Free to Play - Why Korea Sucks

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 7

People on the internet have a nasty habit of thinking that they shouldn't have to pay for anything ever. I blame Linux, but poor people and 12 year olds are equally responsible. What better demographic could anyone target than people who are only able to spend someone else's money?

The Idea of a "Free to Play" MMORPG isn't exactly an original concept these days, but one thing is certain. These types of things simply don't work. You might be able to log in and make your character, but you're really only playing a dumbed down version of the game until you buy Super Mushroom points with daddy's credit card.

No game has ever, or ever will release a MMORPG that is actually free. If you are too poor to play a real game, you should probably be devoting your time to turning in the stack of fast-food job applications sitting on your futon!

Almost every single one of these abortions comes out of *insert Asian country*, and the only logical conclusion that you can draw from this is that they must not be able to convey a "not a internet scam" vibe to the wielders of the credit cards. If these games are legitimate enterprises, then why are they employing the same bait and switch tactics that drug dealers use?

The stage is set.

American publishers saw what appeared to be a way to compete with the Blizzard Entertainment super-giant by offering something that no already successful company would ever consider... And why not? Bandwidth costs are cheaper every year, and they already own all the server architecture! What they don't realize is that a micro-transaction system completely undermines the integrity of the balance mechanics.

The following games are using the same sales pitch as my coke dealer:

1. Lord of the Rings Online
2. Dungeons and Dragons Online
3. Everquest 2
4. Age of Conan
5. Guild Wars 2 (coming soon)
6. And a whole bunch of other shit-piles

I will never play a Pay to Win game because I have a job...


  1. I have to disagree with you again.

    What you have top realise is that a monthly subscription fee is not needed to make a profit. For example for the original Guild Wars, the box sales (7 million copies) alone were enough to cover development costs and total operating costs (server costs etc) and still leave with a substantial profit. I think buy-to-play is more to the point here btw. You still have to buy the game at a store like any other. After that you should be able to play it without additional costs such as subscription fees.

    You seem to have an issue with a specific type of implementation of the micro-transactions bussiness model. This doesnt mean that the bussiness model itself is bad. If I buy a game I expect a complete, balanced and finished game. I should never have to buy something extra from a cash shop to be able to compete with other players. But having a cash shop for purely cosmetic options or extra content or extra character slots etc is fine by me.

    Another very important thing is that subscription fees leed to bad game design. Games with subscription fees (WOW) are designed to keep you in the game as long as possible and not to make a good and fun game. With a buy-to-play model, developpers have an incentive to actually produce additional content worthy of buying. With subscription fees you pay anyway whether you like any possible new content or not.

  2. I know you're not using Guild Wars as an example of a F2P business model... That game was about a Massively Multiplayer as counterstrike (not even Battlefield). I currently work in web development, and I can tell you that server costs for a persistent world are higher than development costs.

    I suppose if a developer decided that they would just repeatedly release expansion packs to offset server costs (for eternity) they could be profitable, but one thing we can both agree on is that micro-transactions (the pay to win model) are not the answer.

    There has never been a "Free" MMORPG. Hopefully Guild Wars 2 can change my mind, but I imagine they will run out of money eventually and start selling actual items in their item-store instead of just superficial dyes like they claim.

    The main reason I like the subscription model is that it implies that the game can be around forever. This is very important for my favorite type of MMORPG (sandbox) because players in a sandbox MMORPG should theoretically generate their own content without the need for endless expansion packs.

    Sadly, all MMORPGs this decade have been terrible...

  3. In my mind, there's a good way to go about Free to Play, and a bad way, and it all revolves around the cash shop:

    Bad way: The way that the author and Disappointed here seem to think all free-to-play games work, in short "Why spend hours grinding for that Sword of Awesomeness when you can buy it for the low low price of 400 Star Points!*

    *1 Star Point = $10

    This is the only thing I can think you're referring to when you say "pay to win" because there is a good way of doing things too.

    Good way: Hey, you, yes you! Want to look so much more awesome than those noobs around you? Toss us 400 star points and you can get this Sword of Awesomeness skin to make any weapon you have look like this awesome sword here!

    The point here is that it's impossible to buy power (at least directly, I know games with this model where people buy these vanity items and then sell them for in-game cash but that's besides the point). The only things sold in the shop are convenience and vanity. "fashion" items that look cool but don't actually give any stats, items that let you teleport to a town, items that temporarily boost gold and XP earned, or let you set up an automated shop in the marketplace. None of that gives you power directly, but it either looks cool or cuts down on some of the annoying parts of the game.

    A good example of this (perhaps the best) is in the game Maple Story if you want to have a look. Last I checked at least, nothing you can buy with real world money gives you actual power in the game.

  4. I've covered this in later posts. My problem with the aforementioned f2p model is that it promotes a low population with high turnover. The idea that you can buy an XP potion to get you to the end of the game faster isn't for you, it is so you can get bored faster and quit.

    The faster players buy stuff and quit, the lower the overhead for servers, and the more money is ultimately made.

    People who run a standard subscription model are actually interested in delivering a game that makes people want to keep playing forever.

    Novelty items are all well and good, but you'll never find a game that can maintain expensive server costs purely on novelties. It just isn't practical.

  5. I agree with you 100%. Screw F2P. I'd rather pay $90 for Borderlands 2 + season pass, than even waste my time with F2P games. Drakensang Online is a great example of how terrible they are. Those tools want you to pay for item identification and healing potions. It's just crap.

  6. What About MOBA F2P. like Heroes of Newerth. Where you Pay-2-Glamour rather than Pay-2-Win. I never used any real money in the game. but my average W/L Stats is telling me im a better player than Average gamer.


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