clip does look like fun and I might look out for this game in future – as long as there’s no Cash Shop to spoil it.

  • totally agree. People are used to Buying the Box, rather then buying things over the internet, the only ppl wrly used to that are MMO’ers. FPS players are going to play the game and say “Why do i have to by my weapons” etc.

    should hgave just mage the box 50-100 bucks, easy peasy lemon squezy

  • LOL. I watched the video before I read your comments below and was thinking, ‘which snarky name should I call this game in my comment: Border Agenda or Global Lands?’

    I love the look of the game and it looks like it could be fun, but the CS is a huge concern for me. I’d rather buy the box.

  • Looked at it, though “Tabula Rasa” the remake?
    Well I liked TR, and this looks like fun aswell, as long as it wont get crazy expensive to stay competitive(sp).

  • @Keen

    Yes, you get a lot out of your $15, but at the same time a very small minority maintain multiple $15 subscriptions. The math doesn’t work out for most.

    The benefits of a F2P game outway its negatives. They just have to make sure their model is in place up front and not pull an Allods Online “last minute swap out” prior to launch.

    I think we have enough F2P successes for it to be a legitimate avenue for most new games. And I think we have enough subscription evidence to tell us that its suicide in today’s market for new games.

  • Have you ever looked at the cash shops in Puzzle Pirates and League of Legends? It’s been a while since I’ve looked at Puzzle Pirates, but I believe both of those games have cash shop items that are purely cosmetic or otherwise don’t impact in-game play (LoL has items that boost your XP/IP gain, but that pertains to your summoner level, not your in-game character. Basically you just level up outside of matches faster).

    To me, that’s a cash shop done well. Both games are free to play, and every once in a while you spend some money for some fluff item that you want. I also liked Combat Arms cash shop model, where you earn points for playing to buy weapons, but players who wanted to could purchase points or guns for cash directly instead of playing for them. They didn’t get access to special more powerful guns for cash, they just got easier access to specific guns they liked.

    I don’t think a cash shop is inherently bad, but I do agree that many companies end up going the wrong direction with them.

  • @Heartless: I only maintain 1 $15 sub at a time on average.

    Name one game that is F2P that HASN’T been affected negatively by its model (whether it be limiting the scope of the game or affecting gameplay). I would disagree entirely that the benefits of free to play outweigh the negatives. I would rather not play a F2P because they are bad games.

    We do -not- have enough legitimate success for F2P games to become the core gamer model. Perhaps for the kiddies or the facebook generation, but not mine.

    What evidence do we have that subscriptions are suicide?

  • While reading the stuff about a CS does make me sad, because that does look like a truly amazing game, I would hope that they’d stick to their guns in not-selling gameplay items. The one nice thing about them saying that they’re adamantly against doing so is if they -do- put some in, its possible to point back at their own words.

    Again, I’d hope that htey would stick to their word. It looks like a great game. We won’t know until release/beta, unfortunately. Here’s to hoping?

  • What did you pay for a monthy subscription 10 years ago? (8 or 10 dollars I paid for EQ?)
    What are you paying for them now? (15)

    Did your salary stay the same (or improve so little?)
    Did your bills stay the same?

    $15,- a month is cheap, and honestly, with rising costs, I don’t see how anyone can still make a profit of MMOs, except maybe WoW cuz of sheer numbers.

    But since the MMO with the most subscribers can get away with it, people are reluctant to pay more on a subscription.

    Thus other MMOs need another way to stay profitable, and one way is cash shops. And selling an advantage makes sure more people buy. You don’t HAVE to buy, and this way you can spend on what youre actually gonna use.

    Entropia seemed to do allright for a while (havent checked in ages) And I didnt hear complaints from my friends who were playing at the time, only from the people who were playing for free!

    If I can stay competitive for say 20/25 bucks a month, I dont care whether I pay it in subscription form or cash shop form.
    I don’t care much for “cosmetic” items so if its F2P, they would need to sell some “real” stuff for me to spend money on it.

  • If your point is that it doesn’t matter if you buy advantages in the cash shop then we see things entirely different.

  • @Tay no one is going to spend 100 dollars on a new MMO just to try it out. I doubt many would even pay 60.

  • @Keen

    That is like asking “name one subscription game that has not been negatively affected by its model”. All of them have been, you can’t play the game if you don’t pay! And since you are paying to play, the 3rd market RMT runs rampant!

    The two big negatives of free 2 play games are:

    a) that they either force players into the cash shop (in these cases they should be subscription games or traditional “box” sales)

    or b) they allow players the buy their way ahead (which happens just as much in subscription games with RMT so the developers have to purposely design the game to punish players in the vain attempt to limit RMT’s effects)

    Everything else is upside. They are free to play. Players can buy in at any level they feel comfortable with. RMT is diminished greatly as the developer is filling the wants of players that would traditionally go to 3rd party RMT. Player lock-in isn’t required for sustained profitability. F2P games DO NOT need to beat WoW to be successful (and that’s pretty important in today’s market).

    How about this Keen. You show me a subscription game other than World of Warcraft that is anywhere remotely on the level of games such as Allods Online, DDO, LotRO, or hell we’ll even throw in Free Realms. I can count them on my two big toes: EVE and EQ2 (but wait, there’s Extended coming!).

  • I think that’s a reach to say that a pay to play game is just as negatively affected by its model just because you have to pay.

    You know just as well as I do that free to play games, because of their ABSOLUTE 100% necessity for players to actually use the shop to generate revenue, have mechanics or built-in measures that alter gameplay to accomplish that necessity.

    You can’t blame RMT either. Before RMT even took off there were successful subscription games. It was a growing model before then, and “Free to play” games did not exist.

    Ultimate Online. EverQuest 1. Dark Age of Camelot. Asheron’s Call. Star Wars Galaxies. These games SHATTER the gameplay and surpass the level (in quality, scope, etc.) of those you listed.

    If your goal is to focus on the past 5 years, you can’t justify excluding WoW, EVE, or even EQ2. Due to the nature of the development cycle, you’re excluding the subscription model’s big hitters in the past few years.

  • While it might be frustrating to waste money trying out a lousy subscription-based game, it’s even more frustrating finding a great game that’s completely crippled by its F2P cash shop.

  • Hey Keen,

    I’m a long time reader of your blog. I saw the issues you went through with Allods and when I first heard the business plan Mark had for Firefall, I too had the same reaction. But I believe we have a unique opportunity here to prove that not all F2P games have to be “crippled” in order to make money.

    We are still working out all the details and those will come soon, but I hope you at least give the game a chance as I think you might enjoy it. We have a lot of highly competitive players on our dev team and we are all very passionate about making a competitive game. Keep your eyes peeled for more info a little later. We’re still recovering from PAX. 🙂 Thanks for the great blog and the honest feedback.

    — Matt

  • Like I have said before, no matter how much you guys argue, if you can’t grasp the fundemental concept that F2P games are designed around the fact that Effort-of-Progress can be bought instead of earned(and even when that is not the case a quick change in the developers financial situation or greed can adversely effect the game into an entirely different beast)

    That key pillar of MMO gameplay is absolutely devastating to game balance and player enjoyment/immersion.

  • Not sure where all the animosity towards f2p games comes from. I’ve played some pretty decent games that were f2p. Runes of Magic and LotRO come to mind. Even Global Agenda is pretty decent even if lacking in content. On the flip side, just because a game is p2p doesn’t mean that it’s a decent game, either. The only games that I’m biased against are the slew of crappy Asian MMO’s, omg! Now you wanna talk about absolute shite games, lol, the Asian ones are the epitome of terrible, amateurishly produced games.

  • Hey, This game WILL be awesome, the f2p model is far more popular and realistic than it has ever been, and I believe Firefall will be the gem to pull it off. The cash shop has been promised not to have game mechanic effects by devs, and I for one believe them.