Jun 21, 2011

…not having to pay: Priceless.

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.

3 Comments

  • I'm inclined to disagree with you, actually, but only on the point of hoping its just a fad. Personally, I wish more companies would do it like Turbine does. Put in honest to goodness content into their cash shops, or exp boosts and potions and that sort of thing, instead of putting in items that break the game for anyone not paying. That, and the ability to obtain cash shop currency in-game, albeit at a very slow pace, or offering a set amount of currency with your monthly subscription.

    Pay to Win is not a fun way to do F2P, I'll agree with you there. But its the companies that make it not fun, not the genre itself.

    • I do prefer the sub only games to f2p as generally they are better quality mmos. That said with sub games going f2p there is a middle ground that works.

      I think the only way sub and cash store method can mix is using the lotro method where you can be f2p or pay a sub which includes things you would otherwise pay cash for in the store.

      Eq2 is the opposite ed of the scale. A cash store on the sub servers and f2p servers apart from those sub based servers.

  • @Straw Fellow

    I get where you're coming from, but the issue I have with these F2P games is that without a subscription, you don't feel inclined to play to "get your moneys worth" whereas a lot of the F2P games die due to lack of players, which is a real shame if its the game that you really like.

    @Yetian

    I wouldn't rule out F2P MMOs for quality, Black Prophesy is F2P, it's also one of the most fun space sims I've played in a long time, Vindictus is also really good, graphically better than most Pay to Play MMOs.

    Give Forsaken World a go, fast download on steam, and the game is chock full of features and neat little additions, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the quality on offer.

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