Wednesday 28 September 2011

F2P failed game nonsense

This isn't new news or anything, but I only just spotted this particular quote:
"Free for All... has drawn hundreds of thousands of new and returning players to the virtual world, increasing Champions Online's online concurrent user, unique login and revenue totals by over 1,000 percent."

That's from a statement by Cryptic (months ago I know). That's a pretty clear demonstration of how dramatic an effect F2P can have on an MMO, particularly as it has one of the magic words "revenue" seeing that huge increase. Not as nice as if it was profit going up like that and of course since Cryptic ended up getting sold by Atari we might assume that there were other issues regarding profitability for the company as a whole, but that's not necessarily related and regardless, you won't make decent profit if you don't have decent revenue.

Something I've heard from a game industry type people lately is that the MMO community needs to get over our self imposed stigma of a game going F2P meaning a desperate last throw of the dice after failure. Sure it can transform the fortunes of a struggling or "failed" game, but it can also be a hugely beneficial move for a game that is doing well. This should be obvious to us really with more and more game developers looking at going with F2P from the off. Planetside 2 for example is a proper big deal game and that's going to be F2P, in fact from the noises coming out of SOE it seems like all of their MMO games will be F2P in future.

I've spent a lot of time sneering at F2P games. Justifiably I think actually, what with them historically being all those eastern grind wank bollock games of hideousness. But that's then, not now. Things are moving on and it seems most people are saying F2P is the future and that SWTOR will be the last major subscription MMO. Will it be the last? I don't think anyone can really predict that with utter certainty, though there is a good chance of it I would say. Personally I think that the Guild Wars style of Pay2Start-Free2Continue will become the method of choice for the developers. Backed up by a cash shop of course.

Whatever does happen, we can however be sure that the MMO market has changed and F2P is no longer synonymous with fail. We just need to get over our preconceptions.


  1. Age of Conan has grown massively since they went f2p as well. If f2p can turn sub games on the brink of collapse into success stories then its only natural everyone else gets interested.

    Except Blizzard ofc.

  2. I think what we may see is a new type of hybrid model, similar to what DCUO claims their plan was.

    Release at $50 box. First 6 months subscription only. Then PLANNED transition to F2P.

    The question is, how long will customers tolerate this?

    Basically, early adopters pay more AND get a generally crappier experience (everyone knows the first few months of an MMO tend to be shaky).

    Is the joy and fun of being an early pioneer in an MMO world worth it?

  3. Must admit that id tolerate paying for pioneering a game rather then what Mythic done to its customers. P2P-Beta for 3 years, and since ive played most of the careers for destro i can vouche for bugs being in the game since release.
    Like Magus Deamonic Infestation that goes Out Of Range 50% of the time even if you put it 10 feet away. It's just one of the bugs, are more of em out there.

  4. I think it's the other way around, the standards of what you can get away with charging a monthly sub for are raising and very few MMOs that charge a sub are actually delivering on the investment the players give it. With teams like ArenaNet promising p2p quality for f2p pricing I'm hoping the currently accepted quality of games becomes f2p and p2p games in the future actually ad a lot more - like active ecosystems, gmnpc dynamic quest givers, buildable worlds and truly massive areas to explore, the real next generation of MMOs.

  5. There's probably a fair bit of truth in what 32ndlaw is saying about the standards raising. When you think about the difference in polish for a modern big player MMO compared with the old days. Put aside if you like the game itself, but look at the immense quality and clean state of RIFT at launch compared with, well.... everything else ever.

    There's simply no comparison between the levels of support and development that is getting compared with most other MMOs. Other developers should feel embarrassed really. And for myself as a subscriber to MMOs, it does make me question once I've gone through the standard new toys phase with a MMO, what are they doing and what does the future hold that will then make me want to continue paying to play it?

    These days when looking at what you get for your money with MMO game A vs B it has wildly different results.

  6. The only huge announcements you ever hear about F2P are right after the switchover. You never hear any updates after the initial explosion. DDO started this whole craze, yet it has been over a year since they have updated us with their numbers. Why is that? Does it mean that F2P is only a short-term band aid, and a lot of companies who followed DDO's example have a rude awakening a year down the road?


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Half man half pixel. Music obsessive, likes a drink, occasional bastard.