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The Free Zone: I Get Questions

Columns By Richard Aihoshi on May 03, 2010

I Get Questions

With everything that's going on in the free to play space these days, it's pretty unusual to go more than a day or two without something or other of interest popping up. This is so even without getting into the realm of previews and reviews, which are outside the scope of The Free Zone. As it happens, I received quite a few more questions than usual over the past week or so. Individually, I don't think they warrant addressing on their own, especially since I've at lease partially addressed them before. So, I decided to kill a few of these small birds with one proverbial stone.

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Why is your column always about F2P?

This question typically comes up at least a couple of times per month. For those who have who asked during the past few weeks and anyone else who doesn't know, the basic answer is that it's the topic area for this column. To put this in context, I did suggest it, and MMORPG.com obviously approved.

As to why I wanted to write about F2P, it was for multiple reasons. I won't go into full details; the short version is that ever since I started writing about games, I have always tried to have a broad perspective, at least within the genres I've focused on, which flowed from my interests as a player. From long before, my favorite had been RPGs, so it was very easy to embrace MMORPGs as well.

I also had a longstanding interest in more than the games themselves; I wanted to know about the creative and development processes, what's happening in the industry, and the factors that shape it. That's where F2P came into the picture. At first, it was something new and different, and then it became a major global trend.

It's also, in my opinion, significantly under-covered by most western game publications. I certainly can't correct this in my little column. But I'm trying to do my part.

Why do you pay so much attention to China?

This isn't a new question either. The answer is less complex. On key consideration is that it's the world's leading MMOG market in both number of players and dollar volume, combines with the fact F2P is the country's dominant business model. Another is the huge amount of development that is happening there. Yes, there are still issues with quality, both in design and production values. However, I'm not willing to assume this applies equally to every studio, or that the gap isn't narrowing.

What about western F2P games?

This question is partially of the flip side of the previous one, so it was an interesting coincidence they came up only a day apart. There's actually a good deal of interest going on in this hemisphere these days. One limiting factor, at least with respect to this column, is that I don't get into anything game-specific enough to be preview- or review-like.

That said, it's a bit ironic that I'm currently working on multiple topics that involve western developers. Indeed, most of the time I incorporate opinions other than my own, they come from people who live and work in North America. So, while I don't wish to promise anything specific before I'm sure I can deliver it, you'll probably see at least a couple of more western-oriented columns in the next while.

Why not stick to serious MMORPGs?

This one is recycled fairly regularly too. The answer is that while I do realize not everyone has a similar range of interests, the MMO space is evolving and expanding, and I'm trying to keep up. Ignoring what's happening in sectors of the industry such as advanced casual, casual and social gaming would be counter-productive (for me; you certainly can if you're so inclined). And doing so would also not fit with the broad perspective noted previously.

This week's MMOG trivia

Well, it seems I messed up the answer to last week's bonus question with respect to Trolls as a playable race in EQ. So let's see if I can do better this time.

What are the six types of production runes found in Runes of Magic, and for which type of crafting is each of them used? Bonus question: What are the names of the gameworld, the initial continent and the new one that is being added in Chapter III?

Answer

The Free Zone The Free Zone Editorials
Richard Aihoshi has been writing about MMOGs since the mid-1990s, always with a global perspective. As a result, he has observed the emergence and growth of the free to play business model from its early days in both hemispheres.

He is the former Editor of RPG Vault and his column, focusing on free to play MMOs, appears on MMORPG.com every Monday.
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