Rewind to the era of full subscription model and you got unfettered access to the game and aside from the monthly cost your only other expensive were the initial purchase of the original game and any expansions.
Each Free to play MMO calls their pseudo subscription models something different such as VIP, Premium, Membership, gold status or patron, I wanted to take a look at what is really being offered.
Bang for your buck
This is a work in progress please treat it as such, however I’m keen to collect any information that players of these games would like to add, please leave a comment on this post or you can comment on the spreadsheet.
I’ve played a number of MMOs as both a subscriber and a f2p-subscriber, So it’s interesting to look at what that subscription really grants to you the player? Are the perks the same across the board?
After my initial analysis it’s clear to see that the packages offered vary quite wildly some including:
Recurring reward of cash shop money
Priority Queuing (server and PVP)
others grant you full customer service functions
Unlocks of different races or classes
In-game store discounts
More action bars & bag space
Not forgetting one of the biggest incentives increases in Experience and Currency rewards
The rewards are weighted against the game they apply to, a boost to currencies being a strong favourite because who doesn’t want more money right?
There are discounts for purchasing longer periods but the generally most of the games aim place the perk in the range of between $9.99 and $14.99 price range for a month subscription, which is comparable with the previous subscription costs.
Some exceptions to this are games like Aion or Firefall where you have to purchase the monthly sub in game via the cash shop and the other is SOE who changed there model to one called All-Access which offers bonuses across all their games, a nice perks if you play more than one of their titles.
I tried to compile a list of what perks subscription models offer, this is often tricky as games don’t always tell you everything that is included off the bat.
If you spot a glaring omissions or mistakes then please let me know and I’ll update my data.
When people talk about “Free to play” titles, there is usually a reference to removing barriers. Removing them from the entry to the game, purchase costs, monthly subscriptions, etc.
While this has a positive benefits in terms of players and accessibility, removal of these entry level barriers means that those looking to exploit a game can just roll new accounts when they get found out.
Come with me into the Past
Let me take you back in time to 2006, this was before the free to play model was fully embraced as a viable business model and subscription was the order of the day.
To encourage more gamers to try out Planetside (1), SoE introduced a feature called Reservesfor a period of 1 year. This allowed anyone to create a SoE account and earn 6 battle ranks levels and 2 command levels before they stopped gaining XP.
On the whole there were high-hopes that this would drive more players into picking up the game. However this single act, resulted in a massive influx of persons out to abuse the system. The worst part was that the continued free access granted them the ability to test out different hacks and “so we are led to believe” develop/use tools to achieve various hacks on the fly.
Sadly this wasn’t the revamp that Planetside needed and effectively paved the path for continued exploits and ongoing problems that plagued the game forever more.
Over the last week in PS2 I have encountered a player on three separate occasions who appeared to be using a wall/clipping hack combined with increased damage output, meaning you would be killed by an “invisible” enemy with 1 shot.
In a purely PvP orientated game like Planetside 1 or 2, the floodgates are wide opened for cheaters and trolls to apply their “trade”, thanks to the removal of barriers.
I am rather surprised that SoE didn’t seem to take anything away from the reserves experiment. Even their hacking detection seems to be as lacklustre as it was in 2006/2007, relying more on other players to report these events over actively seeking them out in real time.
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.