Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 20, 2013
 
Quoted for Truth on Elitism

Rowan Blaze writes on I Have Touched the Sky: "The idea that the way someone else chooses to spend their time in game affects you in any way—excepting griefers, of course—is preposterous. In fact, that sort of insular elitism—the attitude that "the rabble" are ruining your game—is what poisons many a game community."

While I agree with the statement that without spending time there is no commitment to a game, I would like to add that without spending money there is no commitment to a game either. If you play a game without spending money, you are a freeloader who contributes nothing to the financial survival of that game.

Comments:
> If you play a game without spending
> money, you are a freeloader who
> contributes nothing to the
> financial survival of that game


So true. And this is why the whole F2P business model is a chimera.
 
That's just absurd. If you play a multiplayer, Free2Play game but doesn't spend money you are not a freeloader, you are content, and absolutely fundamental to the financial success of that game.

Without other players, there is no game for those paying, a point you have made yourself not even five posts ago.
 
Not true!

If you are a free player, you aren't freeloader. You are a cannon fodder for paying players, increasing their enjoyment, therefore paying tendency.

It's best seen in EVE, where you CAN'T play for free, you must use PLEX-es, and there is no in-game way to create a PLEX. Every PLEX is bought for real money.

The "free" players are simply providing so much amusement for the paying players, that the latter choose to pay for their subscription.
 
What i meant on that comment was the fact that money spending cannot provide gaming experience and cannot be compared to time spending like it is.

It's another thing spending 3 months trying to level/gear/enrich up your character as opposed to just spending money and taking shortcuts that inevitably will make you slack in the long run.

There cannot be a f2p game without selling shortcuts/convenience because it will be a financial disaster.

Ultimately convenience becomes game breaking as it results in less and less memorable experiences within a game/virtual world.
 
The point is, Free To Play does NOT exist. It's free for SOMEONE, paid for someone else.

If no one spends a cent for a so-called F2P game what does it happen? It just dies. Unless someone out there pays for it (a sponsor, for example, but someone must pay)
 
> The "free" players are simply
> providing so much amusement for
> the paying players, that the
> latter choose to pay for their
> subscription

The amount of sadness and depression in this sentence is just... insane.
 
"If you play a game without spending money, you are a freeloader who contributes nothing to the financial survival of that game"

Do you really believe that? Don't you think that's a bit short sighted?

Just one example from a game i play: There's a girl who's still studying, without financial support but earning all her money herself. Next to studying, she got two jobs (still student, you know what kind of jobs you get there, been there, done that... ) to cover her expenses, so from all i know, she just doesn't have the money spare to give it to the game.

Now, that girl, while not paying for a F2P game, manages the guild i am in, organizes guild events and talks with the members, to keep the (omnipresent) drama queens under control. About all of her non-work evenings go into the game, and she's kinda the "good soul" of the guild and keeps it active and running.

Not only would the guild have lost several members without her dedication, those players would probably have quit the game, too. And we are of paying players here, according to all the visual fluff from the item store they (just like me) drag around.

So, while she might not -directly- contribute to the financial success of the game, her actions in game definitely contribute to keeping a number of paying players active.

As she does not pay for the game, she may be "content" or "a social feature" of the game from a developers point of view, but her presence and dedication definitely resulted in the game earning money. Things are not always as black and white as some people think.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
@ sylow

That's not the point. The Free To Play concept works because it's free for someone and it costs for someone else.

A real FREE game should be entirely free for everyone and rely on other sources of money (example: a sponsor).

If Facebook games were 100% free, Zynga would have never-ever existed. It became famous because out of those millions of players there were some thousands willing to spend some dollars to win a "golden cow", a "royal crop" or any other fancy/cosmetic/crappy ingame item.

So yes, those who don't cash out a single cent are carried by those who pay for them and allow developers to keep the game alive.

You play for free because others pay for you, basically.
 
@Rugus:

I agree that a game has to make money to survive. I also agree that a player who is not paying, does not -directly- make money for the game and yes, if you want to look at it from a subscribers mindset, their playtime is paid for by other players.

Still, the sentence says that a player who does not pay contributes >>NOTHING<< to the financial survival of the game. That that's what i very much doubt.

I have made my example, the one girl who by the time and effort she spends in the game (and on my TS3 server) keeps the guild active and together. Due to her work (yes, she doesn't consider it work, but indeed it is hard work to entertain a guild and to moderate internal problems again and again) several paying players are still present.

If that is "nothing", then developers of many games can just hope and pray for a lot of members who do "nothing" so they earn their money.
 
The idea that the way someone else chooses to spend their time in game affects you in any way—excepting griefers, of course—is preposterous???

Just a few counterarguments:

- If very few people choose to run battlegrounds, you're in very long queue, if many - you get instant call;

- If there are few AH players, you can get ultraprofits; if competition is high, your profit is low;

- If everyone likes raiding with max-level character and dislikes levelling, you get empty zones;

etc etc
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
@ sylow

The girl you mention is not the best example of "not paying player". She's a guild leader and she's deeply involved with the game. Of course she gives a big help to developers, because -indirectly- she does some nice propaganda for free.

But what if NO ONE in your guild drops a single cent to play the game?

Let's suppose she manages to get 1000 members in the guild and NO ONE pays anything. Is she still contributing? No, she's jsut consuming her free time to organize stuff, like she could do in real life.

Promoting the game and organizing ingame events to engage her audience (guild members) has ZERO effect if no one is paying. And having thousands of active players is totally useless, if no one is spending money for something. They could be talking about the game and organizing events all the day, for months... but if among those thousand players there are just few people wo spend a dollar or two? The game is dead.
 
God forbid anyone profits from me spending cash in a F2P game ;) we totally live in a world where everyone is equally off and pays the same for the same things. /cough

And to attack people for this is fighting for a cause the developers never asked you to fight for them - they aren't stupid. if players not paying anything in F2Ps was a real issue, that model wouldn't be in place. it so happens that it's profitable and if companies are happy with the outcome (without fingerpointing the non-paying part of their playerbase), so should we be. F2P is created around the idea and solid research numbers that most players eventually spend, sometimes more than they spend on subs. to argue what would happen "if nobody paid anything" is completely missing the point and reality.


@sylow
you said it yourself though - ">NOTHING<< to the financial survival of the game." Tobold didn't say they contribute nothing socially, just not financially.
I agree fully with you that MMOs need people and money isn't the only way of supporting a game. which doesn't mean the money is indispensable.
 
Read in detail, the wording is "financial success". Encouraging players to stay in the game and spend money in my book is contributing to the financial success of a game.

 
Ooops. My own fault. Previous posting is wrong and can be deleted. (Doesn't allow me to delete it myself with OpenID, it seems. )

The wording is "financial survival", indeed. But my point still stays valid, social activities to keep paying players in game contributes to the financial survival of the game.


 
> God forbid anyone profits from me
> spending cash in a F2P game ;) we
> totally live in a world where
> everyone is equally off and pays
> the same for the same things.

That was not my point. I was just aguing that calling these games "F2P" is misleading. Because they are NOT free for everyone.
 
Even though your personal contribution to this post is rather minuscule, it does – in no way – diminish its value. In fact, the importance of your very short statement cannot be stressed enough.

The same applies to your post (and comments) on Financing games with Free2Play. Thank you so much for explicitly stating (at least) two very unwelcome facts of life:

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

I am really looking forward to reading more posts of this calibre on your blog.
 
@Rugus

Yeah I know, you're arguing the moot point of "what IF nobody paid anything" - which I already explained makes no sense. we might as well discuss what would happen IF nobody ever bought games - but enough people are buying them, so.

And yes, they are free to play for 'anyone'. it wouldn't work if everyone didn't pay anything, but that is a different thing entirely.

you are free not to pay for these games, but you probably will anyway because such is your choice. to make that personal choice while condemning those that do not, is not understanding F2P. F2P calculates in both big and small payers and some non-payers. it also calculates in that some people will start paying who would never even have joined if not for F2P. it's a MIXED calculation, that's the whole point. tons of companies run good business that way.
 
@ Syl

I do NOT condemn anyone, you misread my comments. I am against the "Free" definition of this business model. I don't care at all if somone spends 1$, 100$ or 1000$, I'm all for it (example: I've donated 20$ for Path of Exile long before it went open beta).

As stated in another comment, I generally prefer "paid" games where *everyone* pays a (possibly) low fee and gets the full content (items, mechanics, awards, etc.). That business model makes me feel safer, compared to the F2P one.

Also, I am one of the few (I guess!) who still finds perfectly acceptable a monthly fee/subscription for a MMO (be it an rpg, an fps, whatever).
 
"you are free not to pay for these games, but you probably will anyway because such is your choice. to make that personal choice while condemning those that do not, is not understanding F2P. F2P calculates in both big and small payers and some non-payers. it also calculates in that some people will start paying who would never even have joined if not for F2P. it's a MIXED calculation, that's the whole point. tons of companies run good business that way."

Lucky me i refreshed the comments and read this before giving another answer. And my current STO situation very much matches into this mix. We're 3 friends currently playing it again.

Nr. 1 played it for a long time in old times, has a plethora of veteran rewards and the likes. While i have not asked him if he pays again, i am rather sure that as we're currently leveling new characters, he picked up a subscription at least for this time again.

Nr. 2 is me, who drops in a month of subscription when leveling a new character, and occasionally buys some cosmetic stuff, but rarely. Thus right now i have one month of subscription active, at least. (For those not knowing it: leveling with active subscription gives you more bank and inventory space and a few respec tokens. If you don't subscribe, you'd have to buy those seperately and spend more money for it. So yes, i use the subscription, i guess that makes me a cheapshot here? )

Nr. 3 doesn't have one day of veteran time logged and i doubt he ever spent money in it yet.

It's very obvious, who of us 3 contributes mostly to the success of the game? Now, interestingly enough, Nr. 1 and 2 are back to the game as Nr. 3 two weeks ago commented that STO has the new expansion and he'd like it if we'd level a bunch of Romulans together. Without him, Nr. 1 and 2 would currently not be playing and paying.

So again: definitely Nr. 3 is completely worthless for the game, he paid no money, he did not contribute at all? Or could it be that his social activities indeed brought the game at least two months of subscription, perhaps more? Is that still "nothing"?
 
@Rugus

Well, if it's only nomenclature you take fault with, how would you call this model?
personally, I don't think it is very misleading - it's saying there's a free entry for playing. or then it's saying that it's free to play on a basic level, it isn't saying 'how' it is free. many F2P games have hybrid models where the fully free part is also restricted in some ways. they can't call it "sub-free" because some of them do offer subs too.
I am paying a sub in LOTRO even though I don't "have to" ;)

@sylow
I think the point is that it's valid to be a 3) - and that it's not for the player base to question how people play F2Ps while completely staying within the rules of the game. MMOs are social games and they can only benefit from having more people in general. I think even developers understand that some of their non-paying customers still contribute to the virtual world. as for those who only 'visit' F2P games and return very irregularly - they don't "exist" in the calculation. most likely they're only here because of F2P and as such they do neither good nor harm.

 
Well, if you are good humored about paying players, then play for free. That's fine, you are right, you do have a function.

But when you yell at paying customers and make fun of them, you've crossed the line and are now a free loader.

See Jim, maybe this is where we depart, but if you are playing a video game you are slacking. Period. It's an R&R activity, nothing more. The person who spends more time playing is the slacker, not the person spending less time playing.
 
"But when you yell at paying customers and make fun of them, you've crossed the line and are now a free loader."

This is something different than a free loader, something worse: it is bad manners.
 
If you play a game without spending money, you are a freeloader who contributes nothing to the financial survival of that game.

It's a strange day when Gevlon grasps social interactions better than you do Tobold, but on this, Gevlon has it right.

The correct formulation of your final sentence is:

"If you play a game without spending money, you are a content for those who contribute to the financial survival of that game".

Whether that's PvP content: less Damage-per-Game than premium users in WoT, thus more deaths and losses; or PvE content: all those people running around the previously empty Argent server, making Great Hunt Rifts viable and Zone events pop in a way not seen for a long time; it's still content.

Free players make the play experience of paying players better. This makes them very much 2nd-class citizens, but their presence is still vitally important.
 
Interesting. So "free" players can be considered like... peons, maybe? Some kind of random NPC's that populate the world and add content for others (those who pay)?
 
Well, it's definitely true that if you spend no money on a game then you're by default not financially committed to that game. The game of course is in trouble if everyone plays and no one pays. This seems almost tautological so I'm not sure what's so controversial about such a statement.

However, a typical successful F2P model will have a healthy mix of payers and non-payers. I imagine an idealized F2P model might be 100% payers playing the game, but I bet that's a game with a low population, too....one must imagine that you have to walk a fine line as a developer, playing a game that's compelling enough to keep the guy who wants a free ride and a the same time enticing the guy who's willing to put some cash into his investment. The fact that most paying customers won't shell out if the game doesn't have a healthy population probably puts a lot of pressure on insuring your game can attract both types of gamer.
 
Hmm. "Content" sounds like a hard word, especially as Gevlon in his way even considers them "cannon fodder". This might be true in the specific griefing game he chose to play, and in lower quality PvP games. But it's not without reason for example that World of Tanks lately has reduced its "pay2win" content by allowing players to get gold ammo and gold armour with in-game currency. (I guess they had to find out that the pay2win at the highly competitive top end cost them too many players. Enabling the option to buy gold-ammo without RL money is supposed to encourage those players to stay as a higher number of players buying new garage slots, camos and the likes yield more revenue than a smaller number of players buying gold ammo. )

Closer to the terms "service", "peon" or "NPC": In either example i gave above, indeed, the persons in question is some kind of "service". Mostly look at my first example. Some games have GM-initiated events, which means GMs worktime and thus money of the company is invested in such activity. All games have operative costs for GMs having to work on tickets or insult, harassment and the likes.

An active player, motivating others and moderating conflict in guild or groups, provides the very same service, within the scope of her reach, but does not cost any money. Her mere presence and activity thus is money saved for the company, and that's even before calculating the additional income resulting by paying players being encouraged to stay (and continue paying) due to her presence and activity.
 
If we rephrase slightly, it becomes so uncontroversial as to be a tautology: If you play a game without spending money, you contribute nothing financially to the survival of that game.

However, as has been amply illustrated, "freeloaders" contribute greatly to a game. Indeed, legion are the games enjoying success as–shall we say, pay-optional, Rugus?–that struggled and almost failed on the subscription-only model.

And Souldrinker, you are speaking of aggregates, while I was referring to individual behavior. Whether I PvP, doesn't affect your raid. Whether I buy a hat or a sword in a cash shop does not affect your hat or sword obtained through questing.

The slacker comment is really telling. I agree that if you're playing a game, you're already slacking by definition, unless it's your job. Heck, I am slacking by writing this comment.

Thank you, Tobold, for reading and sharing my post. And for the record, I have spent cash in every pay-optional game I've played.
 
Your argument that free players are content or cannon fodder for other players has one major flaw: It only applies to certain types of games, the ones with a large multiplayers component.

Already MMORPGs are borderline here: For somebody who is just doing questing and fishing and collecting pets, other players in the game are not much of an added value, and sometimes they get in the way. It is only if you do dungeons/raids or PvP where other players become necessary. And even there you don't really need all that many of them.

There are quite a number of games out there which are basically single-player games. I'm currently playing two of them, Anno Online, and Card Hunter (which does have a multiplayer part, but I consider it less interesting than the single-player part). If all the free players of such a game would disappear in a puff of smoke tomorrow, it would have zero negative impact on myself.
 
> For somebody who is just doing
> questing and fishing and collecting
> pets, other players in the game are
> not much of an added value, and
> sometimes they get in the way.

But running around in an empty world is extremely bad. It kills the fun, at least that's what I've experienced in WoW: a high-population realm always offers "things to see" like people showcasing gear, mounts and pets, an active chat, a decent AH, etc.

After all... let's face it: items, achievements, leveling... everything becomes more "magical" if someone is spectating and witnessing it (be it near you, in chat, etc).

You just got an ultra-rare weapon. Does it give you the same "feeling" if you acquire it offline, in your single-player game? I think that even if not interacting at all with others... having them running around adds a lot of depth/interest to the game.
 
> If you play a game without spending
> money, you are a freeloader who
> contributes nothing to the
> financial survival of that game

Not even. This is what the F2P business model is based on (when it's not based on psychological traps via math): Even if you don't pay, you are part of the content (the most important part).
 
So, who do you think is the target audience of the developers of a Free2Play game:

A) The guy spending 10 hours a day in the game, but never a penny.

B) The guy spending 1 hour max a day in the game, and spends about $10 a month.

I think anybody who thinks the answer is A), and thinks that the A guy is somehow contributing more, and is more committed to the game than guy B, is deluding himself. The positive contribution of being "content" in the game is worth at maximum a few cents per month.

The test is easy to do, if you know the philosopher Kant: Just check which of the two behaviors would be viable if everybody did it.
 
But it's also true that without free players, which are the largest part of any f2p community, the paying players would experience a much much less appealing world, made of few people available onlie at any gven time.
 
It's like there are two different arguments going on here. On the one hand, you have the moral argument. Should a player pay for play? I agree that anyone who plays a pay-optional online game for a significant amount of time probably should contribute to the game's coffers. But Kant was no economist.

From an economic perspective, the demand curve is extremely elastic at the $0 price point. The devs know that if they charge, the player population will dwindle. Whereas, if they offer the main game for free, or for a box price, then also offer enticements or inducements to spend money in a cash shop; then they'll have a more robust playerbase, and many of those players will spend money, and a few will spend a lot of money. Those who choose not to pay aren't cheating anyone, because the devs set the rules for participation allowing gratis play, and the paying players are buying not the game, but whatever they bought in the store. In retail, it's called a loss leader. Make the printer cheap, and the ink expensive. Give away the operating system, charge for the productivity tools. They're using revenue from the sale of hats and bag space to pay for development and maintenance, even though not everyone buys their hats.
 
Obviously you want people to pay something when they play your F2P game, but I also think that the players paying nothing do benefit the game to some extent. In WoT, GW2 and LoL it helps to have bigger populations so you have faster matchmaking, more people to run instances/PvP with, etc.

The game developer just has to try to figure out how to get as many people as possible to spend some $$ on the game.

p.s. WoT is making about $16 per active player on the NA server, which is better than your avg monthly sub for something like WoW, so they've obviously come up with a good balance.
 
This entire thread makes me think that people are forgetting the entire point of the F2P system: to get as much player population as possible, and convert free players into paying players. Without free players, you're limiting your possible growth (and you're essentially just going back to the subscription model).

It reminds me of a story I read when I was kid:

A fisherman and his son were weaving fishing nets, when the son spoke up and said: "Why are we weaving such large nets? The fish will only be caught by one of the eyes of the nets, so we should only weave one-eyed nets! It'll be a lot less work!"

... Don't be the son.
 
What people are demanding is a net without any eyes at all. They are arguing that the free players who spend a lot of time in the game are more committed and contribute more to the game than the paying players who use money to make up for their lack of time. And that is just nonsense.

Zynga is having huge layoffs in spite of still having millions of players, but with an ever dropping conversion rate. In the end a game with 1 million players of which 2,000 are paying is better than one with 2 million players of which 1,000 are paying.
 
Your argument that free players are content or cannon fodder for other players has one major flaw: It only applies to certain types of games, the ones with a large multiplayers component.

I've had to think about this for a while, to get my head around it. If we're talking about pure single-player games (not multi-player-games-where-one-doesn't-want-to-use-the-multi-player-options - because although you don't, someone does) then yes, free players are freeloaders unless they can be persuaded/ guilted/ nagged/ bothered into paying.

So I've reformulated the rule:

1. In a pure single-player game, if you play without spending you are two things: a: an opportunity to be monetised; b: a freeloader.
2. If you play a game with multiplayer (including social) options without paying, you are a: an opportunity to be monetised; b: content for the paying customers.
 
@ Seanas

We should consider hybrid games too, such as Path Of Exile (a f2p Diablo clone). You can play for free and you get everything, without limits. You can pay if you want... and get cosmetic stuff or a more storage space.

PoE is online only and you are basically forced to see others, when you're in town. But you can just play alone, all the time, or group for the occasional boss.

Apart from trading in chat (or playing with a friend), the "multiplayer" component can be completely ignored. And so goes for the payment, which is mostly a token of gratitude if you like the game.

So this is an online game where you are NOT a content, because you don't provide any utility and/or added value to others (each one fights an instanced level).
 
What people are demanding is a net without any eyes at all. They are arguing that the free players who spend a lot of time in the game are more committed and contribute more to the game than the paying players who use money to make up for their lack of time. And that is just nonsense.

Going back to the original post, I don't see that at all. Jim, the complainer in question, isn't demanding that F2P games take items out of their shops, but is rather stating that such F2P games who sell hard shortcuts (i.e. RIFT selling endgame gear through the cash shop) breeds a lesser community and a worse game. It's less of a complaint about the business model, and more about game design/content. As such, he'd rather play a subscription based game with no shortcuts, as he feels that offers a much better community.

This line of argument is flawed in its own way, but Rowan's response in his own comment section should be enough to address those concerns, since it's not exactly about the financial viability of the F2P model and would be a tangent to the current discussion.
 
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