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the Lonely Altar

I don't play "games", I play MMORPGs! This is where I talk about them!

Author: Tierless

#73 The Will of the Whale the Death of FTP

Posted by Tierless Monday January 13 2014 at 10:25AM
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Are you a whale or a fail?

FTP and BTP games are slaves to the whales. Whales are the players that drop big dollas in the game they frequent. I assume most whales are fairly wealthy players with money to toss around like Dana White playin some Black Jack. They keep your game alive. They are the ones that fund your MMO. One spending spree by a whale makes up for 666 of the rest of you freeloading FTPers.

As a result, MMO companies understandably bend themselves to the will of the Whale. They have to. Retain whale-keep game going, lose whale, game has no funds, game must die. It’s the sad thing that keeps SWTOR propped up and looking successful in spite of itself. SWTOR has Star Wars fans. Star Wars fans, as documented, HAVE to buy EVERYTHING Star Wars. Put out any product, no matter how poor, but have the SW IP and fans will throw money at you because; Star Wars. How else could something as terribad as SWTOR, or EPs I-III ever make money? We HAVE to. Star Wars fans gotten taken advantage of more than Indiana Jones himself for cryin out loud! How can I be so sure? The craploads of money I’ve spent on way too much Star Wars stuff thats how! (FYI rumor is the new one will be about the old crew then transition to their kids in the sequel, OMFG can’t wait to see the gang back in action one last time!!!)

Back onto FTP before my e-rage swallows me like a whale a new cosmetic item. When you have a controlling minority dictating the direction of your games bad things will come (see oligarchy and plutocracy). When power rests with the few they do what is best for them (and who wouldn't) and as a result the majority began to suffer. It’s not some evil intention, it’s just human nature. If you don’t design for them, you are out of a job! Soon the devs begin to make your MMO so specifically appealing that the rest of the players lose interest. They figure out that you aren’t investing in them or their requests and they move onto the next FTP.

Fortunately (also very Murican) is choice. Choice matters. Choice changes. Choice dictates. MMO X no longer gives a blank about what you want, so you can choose to move onto MMO Y. MMO Y follows the same path so you move onto Z but the reality is at the end of the day it’s your own fault you cheap SOB! If you had shunned the FREE model companies wouldn’t have ran with it, whales wouldn’t matter, and we would all be happily paying $15 a month for equality.

What was my point...oh yeah, FTP sounds too good to be true because it is. You are sacrificing a game made from the equality of a flat fee per month to appeal to all of its subscribers for a game that only cares about the top 3% of big spenders. Ask yourself, is $15 a month worth having a say in the game I love? Is it worth it to keep the MMO I love pure and focused on the greater good and benefit of the whole rather than the few? IMO $15 for consumer equality is a heck of a deal.

 

hokiejoe writes:

I completely agree with this article.  But here's a different perspective.

I play many FTP games, better reffered to as PTW (pay to win) because that's exactly what they are.

But I have found something out about myself while playing these games: I thrive on competing against players who pay and strategizing a way to beat them without paying.  It usually takes a while, but I have found that a steady pace of intense play usually trumps even the most hardcore spender.  I have found that I will play games that I don't even care much for if the competition is good.  I sometimes employ methods that are frowned upon, like multiple accounts, but they're free, so what are they going to do?  They won't stop me from playing - after all, I'm a potential paying customer!

But take away the competition and I immediately lose interest.  I played Caesary on an early server and made it to rank #1 without spending a dollar, but within 2 days of reaching that mark, I lost total interest in the game.  And I noticed that as I ranked by obvious coiners, I could see them lose interest in the game almost immediately.  There have been a few times in the past 10 years or so where I have dropped $10 or $20 on a game, and the funny thing is that I lose interest within a week or two of doing so every time.

I agree that subscription games are more enjoyable long-term, but I'm going to lose interest in most games in 2 to 6 months anyways, so why not play them for free?  I sure have wasted a lot of money and time for subscription games that were terrible (yeah, you know which ones), but I've never lost a dollar or an hour on a FTP dog.

Mon Jan 13 2014 11:56AM Report
Nephaerius writes: LotRO, DDO, SWTOR, TERA, etc all gained subs in the process of going F2P. They did not lose them. These are players paying roughly $15/mo; not whales. This is where a significant portion of their income comes from. Also the thought is millions spending a dollar is more than a few spending $15. Tons of folks making tiny $1-$5 transactions. Then you have your whales. The thing is F2P with optional sub actually provides options for every type of consumer out there while the sub option only opens your game to a singular market that's currently dwindling. TL;DR there's whales and they're interesting to discuss but in no way shape or form are they the primary drivers of F2P game development. Mon Jan 13 2014 2:07PM Report
Tierless writes: Thanks for the posts, both well said and full of good info, I appreciate them. I do agree with several points in both of them, especially that MMOs have seemed far less long term in the last several years. In those cases I 100% agree I'd rather they be FTP and playing them as so was satisfying short term. As for whales, the reason I feel they begin to dictate the games is due to reading a few developers that have gone on record saying their entire strategy revolved around appealing to, securing, and retaining the whales specifically. It's a model taken from casinos, even calling them "whales" as casinos do. Mon Jan 13 2014 4:59PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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