After paying my first subscription payment for Elder Scrolls Online I’m reinforced in my belief that Free-2-Play/Freemium is a poisoned chalice instead of the golden goblet of awesome that the F2P revolution always alluded to.
Not that I don’t see the benefits that the shift has brought with it, removing the barriers and opening up the playing field. As a MMO gamer I can play a different MMO every night for a fortnight and not pay a penny, which isn’t something you could say 8 years ago. When done badly or greedily it’s no better than the hordes of Facebook titles begging for your money.
However I feel that dividing a games assets into purchasable bundles detracts from the game as a whole. I as a player can’t experience the game in the way that the developers originally intended or in a joined up way, now the only way to get that level X equipment is to grid out experience, farm certain enemy types or transform your real money into “Company points” to soften the blow of spending it on electronic goods.
Now many F2P games offer a monthly subscription VIP/Premium/Member service that should reduce a players dependency on in-game purchases, yet in recent times it has felt like companies target these already paying customers more with exclusive deals, discounted items or just plain old asking for more money with an array of hats (replace with flavour of the month item).
I hope that The Elder Scrolls Online keeps taking my money and doesn’t venture down the F2P road.
So this far into the Free-2-Play adventures it’s plain to all that there are frequently some tactics used to help customers part with their recently purchased coins/cash/tokens/crowns/points. However most companies seem to have some morals and don’t kick the arse out of it too much with the occasional item once every 3 to 6 months. Additionally it is frequently some cosmetic item/armour or a new/unique horse.
However so far SOEs plan seems to be different, by making weapons unlockable with station cash many people see it as a “Win Button” approach and I have to say to a degree it sometimes feels like it. At this point I’d much rather a subscription game than the half and half model, which to be honest feels greedy.
However what appears to be happening at the moment is that SOE announce and release a new weapon, which once players have their hands on it turns out to be highly overpowered. Once word of this gets into the mainstream player base there is a rush as everyone spends their Station Cash on the new Flavour of the week/month weapon, normally trying to get in on the action before SOE take a nerf-bat to it.
Of course the outcome is that SOE announce that it will be de-buffed in some way in the next patch, but not the worry as here is a brand new overpowered weapon to make up for it, just spend another 700 station cash and you can be a kill-whore like your friends.
As you can see the problem is due to two man factors:
No testing server has been given but I hear it’s coming soon, lets hope they listen to feedback rather than ignoring it as they mostly did with Beta.
The internal playtest/balancing is being done by SOE isn’t picking up any problems with these weapons. Now concerning that may of the devs claim to be life-long Planetside players, why aren’t they flagging these overpowered items before they hit the live servers?
All of this ultimately makes me believe this continual delivery of game wrecking functionality is being purely driven by SOE as part of their strategy to milk the players for as much as possible.Bit of a shame really.
Perhaps it’s just me, perhaps I’m that tied up with this game more than other F2P titles that I have most likely missed it happening to this extent elsewhere.
As the gamer community fully digests the News that SW:TOR is going free to play, I thought back to my recent excursion into the game. Due to a number of factors the game really didn’t click with me and I drifted away before completing my free 30 days included in the box. It was kind of sad as I had hoped to get more time out of it, but I struggled to get into a comfortable groove with the game, we just didn’t click.
Given the recent announcements and staff lay-offs, such a move was suspected by many as being on the cards, of course this does nothing to abate concerns of current players who have remained dedicated through the recent turmoil. We shall see how the future pans out for this business model and hope it’s not too harsh on existing and new players alike. Good luck to you all.
Sub V F2P
I recently caught up on my RSS feeds and spotted this post over at One Shard, and have to say that I am in agreement. I find that nearly every Free 2 Play MMO that I have played makes me frustrated. Usually everything I need/want I can grind location/mission/enemy X until I obtain it or I can opt to purchase the item or enough cash to buy it from the Store.
I play for fun and not for it to be a grind continually, as MMO games switch to F2P models more titles are bartering for our time/effort and ultimately our hard-earned cash.
The Hybrid models seems to be a favourite and companies seeking to attract both the Veteran and New players alike. Vets gain some small perks over new F2P players, but its not normally anything too spectacular and often highlights the amount of “freedom” that is lost by switching to f2p for new players.
Sub plus cash shop
City of Heroes is a great example of a hybrid model that has a basic f2p tier, a veteran tier and a VIP subscription tier, to be fair if I was coming to the game as a new player I would struggle fair too much due to the limitations that would be imposed on me.
As a player that wants to enjoy the game and opts for a monthly subscription in a game that’s classified as F2P, I’m often disappointed that you’re expected to supplement the subscription with some cash-shop purchases as that is how the game is have been redesigned.
Perhaps I’m just being a grumpy old gamer who’s favourite past-time is hating anything new or different. I feel that MMO games lose appeal to me when they shift to the F2P model and for some games I was already on the fence in the first place.
Remember when it was easy to decide which MMO you were going to play? Of course it was the one you had a subscription for, interrupted by the occasional single player game that needed your immediate attention.
Now I look at my desktop and find that I could start a Tetris game with the number of square colourful icons that exist in the MMO section. I with the introduction of EQ2X and LoTRo that are bursting their way into the market I really do feel spoilt for choice and slightly overwhelmed.
My desktop currently offers me the following:
EverQuest II Extended
Runes of Magic
Myst Online – Uru Live
The Chronicles of Spellborn (Which has gone now)
Star Trek Online – Free Trial
Champions Online – Free Trial
City of Heroes
All Points Bulletin
I play a little of this and that when possible and I’m in the right frame of mind. AS you maybe able to tell Eve is currently holding my attention for now, but I’d like to ask, How do you decide what game to load next?