Some things you just don’t expect. Some things you just look at and wonder to yourself, “How could that possibly fail?”
Take Mechwarrior Online. The franchise is quite literally a license to print money. The fanbase will literally throw bricks of cash at you if you do it right, and therein lies the problem: Doing it right. The initial roll out seemed to be made of complete and utter win. The game was solid and mostly faithful to the source material. Piranha assured their players that certain pay to win principles wouldn’t be violated and that more content was coming. More maps. Open world campaigns. If Piranha could even come close to fulfilling these promises, MWO would quite possibly be the most epic Mechwarrior game in history.
And then it went horribly wrong.
Communication between the developers and player base broke down. Core principles were backtracked upon. Pay to win was introduced. Consumables were introduced. Coolant flushes. The rumors of founder funds being diverted to other projects surfaced. Time frames continued to slip. Deep progression mechanics fell by the wayside. Third person was offered in spite of overwhelming community resistance. From there, players were explicitly advised they would never have to play those who use third person due to perceived viewing advantages. Another promise broken.
MWO is turning into the poster child of what not to do with a killer app franchise. Not simply that, it is the preeminent example of what people perceive when they hear the term F2P—A title that will go back on its word compromise its principles in order to make a buck.
It also seems to be a rather contagious condition.
Firefall isn’t there yet, but it’s showing the signs of compromising its principles to the dollar as well. With the latest patch came a new frame and the first new cash shop content the game has seen in ages. The initial awesome, however, was quickly dulled by the fact that this new content isn’t assessable via any of the cash shop outlets… It’s only offered via vending machine lottery in what appears to be an obvious bid to kick start their stagnant cash economy.
Even though this very tactic was initially eschewed by Red 5, here it is, apparently preying on the player’s desperation for new content in order to solve their financial problems. It's a monetary equation that blatantly favors Red 5 first and formost, enticing people to retire the currency they've horded due to lack of content in order for a luck based chance to win a few XP/resource boosts that they could care less about and the new stuff they desperately want. R5 could have used the established cash shop that has suffered a 2 year content drought in order to sell these items, but that will apparently remain barren.
And don't forget to buy more Beans.
With the back side of Firefall’s advancement still in ruins and hints of slipping business morality, it almost appears that another game is ready to walk down the path of profit versus players. In fact, I would say the only reason Firefall hasn’t fallen from the good graces of its fanbase yet is that unlike MWO, Red 5’s lines of communication remain generally open. It also helps that the front side of Firefall’s action based gameplay holds so much promise, yet the offical forums seem to be running that fine line between fandom and malcontent with every patch.
Even so, these are two promising titles-- Neither is quite irreparably damaged but both are showing the disturbing signs of profit mongering and internal corporate dissention. MWO appears to have all but lost that battle of conscious while Firefall is still putting up a fight. I’m hoping my initial suppositions concerning the non-viability of F2P aren’t true; that there are indeed free to play titles that aren’t willing to sacrifice their player at the altar of the dollar like so many others in the past.
I personally would like just one to prove me wrong, but it doesn’t appear my two first string champions will be that standard bearer short of a minor miracle.