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News & Features Discussion  » [Editorial] General: How F2P Is Killing Gaming – Part Two

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16277

OP  10/11/12 8:10:43 PM#1

In our latest editorial, we continue our look at the notion that "free to play" games are somehow killing gaming overall. Be sure to read this thoughtful piece and then weigh in with your thoughts in the comments.

The continual letdown from subscription games has also given a large rise to the popularity of the free-to-play mechanic. Who can blame gamers, after titles like Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies, Dragon Age II, Call of Duty: Black Ops and numerous other terrible releases, for not wanting to drop their hard-earned money on a mediocre title?  FF14 even had the nerve to charge people to pay by the month while the game was being fixed, despite it being so bad that the developers even apologized to their fanbase for it.  

Read more of Derek Czerkaski's How F2P Is Killing Gaming – Part Two.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Novice Member

Joined: 8/27/08
Posts: 2

10/12/12 4:13:40 PM#2
I'm into Paid titles but in our country F2P MMORPG titles survived for years while Paid once lifespan is shorter. Well I personally  leave that to the business men and women as I'm sure they made a market research first before deciding to make their product and services F2P. 

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/04/04
Posts: 364

10/12/12 4:32:27 PM#3
Totally agree with the comments about community and I truly hope there remains a place for sub models in the industry. 


Joined: 6/15/08
Posts: 2243

Posts deleted: 12589457

10/12/12 4:44:35 PM#4

"...after titles like Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies"

Guess you meant TOR?


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/24/12
Posts: 385

10/12/12 4:48:25 PM#5
SWG was not a terrible title

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 7205

10/12/12 4:53:43 PM#6
the one thing I object to in f2p right now is the gambling.  Many of these item shops offer items for sale that once in a while have a good item in them.  That just ruins a game in my mind.

Novice Member

Joined: 8/04/09
Posts: 113

10/12/12 5:08:28 PM#7
Very good article, spot on

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/02/11
Posts: 2977

The Critical Hit Pretzel!

10/12/12 5:23:39 PM#8
The main reason G2P is hurting gaming isn't that they exist as much as the fact there are SO MANY F2P games out there.The over-abundance of them is what is driving down games. This is only made worst by many of them being cash grabs that in some aspects work.

Elite Member

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 2175

10/12/12 5:29:02 PM#9
Originally posted by Yakamomoto
SWG was not a terrible title

Actually it mostly was. What was good about of offset with what was horribly wrong.


Every single poster acting like SWG was God's gift to mmo's needs to ponder why it was bleeding subs and a ghost town long before even the NGE killed it off.


It was a game for people who loved to farm and play house but the actual explorable worlds, physics and combat mechanics were some of the worst implemented in any mmo. What worked in SWG could have been a Facebook app like farmville.


SWGs greatest legacy will be as the perfect mmo ever created and bottled within a rose-coloured snow globe who's memory will never be tarnished in the minds of the <50k players who played with any regularity over the years and 10k or so peak players in recent years.


I support small community gaming but when you slap on the name of one of the biggest IP's in the history of human-kind and never peaked higher than 350k subs with 90+% playerbase bleed over a short term after release, there was a serious problem with the game.


As for F2P, I have voiced my concerns about it many times. It's greatest impact on mmo's is it's destruction to player communities and immersion. Every single element offered outside of the virtual world environment breaks immersion. F2P also supports casual gaming by creating a two class system where free players cannot compete with premium players and time gated rewards are bypassed through CS purchasing effectively removing the casual playerbase from the community otherwise bound to ingame playing in a sub model. P2W will always enter the equation in some way as well despite developer promises.


No matter the various reasons, each and every time a player has to pop open the CS it breaks the very core concept of any virtual world ... immersion. The division is becoming decisive. Truly immersive mmo's (ie. sandbox and rpg style gameplay) will only hurt their core audience if they go f2p or never develope a sense of community past individual guilds. Developers need to balance the benefits of consistant income from a long term, solid community or potentially higher peak gains from CS earnings from extremely low percentage high paying players and casual players who contribute nothing to in game community building. Losing a game's core audience is the greatest result of f2p.


A f2p game will never, ever build a community like the games of old where you not only often know most the players on your own server but also many from other servers due to such a tight knit in game community. This is mostly opinion based on experience and despite other contributing factors but certainly is a view expressed vocally by more and more players. F2p is a cultural issue and a model still under development imo.

You stay sassy!

  User Deleted
10/12/12 5:31:46 PM#10

"Who can blame gamers, after titles like Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies, Dragon Age II, Call of Duty: Black Ops"

So let me get this straight you're saying Star Wars The Old Wallet Rape is better than Star Wars Galaxies (even post-NGE) ? Dear God Sir remove your cranium from your boss's rectal orifice,  your site is losing more credibility by the day defending the TORtanic.


Novice Member

Joined: 9/13/12
Posts: 4

10/12/12 5:52:14 PM#11

Free to play is a much more complicated and nuanced business model than subscriptions, and it's going to take a while before developers have the experience and data to make F2P games that avoid all the pitfalls mentioned in this article.  Saying that F2P is ruining games is totally off base and short sighted though.  


This model allows gamers to literally vote with their wallets feature-by-feature.  Subscriptions never gave that kind of power to players.  I guarantee in another 5 years or so when the F2P model has been honed to a science, this article will look silly in retrospect.


Elite Member

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 2175

10/12/12 5:53:11 PM#12
Originally posted by Dihoru

"Who can blame gamers, after titles like Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies, Dragon Age II, Call of Duty: Black Ops"

So let me get this straight you're saying Star Wars The Old Wallet Rape is better than Star Wars Galaxies (even post-NGE) ? Dear God Sir remove your cranium from your boss's rectal orifice,  your site is losing more credibility by the day defending the TORtanic.

Seems to be they meant SWTOR and not SWG. SWG was flawed yet an original concept worth attempting. Plus it isn't even remotely within the time period of the other game releases. It makes no sense being in the sentence. Granted this site's "paid review" score of SWTOR is some serious psychoactive drug distribution.

You stay sassy!


Elite Member

Joined: 8/27/04
Posts: 8321

Perhaps tomorrow will be better.

10/12/12 5:57:33 PM#13

I really don't need much an editorial to understand economics and cost/profit.

Game developers are going for a % of profit on the investment.F2p offers zero chance of gaining back any investment over and above what the developer deemed the profit the margin they need.

So you are going to get a game that right from day 1 is locked into a cost/timeline.This means MANy corners will be cut from delivering a AAA title.This also means as the timeline nears,certain decisions are made on what content continues to be finished and what content nmeeds to be scrapped.

What i don't like is the developers then sit down and devise a way to mislead us and tell us all kinds of bull to make it sound like their decisions were all about us the gamers and not about THEIR cost/profit/deadline.

I am not so sure about EQ1 but i do know FFXI is maybe one of the VERY few games that decided to just make the game they envisioned and worry about the profit down the road.When FFXI was released they figured a 5+ year recovery time and only then a profit would start.

Developers nowdays are looking for INSTANT profits,that way there is nothing to leave to HOPE.Even iof a game fails now,they don't care as long as they met their initial profit/sales the rest is gravy.

Where the new wave idea can fail is if a developer or it's board members over rate therirown product.

I am also in belief that F2p games have no intention whatsoever to deliver content beyond release.They wait and see how the game is perceived and then begin to roll out new maps and a few ideas.

I have NEVER seen an xpac worth the cost.Games take 3-5 years tro develop and cost 60 bucks.Xpacs take 5-12 months and usually ask for 30-50 bucks.There is a bigtime math fail there,one is at 5-10 bucks a year and the xpacs are at 5-15 bucks a month.
Samoan Diamond


Elite Member

Joined: 3/22/09
Posts: 2175

10/12/12 6:04:53 PM#14
Originally posted by lunarspore



This model allows gamers to literally vote with their wallets feature-by-feature.  Subscriptions never gave that kind of power to players.  I guarantee in another 5 years or so when the F2P model has been honed to a science, this article will look silly in retrospect.


In 5 years f2p will likely have already destroyed most of the mmo community. I have no faith in where the direction of honing the model will go. Every single f2p game I have played has already proven that CS purchasing directly impacts the develpmental direction and content of the game. The vision of an immersive mmo geared toward creating full immersion within it's virtual environment will not be the primary force behind content creation if a CS drives income.


In some games today this is so extreme that 80+% of the games income comes from <5% of the playerbase. I have yet to see even a single company prove their CS does not cater in any way to that <5%. You will end up logging into a world defined by it's highest paying customers and not a game driven by the vision of it's developers.

You stay sassy!


Novice Member

Joined: 12/24/06
Posts: 59

Awaiting Star Citizen & Elite Dangerous

10/12/12 6:13:41 PM#15
The so-called "community" in FTP/PTW games is atrocious at best compared to what it used to be in full-on subscription model games. More FTP/PTW can only make things worse.

Pay-to-Win / F2P will be the death of real gaming, Boycott it !!


Elite Member

Joined: 10/07/03
Posts: 1586

10/12/12 6:33:07 PM#16
Wow... REALLY late to join the F2P is killing gaming party... welcome.

Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6721

Gaming should be about fun, not gender equality.

10/12/12 6:34:07 PM#17
Star Wars Galaxies? Is this a joke? That game was 100 times the game compared to SW:TOR and probably with 100th the budget.


Joined: 3/03/12
Posts: 8389

10/12/12 6:37:39 PM#18

 "Can you think of a time when customer service in the gaming industry was less then deplorable? You get what you pay for."


preach on brother.
J.O.B. Daggerfalls BEST Gank Crew



Joined: 5/21/08
Posts: 2735

10/12/12 6:38:44 PM#19

Still dont get the repeated reference to single purchase non subscription / non-MMO games just like in part 1,  like DA2 and CoD.

Anyway. While I agree the community for the most part has gone to hell, I dont really see how any of what was said applies to F2P, or is caused by F2P. I think many of us would agree theres plenty of P2P games with terrible communities that have been around for years. For example WoW. WoW is constantly picked on for its community. Its been around since before F2P became very popular, has a subscription, and is one of the biggest successes in the history of MMOs. Many also feel games like WoW, with their appeal to the masses of previously non-MMO players, the "gimme now" attitude that they cater to, and the community that it brought about has been the biggest downfall of all in the MMO community.

Same goes witht he game hoppers as well. WoW brought in a very big wave of game hoppers. They play WoW for a few years, started getting bored, and now hop into new games, both P2P and F2P, looking for something new. Then whats the 1 thing you constantly see spouted in chat? "OMG this game sucks. WoW is so much better". Then they either a) hop to a new game or b) stick it out for awhile, the entire time still complaining how its not as good as WoW.

WoW is just one example, and the largest at the moment. But its far from the only one. Theres very few P2P games left where people actually look at them as having a good community (EVE, Ryzom, possibly Vanguard come to mind). Sub or not, people will still act like asshats, and people will still game hop.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 958

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens. -Kahlil Gibran

10/12/12 7:10:42 PM#20

I'm not totally against free-to-play games, but I'm bothered that they seem to be eliminating the alternative (or getting bundled with that alternative in the same product). There are very different design philosophies between cash shop and subscription-based games. Cash shop games pay for their design and upkeep by selling products, subscription-based games do that by selling a service. The market should be large enough to support both models, because they frequently appeal to different types of consumers.


In my experience, subscription games tend to "try harder" to keep you around, because they die a painful death if they don't. Now, they're not always successful with this, but their whole business model is based upon not only on making a player happy, but keeping them happy. Cash shop games, on the other hand, tend to be more about creating short-term demand and supplying that demand via real currency purchases, then relying on those purchases to keep you tethered to the game for the long-term.*


In any case, there's room for both models, but the industry seems to be hell-bent on binary solutions. WoW's successful? Let's make everything like WoW. Free-to-play's successful? Let's make everything free-to-play. Don't. Just don't. The greatest strength of any entertainment medium is variety. I don't want to watch twenty different versions of "Law & Order," I want to watch a little "Doctor Who," a little bit of "the Wire,"  maybe see who wins the Mark Twain Prize, etc.


Conformity rarely results in art, and art should be what game designers aspire to. The mission statement those designers should be using is, to borrow a line from a great YouTuber (MrBtongue),:


Let's make games.

And in order to do that, we need to make money.


It should not be:


Let's make money.

And in order to do that, we need to make games.


It feels like we've been stuck in that second train of thought for years now.



*(If travel distances are intentionally huge, that $14.95 mount is going to look irresistible; spend $14.95 enough times, and you're far less likely to walk away from a title even if you're no longer enjoying it, because it represents an investment rather than a hobby).


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