With news coming from everywhere about previously subscription based MMOs going Free 2 Play, with a variety of different models, I’m beginning to wonder where I’m going to find the time to play all these games, and where this is all heading to.
Last week it was Age of Conan and a possibility of Star Trek Online, this week it’s been Fallen Earth, and today it was City of Heroes and Lego Universe. Age of Conan is somewhat more extreme with limited classes available and quite a few other restrictions to free players, Fallen Earth has been taken over by GamersFirst, so will probably become a Pay 2 Win shambles within a month (don’t quote me!) but they’re all opening their doors to anyone with the hard drive space and intelligence to fill in a registration page.
I don’t have a problem with increasing the player numbers, keeps the games alive, and the F2P model seems to make developers way more cash than your standard subscription model, but after delving into Steam’s F2P offerings I must say the “Credit Card Details Barrier” is certainly a good thing.
I’ve never played a F2P MMO that was developed from the ground up, to have micro transactions and no monthly fees, this week I sampled the delights of Forsaken World. To be honest, I was expecting a grindfest and little else, but what I got was a proper, honest-to-goodness MMO with kinda out-dated graphics, but nothing offensively bad. It is actually really good fun, and has a load of features from other MMOs, a la Rift but with no monthly fee. From reading up on it a bit more, it has the lot, guild fortresses, raiding, instances, in depth crafting, all the bells and whistles of an AAA MMO.
What it doesn’t have, is a GM presence, or a sense of the players being policed. Griefing seems to be a major pass time, and players seem to be rather rude or just ignorant, having players take harvest nodes which you’ve been fighting towards happens far more often than in Rift/EQ2. APB is another example, aimbotting is rife, as is wallhacking and lagswitching. I haven’t seen much evidence of things being fixed, it does seem like the publishers are interested in one thing, grabbing every last penny off you for the virtual wares they have on offer. If you pay for the upgraded guns, you will have an advantage, and some of those guns cost £50, it’s ridiculous, and it’s like GamersFirst just don’t care about the game at all.
Lord of the Rings Online on the other hand, is Subscription converted to F2P done right. You pay for new content, not having an unfair advantage, the cash shop is not in your face either, and the game feels like it’s being managed. Upon rolling my first character, players were helpful, I saw a GM in the global chat channel answering questions, how an MMO should be, unlike EQ2, which is a subscription based game, with a cash shop, call me cynical, but that’s being greedy.
If I’m being honest, I really hope this F2P lark is just a fad, and it goes back to 14 day trials and subscriptions. With a sub, I know how much a month it’s going to cost to play the game, and not have to think about paying out for anything else to stay competitive.