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F2P and the Community

DC Universe Online Interviews - By William Murphy on October 18, 2011

F2P and the Community
MMORPG.com:

From a CM point of view, you must be a little daunted. I mean, going F2P means basically "Open the floodgates and let all the crazies rush in." How are you planning on dealing with this new swell of people?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

I personally see this as a great opportunity for DC Universe Online to open up a great game to folks who might not necessarily like the current entry point. I know the Development Team has been working hard on our servers for optimization and our forums are more than capable of sustaining a new wave of players. We are planning a warm welcome and expecting people to jump in and have a lot of fun.

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MMORPG.com:

How will the forums be affected by this move to F2P? I imagine the activity will likely pick up both for the good and the bad.

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

I try not to look at it in terms of good versus bad, but more as an increase in feedback. I of course expect more negative feedback because there will be more people wanting improvements to the game. However, even negative feedback that is constructive helps us improve existing mechanics and that is feedback we wouldn't have access to beforehand.

MMORPG.com:

With all these new voices, how will you make sure they're all heard? How will it affect your day-to-day dealings between the Community itself and the dev team?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

I'm expecting I'll spend quite a bit more time on our PC and PS3 forums not to mention our Facebook page. We have such a great community and I frequently find that they've helped out new people before I get the chance. I'll still sneak in and beat them to the punch every now and then though.

As far as the Development Team is concerned, they will still see my cheerful face at every opportunity. Providing player sentiment and understanding as to what is going in the game is pivotal to what I do, so that won't change at all.

MMORPG.com:

It's a huge transition moving the game from subscription to F2P, but not just from a business model standpoint. Besides the forums, what other ways will F2P version of DCUO be altered from a community view?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

A Free-to-Play community really does differ from a Subscription based one. For starters, there aren't access restrictions to the forums like you see in most subscription games which will guarantee a much higher participation rate. Your messaging also has to be more tailored to different types of customers. Legendary players may be interested in different types of services and have different concerns than Premium players. They are all customers and you want to reach them.

There are also some concerns that community standards will go down based on this transition. I can assure you we have a number of safeguards in place to ensure folks will continue to enjoy their gaming experience.

MMORPG.com:

How do you, specifically, feel about the move? More people playing means good things, no doubt, but do you think that this is the way DCUO should have been from the start?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

Personally, I play a lot of games and I see this model as the future for the industry. As a consumer I want to have the option to choose to play the game in a way that suits me best. A Free-to-Play model provides that opportunity and flexibility. I can't count how many games I've spent just a little money in that I'll go back to from time to time and play. If they were subscription based there is no way I'd play them again. There are just too many and those subscriptions add up.

Whether DCUO should have been Free-to-Play from the start is a tough question to answer. There is no doubt this was built as a AAA game and brought some amazing technology and mechanics we haven't seen in any other game. A ton of people have had the opportunity to enjoy what the game has to offer, and this is going to expand the DCUO experience and make the game more accessible to every type of player.

MMORPG.com:

Now let's wax philosophical for a moment: what have you as the CM of DCUO learned since launch about not only the game but your community as a whole? What lessons will you be taking from one phase of this game's lifespan into the next?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

I'll do my best to keep this under a page in length. One of the biggest lessons I learned early on, and fortunately I had the foresight to understand it, was the difference between the PC and PlayStation 3 communities. There have been so many instances where PC players have reacted completely differently to a mechanic or announcement than PlayStation 3 players. Neither was any less valid, they just have different thoughts and expectations. I spend a good portion of my day ensuring that concerns from both groups are addressed equally.

Going forward I've taken note of a few new player concerns and look at this as an opportunity to address those with a new group of players. I honestly can't wait to see how it turns out.

MMORPG.com:

Now I'm going to get a little bold and ask you to share some details on the game's future... provided you're allowed. Ideally, with the conversion behind you guys later in October, what's the team's next move? Can we expect more open world content any time soon?

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

If you tuned into our Webcast a few weeks ago, you heard Jens Andersen talk a little about DLC 2 which will add some exciting new areas and a new power. The team is moving at full speed on this and it's looking really good right now.

For the open world, Jens also mentioned the addition of more bounties which will encourage folks to search for some famous heroes/villains and collect their reward. They are very cognizant that folks want to be out in Gotham City and Metropolis and are working on ways to ensure this happens as much as possible.

MMORPG.com:

Thanks, Radar. We really appreciate your time and good luck with the changes coming this month!

Tony "Radar X" Jones:

Thanks! We look forward to seeing everyone in game!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.