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Nickel and Dime: Designing Games in a Free to Play Market

Posted May 24, 2010 by Michael Bitton

Nickel and Dime: Designing Games in a Free to Play Market's Garrett Fuller gives us a peek at what the future world of MMOs will look like as a result of the recent trend towards the Free-to-Play business model.

Garrett Fuller

I am not sure when the trend started or how we got to the Free to Play world we now live in. It all started with gold farmers in my book. Across the Pacific Ocean games were being designed around item shops long before they ever came here. While that was going on, Western games were being played to sell currency and items for real world money. Why spend the time when you can spend the cash? These two trends met and made friends really quickly and started a new club called Free to Play. What does it do to our original MMO hardcore fan base? We started this virtual universe and now it has been turned into a shopping mall.

My issue with F2P is not as much with the name, but the trend we are now seeing in games. Games are being designed simply as market places to sell virtual goods. This may work for the casual player who has to keep their Petville house clean and with nice furniture, but it does not work for MMO players. At least not for me, I play games for gameplay more than anything else. Sure, I like my characters to look cool and all, but that is never the true driving force. If there was a cute and fuzzy bunny MMO with insane PvP and cool boss fights and the bunnies could rip themselves to shreds, well then I would like to play it. Damn, my childhood memories of Watership Down just passed through my head. If the gameplay is good the players will come. However, when an entire game is being designed around selling virtual items, is anyone on the team thinking about gameplay?

Read Nickel and Dime: Designing Games in a Free to Play Market.

Michael Bitton / Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined as the site's Community Manager. Follow him on Twitter @eMikeB