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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: More Questions Than Answers

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 15990

OP  3/26/13 3:44:26 PM#1

The free to play market has been in the news a lot the last several days between TERA's rising numbers and SWTOR's proclamation that its high density servers are teeming. But is all the news really so rosy? Are there other questions that need answering before we proclaim success? In The Free Zone today, we take a look at that. See what we've got on our mind before telling us what's on yours in the comments.

It happens that I'm a naturally pretty inquisitive. The way my mind works is that if I'm not completely oblivious to something, I tend to process information by wondering what more remains unsaid. It doesn't really matter whether I know that my questions are likely or even certain to go unanswered. I ask them anyway, if only silently. So, when I see game news, I generally react in this manner. Here are a few examples from the past couple of weeks. Believe me, there were more. 

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: More Questions Than Answers.

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Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/02/11
Posts: 2969

The Critical Hit Pretzel!

3/27/13 12:58:04 PM#2

Depends how you define success though, if its an increase, no matter what, then it can be considered a success. If its more money generated it could be a success. Either way its hard to say as we all know EVERY MMO using it as a marketting ploy to tote improvements, often tiems giving incomplete numbers on purpose.


I mean hell most popular we see the 'server population' being used, never with exact numbers but with those 'Low, Medium, Full' numbers which a lot of games use, a good example of a recent title I can recall is Guildwars 2, and its probably far from the last one that will do this and there will be plenty more. It creates an illusion of popularity with the ability to manipulate what 'defines' the population being at that level so High can mean anywhere from (out of 100) lets say 40-100 users, while medium might be 10-39. 

Its a marketting ploy that probably no game will ever really stop using.


Novice Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3213

Veni, Vidi, Converti

3/27/13 1:21:51 PM#3

>"It happens that I'm a naturally pretty inquisitive."

>"for which I'll never know the answers but that I'm curious about anyway. What on your mind these days in this vein? "

Grammar police: "Battons ready..."


MMO publishers are like politicians, they'll say anything and promise everything to get your "vote" and appear as if what they say is in tune with the whole earth and use statistics and damn lies interchangeably. ;)

  User Deleted
3/27/13 1:31:04 PM#4
There's a distinct difference between a rise in continuous revenue and new players creating accounts. They're not giving us the information to distinguish that point; as well as they shouldn't for their own sake. Furthermore, I'd love to see how persistent the revenue is after the honeymoon period for curious onlookers is over. I doubt SWTOR will drastically improve or be declared a success - it's too entrenched and has embittered too many people. As for Sevencore, it's another generic MMO with poor business planning. We don't need more of those games on the market. The talent behind it could be better used elsewhere.

Novice Member

Joined: 11/08/08
Posts: 3067

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

3/27/13 2:47:00 PM#5

All I got to say about swtor is tell it all.  They can claim they got tons of folks but the fact don't support those statements. 





Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/22/12
Posts: 362

3/27/13 5:32:19 PM#6

It's all about perception. If potential buyers view the product as positive/healthy, they are more likely to purchase it. I don't think MMOs are much different. People see the game has a healthy population and rising - "It must be good." This brings in more customers. People see the game on the decline and even more people currently playing then jump ship.

I think it's why people like to use population in forum posts. It can actually contribute or bring  population damage to the game.


There doesn't have to be a fire to make someone think there is.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/17/12
Posts: 44

3/27/13 6:02:03 PM#7

There are so many gray areas in these interpretations. Like you say, it's all about phrasing. I think the developers were only "no longer able to support" Sevencore in so far as the game wasn't doing very well. Or at least that's my guess judging from the amount of "Where is everybody?" comments on their Facebook. :)


But for reference, here's the latino opening of the game:




Novice Member

Joined: 7/11/12
Posts: 53

3/27/13 6:06:32 PM#8
You're comparing Tera to Sevencore? What....

Novice Member

Joined: 10/17/12
Posts: 44

3/27/13 6:08:59 PM#9
BTW, there's a Sevencore ad at the top of this page. -.-



Advanced Member

Joined: 7/27/03
Posts: 79

3/27/13 6:32:04 PM#10

I don't know about playing as a new f2p player in Tera, but they were very generous to returning customers that bought the game.  If you bought the game and haven't gone back, you should check it out again (unless you really hated it).  It didn't feel like the game changed too much on the surface, but the Founder status felt like a big thank-you to customers that paid for the game.

SWTOR on the other hand... I can understand not being as generous as Tera, but these guys did not care if you previously spent any money on the game.  There are so many restrcitions to anyone playing the game that it feels like a true trial.  The only nice thing they did was let you play the story line for free (and everyone gets that).  I understand that f2p games can't survive if no one pays for anything, but you could just feel the greed seeping out of your monitor.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/25/13
Posts: 169

3/27/13 9:32:07 PM#11
If a single player is allowed to freeboat all the way through then I will never touch that game and I will stay clear from it. The only thing being different is LoL where each match you start with nothing but a few worthless passives and each match starts with 0 gold and 0 items.

I will never support freeloaders, no more subsidized gaming.
My Blog


Elite Member

Joined: 8/13/09
Posts: 6547

"It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver". - Niccolo Machiavelli

3/27/13 9:36:28 PM#12
Originally posted by BlueTiger33
If a single player is allowed to freeboat all the way through then I will never touch that game and I will stay clear from it. The only thing being different is LoL where each match you start with nothing but a few worthless passives and each match starts with 0 gold and 0 items.

you are anti f2p and anti f2p supporters yet defend the most successful f2p game of all time, League of Legends. Your reasons for defending it are excuses. LoL is successful because they do it right. That means any other F2P can be as successful if they do it right. And you agree with that (from LoL) but disagree with taht for every otehr mmo. You are just confused.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/25/13
Posts: 169

3/27/13 9:38:40 PM#13
Originally posted by rojo6934
Originally posted by BlueTiger33
If a single player is allowed to freeboat all the way through then I will never touch that game and I will stay clear from it. The only thing being different is LoL where each match you start with nothing but a few worthless passives and each match starts with 0 gold and 0 items.

you are anti f2p and anti f2p supporters yet defend the most successful f2p game of all time, League of Legends. Your reasons for defending it are excuses. LoL is successful because they do it right. That means any other F2P can be as successful if they do it right. And you agree with that (from LoL) but disagree with taht for every otehr mmo. You are just confused.


It's the only game where the only progression is put on the back burner in 2 things, 1 a level (elo) and 2 passives.


You start each match with nothing. That model is easy to work and skin. That's all they do.


Now, if you log into a MMO/MMORPG and start with nothing on each login...i doubt that engine would last very long.


I will never support freeloaders, no more subsidized gaming.
My Blog


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/19/13
Posts: 414

3/27/13 10:59:02 PM#14


Is anyone claiming to be worthy of writting for an MMORPG website going to actually LOOK at the entire market?

Nexon Inc, Perfect World, NDoors....there are SO MANY F2P game makers that make MORE money than western MMO makers it is just plain nuts that anyone claiming knowledge of this genre still thinks F2P is some unproven fad.


Advanced Member

Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 2047

3/28/13 12:53:19 AM#15
Originally posted by JasonJ


Is anyone claiming to be worthy of writting for an MMORPG website going to actually LOOK at the entire market?

Nexon Inc, Perfect World, NDoors....there are SO MANY F2P game makers that make MORE money than western MMO makers it is just plain nuts that anyone claiming knowledge of this genre still thinks F2P is some unproven fad.


I would agree with you if it wasn't for the considerable number of cash shop based games closing their servers in the last 6 months.   IMHO, I think these types of games could forge a niche in the market, but almost all the publishers are doing it wrong.  


Cash shop based games are fun until you hit the P2W wall, and they just suck after that.      


Novice Member

Joined: 10/11/11
Posts: 263

3/28/13 5:51:22 AM#16

I'd gladly pay for free/buy to play games, not having the money to pay subscriptions to 3 or 5 games at once sucks, buy one game and feel free to log on anytime I wish is the best... 

I think games should be buy to play preferably and sell quest/map packs and expansions... 

Of course, subscription games were nice back in EQ1 times, when I was paying for one game first, then two with Final Fantasy 11 Online, and then 3 with Everquest 2, and then 4 with World of Warcraft, and then rotational cancel to fit in Star Wars Galaxies, and then switch merge for Station pass, and then cancel WoW/Final Fantasy 11 Online/Eq1 and Station Access cancel to save money for EQ2, and then resub to WoW later after Star Wars Galaxies cancelled  and of course I didn't get to play Vanguard much because it wasn't worth a subscription fee, if they had been buy to play on Vanguard, I'd have been there along with my loyalty to EQ1 and EQ2... In fact, I loved the idea of Station Pass and tried to keep that going for awhile... In the end, I had to miss out on a lot because I don't have money for subscriptions, so long live buy to play... 


Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/18/12
Posts: 65

3/28/13 9:59:04 AM#17
Thats because you probably didnt get deep enough in any of them. I played one single mmo for like some years because i could not play more (games at all) with the time and commitment these games requre. Im not hardcore mmo player by any means, but to get into decent mmo at some middle level, in my books you need no lees than 20 hours a week. Ofc i played more then 1 mmo but never 2 simultaneously.

Elite Member

Joined: 1/17/07
Posts: 1932

3/28/13 2:05:19 PM#18

The trouble with most of these announcements is that you almost never (probably closer to never get a follow up 6 or 12 months later e.g. DDO, DCU etc. (other than it's closing). So what are we being told - other than people sign up to try f2p games?

TERRA: more elite status players than they had full time subscribers before they went f2p. OK that's positive but - as mentioned in the article - no hard data. And the lack of full time subscribers they had previously was, presumably, they went f2p. If they had said "we now have twice as many" then one might have felt a little more positive.

SWTOR: so the big news here is that they signed up less f2p accounts in 4 months worldwide (2M) than they sold full price boxes (2.3M) in EU/US. Not sure that counts as positive. And subsequently they have announced that they are closing the APAC servers. People in APAC countries not like Star Wars?

For comparison: SoE annnounced 10M+ for both Clone Wars anf Free Realms; League of Legends announced 60M (or was it 70M) last year and Runescape over 200M.

Zynga's trials and tribulations show that F2P is not an instant route to fame and fortune. Churn is high, average spend is low;  good f2p games make money; poor ones fall by the wayside.


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/08
Posts: 143

3/28/13 7:18:41 PM#19

Yea...imo f2p will only last until the majority of whales get tired of paying so others can play the same game for free. I actively search for p2p games worth playing, I'd rather support a game that values it's loyal, paying customers than one that chases after the big numbers just to raise their share value.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 11/23/05
Posts: 2279

"Playing things I shouldn''t be playing since 1977."

3/29/13 9:38:28 AM#20

The City of Heroes closure taught us a lot about how games are going to be portrayed and closed in the future.

It used to be that we'd receive signs that a game was slowing down development.  New players would become rare.  Servers would become barren.  Development would slow down or stop.  And even still, the game might linger along for a few years.

Those days are probably over.  For the new "go go" attitude the Asians taught us in MMO development, that just won't do.  This new attitude is all about getting a game to its "best days" as early as possible, making hay while the sun shines, and throwing it under the bus as soon as it slows down.

It's going to become harder for consumers to know they are playing a "dead game walking" until it is too late.  You might see press releases about upcoming plans, producer statements about the number of accounts, and every indication that the game is healthy.  And then, WHAM!, they'll hit you with the cancellation notice, close down the item store, and throw everybody out.

Why is it going to be this way?  Because nobody likes to throw money into a game that looks like its seen its best days.  Knowing that the boom can be lowered on a player, at any time, makes players wary already.  When they see the telltale signs of a game slowdown, they will only increase this cautious attitude, and may even cause them to cut their losses and go to a healthier game.

Which is why players are never going to see it coming, until its too late.  I mean, for all we know, the game we are playing right now might be slated for cancellation, and neither we--nor the developers who are overseeing the game--might even know.  Because in this business, where you are at is not as important as where you are going.  And if where your game is going is on the wrong side of its peak, your game is running on borrowed time.

"Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."

"...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
--Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

"It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
--Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

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