F2P vs. Subscription: Who cares?

ESO F2P vs Sub

I chuckled this morning while reading about the current Elder Scrolls Online debate flooding the industry sites.  Apparently a Pathfinder Online dev said, “The subscription model is awesome and ESO should use it,” and Forbes was like, “Nuh uh it’s risky business,” and now people are all up in arms about which model is better.

You are all missing the point.

The business model isn’t going to make or break ESO.   Hold on just a sec.  *Puts on the broken record*  Okay.  If your game sucks it sucks.  If your game is great its great.  People like great games, and don’t like the ones that suck.  Make a good  game, and people will play.  If it’s F2P and you don’t screw it up (hasn’t happened yet) and your game is fun then you’ll be fine.  If it’s subscription and your game is fun then people will fork over $15 a month — it’s very reasonable and affordable. *Takes off the broken record*

ESO devs have more important things to worry about right now.  According to the general consensus on the web — always a trusted source — the game isn’t very good.   I recommend people stop debating the merits of various business models and start focusing on why that won’t matter at all.

Let’s sum it up.

Good games can be ruined by business models, but bad games can never be helped by them.

  • “If it’s F2P and you don’t screw it up (hasn’t happened yet)”

    You answered the question for yourself.

    If your game sucks it might be sub, it might be F2P (great odds its F2P).

    If your game is great, its a sub MMO.

  • But don’t we see F2P as an intrinsic reason as to why a game sucks? Games based around the cash shop always seem to lead to negatives (which are varied and numerous and have been discussed at length already) which seem impossible to avoid if the game is to generate money.

  • I agree with both of you, but we’re not even to that point yet. For once we don’t even have to debate the merits of F2P vs. Subscription.

    We can sit back and say it doesn’t even matter if your game isn’t any good to begin with (assuming the rumors are true). A bad game is going to be a bad subscription game, and a bad game is going to be a bad F2P game (even if all F2P games are bad).

    Make a decent game, and then we can debate whether or not a cash shop is the reason why it sucks or the subscription model is the reason why no one plays, vice versa etc.

  • I don’t understand what you are trying to say but the way I see it,

    Business model affects design decisions which in turn determines if a game sucks or not. So debating business models means you are ultimately debating if the game sucks or not… so its not missing the point…

  • Just to add to the above point, they don’t design the game first then add the business model afterwards. if you ask me, most big companies decide on the business model evener before they sit down and design the game…

  • Obviously if you create a great product, people will pay for it, no matter how you structure that payment. That’s a facile non-answer. It doesn’t render the subscription vs. F2P discussion moot.

    The fact of the matter is that many non-WoW games struggled to stay open with subscription fees and are now doing quite well as F2P. DDO and LOTRO are the most obvious examples as Turbine is particularly adept at the transition, but there are metric tons of others.

    If I was the strategy guy for a AAA+ huge budget MMO like ESO, I would do exactly what Zenimax is doing– segmenting the market to maximize revenue.

    At launch you start out with a $60 box purchase and $15 subscription fee. If your game is wildly successful (like WoW and… really just WoW, and I guess EVE if you stretch it) that’s awesome, you stay there and keep collecting your $15 from millions of happy players. You win!

    But you’re a realist, right? This isn’t 2002, we’ve gone through several MMO generations by now. You’ve got a plan B in your back pocket to transition to F2P with microtransactions. In fact, you have that code ready to go because it’s a win/win bet.

    Scenario A is that your title is wildly successful with subscriptions in which case you wasted a bit of money developing something that won’t be used. Oh well, no biggie. You won the lottery!

    Scenario B is that your title spikes at launch, sells around a million copies, then after 3 months subscriptions drop to 400k and it’s clear that you’re in a death spiral. This is the most realistic scenario, right? So then you pick up that plan B, re-launch F2P, and restart growing/monetizing the product you spent $200m (or whatever) on at the start. More of a pyrrhic victory, but your head is above water.

  • So in the post you say that payment model doesn’t matter, and in the comments you say that subscription is better….

    Anyway, I agree with the basic premise that the quality of your game is the most important factor. I do tend to prefer F2P or one-time box price though, as I find subscription models are generally more exploitative of their players.

  • The future of corporate online gaming is online shopping. The concept of owning things that exist only in “the cloud” (or in fairyland as it might as well be) is already close to mainstream. There are vastly more potential shoppers than gamers. Games will become a portal for shopping and a space in which to display and use the items you’ve bought.

    The mainstream media LOVED the concept of Second Life but the reality of SL never began to live up to the media’s conception of it and the public en masse were far from ready for the concept anyway. Both technology and popular opinion have caught up. Imaginary shopping and metaspaces where we can hang out and show off what we’ve bought is where we are. That’s social media. That’s mobile gaming. Corporates aren’t going to be turning their back on the brave new consumer world that’s opening up all around them.

    Online games are going “free to play” because you don’t want to charge your customers a fee to come through the door of your store. It’s not going to be about whether the game is good or the game sucks for very much longer because most customers won’t be coming for the game, or not, at least, for any kind of game a Gamer would consider worth the name.

    Doesn’t matter. We’ll all be off playing niche MMOs targeted at the hobby audience we actually are, games run by companies following a service model not a retail one.

  • The existence of a cash shop runs directly counter to the reason I want to log into a virtual world, so payment model is a big deal to me personally.

    What will make or break a game to the masses is the quality of the game.

  • I really can’t agree with you Keen. If business model decisions were made in a vacuum, yes it is true the quality of the game would be the only thing that really mattered. But the reality is that they are not. Many game features both influence and are influenced by the business model, and there are many good games that can be ruined by changes made because of the business model (Allods, anyone?).

    Personally, I think that a subscription model of $15/mo simply isn’t realistic anymore, when there are good (enough?) alternatives with freemium or pay-for-the-box-only business models. This isn’t 2004 anymore, where a game like WoW could be released in a market without a single game with the same level of polish. Any MMO releasing today looks and plays just as good or better than WoW did, so how much it costs to play the game has a lot more weight on the decision.

    Might be anecdotal, but I’m still unsure if I’ll play TESO exactly because I don’t know if I will be able to afford it. I’m no longer single, I live with my wife and two kids, and playing that MMO means paying for everyone’s subscription, not just mine. I can pay $60/mo for all of us to play TESO, or spend $100 once and get the kids Guild Wars 2. Business models matter, and can make or break a game despite of its gameplay for a lot of people.

  • Everyone knows game will launch sub to get the money from $60 box + $15 sub and then after a few months switch to f2p

  • I agree in principle, but this title is gunning for the console market. I’d argue that the most famous and successful subscription titles on the console – PSO and FFXI/FFXIV – succeeded despite their subscription fees because their development and home market was in Japan. (New console games run for roughly $90 in Japan, so a MMO subscription is chump change.)

    Yes, EQOA existed in the West, but were they really that successful? By contrast, DCUO all but crashed and burned with its subscription at launch and is now significantly more popular on the console with a F2P model despite relatively few changes to the underlying game.

    Just saying, there may be a case that Western console players simply aren’t willing to pay a sub in numbers sufficient to support an MMORPG. TESO isn’t console-only, but it’s a non-trivial chunk of their demographic.

  • @Rodalpho: Correct, it does not render it moot. That discussion is still a hot topic up for debate. However, if you game isn’t any fun then people aren’t going to play it regardless. This is coming from me — the guy who hates F2P with the best of them.

    @Fidjit: Correct. I believe subscriptions are better. That doesn’t mean I can’t also believe that before that even becomes an issue, if a game isn’t fun then it doesn’t matter.

    @Kemwer: Let me clarify. The debate between F2P and sub is a valid one. Let’s use Allods as an example. It was fun before the cash shop, then it was ruined by the business model. Now let’s look at ESO. ESO is apparently not very fun. We haven’t even experienced the game under the conditions of the model yet. Thus, to me, it doesn’t even matter.

    @Bartillo: Inevitably.

  • Naturally quality of the game is a major factor for the overall financial success of the venture, but so is business model, and for better or worse, the $15/month single game sub is antiquated, and F2P or B2P models are the current standard. I think about the impact of the business model on the general gamer population (different demographic than we represent) as follows, defining “sub” as a $15/month recurring fee (and very likely requiring a box fee).

    The ability to try and use a product indefinitely at a cost determined by the user, which potentially can even mean at no cost, is a tremendous marketing tool. Given that there are plentiful F2P/B2P MMO’s available there is no threshold for participation in a F2P model.

    In a B2P or worse sub situation there will be a significant population of people who will not try the product at launch, and will wait until sufficient critical acclaim is achieved to warrant taking their credit cards out of their pockets. Also I wouldn’t underestimate the population that feel they cannot afford another recurring fee regardless of game quality given current economic realities; also along that line, I wouldn’t underestimate the population that feels they can’t afford to play that in actuality use the cash shop once hooked.

    I assume getting a strong player base at launch is a positive indicator of long term success although I do not have any data to support this contention. Nonetheless I feel a priori, maintaining an ongoing account is favored in a F2P over a sub model.

    Even in a highly critical audience such a game bloggers, what is the likelihood of trying ESO if it is a sub versus F2P? Are our reservations so great that it wouldn’t even be worthwhile downloading it to experience launch if there was no cost involved whatsoever?

    One can’t sell a product if someone isn’t even willing to give it a try, but if potentially skeptical consumers make use of a no cost involved trial period then a certain percentage of them will find reason to keep playing at their discretion, increasing the server populations and potentially using the cash shop.

    In this way I believe that type of business model does realistically impact the success of the game, likely to a more significant factor for intrinsically non-stellar games (a category which the popular opinion on this blog seems to place ESO into), and assuming the F2P cash shop is not punitive (i.e. adopting a GW2 or PoE model over Allods).

    And harkening back to the Allods debacle, I still feel sorry for the devs who created an obvious labor of love, and (I presume) were then tasked to purposefully break it in ways that could only be symptomatically ameliorated by purchasing virtual band-aids in the cash triage shop. Still even in the light of horrendous past F2P experiences, I believe the model has finally evolved to the point where an argument proposing that F2P games cannot be of high quality has been debunked.

  • As has been stated, the game itself determines whether its payment model will work.

    Having said that, I can’t think of a time I would EVER want a good MMO to not be subscription based. I saw Fidjit make this statement earlier, “as I find subscription models are generally more exploitative of their players.” I can only sit here baffled.

    How is it exploitative? We are talking about paying for entertainment. As with any form of entertainment, there is obviously cost vs fun vs time. How much does it cost, how much fun will you have, and how long will said fun last?

    A perfect comparison that I love to use is going to the movie theatre (and yes I French that up). Analyze that in a cost/fun/time and you are looking at $10-$15(time of day/part of country)/decent fun/1.5-2Hrs. And now a sub based MMO? (A *good* one!) $15/decent fun/30 days.

    I work full time, and having said that I can still put 3-5 hrs a day into a decent MMO. I don’t know about you, but $15 for 90-150 hours of entertainment is a bargain. And of course there is the box price on said game, but still… how is that not a wonderful arrangement? I think MMO companies should re-rembrace said subscription model. If it isn’t generating enough revenue, bump it up a few dollars. It is still a win for the customer.

  • Keen I think Everquest is affecting your judgment…deep inside you cannot believe that EQ might suck. I don’t understand…if someone have a great game, why not to have subscription? It doesn’t need to be much clever to see how a sub is by far better from f2p for the developers/company. From the other hand, having a great way, you can easily ruin it with a f2p business and a cash shop, trying to design annoying systems and manipulate player desires to lead them to your shop.

  • correction on the 4th line on my above post: Having a great “game” not having a great “way”. if you can edit it and delete this post please…

  • Lots of you guys are getting hung up on a tangent. You are making great points, and I can’t say I disagree with much of what is being said, but you’re missing what I’m trying to say.

    Does the business model impact the game? Absolutely. (I’ve been preaching that for 8 years. Huge proponent of Subs.)

    What I’m saying is this:

    Before ESO was ever even announced to be a subscription game, the general consensus was that it wasn’t fun. OKay. Now, here comes my entire point: If the game isn’t fun, stop worrying about its business model and start worrying about the fact that it isn’t fun!

    Good games can be ruined by business models, but bad games can never be helped by them.

    Should you NEVER worry about the business model? No, you definitely should. After the bigger problem is addressed.

    @John: I have no idea what you’re talking about. This has nothing to do with EQ. No one has played Landmark or EQ Next. If the F2P model screws it all up I’ll let you know.

  • It only matters to me in the way that I only play F2P games. The minute it needs a subscription I don’t give a damn how good your game is, I will never play it and neither will my guildies.

  • @Joseph Skyrim: Okay cool, I can respect your preference. Would you play (not try, but really play) a really boring F2P game just because it’s F2P? Personally, I wouldn’t play a boring game regardless but I’m interested in your response.

  • I know this is a tangent, but I’ll respond to Rawblin in case s/he checks back

    “I saw Fidjit make this statement earlier, “as I find subscription models are generally more exploitative of their players.” I can only sit here baffled.”

    I say this for a few reasons. One is that subscription MMOs are designed specifically with timesinks and artificial barriers like weekly lockouts that only exist to stretch out content longer than it really is worth to keep you paying more. To me that is exploitative. Another is that most subscription MMOs I play have gone through periods of several months without ANY content updates. Take WoW for example – it has gone through periods of up to TEN months without a single update. That’s $150 for nothing but access to the servers for a game you already bought, which to me is highly exploitative.

    The other thing is really comparing the value to other games. I don’t consider movies to be a good comparison because to me it falls in a different entertainment category. If you look specifically at gaming as a hobby, there is literally no game more expensive to play than a subscription MMO. A $60 box + $180 a year is far and away more expensive than anything else in the gaming industry. Particularly in the days of digital distribution and deep discount sales. I find that you can get a far greater value spending that $180 a year on other games. This is especially true these days when most subscription MMOs that come out aren’t really great games (back to Keen’s point).

    Especially in these days of DLC, I think the lie of the subscription model is exposed. We’re supposed to believe that it’s to support new content, but even singleplayer games now have lots of additional content that’s paid for with DLC. At least with that model you can choose what to buy and when you spend money you ALWAYS get something in return. With a subscription MMO you always pay but you don’t always get something in return.

  • “Good games can be ruined by business models, but bad games can never be helped by them.”

    I think this is an excellent point Keen, and really sums up the whole topic well.

  • Rawblin’s point is valid, that MMO’s with subscriptions are an excellent entertainment value, especially when broken down to an average daily expenditure; when contrasted to a movie, a concert, or a day at Disney World the quantitative daily cost difference is so great to make a sub MMO one of the best general entertainment values out there, next to sex (assuming no one gets pregnant).

    It also is an old argument at this point in time, one that I myself used to make when people would ask me to justify why I would spend $180/year to play a game that I already purchased, and then additionally paid a premium for the newest content releases. But since then much has changed with abundant games in many genres from AAA’s as well as indies, DLC at little to no cost, new pricing models, and one that I will capitalize for greater effect:


    I get to a point where the main discriminator of if I buy a game on Steam is not whether I can afford the $4.99, 88% off sale price, but whether I want to uninstall a different game from my gaming hard drive, and the reality is I will probably buy it any way, and given the rock-bottom price, may or may not be bothered to see if I had previously purchased it on a different game service provider.

    The analogy to a movie is still appropriate when trying to justify the expenditure to a non-gamer where external comparisons are necessary to foster sympathetic understanding. Within our shared virtual world the comparison starts to feel hackneyed and apples to oranges (a counter argument to this can be found here: http://www.improbable.com/airchives/paperair/volume1/v1i3/air-1-3-apples.html), when one can play high quality games like Path of Exile at absolutely no cost unless of course you absolutely need the newest $22 writhing snake Medusa headdress to fully enjoy your gaming experience; if you do and I make fun of you it is only because I am jealous (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXidUQ0R9k8).

    Sure it is still a good value in an absolute sense, but not so much in a relative gaming sense any longer with the creative and aggressive pricing models available today. I felt GW2 did an excellent job of establishing the legitimacy of alternative pricing models in AAA MMO’s with their hybrid B2P-cash shop and free content update scheme, so much so to make traditional $15/month sub and paid update advocates sound like old guard apologists. The idea of a “good” game no longer feels constrained by the pricing model.

    Would I still buy a box, plus pay a sub, plus buy expansions for a game that made me feel like the good old days of vanilla WoW? Yes, I suppose I would, and I would also fall back on Rawblin’s argument to justify it to my girlfriend every month (not that she would care or that the expense matters, but more out of residual guilt left over from my impoverished graduate student days), but inside I couldn’t help to wonder why they weren’t taking GW2’s progressive lead, and if it wasn’t based on far superior content, like Fidjit I would likely conclude it was out of pure profit motivation.

    If I am not too late for New Year’s predictions I would say that we are in store for more diversified pricing structures, so that the argument of whether a F2P versus a sub is superior for the gamer will become meaningless unless further characterized. How will one begin to compare a free base game dl with a $15/month sub for all games in their catalogue, versus a box price and a $5/month service fee, versus a B2P game with cosmetic cash shop options, versus an absolute F2P with cosmetic cash shop options? Now what if some provide free versus paid content updates? The number of unique permutations may make choosing between games like buying a new mattress, with direct comparisons being so difficult that the only way to come to a decision is to give each one a try, and see if you are comfortable enough with what they are asking, which F2P games have a great advantage given that one can try as many as they can stand to install on their computer with no financial commitment.

  • I’m still looking for these free to play games that are as polished as WoW. I decided to drop $15 to resub to SWTOR for a month, because I am an adult with a job and refuse to deal with their nickel and dime bullcrap, and that thing is still a buggy mess. I own GW2 and really wanted to like it, and if that’s your thing that’s fine, but it is nowhere near as polished and smooth as the WoW experience. I think Bethesda would have been far better off releasing another wildly successful single player TES than trying to enter a market that is littered with the broken corpses of games that tried to be WoW and failed miserably in every instance.

  • I am still trying to find an MMO regardless of payment model or even polish that feels as enjoyable as vanilla WoW felt at the time (to the point of functionally having stopped looking), but it is difficult to isolate the one confounding changeable variable over time, …me. 😉

  • I’m back playing WoW entirely because it is a sub based mmorpg and I will purchase and play ESO for the same reason.

  • Keen said: “This has nothing to do with EQ. No one has played Landmark or EQ Next. If the F2P model screws it all up I’ll let you know.”

    You say this like there is a possibility that the f2p will not screw it up…it is not something that we can debate for, it is the natural thing that developers will try to find ways to manipulate player desires and provide annoying systems to get you to the shop..they have to make money and they have to make you wanna buy things.

    @Fidjit You think that sub games have artificial barriers but you cannot see that f2p games has 100x more barriers? or your judgment is affected because of the 15 bucks per month? Sub games have weekly lockouts yes, but in general they try to be fun for players in order to continue play…no one will pay for something that is not fun because it has weekly lockout. From the other hand f2p games create systems that annoy you enough to pay and try to manipulate your desires (by designeing their game and updates for exactly that purpose) or have p2w items.

    A sub game developer have a steady cash incoming and try to find ways to provide fun content for the players. A f2p developer does not know a shit of how much money he will get in that month or the next and all he creativity/thought is how to push you on the shop or how to make a whale feel different and better than the free parasites

  • I personally feel 15 dollar subs in this day and age are scams. There is no developer that gives you that money back in new content. You’re just basically giving them money for nothing.

    I also don’t play MMOs the same way I used to. A lot of that is due to the fact the world builder MMOs are gone and everything is themepark. Now I don’t mind themepark but I also won’t commit to a thempark game for long stretches of time. I like to come and go as I feel the urge to experience the new rides or to re-experience the old ones.

    If there was a true world builder MMO that I can “live” in where the developers actually create new content and do events, etc on a regular basis I think that might be worth a long term sub. Or something like the Sony All Access Pass is something I’d consider as I get access to a bunch of games. Until then I’ll stick to GW2 to scratch my MMO itch and sub to some other themparks for a month when I feel like re-visiting them.

    On that note, that’s why I actually prefer the F2P/Sub hybrid model. I can give the dev 15 dollars when I feel like it and still access my characters and do things on months where I’m not really putting a ton of time into the game (and thus not paying a sub).


    Name me a sub developer that also doesn’t have a cash shop where they try to push the “whales” to spend a ton of cash. WoW? That’s laughable. They are doing everything in their power to monetize everything they can (level 90 characters anyone?). They even have a store button on their UI now.

    Blizzard also doesn’t provide “fun” content on a regular schedule. I get more updates in GW2 in one year then I ever did in WoW (outside of paid expansions).

    So which MMO is this mythical Unicorn that uses its subs to provide a steady stream of “fun” content and isn’t aggressively pushing their own store? I’m not saying F2P is better but I am saying that all of the models are trying to maximize the money they ring out of us.

  • @Fergor wow does provide fun content and constant. That’s why it has million upon millions subscribers while other MMOs fail miserably, even as free. You talk about a shop that has 3 pets and 3 mounts and maybe(its not confirmed yet) have a payed 90 char which I doubt it will…

    If you try to compare the 3 pets shop with the monstrosity of the f2p shops then I guess you try hard to fool yourself to accept it first. F2p games are f2p because they FAILED…after that gone f2p and gathered some MMO tourists and free parasites and even then they cannot even compare their FREE users with wow’s subscribers…

    EVE has 400-500k subscribers for 10 years and still going. FFXI still going and FFXIV has a bright future in front of it. You can chose to play in the minor leagues of hundred crap f2p failures if 15 bucks is a deciding factor for you and let us play the real MMOs, the ones that are quality enough for us to justify those 15 bucks.

  • WoW will go months without updates. Raid content for me isn’t fun. So I guess that’s going to be opinion. Blizzard plows very little of the cash they make back into the game. There is no denying that.

    My point about WoW’s shop is it exists. TESO is going to have a shop as well. You’re 15 dollars a month doesn’t give you access to everything you may want in the game. Blizzard has the shop to skim even more off the top of their users. It’s not just F2P games that abuse their players with underhanded tactics.

    I only play GW2 now and I dip into DCUO a few months a year to play with friends. I prefer the model where I chose when I play and I don’t have to feel like I’m required to play a game because I paid 15 dollars. Really the payment model itself is a psychological tactic in and of itself. If you pay for a game you’re more compelled to play it just to “get your money’s worth” rather then play something you may enjoy more. That’s as dastardly as a cash shoppe.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “minor” leagues. I play what I find fun and what works with my style of play. I didn’t realize there were tiers of gamer and I’m “minor” because I think 15 dollars a month is a scam the way it’s currently used in games like WoW and FFIV. Neither of those are higher quality compared to GW2 honestly. They are different and cater to a different playerbase but they aren’t better quality….

  • @Fergor About the psychological part, I heard many others have the same issue and some of my friends too, and I respect that, if this is the issue. Personally I don’t have that issue…If I play 5-6 hours per week then I think my money was well placed. As of wow, I don’t play wow anymore so I can’t say about updates or so..when I did play though in vanilla/tbc we didn’t had updates but we had a very quality and difficult content to “finish” if we could(and we couldn’t…how many killed illidan and cleared sunwell?). Also, again, I fail to see how blizzard store has any similarity with a f2p cash shop, except if you know a f2p game that only sell 3 pets and 3 mounts in their shop.

    Also I don’t care about constant updates but quality updates when they come that will further improve the quality of the game…I found gw2 updates a joke…as they were literally some holiday events that other games have built in anyway. Also GW2 is a game that you “finish” like any single player game. As a title it worth its money…its worth to buy it and finish it but as an MMO is not worth to stay longer and thats why they charge only for the box…who the hell would pay a sub in gw2 after a month or 2 and to do what exactly?

    Minor league is the league of the games that failed to keep player base and forced to move into the f2p model, because if they had quality and were good games this wouldn’t happen(and especially if they didn’t try to clone wow).

    My problem with f2p games is deeper than just a problem with a business model…maybe because I can intelligently see their design philosophy around their shop.

  • Forbes MMO coverage basically is the equivalent of a forum poster with a journalism degree. Info wise the articles themselves are barely higher quality than the comment sections that follow them.

    Subs vs Free also really only affects latter retention after the first month. By that time the developers pretty much know the quality of their game and can decide the appropriate model easily. Moving to F2p later also provides a second mini launch.

    I am pretty sure business wise Zennimax has a lot stronger market analyst than some schmuck at Forbes who talked his boss into letting him write about his hobby.

  • “You say this like there is a possibility that the f2p will not screw it up…it is not something that we can debate for, it is the natural thing that developers will try to find ways to manipulate player desires and provide annoying systems to get you to the shop..they have to make money and they have to make you wanna buy things.”

    Of course there is a real possibility that F2P won’t “screw it up” and your belief that “it is not something that we can debate for” illustrates mental inflexibility on your part based in the purposeful denial of established popular F2P games that do not rely on punitive and unethical marketing schemes. On the other hand with your unyielding attitude perhaps you may not have even tried the modern crop of F2P you are indirectly criticizing?

    Here are a few lists of F2P games currently available, usually with a quick description of how the F2P element might affect your experience.


    I think the problem is that for some anti-F2P commenters is they have established an argument fixed in past experiences and have not updated it on the basis of current free-to-win finance models (if you are still using Allods or Zynga games as primary examples of your contention then this is directed at you).

    I am not saying that exploitive F2P games don’t currently exist (that argument would be equally untenable as claiming that a F2P will invariably “screw up” a game), but rather that an evolution has occurred over the last years from what was a P2W Asian type model depending on “whales” to finance the “freeloaders” to a more westernized approach where cosmetic items, game speed progression modifiers, and additional content are the commodities.

    Buying a limited edition purple velvet wizard’s hat, frog pet wearing a crown, or experience boosting potions are not examples of unethical F2P game mechanics.

    Sometimes the term F2P may be a misnomer, but this doesn’t necessarily bother me if the microtransactions are carried out in an ethical fashion as described in the excellent Gamasutra article that Jim linked. I have no problem paying for things I want in a F2P game, especially if they are not absolutely required to enjoy the base game, as I believe the devs deserve money for my entertainment, and have no desire to form a complaint based upon a freeloader’s ideal “free to play” experience.

    Yes, it is true all devs want to “make money” and that is not unique to the F2P genre; if I were to edit you statement “they have to make you wanna buy things” to more accurately reflect the continuing evolution of westernized F2P models, it would instead read as “good F2P devs don’t make you buy things, they encourage you to buy fun things”, therein lies a important difference that you completely (purposefully?) overlook.

    “From the other hand f2p games create systems that annoy you enough to pay and try to manipulate your desires (by designeing their game and updates for exactly that purpose) or have p2w items.”

    Your relentless one-sided focus on punitive cash shops and P2W items ignores numerous favorable F2W models currently out there and comes off as a pointless crusade against a financing model that I have no reason to believe you understand. My suggestion is to not play the bad F2P games, and try the well-reviewed ones in order to form a more balanced viewpoint, if in fact that is something you are interested in doing; I will ask in advance to not complain that you ended up paying up to $15 certain months to enhance your enjoyment of these games for I hope obvious reasons. 😉

    Plus most content updates that I have experienced in non-sub games have also been free of charge, GW2 for example, while I remember paying a premium for extra content in WoW, which brings up the point, why is purchased content acceptable to you in a sub game, but unethical in alternate financing models?

    “F2p games are f2p because they FAILED”

    Right from the get go that statement is easily debunked just by looking at popular recent games that were dedicated non-sub financing models at release. Even if we purposefully ignore these games, your statement does bear an interesting implication, that is there are numerous examples of AAA games utilizing subscription based financing models that were not viable long-term, which were kept afloat only by transitioning to a more sustainable F2P model; if you see failure in this then I suggest you are misdiagnosing the cause and blaming the remedy.

    There are examples of good and bad financing mechanics in subscription based, F2P, B2P, and other unique financing models, but luckily newer games are not required to follow their example; conversely we have seen tangible evidence in non-sub model approaches of devs learning from the non-sustainability of heavy-handed microtransaction mechanics, and the even better news is that we are still in the relative infancy of this evolutionary process.

    Even the Frankenstein monster, though initially burned, was finally able to realize that when properly utilized, fire could also be a desirable tool, and in this light feel free to play some of the newer non-sub games available and perhaps you will also realize that clinging to an old label is no substitute for actual first hand contemporary experience.

    “One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects!, …When night came again, I found, with pleasure, that the fire gave light as well as heat”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IfQU-wnez4 < purchase not required to "win", but recommended for fun at your discretion!

  • @Fidjit

    To respond to your response, I feel I must clarify. And it is my fault entirely for not being more specific in my original post. When I said (A *good* one!) I meant a great MMO, but more than that a great MMO that wasn’t just a themepark. When I think of greatness in the MMO genre, my thoughts always fall back to “World Builders” as Fergor mentions above.

    In said MMOs, the point was not to pay a subscription so that new content could be released weekly or monthly or what have you. We paid the subscription just to have access to the world, because that was all that was needed to have a good time. We weren’t locked out of raids, there were no instances. When we wanted to take down the Godzilla King Doom in the bowels of some dungeon, we talked about it, we planned it out, we set a time and date (sometimes even out of game, ala forums) and then took a massive party down and showed that Godzilla King Doom who was boss.

    So yes, I apologize for not being more clear originally. I can absolutely agree with you that a subscription model for even a “Good” themepark MMO is in the realm of exploitative of the customer base. Because let us be honest. If you paid a monthly subscription to Six Flags, you would want new rides rather regularly. And I can appreciate that.

    When the world is full of interesting things to do, when players are given the proper tools to imagine and create and foster and thrive, and a truly unique and virtual experience can be had, the subscription model is a godsend. We do not see games of this type anymore, however. So F2P is here to stay.

  • ” If it’s F2P and you don’t screw it up (hasn’t happened yet)”

    Exactly. You just totally made this entire blog post irrelevant. This is why F2P vs subscription wars start. F2P hasn’t worked properly and probably never will. Not even with Rift.

  • @John

    “Also I don’t care about constant updates but quality updates when they come that will further improve the quality of the game…I found gw2 updates a joke…as they were literally some holiday events that other games have built in anyway. Also GW2 is a game that you “finish” like any single player game.”

    No offense but you apparently don’t play GW2 frequent enough to have an informed opinion about the quality of their updates. While there are some holiday events, there are also a lot of meaty updates (e.g. super adventure box, two new zones like southsun and Zephyr Sanctum, new open world raid like content like tequatl, new fractuals of the mist, new dungeons, queen’s jubleet an more). I personally find the pace and quality of GW2 updates are much superior to most of the sub MMOs.

    As for your comment about GW2 is a game you finish, I have to say that’s only our opinion. GW2 offers a lot of activities when you reach max level (Fractuals, dungeons, tequatl, world exploration, temple events, WvW, spvp. new pve content every 2 weeks just to name a few), but it is clear what GW2 has to offer does not suit your taste. However it does not mean the game is finished, certainly not for a lot of other players who still enjoy GW2.

    So goes back to Fidjit’s point, for people whose tastes are similar to GW2 has to offer (e.g. don’t like raid, enjoy open world exploration, don’t mind no holy trinity), why do they want to play a sub game like FFXIV when GW2 offers more for free?

  • “Exactly. You just totally made this entire blog post irrelevant. This is why F2P vs subscription wars start. F2P hasn’t worked properly and probably never will. Not even with Rift.”

    That’s pretty much it. People who are into the single player, video gamey nature of newer MMOs are fine with F2P. People who want to log into a living virtual world, a meritocracy like the older MMOs, will never find a game with a cash shop acceptable. Cosmetic upgrades are the absolute worst offenders for breaking the magic circle.

  • I agree on the points regarding F2P vs Subscription, but I would have to disagree with the, uhm, internet I guess. I played the TESO BETA this weekend gone and I enjoyed it.

    I don’t really understand what people were/are expecting from it. It’s Skyrim styled – tick! The combat is enjoyable (it was for me as a sword ‘n’ boarder) – tick! and it looks great, whilst not being too cpu/memory intensive – tick!. I guess you really can’t please some people, or the set their expectations so ridiculously high that they’ll never be happy. The only real issues I found included the voice acting by “famous” people, as it seems a waste of money to me, the mediocre quality of the zone maps and more importantly that any class can fit any role (give me holy grail! :))

  • i sub to FFXIV. great game and i love playing it. I also play a few free to play games but there not always so great.

    One thing i dislike about many free to play games is that those items that people raid for, get achievements for, do dungeons 100s of times to get a unique drop are all ripped out of the games and placed on a in game store… So why play when you can buy everything?

    I like doing great things to get great items. I hate seeing all those great items on stores and nothing in game (points at GW2 and Old republic) witch i own both and play nether.

  • “If it’s F2P and you don’t screw it up (hasn’t happened yet) and your game is fun then you’ll be fine.”

    What about League? For all the criticisms that are fair to make about it, I don’t think anyone really considers the cash shop in league a detriment. Same for tf2 (slightly more people, such as me, complain about this one), dota2, etc. Or perhaps you were implicitly talking about MMO’s only?