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MMORPG - our Virtual Worlds are under attack. Log in and fight dammit!

Our genera is under fire by a generation of gamers for whom the term MMORPG represents an extension of Animal Crossing or Battlefield 2. Writers are telling gamers to buy buffs from people who control the need for them. I hope it's just a Secret World ARG

Author: Cyberdeck7

F2P and the Explosive death of an Industry

Posted by Cyberdeck7 Monday August 8 2011 at 11:01PM
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While games that go F2P may take a while to die, it'll happen. A game's primary cornerstone is achievement and they've stripped it out to sell for parts. It's a logical projection if you watch the progress games are taking towards selling buffs and items that affect game-play, watch the industry and watch how MMO companies behave running a F2P business model. The death of F2P will be a spectacular explosion taking a lot of the gaming industry with it. Here’s my take on the how we’ll get to the explosion and what will happen after.

At first the company converting is all altruistic about what they'll sell: only cosmetic items. Besides the fact it eliminates crafting right away, it also dries up one entire avenue of achievement. It then takes nothing to wear fancy clothes except the ability to spend more than the next player, so you can't measure how well you're playing based on it unless you're interested in comparing real-world wallets.

Next, they start selling quick travel. This means one of two things - either their quests were set up badly in the first place or the company considers their world and the experience of being in the world as unimportant. You'll also probably find that new quests released after this point have locations that are a bit further apart.

Then come experience buffs to make the game quicker; to "ease the grind" so to speak. Most games I've played have a pretty clear, pre-laid out quest and level progression. So, now they’re saying content and story is unimportant because you can just skip past pre-maturely grey quests. Again - look for more discontinuity in quest chains to force you into a little experience buff burning grind.


After that are health buffs. So now you're standing there fatigued or soul drained from dying multiple times when your party got in over their heads. Of course the lawyer and engineer are still alive as well as the spoiled rich kid. Sure, they spent $5 in buffs a piece to make it through but now they're waiting. In a grouping game you'd be peer pressured into spending the money so you could stick with your guild in battle.

Some raiders might even require that you're fully stocked. So, then raids cost $5 for you to run. How often has everyone been in a raid that *gasp* wiped once or twice in a night before you were successful or quit out of disgust? No refunds. If you raided once a week, assuming you’re in a non-hardcore elite raiding guild like 90% of the rest of the players, you could pay for 3-4 subs to different games (with all item shop items included) for your raiding expenses in a free game. Now your mobs are getting harder to help you burn those health potions.


The death wallow of a game is the selling of buffed weapons and armor. LotRO is selling Legendary Items. This means there's absolutely no achievement left in that game at all. There's nothing you can accomplish that you can't buy. It's no longer a game; it's dress-up in a virtual interpretation of Tolkein's world that is enough off canon that if it were a little glitzy museum it wouldn't fly as a tourist trap in a town named Mordor.


There are only two reasons for going back on promises to your community (documented in the tubes, forever) and watering down the quality of the gaming experience. Either these companies are stepping back their standards incrementally because they're losing players or they're just that greedy - the round of explosive profits from the first icon (oh, little red dress, buff, potion, whatever - it’s an icon) release just wasn't enough. Seriously, is there a higher profit margin in the world than 8-bit icons that get “used up”? Man that’s tempting.

What's next?

Well, personally I think the sand-boxers aren’t having anything to do with F2P.

PvPers, unless they have fat wallets and the overwhelming need to teabag, won’t play games with purchasable non-cosmetic items.

Raiders have max level characters and are dedicated to their game. They have/are figuring out that even $5/week > $Sub fee. What most of them are spending would pay for two or three subs. B-bye.

Players that love to group but live on a budget are starting to feel a little uncomfortable with the pressure they feel to spend in order to not be a beggar in groups. Live on a budget = most people.

The social fabric of the game, the people who play to craft, for profit or just to help others, will be the slowest to react though they're the first casuality. They don’t want to fight monsters, they just want to do something useful for their guild. They’ll finally figure out that crafting in a F2P game is largely pointless.

Additionally, the current batch of games are for tourists and the converted ones all move towards solo content so there’s a severe lack of social continuity in F2P. Those people that are there for friends will gravitate to sub games that, by default, have a more dedicated player-base.

The other thing working against the 2010-2011 round of labeling things "FREE" sheisterism is age. People that see the F2P model clearly for what it is trend towards older players as a whole. That’s because we experienced the big media companies huddle up around music CDs and price fix something that cost all of $.25 to produce and ship at $14.99.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but $15 now isn’t the same as $15 was then. The most popular, trendy shoe at the time, the Black Reebok, cost $40. If the hot shoe of today costs $120 that’s the equivalent of them charging us $45 for an album. They were eventually prosecuted for price fixing and a lot of us got a surprise $5 check in the mail if we actually signed and mailed back the class action papers. Some people had CD rack walls in their houses and apartments. $5.

We also got $80 long distance bills and $50 dial-up AOL or CompuServ bills back when they charged internet access by the minute. We’ve seen it happen time and time again. The time period I’m talking about is back before Web 2.0 became “The Cloud” and web servers became “Cloud Services.” Back before “the ‘net” became Web 2.0; before the Internet became “the ‘net”; before cyberspace turned into the internet... all the way back before the Tech Bubble when the web was called The Information Superhighway and it was trendy to use modem squealing in commercials. Catch my drift? It's all marketing.

That’s why I say age is trending against the F2P “revolution;” a lot of players will become more experienced in life and will end up warning their kids about whatever BS is going on in the future. This will have been a learning experience. Back when we were paying $45 for an album there were people all over in magazines singing the gospels of CDs and what a deal we were getting with the new high-tech music.

What this is all leading to is not an explosion of a genera, but an implosion of an industry. Notice the F2Ps getting gobbled up by or converted by major F2P empires? Remember the buying spree that lead to the internet bubble? This is a media bubble.

Before the tech bubble, the vast majority of the population didn’t take the Internet seriously and the “brick and mortar” retailers actually framed online shopping as a trend to fight against instead of using it to augment their services. Then the Internet user-base grew like wildfire and there was a huge buying spree. Big software corporations bought up or out-right stole technologies from all these little innovative companies and tried to charge for them as add-ons to their operating systems. All the sudden everyone realized they were getting screwed as they peeked over the AOL walled garden into the ‘dangerous Internet’ and POP!

A quick meta-note on comments: if you’ve read this far and would like to comment add ## to the beginning. Everything else is getting deleted. There’s no point in discussing any sort of article with some F2Per that finds the first point he doesn’t like and cries. Thank you.

I think MMOs should be taken very seriously as the next trend leading towards a shift in humanity - like the Internet. As resources run low, it’ll become too costly not to do business in virtual environments. What we play is the genesis of these virtual environments where everyone will go for work and entertainment. Your job will pay for your access like they pay for your cellphone now. The problem is they’re all not interconnected yet - you can’t maintain an avatar from game to game or environment to environment. That’ll change.

My prediction is that there will be a media bubble driven by games, it’ll pop and the industry will be in shambles. Then, of course Google - who has their fingers in all areas of technology and media except online worlds - will buy up everything, shove it all into google earth, add ads, product placements and give free glasses with the Nexxus 20. Then we’re back on the path to the metaverse.