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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Does the Free to Play model work?

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137 posts found
  NinjaGaz

Novice Member

Joined: 6/14/03
Posts: 51

 
OP  10/31/13 12:13:30 PM#1

I have often wondered about this free to play model... why is everybody adopting it? What makes them think it's such a great idea? I could point you to an article where a girl spent over $400 on Candy Crush because of the model and most people know somebody that's spent over £100 on a game.

Is that the target audience, though? The people who can't control themselves, or are spending other peoples money. I think I've paid once in a free to play game and that was more about feeling I should contribute to the game because I enjoyed it.

When I see a game is being released and see that it is free to play, I inevitable give a sigh and a shake of the head. The advantage, of course, is that you can potentially get more gamers trying out the game because it's free. The disadvantage is that most of these games incentivise paying money.They're there to make money - which is fair enough, but an in-game currency almost always results in it having an effect on the gameplay. 

Examples are buying items which make you stronger (Pay to Win), or paying to improve the speed of progression. This wouldn't be too bad, but they almost inevitably slow down the standard progression to an absolute chore making it almost a requirement to pay.

My overall feeling is that these free to play games become weaker games because of the payment model. There must be millions out there like me that do not like that and, in the end, it discourages you from playing the game. I have always stopped playing these games (except the time mentioned above) because the enforced gameplay changes/weaknesses and future costs make it so unappealing. In the end, logic tells you that their free to play model is aimed at taking a LOT more money from some customers than all customers who buy a game at the start. That immediately highlights a free to play game as a bit of a con right from the beginning!

I don't want to sound like someone who wants something for nothing - quite the opposite! My preference is to buy a game and get the full game with no in-game shops affecting the play. No more payments, no refunds - just buy it and play it if you like it. I have wasted a fair amount of cash on games that I didn't enjoy, but also got more than my money's worth from other games.

I can't help but think that offering a demo or trial of a game and then buying the full game is the best option for a quality product. Even the sub-model is something worthwhile - if you've got past the first month and still want to play then maybe it is worth your money - at least you know what you're getting and that nobody with a bigger wallet is gaining an advantage over you.

The fact is, though, that so many companies are going free to play. It doesn't make sense to me, though. How can it be better to allow everyone to play for free and perhaps make an income from 10-25% of people than to charge everyone £20-40? Do the ones who cannot control themselves end up spending £100+? The only advantage that I can see is that you would get revenue long after release, but will it come to anywhere near the initial purchase of the game at full price?

So has anybody actually released results? A comparison between a full priced game and a free to play game on the PC? Tablet/Mobile games are different in their nature.

To me, it seems like companies will go full circle and stop doing free to play games and just start selling them at full price again. I can only hope that they don't do an EA and do BOTH. £50 for a game and then you have to buy more in-game to compete or keep up-to-date. A terrible abuse of their position.

  DamonVile

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 4909

10/31/13 12:27:47 PM#2

Ever see the story about the girl that sold her services for a dragon mount is some sub game ? Or the guy that spent 20k to buy illidins swords.

Whales have never been unique to f2p games, but in the past people just shook their heads and carried on because with only one payment type you tend not to try and find fault with it.

It isn't f2p that is causing these ppl to spend all this money, it's their own lack of self control. f2p just means the money goes to the people who made the game instead of some other person who knows how to take advantage of them.

f2p works because it removes the spending cap the devs can collect from a player. The cap players could spend on a game has never been there.

  nariusseldon

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20243

10/31/13 12:28:47 PM#3

It makes perfect sense.

There are plenty of documented examples of games making a lot more money after turning F2P.

So:

- dev wins by making more money

- a large group of players get free games, and they win.

- whales who pay a lot of money for their virtual items get to show them off (if cosmetic) to large groups of people, or beat the crap out of non-paying players in p2w pvp games.

So .. win-win-win for dev, whales, and free players. Of course it is a trend. Sure, there are those like you who refuse to play these games but the market does not care as long as those who do outnumber you guys by a large amount.

 

  Jaedor

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/17/09
Posts: 998

10/31/13 12:35:02 PM#4

While the sub option is arguably better for the player since costs are capped at ~$15/month, F2P with a cash shop does appear to be a win/win payment model for all the reasons the others have already mentioned.

  nariusseldon

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20243

10/31/13 12:38:16 PM#5
Originally posted by Jaedor

While the sub option is arguably better for the player since costs are capped at ~$15/month, F2P with a cash shop does appear to be a win/win payment model for all the reasons the others have already mentioned.

It is not "capped". It is set at $15. There is a difference. You cannot spend less. And this provides less choice.

For those who want to play less (or not at all) to play part of the game, they cannot.

For those who want to spend MORE than $15 to buy stuff to win, or show off, or for whatever reasons, they cannot.

So it is a restrictive system that does not give as much freedom as a F2P system.

 

  Vermillion_Raventhal

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/01/04
Posts: 1039

10/31/13 12:40:26 PM#6
It depends on how you view the game. My biggest gripe is the cash shop pestering or altered game play to convince you to pay money.  Examples I hate are pay to win, pay or grind. I didlke quest that guide me to cash shops.
  DamonVile

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 4909

10/31/13 12:43:37 PM#7
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Jaedor

While the sub option is arguably better for the player since costs are capped at ~$15/month, F2P with a cash shop does appear to be a win/win payment model for all the reasons the others have already mentioned.


For those who want to spend MORE than $15 to buy stuff to win, or show off, or for whatever reasons, they cannot.

 

 

That's not totally true. They can't spend more money that goes to the game maker. They can buy gold/power lvling or whatever other service from other people.

In any business that is a loss to the business running the game by not providing a service your customer is willing to pay for.

  Loktofeit

Novice Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12401

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

10/31/13 12:45:45 PM#8
Originally posted by NinjaGaz

I have often wondered about this free to play model... why is everybody adopting it? What makes them think it's such a great idea? I could point you to an article where a girl spent over $400 on Candy Crush because of the model and most people know somebody that's spent over £100 on a game.

Is that the target audience, though? The people who can't control themselves, or are spending other peoples money.

You assume people who play free to play games can't control themselves or are spending someone else's money. Abandon the assumptions and bias, stick to facts, and you'll be a lot less puzzled about these things.

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  DamonVile

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 4909

10/31/13 12:48:50 PM#9
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by NinjaGaz

I have often wondered about this free to play model... why is everybody adopting it? What makes them think it's such a great idea? I could point you to an article where a girl spent over $400 on Candy Crush because of the model and most people know somebody that's spent over £100 on a game.

Is that the target audience, though? The people who can't control themselves, or are spending other peoples money.

You assume people who play free to play games can't control themselves or are spending someone else's money. Abandon the assumptions and bias, stick to facts, and you'll be a lot less puzzled about these things.

 

Stop telling people that! If ppl didn't have these extreme assumptions and/or bias towards games we'd have nothing to talk about.

  Loktofeit

Novice Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12401

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

10/31/13 12:50:57 PM#10
Originally posted by DamonVile
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by NinjaGaz

I have often wondered about this free to play model... why is everybody adopting it? What makes them think it's such a great idea? I could point you to an article where a girl spent over $400 on Candy Crush because of the model and most people know somebody that's spent over £100 on a game.

Is that the target audience, though? The people who can't control themselves, or are spending other peoples money.

You assume people who play free to play games can't control themselves or are spending someone else's money. Abandon the assumptions and bias, stick to facts, and you'll be a lot less puzzled about these things.

 

Stop telling people that! If ppl didn't have these extreme assumptions and/or bias towards games we'd have nothing to talk about.

In that case, let me share my view on paid expansion packs... :)

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  Thourne

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/19/04
Posts: 93

10/31/13 12:54:44 PM#11
Originally posted by Jaedor

While the sub option is arguably better for the player since costs are capped at ~$15/month, F2P with a cash shop does appear to be a win/win payment model for all the reasons the others have already mentioned.

Actually the cost isn't capped in games where multiple accounts can result in an advantage.

The design of some games can make running multiple clients an advantage over persons playing a single account.

  Homitu

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/01/09
Posts: 2045

10/31/13 12:57:27 PM#12

There are 4 figures the developers of f2p games are most concerned with.  The first is the average revenue per user (ARPU).  The second is the average revenue per paying user (ARPPU).  The third is simply the number of monthly active users.  The forth is the percent of users who are incentivized to pay.  

Conservative target ARPU for most f2p games is something you or I might consider ridiculously small, like $0.50 - $1.00 per month.  To get this number, what you often find is that the ARPPU may be around $20, but the conversion rate - the percent of active users for that monthly period who paid anything at all - is really really small, like 3% small.  This means 97% of users don't pay a dime.  3% pay an average of $20 per person, with some obviously spending much less than $20 and others spending much much more than $20.  It's sort of like gaming socialism, where a few people who (hopefully) have the money to dump are heavily taxed, while the average person basically gets to play for free if he's willing to live with certain in-game (hopefully just convenience, vanity, or aesthetic) sacrifices.  

The idea is that f2p games can garner so many more consistent players that the sheer numbers will financially outproduce a subscription fee with a significantly smaller consistent user base.  They, of course, also continue to add things that actively encourage as many users as possible to pay.  

  Ender4

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/18/08
Posts: 2097

10/31/13 1:03:13 PM#13

Yes it works.

Especially with player bases spread out over more and more games. Sub fees used to make sense because players would be dedicated to just one game and might play 20 or 40 or more hours a week so $15 is a bargain when you play a game that much. Nowadays there are just too many games to make very many players agree to a monthly fee.

Buy to play and Free to play will be completely standard for all MMORPG in the next 5 years or so I'd assume. Those are the only games that really do a monthly sub on a regular basis.

  nariusseldon

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20243

10/31/13 1:15:45 PM#14
Originally posted by DamonVile
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Jaedor

While the sub option is arguably better for the player since costs are capped at ~$15/month, F2P with a cash shop does appear to be a win/win payment model for all the reasons the others have already mentioned.


For those who want to spend MORE than $15 to buy stuff to win, or show off, or for whatever reasons, they cannot.

 

 

That's not totally true. They can't spend more money that goes to the game maker. They can buy gold/power lvling or whatever other service from other people.

In any business that is a loss to the business running the game by not providing a service your customer is willing to pay for.

While what you say is true, they do run the risk of getting ripped off, or banned, or what they want cannot be obtained (for example, there is no high price special vanity items without a cash shop).

So it is best if provided by the devs.

  Psion33

Novice Member

Joined: 8/06/13
Posts: 257

10/31/13 1:21:06 PM#15

As you read on these forums here...a lot of gamers are broke people. They happily and greedily take on the tag of "free to play gamer" because they think in their mind it justifies their gaming habits and lack of money.

 

A lot of us people who see pass the masquerade realize what exactly the F2Pers do for us subbers and how the game companies prop up the F2Pers.

 

As a subber you're not a marketable ploy. As a F2P'er, you're a throw-away cast-out, "we'll-make-as-much-money-from-you-as-possible" (before you inevitably quit and find another F2P game.)

 

I think is an awesome turn of events. I wouldn't touch a F2Per (or one that is drawn to free games) with a 10 foot pole in all honesty. This F2P mechanism becoming prelevent in our games is actually bitersweet if you consider the side of the subber.

 

The subber gets a lot more of out of his subscription then the grind and grueling process of being a F2Per which I believe in of itself can be considered "enough" of a reward.

 

Just my long-winded 2 cents lol. G'day.

  Ender4

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/18/08
Posts: 2097

10/31/13 1:26:00 PM#16

Subscription games have always been a ripoff. You pay $15 a month for almost no new content for a year and then get hit up for a full priced expansion. It was only a matter of time before people gave up on this theory. If games actually had a lot of quality content added monthly it would make sense, but they simply do not do that.

  Psion33

Novice Member

Joined: 8/06/13
Posts: 257

10/31/13 1:34:53 PM#17
Originally posted by Ender4

Subscription games have always been a ripoff. You pay $15 a month for almost no new content for a year and then get hit up for a full priced expansion. It was only a matter of time before people gave up on this theory. If games actually had a lot of quality content added monthly it would make sense, but they simply do not do that.

 

So, by your logic, your $70 should be able to pay for the thousands or millions used in production of said game/expansion?

 

That logic is just as flawed as workers wanting to increase restrictions to force businesses to stay here to meet the worker's needs.

  aesperus

Elite Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 4818

10/31/13 1:36:13 PM#18

Of course F2P works. It makes more money than a subscription does, because more people are willing to pay into it. There is very real data to support this, aInd it is the only reason why most studios are going F2P. It seems counter-intuitive, and more risky than a sub. However, in reality a F2P game means more people get to play your game, which means more people are likely to invest in your game once they do. A subscription means that people have to invest into your game BEFORE they are able to properly try it out, which means they are less likely to re-sub later once they leave.

That said, there's a difference between what works for a business, and what works for a consumer (us gamers).

Business model ultimately doesn't matter, as long as a game remains interesting and does what is best for the players. The illusion we buy into, is that the business model determines whether or not a game will be any good. It's complete bull. That is decided by the developers / producers, and not the business model. The model will provided different incentives for delivering quality gameplay (DLC vs. expansions vs. frequent updates, etc.), but it's been repeatedly shown that some companies will exploit any business model to get the fastest buck.

  aesperus

Elite Member

Joined: 1/04/05
Posts: 4818

10/31/13 1:44:20 PM#19
Originally posted by Psion33
Originally posted by Ender4

Subscription games have always been a ripoff. You pay $15 a month for almost no new content for a year and then get hit up for a full priced expansion. It was only a matter of time before people gave up on this theory. If games actually had a lot of quality content added monthly it would make sense, but they simply do not do that.

So, by your logic, your $70 should be able to pay for the thousands or millions used in production of said game/expansion?

That logic is just as flawed as workers wanting to increase restrictions to force businesses to stay here to meet the worker's needs.

It's not flawed, and neither are incentives to try and make business support their workers.

It all has to do with greed. People assume that subscriptions are 'necessary' and go towards production costs. That's only a half-truth. Subscription revenue mostly goes towards lining the pockets of the producers and investors of said game. The remainder is what funds the game.

It's because of this false assumption that most gamers fall into the trap of assuming that just because a game has a subscription that it's somehow 'safer' or more guarunteed to be a good game. The thing is, the opposite is often true. And there are pleanty of failed subscription games to show it.

Just as businesses shouldn't have to be 'forced' to support their workforce, games shouldn't have to be 'forced' to do what's good for their consumer base. However, neither tend to get upheld. Which is why we have those restrictions when it comes to businesses. Because otherwise we have situations like in 'The Jungle', where people get treated as dispossable tools, and everyone suffers over time as a result.

In games, we don't have such restrictions, only our wallets to vote with. And the data shows, our wallets are crappy bargaining tools. Publishers & some studios repeatedly take as much money as they can get from us, smile, and hand us a turd in exchange. Some people may be okay with this, but it doesn't mean everyone needs to be.

There are examples that no one business model is 'the best', just as there are multiple examples that show that you can do a business model 'wrong', exploit it, and milk your players for whatever you can get, and no benefit to the gamers.

  VengeSunsoar

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4876

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

10/31/13 1:46:19 PM#20
Originally posted by Psion33
Originally posted by Ender4

Subscription games have always been a ripoff. You pay $15 a month for almost no new content for a year and then get hit up for a full priced expansion. It was only a matter of time before people gave up on this theory. If games actually had a lot of quality content added monthly it would make sense, but they simply do not do that.

 

So, by your logic, your $70 should be able to pay for the thousands or millions used in production of said game/expansion?

 

That logic is just as flawed as workers wanting to increase restrictions to force businesses to stay here to meet the worker's needs.

Well as various b2p have shown us.  Yes I do expect them to be able to pay their costs and game upkeep with a one time cost.  When they put out an expasion I'll buy that and they can recoup their money.

It has been shown several times now that there is no no need for the sub.

the only reason they want a sub, is the same as f2p devs want it, is the same as the b2p devs what that - that being the devs figure they will make the most money with whatever model they choose.  Thats it folks, nothing more. 

Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

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