Posted 31 October 2011 - 02:01 PM
Hey, guys! Man, I'm pumped about this new game! also, I think F2P is the best decision they could make. I want to weight in on my opinion, because I know it can be contentious, and I know its been done wrong. I can understand why some would be worried on this descision, especially those that haven't been into any F2P scene games. But its also been done right, very right, and I have faith.
I'm going to make an overly long post summing up all of my feelings of F2P. Feel free to skip it, and I promise in the future, I'll be more concise.
There are a number of major advantages to a free to play model:
The biggest of which, development gets continuous funds. With a typical development cycle, the devs need to enter crunch time. Because there's a deadline- there has to be, otherwise you simply run out of money and the devs stop getting paid. This can easily lead to features getting cut, or an angry player base- its hard ot justify paying full price for a product that isn't fully competitive with other products in the same price range. Moreover, the funds from the launch need to support future development. The cycle continues and once the funds start to dry up, you need to launch ready or not.
F2P modeled games however, does not suffer form either of these problems. Examples (Which I will expand upon the good and bad in a moment) all prove this with Spiral Knights, World of Tanks, League of Legends, and however many MMORPGs that were flailing until the move to F2P: DDO, LOTRO, Conan... etc. The developers can release a more focused, but smaller product, and continue to expand upon the design more and more as time goes forward. If you follow valve at all you can see this in every one of their interviews: Games as a service, not as a product. They don't launch a game that makes or breaks on the first week. They make something that lives years and can grow.
But you say... buying power. This is a real and true worry to many gamers. I won't dissuade you from that- it is right to worry, and those concerns should be voiced. When done poorly, this system can completely ruin any form of competitive gameplay. However, F2P does not, automatically, mean Pay to win. Moreover, being able to buy something that aids you should not automatically be considered a death knell. They need to make money. So the system should not be that a free player must always be 100% competitive with a paying player, but rather, players must not be able to buy an advantage over others. Let me show some examples.
In World of Tanks, another free to play tactical action MMO, players can buy a number of things with real money. It is a perfect example of what does and doesn't work. The way this game works, you play as a tank- as you play you earn "Credits" and "Experience". With the experience you unlock new items, such as new guns or treads for your tanks, which have gameplay benefits, or even whole new tanks. With credits, you actually buy these items you've unlocked- even if you've unlocked them with experience, they're useless to you until you use the credits to buy them and install or activate them. Using real money, players can buy credits, straight up. Additionally, they can pay money to transfer experience from one tank to another- but they can't buy experience. They can buy a booster, which allows you to gain experience somewhat faster (%50) temporarily, but you still are only rewarded on how well you do in a match. Additionally, players are matched based on which tanks they drive: so even if you payed for boosters and rushed to a badass heavy tank, you're only playing worth other badass heavy tanks, weather they rushed with money or not. This is a perfect example of how to do it right: Paying players have no direct advantage over eachother. Anything you can earn with money you can earn with playing well and some time.
However, this is also an example on how not to do it. World of tank as well, has "premium tanks". A first this was fine: unique tanks you can only get by paying money. These tanks were nothing special, and almost universally weaker then normal tanks of the same class, or at best, would have a single defining advantage and several glaring weaknesses. It was more something for the fans then anything. However, they later on added two tanks that were obscenely powerful for their rank, and to limit their use, made them extrordinarily expensive (in the order of $40 for one tank). This was to reward dedicated players who paid. This is a colossal failure. Now, getting killed by one of these tanks is a slap in the face to anyone who does not have one. And to be competitive in the ranks including these tanks... you basically had to buy one, or simply go home.
But the good thing about the F2P model, is the design can evolve. The developers can listen to the players, which is exactly why I said: We must voice these concerns. If something falls out of line, they can fix it. Meanwhile if the game uses a typical launch-to-launch structure, fixing it might not be an options: Providing fixes for the existing content doesn't make you more money. With world of tanks, I have no faith. The developers have shown that they have no compunction charging for this advantage and have no plans to remove it. But there are plenty of other F2P games I have been heavily involved in that continue to improve, further and further.
So, sorry for the TL;DR, but I'll tone it back in the future. I guess I'm just a bit lightheaded from the thought of piloting an Atlas down a city street.