Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling reports from the front lines* of the Massively Multiplayer Multiverse.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dead Horse Discussions: F2P Rears Its "Ugly" Head

Hugh Hancock, over at MMO Melting Pot, has his finger on the pulse of the gaming blogosphere: Today, he rounds up three posts about the headaches of Free-to-Play. Rather than rehash his rehash, I'll just redirect you to it. However, I'll put my two cents here (having already them put on Rohan's Blessing of Kings.

A discussion arose in the comments of Rohan's post about the time it takes to get through content, and whether it makes more sense for the typical player to subscribe or to pay for amenities in a cash shop.

I have never taken less than five months to reach max level in any game, between real world obligations and severe alt-oholism. However, I really only jumped on the F2P bandwagon following my experience with GW2. (Yes, I realize GW2 is not pure F2P.) I spent years plunking down 15 bucks a month (sometimes less with longer commitments) for each game I played. I still haven't gotten to see ALL the content in any MMO, whether I've played for a day or for over six years, because of the weekly time commitment required.

In the case of WoW, I came to resent having paid for content I would never see. This demand from players to see what they've paid for actually drives what the self-styled hardcore gamers among us refer to as the dumbing down of the game. For me, it's not that it's behind a pay-wall, but that it is behind a time-wall. With F2P, I can buy what I need, or decide that I don't need.

Also, I may have a higher tolerance for it, but I haven't played a game I think is as intrusive as what Kleps describes in his post. Most of the time, some additional feature requires a special currency to unlock. As it turns out, this currency is available through an exchange of RL cash. But is that any different from other special currencies in the game that you have to earn through dungeoneering or short-term events? Remember the Time=Money equation. I don't have as much time as some folks, but I do have a little extra money. I don't mind spending it on something I feel directly benefits me.

9 comments:

  1. I've wished for a while that WoW would break into "buy to play" pieces, whether that's by geography, expansion, race, class, dungeon packs, whatever. I argued much the same for SWTOR before it came out. I'm happy to pay for the games I play, but my schedule is such that time-based subscriptions are *never* good value.

    http://tishtoshtesh.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/swtor-cost/

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    1. Yeah, I often have a lot of time to play, but my schedule can be sporadic, so I hate the commitment necessary to truly succeed at raiding.

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  2. I will say it again as i said on Rohan's post.
    Without time spending there can be ABSOLUTELY no commitment on your behalf and therefore it is not possible to care for the game.
    Spending money is not the same as spending time because it lacks the connection that time spent involves.

    One cannot replace spending 3 months farming for mats,gold and gear with 100$ or even 300$ because it is just not the same thing. The first case you end up with the game grown on you and the second has no emotional after effect whatsoever.

    I for one do not have the time needed anymore but i would prefer a slow progression on a game that rewards my dedication rather than a game that has no possible way to make me empathize with it and my characters within it's world. Get teh damn 3-monthers' out of our way please!!!!!

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    1. Hey I believe this is your first time commenting here. Welcome. :)

      My reply got very long, so I decided to make it another post.

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  3. I will agree with Jim to a point, then disagree. =D

    IF (these days that can be a BIG 'if' too) a given MMO happens to make some immediate impression, enough to get someone to invest the time, then sure they will have greater emotional investment as well; ie. they will "care" more about that game.

    However, then he branches off into farming. Here, we can go either way. If it takes me 3 months to farm for [STUFF] then on the one hand I can say "hey, look what I accomplished! I 'worked' for this!" on the other, if I wanted [STUFF] for a very specific activity we'll call [CONTENT], say I needed [STUFF] to be qualified to do anything whatsoever with my guild (raid, dungeons) now you just created a 3-month gap where 1) my guild is continuing to progress without me, 2) I could very well get bored, discouraged, or otherwise frustrated at being forcefully held back until I have [STUFF] and I just say "screw it" and take a break to play a game without that stressor (and therefore further prolonging my ability to do [CONTENT] now that I'm on break and still don't have [STUFF]). If I have the ability to mix-and-match (or replace for some people) the time investment with a monetary investment, I have no problem with that. I just replace the time investment in-game with a time investment at my job.

    Same goes for alts. With few exceptions, I'm not much of an Alt Guy these days but typically when I am, it's to have a specific class or role for end-game [CONTENT]. But no, I'm forced to level that alt up from level 1 all over again. That's a waste of my time if I never wanted that character for "the journey" to begin with. If I've already leveled a character "for realsies" than unlock the ability for me to just pay for a level-cap increase, or blocks of 10 levels, or whatever. If I choose to do that, fine; if I choose to do it the normal leveling way, fine; if I choose to mix-and-match, fine. It's my character and doesn't affect anyone else, but it makes the difference whether my guild has a new standby healer or tank sooner rather than later. It's still on me to play through [CONTENT] and handle the gearing up, etc.

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    1. Thank you for bringing up the fact that RL Money does actually represent a time investment, at your job. If I pay someone to mow my lawn, am I cheating at home ownership because I substituted time at my job for time wandering around the yard with a cutting machine? If I pay for a nice meal at a restaurant, am I cheating because I didn't raise or hunt my food, light a fire in my hearth and roast the beast myself? Frankly, that's what a normal working economy looks like.

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  4. The time vs. money controversy will never end, at least not until we all have the same amount of time and money. When I had time, I thought time was the best way to run a game. Now I have less time and I'm less inclined toward that perspective. Maybe when I have money I'll be in favor of adding more money to games.

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    1. Another side to that is that many games that have made the transition to F2P are showing robust communities months later; populations higher than in their last few months as sub-only. Those players are, if anything, more committed to the games because they have the option to sub or pay as they go, only for the content they are ready to experience and the time they prepared to spend experiencing it.

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    2. Now there's an interesting thought: f2p games have as much content as I have time for, unlike subscription MMOs that have a huge amount of content, but I will almost always lack the time for it and consequently, pay for entertainment that I cannot fully afford.

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