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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at www.spouseaggro.com, write for www.ablegamers.com, run www.mmovoices.ning.com and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

Will going F2P actually HELP Spellborn?

Posted by beauturkey Sunday July 12 2009 at 8:42AM
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I can only speak from experience. Despite how I write/podcast/rant, I am only attempting to come from a place of what I have seen, heard or played.

I can speak on raiding because I have raided (fewer times than most, yes) and raiding is just a different form of large grouping. I have been in large groups and played for hours, doing many different things. Raiding is that, but repeated. Over and over.

I can speak on PvP because I have PvP'ed, since the beginning. The only games that stick out in my head (for whatever reason) that were actually fun pvp'ing in were Ultime Online, EVE, World of Warcraft and Planetside. Everything else (unless I am forgetting something) is just...well, more PvP. PvP is not that complicated of an art form despite what some might say. It can be a blast, but can quickly become repetitive.

And I can speak on cash-shops because I have played near 70 games that not only feature cash-shops/RMT but LIVE by it. I can tell you that, in my experience, if the game does not have cash-shoppery built in and does not embrace it, it doesn't seem to do much at all. Either go all the way or not.

spellborn_promo_hdr

So that has me wondering how The Chronicles of Spellborn might do after it attempts to salvage itself by adding on a cash shop and going full-F2P. ( Speaking of which, I am in the DDO F2P beta, so will comment on that after I play some.) Of course, I was very excited when I learned that one of my favorite (but limited, VERY limited) games was going F2P. I could leave it residing on my hard-drive, play it when I want, get into it or not... doesn't matter, it would be there forever. But then I thought about the fact that if a sub-based game is good enough, I will sub. I currently sub to Vanguard, WoW, Free Realms and, until recently, Darkfall. Everything else I play is F2P. Granted, I have been subbed to every single pay-to-play game out there (that I can read the text in) and always maintain one or two games at a time.

So, why didn't I continue to sub to Spellborn after I switched to the NA server? Despite the fact that it has amazing art-style (I LOVE it, I think it's one of my favorite of all time, seriously) and runs great even on my older machine, and despite the fact that the story and quests were really, really fun, there was just not enough to do in the game. Once I ran through the story-based quests to level 20, I didn't want to do it again. It was hard to get excited about leveling my character through the same story (with the same plot twists) as I did before. And yes, there is "Crafting" in Spellborn, but it was not exciting at all, and we all know how boring crafting can be in the first place.

So, will adding a cash-shop to a game that was already struggling help it or hurt it?

I think that more players might try it, and being that there is no sub they will keep it on their hard-drive and they might slowly "get into" the game. The cash-shop ( I am not clear on the details of what they will be selling in it) could have some fun time-passers included, mounts or clothing items, collectibles. That might help. Deep down, though, I think that the main thing it will accomplish is gaining a few more players (most have already tried it that wanted to, they have a trial to level 9.9 ) and holding on to the ones they have now. Most current players will not quit out of principle simply because of the add-on of the cash-shop, as most players did not quit in Vanguard, EQ2 or EQ, when it happened there.

But the game was not meant to have a cash-shop from the beginning, something I wished for from the first time I heard about it. The game is a story-based action-driven MMO, and I wonder what they could possibly sell or do that would increase the player-base? After all, games like Auto Assault and Tablula Rasa, even if you didn't play them you saw the great potential in them and probably even enjoyed some time in them, and cannot understand just scrapping something with such unique game-play. It would be a shame to see this game go away forever. But how are they going to incorporate it? How will it run? Will it load from in the game, like Mabinogi or Dream of Mirror online?

Who knows? Again, I don't think it will actually add on so many more people as keep the numbers they have, now. Cash-shops are great, but there has to be a great game underneath. If a game sucks, no amount of pink dresses or health potions will save it.

This seems to be the new, strange thing happening in MMO's lately: how do you add RMT to your non-RMT game successfully?

1) Just plug it in, Vanguard style: Some players might gripe and moan, but if they leave they didn't have much in the game keeping them there anyway. After all the drama blows over, most will be back. Most players, according to SOE, just ignored the addition of cash shops to EQ and EQ2, and just continued playing. In this scenario, Spellborn will just throw the whole thing out there, rare items and all. A player that logged out the day before the patch will log back in to find a new little button on his hot bar that opens up a cash-shop filled with goodies.

2) Do it very, very slowly: WoW has been adding in little cash-shoppery items here and there. For the record, cash-shop is a umbrella term for "paying real life money for something you get in game." Doesn't matter the delivery method, it's all cash-shoppery. City of Heroes has had little items for sale for a while, and in 2 years who knows how extensive the catalogue will be? In this scenario Spellborn comes out with a few big-ticket items to sell, and offers them on the website. Players can buy characters or money, or perhaps items like sigils are sold? Later they will sell everything but the kitchen sink.

3) "Re-launch" the game as a F2P game: This seems the most unlikely, and I hear the word "re-launch" thrown around more than "meaningful PvP"...it is one of those things that players seem to think is "really easy to do" without considering what is involved in a "re-launch." In this scenario, the website is re-vamped, the cash-shop is featured prominently on the side, and players see ads for the game spread all over gaming sites saying "Play NOW for FREE!" Game cards appear in your local gas station, and the game has tie-ins with a soft drink company.

Either way, I wish the best for the game. I really did enjoy it, and despite being bored with the same story-driven quest-line that I am experiencing in it now, I was just mesmerized by that same story the first time around. Perhaps the cash-shop will give some kind of variety to the game, breath new life into the rigid, linear game-play? I hope so, because I will be the first one to spend 50 bucks on virtual items.

Beau

sfraden writes:

Spellborn fails on one aspect you did not cover.  Lack of Epeen.  Armor and weapons are worthless, loot is a joke, a character can run around naked and be just as effective as a fully armored character.  The difference the sigils make for the first 30 levels is negligible at best. Even free, people like to feel they gained something by defeating that moster, and obtaining a new weapon or armor piece that is no better than your noob stuff just deflates the entire game.  Why change from that butter knife you got when its just as effective as any other weapon in the game?

Lastly, the entire concept of the twirly-hotbar-deck thing drive people nuts.  Its nifty at first, but you soon realize how limiting it is and how you need to change it up for almost each type of encounter for best results.  That entire bit needs to be scrapped in favor or a normal hotbar and selectible items.

Nah, Spellborn is done, without major changes to the core game play and HUD, F2P is not going to save it nor bring flocks of folks to it.

Sun Jul 12 2009 10:49AM Report
beauturkey writes:

 I never saw a player say that they quit because they didn't feel e-peened. I assure you that many players do not worry about that stuff, or at the very least, liked the custimization and the ability to "keep" a look more than they worried about being seen as badass.

 The biggest complaint I heard was the linear path to levels. You did quests, or killed lot's and lot's of mobs. Also, there was 16 million miles of walking to do. No mounts.

 And the re-playability was low. If you re-rolled an alt, you felt the same sting of blisters on your feet and ran into many of the same quests. The story could be different for each house, though.

 That's why this game is perfect for a cash-shop F2P. It can take it's time, grow slowly while being free. Taking time and growing slowly while charging people is bad. Very bad.

 

 Beau

 

 

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 6:51AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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