Friday, February 24, 2012

VG Talk #11 Is F2P the W2G for MMOs?

Video Game discussion.

Are free-to-play (F2P) games the way to go (W2G) for MMOs? F2P has not only become the new standard for MMOs but it’s almost the only successful business model if your company’s name isn’t Blizzard. If you’ve avoided the MMO scene then you might want to at least think about how this affects gaming in general. The concept is that while the initial game is free and/or there are no monthly fees, extra content has to be bought. Many video games are starting off as pay-to-play (P2P) at first as a buffer to gain some initial return (those servers aren’t going to pay for themselves) before changing to the F2P model while others are F2P right out of the gate.

Notable MMOs that are F2P:
Champions Online
City of Heroes
DC Universe Online
Dungeons and Dragons Online
Dungeon Fighter Online
Everquest II
Lord of the Rings Online
Maple Story
Perfect World
Ragnarok Online
Rusty Hearts
Star Trek Online

Notable MMOs that are P2P:
Star Wars the Old Republic
World of Warcraft

The majority of the notable F2P games in the above list were originally P2P which is very telling of the trend going on here. Then you have things like EVE Online that don't make either list because it's kinda sorta both (it's technically P2P with a free trial period but you can earn in-game currency to pay for the game which makes it F2P for those that work hard).

MMOs aren’t the only games that are turning to the F2P business model. Games like Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, Minecraft Classic, and the upcoming games Firefall, Tribes: Ascend, and End of Nations are all F2P.

So what are your thoughts? Do you think this will affect all video games or just MMOs and/or PC gaming? Do you prefer subscription based games, games that only require buying a disc, or free games where you have to pay for extra content (including hats)?

This is Kylak signing out and raising a spatula to Urf.


  1. I think that the F2P games landed a stroke of genius when they thought this up. Tons of younger players either can't afford the subscriptions to games like WoW, or their parents won't let them. So they start playing the alternatives and get invested in the characters they create.
    In the long run, they're bringing in long term players that will be loathe to sacrifice something that they've spent hundreds of hours cultivating. When they do get old enough, or have their own income, they spend their money in the F2P game instead of running off to the gaming giants that are strictly P2P.

    On the other side of things, P2P games get more attention simply because they can afford to do bigger things more often, like developing expansions or graphics updates, that smaller F2P companies may not be able to do.

    As the old saying goes though; It's quality, not quantity. Personally I love the F2P genre and don't plan on leaving it anytime soon.

  2. First things first, major props on finding the img at the top of the post. It gave me quite the chuckle.

    I have played several different kinds of MMOs, but there are three that i seem to remember the best. These games are OGame, Fallen Sword, and World of Warcraft.
    OGame, which is a MMORTS, started out being a really fun game albeit with a hefty learning curve. There was a level set where if you were under it you couldn't be attacked in PVP and this level was fairly high, or at least took some time to reach. When i first played it many years back it had a really good and attractive system. It was F2P with a pay feature that offered some services that, while not necessary, made game management easier and more streamlined. At some point i lost interest and moved on. When i returned to it recently i noticed that the P2P feature had become far more important in game play, to the point where if you weren't paying you might as well not play. This disheartened me so i left again.
    Fallen sword is a MMORPG that is low graphics but has a very extensive world and, if you look hard enough, a good story. There are countless ways to play allowing for everyone to be good at something. This was another F2P game, but it had a currency you could buy with $$$ to improve your character both stats wise and aesthetically. There was a way around paying actual money but it involved devoting several hours each day to the game.
    Finally there is WoW. I've been playing WoW for a good many years, taking breaks in between that I spent playing these other games. One of the reasons i kept going back to WoW despite the price cost was the fact that it actually delivered in respect to game play, graphics, and storyline. This might be because since it is a P2P game then it has the resources to make it happen, but thats just speculation.
    I think after having the experience that i have had with the F2P games being more and more not free and lacking in depth story and graphics, i prefer to go to a system where im already gonna be paying since i dont have to sacrifice graphics and storyline.

  3. @ Avaelendil
    That's an interesting thought actually. The idea of it being a long-term investment to get people hooked while they are younger and keep them as they get older.

    @ Tevye
    I agree in full that a game shouldn't basically force you to pay money if they're using a F2P model. I'd also like to throw in that WoW has a huge edge over most games in general because it's been around since 2004. They've had 8 years to develop content for that game, fix bugs, etc. So there is a plethora of things to do and that's amazing in and of itself. Also you've given me an idea for yet another article (Delving more into F2P). Thanks for that.

    @ You both
    Thank you both for posting such well-thought-out comments.

  4. my only thing about time to develop is that OGame has been around for about the same amount of time and as i pointed out, it hasnt increased in playability or graphics but it has increased in bulkiness and need for monies

  5. To be fair, they don't exactly have the money to develop anything significant regardless of how much time they have had.



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