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Fallen Earth | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Sci-Fi | Status:Final  (rel 09/22/09)  | Pub:GamersFirst
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Download | Retail Price:n/a | Pay Type:Hybrid | Monthly Fee:n/a
System Req: PC | ESRB:MOut of date info? Let us know!

Interviews: The Free Apocalypse Interview

By William Murphy on October 10, 2011

The Free Apocalypse Interview

First tell us a bit about the decision to make Fallen Earth one of the “Freemium” games that are becoming so prominent in the AAA market. FE has always had a strong group of loyal fans and subscribers, so why make the change?

Joseph Willmon:

Well, this may be a bit nit-picky, be we don’t feel that any of GamersFirst’s titles are “Freemiums.” Unlike other games that claim to be free, we don’t trap the player at a certain level or restrict them to certain zones, or limit their ability to interact in the game. It’s true we offer Premium subscriptions in our games (our significant others yell at us when we go to work and don’t bring back a paycheck) but those players get more of the quality-of-life improvements, like increased experience and faction gain, additional character slots; that sort of thing. The beauty of Free2Play is that it removes the entry barrier that traditional boxed-copy games have. We can expose a really amazing game like Fallen Earth to a much wider player base that may not have wanted to “risk” $50 on a new MMO, especially one that defies a lot of the mechanics you’re used to seeing in mainstream MMOs (such as targeted aiming instead of tab-targeting). It also helps to increase the population of the game, making the game experience that much better.


How have fans of the game, and its current players, reacted to the upcoming changes? Have there been any hurdles on the community side of things?

Joseph Willmon:

You would think so, and in the gap between when we announced we picked up the game to when we announced the subscription models there was definitely some anxiety. But since then, the Fallen Earth community has been hugely supportive of the Free2Play transition – they know what we want to do with the game, they know we’re not going to compromise gameplay or balance for some quick cash, and they know we’re in it for the long haul. In fact, the community has been very vocal about things that could use improvement for the new influx of players and very vocal on what they don’t want the game to become. I also think that the community has been very keen on embracing the change because we kept Marie Croall and the original development team, creating Reloaded Productions Cary, so they know there won’t be changes that don’t make sense in the world of Fallen Earth (sorry guys- no Elves or Orcs to be found here).

Unlike many F2P converts, it seems that Fallen Earth really has a strong sense of “all content for everyone”, while players will have to pay more or less for better crafting options. Do you think this is enough of a draw to get people to sign up?

Joseph Willmon:

If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t be doing it! For anyone unfamiliar with the game, crafting in Fallen Earth isn’t this secondary mechanic that you’re used to in MMOs – the crafting in Fallen Earth is hugely robust, to the point that 95% of the items in the game are crafted by players. Working your way through a world that has been thoroughly decimated by crafting and creating tools, weapons and support items isn’t really an optional thing (plus it’s a ton of fun). But while crafting is a significant focus of Premium subscriptions, there’s stuff in there for everyone, and we strongly believe in delivering something people want to support, not throwing up brick walls so people begrudgingly pull out their wallet. As a result our premiums are molded after this key game mechanic and according to what the players are saying in the forums, it looks like we’re on the right track.

There’s actually, aside from the $10 and $15 subscriptions, an option for a $30 level… can you tell us a bit about the decision to add this and what kind of bonuses players will see by investing that much into FE? Realistically, how many players do you expect to sign on for this?

Joseph Willmon:

Not many! Subscription models have taught us that the very existence of a subscription implies that the publisher wants everyone to purchase it, but that’s really not the case here. If you’re a single person, you’re probably not going to buy a minivan (besides how obviously cool you look driving one). The $30 Commander level is sort of like our minivan – if you have people who depend on you, but who can’t or won’t pay themselves, you can actually buy this to offload some of your benefits to them! If you don’t have a group of people that depend on you, then apart from the slight increase in Reward Points, there’s really no reason for you to buy it. Plus it stacks, so if two people in your group of friends want it but three others don’t, then those three will get the benefits from both you. Still though, if you don’t want to support them then the other two subscriptions are really more what you’ll be looking at.

We have to admit that the Commander Aura is a pretty cool incentive to get a subscription going. Most games just ask players to buy potions or this or that to get increased XP and the like. The Commander Aura does this for the player and party members. Can you go in depth a bit on this feature of the subscriber packages?

Joseph Willmon:

Sure. I think a big reason why a lot of companies are selling things that grant actual advantages to combat and whatnot is because the industry understands, sort of vaguely, that Free2Play is good, but on the whole everyone is still sort of feeling their way through the dark figuring out how best to take advantage of Free2Play without gouging their customers. We have the benefit of nearly a decade of Free2Play experience, and we understand implicitly that some portion of your player base is going to pay a bit, the vast majority will pay absolutely nothing, and a very small percent will spend inordinate amounts of money on whatever we let them buy! The Commander Aura is our way of acknowledging that. We’re saying, “If you’re the guy or girl who does spend lots of money, now you can help out those around you.” Instead of the relatively low efficiency of just buying things for yourself and making everyone else jealous, now you can be a shining beacon of awesomeness to the rest of the community because your absurdly deep pockets will, by default, help other people out.

Which is also why it stacks – EVERYONE who plays a Free2Play game has value, whether in adding to the community or actually paying to support the game, and the more ways publishers find to let a single paying member support those who don’t pay, the more successful their Free2Play games will be.

Will there be any sorts of veteran rewards or ways for players who have been with the game all along to show their loyalty? What sorts of things will you be including for them to make sure you keep them along for the ride since they’ve long been your supporters?

Joseph Willmon:

Yes there will! Maybe too much stuff. Everyone with an active subscription at the time we transition to Free2Play will instantly get that boosted up to the Commander level for the duration of their current subscription cycle (after that it will recur at the mid-tier, which actually costs the same as the current subscription but is a lot better). These players will also get a permanent discount on Commander should they ever want to purchase it. We’ve also been giving out a couple gifts monthly to everyone who has stayed subscribed since July, and for staying continuously subscribed from July to the Free2Play transition will get a handful of the new wardrobe appearance slots for free (which would regularly cost Reward Points, which you accrue each month at a set value).

Finally, for EVERYONE who had ever bought the game or subscribed, we’ve been working on this brand new mount never before seen in Fallen Earth: the Spiked Chopper! And it’s completely free. So if you ever bought the game digitally or in a brick-and-mortar store, log in after October 12th and check the site for your code! There’s a video of it in action on our YouTube page.

Will there be many “item shop” type purchases for players to delve into? Say they want to give you guys some cash, but don’t necessarily want a subscription. They just want to buy a little more crafting speed or better XP rates or something along those lines.

Joseph Willmon:

I love the idea of your altruistic player! Right now there’s the standard stable of cosmetic stuff—shirts, goggles, and whatnot—some mounts (more unique than powerful), and convenience upgrades like increased vault space, faction resets, respecs, and pets. To this we’ll be breaking out all the benefits of Premium and selling them a la carte as well. The one thing you WON’T be able to do it buy a fully-crafted item; for that, you have to play the game!

Can you talk at all on the future content direction of the game? It’s undergone many changes over its lifetime, and pretty much anyone who plays it can see that it’s grown a lot over time. But where does it go from here with the new revenue model? What will the dev-team be focused on?

Joseph Willmon:

Sandboxy goodness. Fallen Earth has always felt like it should be a lot more sandbox-oriented than it was, and we’re aiming to fulfill that now. The first steps have already been taken with the inclusion of Progress Towns – towns players can wrestle from the control of NPCs, build up, and defend from raiders – and the recent changes to the economy, making it much more player driven. With the upcoming additions of World Events, dynamically generated content that can appear anywhere in the world and provide significant rewards for participating. It’s all about putting great things to do all over the world, giving proper feedback on how to participate in these great things, then leaving it up to the player how to progress. Quest? Grind? Craft? PvP? Do an instance? Do a World Event? Help with a Progress Town? More choices, less linear progression.

And lastly, I was hoping we could get you to give us some info on Fallen Earth’s next big content update. Anything you’d like players (new and old alike) to know?

Joseph Willmon:

Faction Territory Control! Congruent with our strategy of making Fallen Earth more of a sandbox, this update is about providing tangible, world-changing benefits to PvP. The world will begin to be carved up into different sections, and the faction that controls each section will reap the benefits of ownership. Start leveling up now, because when this hits your faction will need all the help it can get!

Thanks so much for you time. Here’s to Fallen Earth’s success as a part of GamersFirst!

Joseph Willmon:

Thanks for having me!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of, 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.