Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
 
Financing games with Free2Play

If you are contemplating a career in programming games, you need to be aware that it isn't necessarily easier or has shorter hours than programming let's say financial software, but it pays a lot less. But even with rampant exploitation of games developers and the willingness of some people to create games for peanuts, at the end of the month people need some sort of income to pay for food, their car, and their mortgage. There have been plenty of examples of game companies which at some point weren't able to pay salaries any more and went bust. And there have been plenty of examples of online games which either went under with the company, or were closed down to prevent the company from going under. Game companies making money is a good thing, because without that we wouldn't have games.

Once you consider all this you'll see that "Free2Play" is necessarily an illusion. If everybody actually played these games for free, these games would stop to exist after the short period of time it takes for the money of the company to run out. But as Rohan noticed, there is a disconnect on Free2Play, causing people to complain if anything even remotely useful is for sale. A lot of people with no idea on economics believe that Free2Play games should only sell "hats", that is decorative items with no effect on gameplay.

Selling only fluff is equivalent to begging for donations. As I run a Free2Read blog with a donation button, which netted me a grand total of $25 this year, I can assure you that hoping to keep a game alive just on donations isn't going to work. You not only need to sell stuff people have actual use for, but you also need to make sure that the small number of people who have sufficient disposable income can actually find something to spend hundreds of dollars for. That is not to say that there should be items for sale that break game balance. But players value things like having early access to stuff, or having to grind less for stuff, or anything which makes the game more convenient and gives added options, and so this is what needs to be for sale.

A large number of people in a Free2Play game never pay anything, and that is all right. There is some benefit of having them around, for example so that there are always enough players for multiplayer, or so that you can advertise that your game has X million players. It isn't advisable to put "pay walls" in your game or to constantly bombard players with messages telling them to pay. But on the other hand a free player cannot expect the game to carefully avoid ever to advertise the advantages of paying. Because somebody has to pay something for the game to survive, the people playing for free need at least to be willing to be made aware from time to time that they could have some added convenience or earlier access if they paid. Just like you need to live with advertising on TV and websites, it is the normal "price to pay" for free.

I don't own a yacht, or a Rolls Royce, or a villa in some sunny place. I can't afford those things. But the stuff I can afford is because I worked for it, because I achieved certain things in life. Thus the stuff I can't afford is because I didn't achieve more monetary success in life. You won't find me staging a protest in front of the Rolls Royce factory clamoring how unfair it is that I can't afford their cars, because I'd feel embarrassed to say such a thing. Even if I live in Europe and it is the American Dream, I do believe that my success in life has a lot to do with myself, my ambition, and how hard I am willing to work. I don't see myself as a victim. I don't believe I am entitled to everything, and I would be ashamed if I had to live of handouts. Thus I cannot understand the kind of people, the entitlement kids, who not only want to have everything for free, but then also spew hate against those who might be willing and able to spend $100 on a game. The economic reality is that few people who pay effectively finance the game for all those who don't pay, so even if gratefulness is maybe asking too much, the people playing for free at least should refrain from complaining about those who pay the game for them.

Comments:
Rift is selling level 60 blue-dungeon equipment in their store and also the upgrade items to take it to "purple Tier 2" if you want.

Cost to outfit a single character in this was by my eyeball guesstimation about $125. Same cost as a year's subscription. Yowza!

OTOH, they also have tons of cosmetic items as well. Far more than I've seen in any other game than EQ2 and TSW, anyway. I'm not even really playing Rift anymore and yet when I was in their store the other day with my 20K ($130 worth) gems that they gave me for "prior loyalty" I saw that I could easily go nuts in there. So much cool stuff. . . . .
 
They spew hate because they are dumb. They don't understand that things are value is created by work, they never did that.

They truly believe that any inequalities are made of injustice and everyone should be equal.

They can't even imagine that if everyone was like them, everyone would starve.

You encountered the morons and slackers. I wonder why do you tolerate the very same behavior in games.
 
Well, taking your examples it would seem that selling "hats" works very well and has the advantage that people won't protest against you.

I mean, what's a Rolls Royce if not a "hat"? Functionally, the purpose it serves can be fulfilled with much cheaper alternatives. Luxury items are decorative items.....

 
Actually a lot of the real-life expensive luxury goods are "useless" and "only" hats and clothes. The idea is that you need people to want to buy your goods, usability is far behind that. And I believe the same applies to F2P games.

Also there is quite a bit of research, that your parents income and your education have a higher influence on your adult income than your "hard work" (for working hours/week <-> income, the correlation is extremely cruddy).

And I don't protest in front of Rolls Royce factories, because I rather would have people spend their money on expensive cars than on politicians. It is, so to say, a money sink (even if it doesn't work that well).
 
The position "If you work hard, you will earn a better life" is a different and far more fallacious opinion than "If you work hard, you deserve to earn a better life."

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/Change-Agent/2012/0612/The-goal-Help-India-s-poorest-of-the-poor-brickmakers

Have you thanked your deity you're European today?
 
If selling hats is no way to make a living, why do we have milliners? Selling hats has been the full and entire means of financial support of entire households for centuries.

Hats in real life are not food or shelter. They aren't essentials. No-one dies because they don't have a hat, unless they're on a building site and a girder falls on them. Yet people make a good, even a great living designing and selling hats.

I think the thing here may be that *you* have no use for hats and therefore can't understand how anyone could make a living selling them. I personally (virtually-personally) know several people who play MMOs hardcore in terms of the time they spend in them, yet who have very, very little interest in the adventuring. Their primary interest is in making characters and dressing them, and in making houses and decorating them. Some of those people spend a very large amount of money on "hats" and indeed on hats.

I think it is entirely possible for MMOs to fund themselves by selling items that have no direct, material adventuring purpose. They just need designers capable of providing a stream of desirable imaginary objects. Exactly the way fashion retailers operate in the outside world, in other words.
 
I agree with both you and Bhagpuss :) I think MMOs can actually make a lot of profit just by selling very cool cosmetics, stuff like house furniture, exclusive haircuts, mounts and pets. comparing them to blog donations isn't quite accurate imo.
however, as someone who happily pays for stuff in both F2P and sub games (because I pay for whatever the hell I want), I've no problem with MMOs that have more 'important' items on the market. as you said, it's a legitimate reason wanting to get paid for a game. I don't mind LOTRO asking F2P-players to pay for quest areas, bag space or early mount access. I think it's quite a good hybrid-model they've achieved, more recent 'slotmachine' windows aside...

As long as you don't sell items on a shop that render half of your endgame pointless or engage in pay-to-win practices, you are on my good side.
 
I wonder why do you tolerate the very same behavior in games.

Because a game is not real life. It is the advantage of a game that you don't have the same constraints, neither in terms of consequences nor in terms of values, than you have in real life.

Nobody says: "You wouldn't shoot somebody for fun in real life. I wonder why do you tolerate the very same behavior in games."
 
I think it is entirely possible for MMOs to fund themselves by selling items that have no direct, material adventuring purpose.

I think that in Bartle terms only the socializers buy hats. Who happen to be the smallest of the 4 groups in most games. The achievers, explorers, and killers will need something else on offer in the shop before they open their wallets.
 
I always found that annoying as well. People used to bad mouth 'wallet warriors' in World of Tanks.

It's like badmouthing the guy who picks up the tab at dinner. But I think the charitable interpretation is that young gamers often confuse performance in video games with masculinity. Paying money is therefore like taking steroids in their mind. The economic reality that they are free loaders and the wallet warriors are the actual customers doesn't really penetrate.
 
Some of the worlds most profitable companies sell only 'hats', like Apple (no one 'needs' an iPhone vs a $30 cell phone). The worlds most expensive items (boats, mansions, art) are all hats. The most successful game out right now (LoL) get the majority of its profits off hats.

If you can produce top-quality hats, you will profit greatly, because at that point you have tapped into the people who actually HAVE the money to spend on such things. The wealthy don't eat at McDonalds.
 
I like to say that people who don't want to pay anything are free not to pay anything, but that this also makes it so that they no longer have a right to expect anyone to care about their opinions.

One person who says 'I buy stuff, and I think you have a good game' is more important than 10,000 people who say 'I'm never going to pay a dime, and your game sucks'.

If they're not going to buy anything anyway, I don't care about how upset they are about what types of things I can buy.
 
I don't know, this post seems disingenuous... Or you trully can't see what this is about?

Let's see if I can make an example... suppose you're playing in some 'recreational' football league against other teams. Now let's guess how people in other teams may react if:
(a) Somebody pays for a high-profile coach to train their team.
(b) Somebody pays Messi, Ronaldo and some other such guys to play for their team.

In my mind, (a) is akin to paying subscription in World of Tanks. You spend money so that you can get 'better' faster (not a perfect analogy by any means, but something of a kind).

(b) on the other hand is ... well... I guess it's somewhat like buying gold ammo in WoT -- only really more egregious.. it's like buying "I Win" button.

Now technically nothing (?) prohibits anyone from actually doing (a) or (b). But I'd bet the reaction from 'other teams' would be quite different. I would imagine (b) would be seen as breaking the rules -- if not their letter, then their spirit.


Getting back to F2P games -- technically both (a) and (b) is allowed as long as game developer allows for it. At the same time people typically don't have a free choice between playing game X with (b) or without (b) (if they had, I'd have no sympathy whatsoever). So, if game allows for that, you are basically mixing minor league footballers with Messie-wielding clubs. It's no wonder the guys in the 'minor league' feel unhappy.

Do they have the 'right' to be unhappy about that? Technically -- no. Practically speaking -- yes.

Would game X be better (as a game) if it didn't sell Messies? Probably yes.

Would developer of game X make less money if they didn't sell Messies? Depends, but probably yes if we are talking about simply removing Messies from store without making other monetization changes (possibly to the point of game closing).

What is the solution? Well, probably there isn't one that fits every situation. But one way to start approaching this might be to have two 'shards' -- one with F2P model and one with sub-model -- where in sub-model you can't buy power or progress [speed or otherwise] over whatever is the default.

Would this better financially for a company? I don't know.

Would this make for a better game? Probably yes -- the game ought to not allow external factors (money) to influence its flow.
 
A hat is more useful than a game.
 
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Hats are prestige items. When this first started (in a meaningful way) it was actually with WoW's sparkle pony, and I remember that the general consensus was to heap derision on people who had one because, of course, we knew that they had spent $25 to get it. Cut to months later, and it was sometimes sparkle ponies as far as the eye could see on some servers.

The principle is the same with real world goods, except that MMOs make them pricey but still affordable for people who perceive that prestige. If an MMO can manage a healthy balance between "cool" gear (hats) and useful gear (Pay to win items) then it's probably got the mark of success to it. Rift hits this mark handily, I think.

May I also say, having a very clean and smart design for your in-game store is a huge bonus. Rift's in-game store is the nicest I've seen to date, very easy to navigate and find stuff. Funcom should pay attention to them (check out AoC for a true travesty).

In the end though I'm pretty sure most people here reading this are familiar with the whale concept in F2P sales....who exactly are these people deriding F2P out there, anyway? Outside of places like MMORPG.com's septic forums I'm not aware of a huge hue and cry about it.
 
Let's see what is happening at GW2. It is not F2P, it is B2P, player buy the game box (or download it from Anet site) and there is no subscription.

There is a game currency, gems, that players can buy for real money or for in game gold. However, the price of gems/gold is market controled, higher demand gives higher price for gems, lower demand gives lower prices and the supply of gems come only from players using real money for buy them.

The consequences are two:
1. who buy the gems using in game gold is indirectly buying gems with real money; higher prices for gems make more people buy gems for real money for trade them for in game gold and Anet have a higher profit;
2. everyone can follow how the market gems/gold is going over time and so it is possible to make temporal trade (too named "investment"): buy gems when they are cheap and sell them when they are expensive, and it is easy see that when any temporary event or festival happens the gems prices go up.

The #2 consequence show signs of a more advanced economy.

The items a player can buy with gems are mostly cosmetic, like quagan backpacks (!!!! :o ), marrimer's horns and fireworks (http://dulfy.net/2013/06/18/gw2-june-18-gemstore-updatemarriners-horn-and-fireworks/ and http://bhagpuss.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/celebrity-spotting-in-lions-arch.html) and fuzzy hats (http://dulfy.net/2013/06/04/gw2-gemstore-fuzzy-animal-hats/) and mini pets (http://dulfy.net/2013/05/21/gw2-may-21-mini-bear-cub-and-other-new-gemstore-items/) . Maybe next summer we see bikinis being sold.

There are too some utility items, as expansions to number of characters (from 5 to 8), bank space and permanent harvesting tools (http://dulfy.net/2013/05/28/gw2-mini-white-kitten-and-consortium-harvesting-sickle/).

A good quantity of that cosmetic and utility items are temporary: they sell for one week or while an temporary event or festival is happening. IMHO, that is a good incentive for players buy them asap and problably use some real money, direct or indirectly (buying gems for gold). That, however, preserves the "utility" that economist talked about (http://gamasutra.com/blogs/RaminShokrizade/20130531/193353/The_Barrier_to_Big.php), because most of that temporary items will never return to TP.
[ironically, it is the same virtaul world economist that sai GW2 pre-endgame economy is broken: I, however, can note that that depends from your definition of "broken", I don't see free market rules, demand and supply, as broken]

Finally, there are the hated RNG items, like chests and temporally event chests. Everyone hates them because it is basically gambling, but for some reason a lot of players buy them, because it is gambling...

Take note that Anet is selling no item with stats or P2W items. Tath treshold was crossed by Trion.

 
Pretty much every item i bought in LotRO was a stat increase or Raid buff...LotRO crossed the p2w line a couple years ago...

As to the car analogy...i think the better analogy here in the states would be a college education or health insurance or quality organic food...

P2w is all around us...I think perhaps the frustration of gamers is that very fact...mmorpg's used to be an escape from the economic realities of the real world. These days all the games seem to simply mirror it.
 
"I think that in Bartle terms only the socializers buy hats. Who happen to be the smallest of the 4 groups in most games. The achievers, explorers, and killers will need something else on offer in the shop before they open their wallets."

I think that's far from true. cosmetics appeal to players for different reasons - it all depends on how rare and exclusive they are (in terms of model), what they cost and especially how much better they may be to vendor stuff and drops. many of my friends are explorers or killers (myself included) who love cosmetics and if there's fancy stuff in terms of mounts or weapon skins, everyone has put money in already. so what do you base your assumption on? I think polls would prove this wrong.

Also, in terms of Bartle theory there's no such thing as 'just' a socializer; these profiles don't exist in a vacuum. everyone is a 'S' to some degree, so why wouldn't many others also care for cosmetics? also, some of the most hardcore raiders also collect pets in WoW for example.
 
Selling power or ability for real world money weakens the integrity of a game and generates a conflict of interest. Players want the most fun out of a game, and devs want the players to have fun and give them money.

With a free to play model that sells power the devs now have incentive to make a less fun game so that players will give them money. Most devs fall prey to that dark path. Observe allods online. A good mmo that was completely rendered unplayable by a pay2win cash shop. I would have rather payed a $15 subscription.

I don't hate on the players that pay money to free to play games, but I will look poorly upon the game, the devs, and the players for playing that game.

League of legends has easily liberated over a hundred dollars from my wallet. This was all spent on skins, or "hats" alone. You can run a good game by selling fluff. The trick to it is that the game must be good and the "hats" have to be of such quality you actually want to own them. If you try to pull a wakfu and itemshop a page full of poorly drawn clutter with no purpose or prestige, nobody is going to buy that. And nobody did.

The F2P model attracts bad game devs and they have given it a dubious, yet rightfully owned, reputation. Selling power for cash sets up a conflict of interest that can and will ruin a game and community.
 
@bhagpuss:

"
Hats in real life are not food or shelter. They aren't essentials."

Actually, wearing a hat is tip #1 in this article for desert survival. (http://news.discovery.com/adventure/survival/desert-survival-8-simple-tips-that-could-save-your-life.htm) As someone who's spent significant time in the desert myself, I can attest that you are 100% wrong: a hat IS shelter, and in the desert, is essential. I suspect that you work in an air-conditioned environment, or live in a cold climate, or you wouldn't make such a statement. If you were a farmworker in Mexico, there's no way you'd claim that a hat is not shelter.

@tobold:
"Just like you need to live with advertising on TV and websites"

Actually, pop-up blockers block most advertising on the web, and using a DVR lets you skip most advertising on TV. The fact that advertising still exists despite this fact explains exactly why people's expectation that some one else will pay for their F2P game experience is justified: because it's true.
 
Nobody says: "You wouldn't shoot somebody for fun in real life. I wonder why do you tolerate the very same behavior in games."

It's quite different to tolerate game mechanics that we wouldn't tolerate in real life (your example) and tolerate an attitude we wouldn't tolerate in real life (Gevlon's example/your post).

When we tolerate useless, parasitic behaviors in game, why is it so surprising when those behaviors bleed outside of the game environment? Toxic behavior is toxic behavior.
 
There's plenty of ways for the other three Bartle categories to benefit from non-gameplay goods.

There are always utility items that people will pay for that don't have a direct impact on gameplay (i.e. inventory/bank slots, more character slots, race changes, reduce chance of items breaking on death, etc.) Stuff that are very nice to haves, but don't boost your ability to play the game whatsoever.

Costumes and pets aren't necessarily exclusively bought by socializers either. Achievers and killers aren't exactly immune to the appeal of a sweet looking exclusive mount (e.g. the I'm better than you feeling), and everyone has their own likes and dislikes (who says a griefer can't also like cute pets?)

Then there's the absolutely simple idea of barter. Even if you may not need the usage of those cash items, there's always someone else that would like the cash items (say, a socializer that wants a new costume). Assuming the game is decent enough to not obviate the trade economy, people with cash could essentially trade cash for gold, or regular in-game items that they don't have time to grind for (because they work 40+ hours a week and don't have time to waste on grinding).
 
When we tolerate useless, parasitic behaviors in game

Virtual worlds have absolutely no way to do anything really useful and productive. Thus somebody just picking flowers is contributing exactly as much to the virtual world as somebody raiding every night. Virtual achievements are an illusion, a dangerous one, because if you spend too many hours chasing being a top performer in a game, that is likely to decrease your real world performance. The useless parasites are the ones playing for thousands of hours in mommy's basement, imagining their own virtual superiority while not doing anything productive.
 
I'm not sure about that Tobold, I think it depends on the game design. Look at Eve, while miners are often looked down on without them none of the rest of the game would work at all. And without those PvP players destroying resources the miners and crafters would eventually fill the entirety of space with Titans.

But in a theme park MMO where crafting is just another series of side quests I agree completely. Although I suppose that could change to if someone was inventive enough with their design, and raiders could be made relevant if their efforts actually changed the game world in some way.
 
Valve gives part of their proceeds from TF2 hat sales back to the hat creators. I recently read that this has totaled over $10 million. I think you vastly underestimate the amount of people who are willing to pay for fashion in a game.


 
I am hoping this is just an interim period: the market has spoken: when essentially every game is F2P, then will they still be complaining about f2p per se? When someone has dowloaded 500 f2p games on their iPhone and bought zero $15/month subscriptions, I think they will not care as much if it is OMGF2P versus whether it is zynga or SWTOR/Rift

A new AAA game is going to need close to a half-billion dollars over its life. My opinion is it unlikely to all come from cosmetics or subscriptions. I don't want to push the point too hard cause there are so many incompetent execs, but my retort is: So the business executives with experience in the field and access to market research think DRM/AO/online helps and cosmetics are not enough. And the unpaid forum commenters think everything should be DRM-free, cosmetic only. Which is more credible?

The skip advertising is not quite correct: companies are going to product placement - it could cost $400k to get your product mentioned in a show. Bond movies were pioneers. I have a Mountain Dew battlebot pet in world of warcraft. IMO, it is a future aspect of games. You may can skip the 60 second Braun ad, but can't really skip the Braun coffee pot on the counter in your show. (Although nerds may think it is a Mac Pro q.v.)

A Completely different conversation is why is P2W so bad? Say if the day after my guild mumble explodes when we finally kill the big baddie, the MMO company sells you the exact same gear and title I got. Do I suddenly unenjoy all my efforts? Am I a worse player? Did my endowment shrink? Why should what you have change my happiness? A radical argument is P2W could improve the community: the people who want a challenge will still try; the people who just want to "L2PNUB I HAS 1337" will hate the game and not play. Ofc, this is a minority opinion and companies should not do p2w for business reasons alone.

Sol: There were post here years ago about advantages:
Should someone who plays 60 hours/week have an advantage over someone who plays 3? Should someone with a desktop SSD 4GB VRAM on a 80mbs network have an advantage over a kid on a 4 YO laptop with rural DSL? Should someone who is good in the AH have a gear advantage over someone who is clueless about economies? Researching and installing addons? younger/better reflexes? 2-button mouse vs Naga/Nostrumu user? MMOs aren't fair and PCs are much less fair than consoles; people just complain when they are unfair for things they care about and disadvantage themselves. Also I read GW2 had to back off of the skill not gear plan because it was popular on forums but not effective in games,

P.S.: /rant Also people are using some dubious luxury examples: there may be little difference between a $10000 designer dress and a $50 one. But people are confusing the need with the performance. A $170k luxury car and a $7k bottom end both address your need to get from one place to another. Anyone who has ever tried to merge onto an LA freeway in a cheap unairconditioned rental would not say cars are the same. And luxury cars tend to get life-saving technology (air bag, collision detection systems, anti-lock brakes,...) first and not dieing would seem more utilitarian than luxury. An increasing amount of cellphone usage is not telephone calls and the $30 phone can't address that at all. Some of the difference in price is ego/epeen/prestige but not all.


 
Hagu, I've said this a thousand times but it really comes down to this:

The type of dude who reads MMO blogs and plays a lot of MMOs benefits massively from the sub model. They get to play 160 hours on the same 15 bucks as the guy who dicks around once a month. This type loves the sub mode and will defend it at all costs not because it is somehow more fair or just (it's not), but because it benefits him. And that's really it.

Now that the tide has turned and they have to deal with F2P, they argue for cosmetic or fluff items in F2P because they see that as a way to maintain their benefits (cheap play time, able to leverage excess time into virtual superiority) at the expense of others. Nothing more.

F2P only bothers people who are money poor and time rich. For money rich time poor it is fantastic because it lets him minimize grinding activity. For the casual player, he doesn't hit the limits and enjoys totally free play, or is able to enjoy the benefits at less than the cost of a sub. It's only the broke ass addict who resents this system, because it costs him more (generally the bill in F2P is proportional to time played) or ruins his feelings of superiority as success in the real world starts correlating with success in the game again.


 
Any time I complain about F2P games, it is usually because I would have preferred the designers to have chosen the "buy the box" business model. You know, the one that incentivizes them to sell more copies by making the game itself more entertaining to play. As opposed to the exploit-the-junkies model, where developers spend most of their time inducing people to spend $200+ on lockboxes as if that doesn't technically count as obsessive gambling.

There is always this big assumption that "hunting for whales" turns out alright for the whales. It usually doesn't. In fact, by definition, 100% of the "uncapped" earnings from such whales is simply their consumer surplus being extracted. So your sort of moral argument on behalf of the poor, starving artists at these game companies falls a bit flat.

@4c22
The economic reality that they are free loaders and the wallet warriors are the actual customers doesn't really penetrate.

The actual economic reality is that a given F2P game couldn't survive under any other model than F2P. Without the "free loaders" acting as content, the whales wouldn't have anyone to play with, and thus the game collapses. Ergo, a F2P user who spends $0.00 is still generating a profit (on average). Otherwise, the company wouldn't have bothered releasing/maintaining the game.

This type loves the sub mode and will defend it at all costs not because it is somehow more fair or just (it's not), but because it benefits him.

Er... what? Do some people have more or less than 24 hours in their day?

But, sure, okay. If everyone playing by the same rule set is unfair or unjust, then what exactly does that say about trading cash for in-game advancement in unlimited amounts? Or, you know, differing levels of Skill - which is loosely correlated with time spent playing/practicing. Unfair/unjust too?
 
The useless parasites are the ones playing for thousands of hours in mommy's basement, imagining their own virtual superiority while not doing anything productive.

I don't disagree with you, but now we're not talking about in-game behavior.

Virtual worlds have absolutely no way to do anything really useful and productive.

I don't agree with this at all. There are many, many useful and productive things you can do in a virtual world. Raiding and battleground require teamwork and cooperation to be successful, as well as study and practice, which require focus. Even achievement hunting or trinket collecting require goals, a commitment and follow-through. Expecting to be carried through such activities is quite another thing. My comment of useless, parasitic activity primarily describes these individual.

Virtual achievements are an illusion, a dangerous one, because if you spend too many hours chasing being a top performer in a game, that is likely to decrease your real world performance.

This is such a vague and broad assertion that it could simultaneously apply and not apply to pretty much any gamer anywhere. It's all a balancing act and what is too much time for one person is barely any time for another, all completely based on circumstance. I imagine you spend far more time gaming than I do, yet I would not consider you to be a less successful person just because you are able to allocate more time to that activity than I can.
 
Any time I complain about F2P games, it is usually because I would have preferred the designers to have chosen the "buy the box" business model. You know, the one that incentivizes them to sell more copies by making the game itself more entertaining to play.

Sorry, I think you misunderstand incentives here. The buy the box business model encourages companies to produce very short, very intensive games full of special effects, but with zero replay value. You want your players to be out of the game after 10 hours, buying the next game. I still remember a time when games used to take 100 hours to finish, today you're lucky if they last 10.
 
F2P?. It dosn't exists at all.

What it REALLY exists is F2PTTTWSRM (Free To Play Thanks To Thos Who Spend Real Money).

I still prefer the subscription/DLC model. Everyone pays, everyone gets the full product out of the box.

The model where you play for free "if someone else pays for you" is just weird.
 
"Virtual worlds have absolutely no way to do anything really useful and productive."

So much for the benefits of literature (i.e. virtual worlds delivered by text, and requiring no effort on the reader's part except the reading).
 
Quinn, what a load of horseshit.


Let me know when the Brothers Karamazov releases an xpac that wipes having read the first book. Or when someone expanded their mind or learned something about the human condition from hitting max level.


I would have LOL's at your comment if my eyes hadn't been bugging out at the audacity of it. If you really think that, get to Barnes and Nobles ASAP and find some good books.


 
4c22: F2P only bothers people who are money poor and time rich. For money rich time poor it is fantastic because it lets him minimize grinding activity. For the casual player, he doesn't hit the limits and enjoys totally free play, or is able to enjoy the benefits at less than the cost of a sub. It's only the broke ass addict who resents this system, because it costs him more (generally the bill in F2P is proportional to time played)

I don't understand this argument. Typically, the bill in F2P is inversely proportional to time played. That is, you either grind your way to the top, spending 1000 hours to get there, or you pony up the cash.

This benefits people on both sides: the "money poor/time rich" can play as much as they want, and the "money rich/time poor" spend cash to do only the important things and subsidize the rest of the player base such that they can do those important things.

The only two other groups missing are the "money rich/time rich", who are in a god-like retirement state that the F2P model doesn't even matter altogether, and the "money poor/time poor", which isn't really better or worse from a F2P model, since they're saving money, but spending more time.
 
I don't want to push the point too hard cause there are so many incompetent execs, but my retort is:So the business executives with experience in the field and access to market research think DRM/AO/online helps and cosmetics are not enough.

So any exec that doesn't share your beliefs is incompetent? I guess Microsoft is incompetent for reversing its stand on AO and used games, and Sony is even more incompetent for not taking that path. Didn't Ubisoft also reverse its hated AO game policy? And EA is dropping online passes.

The buy the box business model encourages companies to produce very short, very intensive games full of special effects, but with zero replay value. You want your players to be out of the game after 10 hours, buying the next game. I still remember a time when games used to take 100 hours to finish, today you're lucky if they last 10.

I think this would be tied to what genre of game it was. Most old video games on consoles were "beat in one sitting." Games that aren't RPGs have always been on the short side.
 
Well Psycho, the money poor time rich currently enjoy total dominion of the MMO world, because time is the only way to succeed.

In a F2P world, to maintain their elite status, they have to spend lots of cash, because somebody else will spend the same time and more money, and therefore get ahead of them. Games are really their own worse enemy on this front. I'm sure Blizz would be very happy if people went through their content at a reasonable pace (say... 18 months per xpac). They end up driving themselves insane trying to keep up with the Joneses.

So they are forced to spend more money OR lose their "elite" status.

That's why they hate it. They play MMOs so their is world where they are high status. F2P takes that away.
 
"As I run a Free2Read blog with a donation button, which netted me a grand total of $25 this year, I can assure you that hoping to keep a game alive just on donations isn't going to work."

Maybe it's simply because people don't feel that the content of said blog is worth paying more money for? :P

Yes, payment models matter. But quality of the content matters more.
 
Yes, payment models matter. But quality of the content matters more.

Not if payment is optional. There are a lot of cheapskates out there who will not pay if given the option, regardless of the quality of the content on offer.
 
Err, but Tobold: you don't offer anything for donations. You offer no compelling reason to donate. You don't ask for donations. You don't even offer a cute Tobold sticker pet (whatever that might look like) for $5.

I've been playing a couple F2P over the last couple years, and I've paid money here and there to games I'd like to support. I have no qualms about giving money to those who need it.

To be frank:

1. I have no idea whether you even need the money/support (it doesn't seem like it).

2. Your content isn't all that special. You certainly do provide a certain viewpoint that does not mirror the hardcore gaming community, but that viewpoint isn't exactly mindblowing, enlightening, or even unique on the internet. At best, you provide some neat ideas that people can discuss, but could be found anywhere else for free.

3. You show no reason to value your content at anything other than free. Game companies at least plea for money and instill the idea that they need money or the game will no longer exist. I've seen maybe one or two posts about your donation stuff in the last couple years I've read this blog, and at best, you've always made it seem inconsequential and insignificant, and that you'd still keep writing regardless of whether it got any money at all.

I find absolutely silly to use your donation button as an example to draw parallels to the F2P model, when you run your donation button absolutely nothing like modern F2P business models.
 
@Pzychotix: But you are making exactly my point: A Free2Play game makes money by actively asking for it, and by offering something in return. And that is exactly what some people are complaining about, they don't want to see the game asking for money, and they don't want to see somebody else who paid having received anything special. They want the game to be financed by pure generosity. And then the game will be exactly where my blog is: Something that isn't unique and can be consumed without paying, so nobody is going to pay.
 
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And that is exactly what some people are complaining about, they don't want to see the game asking for money, and they don't want to see somebody else who paid having received anything special. They want the game to be financed by pure generosity.

Who is complaining about F2P games asking for money? This is beginning to sound like we're in a strawman argument at this point.

At most, I've seem players argue against pay to win, but pay to win is not identical to the F2P business model. TF2, LOL, and multitudes of other F2P games have had reasonable success with the F2P model selling actual content without players complaining that it's pay to win.

You also seem to think that skins and fluff is akin to asking for donations, but I think the revenues from TF2's hat sales alone kills that entire argument.
 
TF2, LOL, and multitudes of other F2P games have had reasonable success with the F2P model selling actual content without players complaining that it's pay to win.

People continue to deliberately misrepresent those games and what I am saying. I am saying that you cannot finance a game by selling purely cosmetic items. You are quoting games as successful that sell various things, not all of which are purely cosmetic.

That people don't COMPLAIN about those games being Pay2Win is just good marketing. It doesn't change the fact that people buy stuff that has some utility for them in the game. Yes, the TF2 store has a "hats" category, but it also has a "weapons" and a "tools" category, containing items which have a use in game beyond cosmetic. LoL sells not just skins, but also champions, runes, and boosts.

You can argue until you are blue that those items in your personal opinion aren't Pay2Win, but that is NOT what I said. I said these items have some sort of utility beyond cosmetic, and a game can't finance itself by only selling the cosmetic stuff.
 
You can argue until you are blue that those items in your personal opinion aren't Pay2Win, but that is NOT what I said. I said these items have some sort of utility beyond cosmetic, and a game can't finance itself by only selling the cosmetic stuff.

I'm completely aware of that, which is why I hesitated to even included it as a second point. It clearly allowed you to respond to something while avoiding the actual question: who is complaining about these games? Why are we even having this silly conversation? Who is arguing that a game should ONLY have cosmetics for sale?
 
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