Why F2P isn’t a good thing.

Since everyone is so lovey-dovey over Turbine’s recent move to F2P, I’d like to take the time to link some reasons and views on why it isn’t good to promote it. First is Syncaine from Hardcore Casual writing about Atlantica Online here. He likes it but has this to say on the F2P side:

Finally, I just wanted to make a quick note about the RMT aspect of AO. Simply put, its garbage. Since you can basically buy XP and gold in the item shop, anyone with money to blow can quickly boost themselves to the upper levels of the game. Granted this causes you to miss most of the game, but when you involve PvP, it gets a bit silly. It appears however that the vast majority of the players don’t use the shop (or even know about it), and since the game is mostly about grind, I have a feeling skipping said grind would leave you with far less dollars and very little to actually do. It seems many players in AO are just there to fill time, and don’t find the game good enough to justify spending money. The fact that the item shop is far from cheap also contributes to this, as making purchases in AO quickly goes far above a monthly cost even for a small boost.

Next, Runes of Magic. A forum post by Lordemperor details the cost of gearing yourself up for endgame here.

I was interested in the expenses involved in making an end-game character. Considering my findings I have several recommendations for the developers


  • Clean end-game gear costs $266.70US minimum
  • Investment equals ~2 years playing a subscription-based game
  • Farming enough daily tokens would take 165 days
  • Some suggestions to lower cost without impacting Frogster’s bottom line too much.

He goes on to mention that this is only for one character, not account wide. Others in the thread seem to agree with him, pointing out the impossibility now that they changed diamond selling to farm them without turning to real money. Auryin in that same thread mentions this:

I pay a yearly subscription to play another MMO.. it costs me around ~95.00$. I can honestly yet shamefully say, that personally I’ve spent ~150$ in 5 1/2 months of playing Runes of Magic. I didn’t mind buying diamonds, as I bought them usually to gift others, and I’m not complaining about this, just stating that I honestly can’t think of any P2P that has cost for a yearly subscription, less than 70$.

Next to Perfect World, where an mmorpg.com poster named Popinjay breaks down levelling past 70 in it:

Ok, lets recap. You have to pay for pots. You have to pay for armor/weapons and repairs. You have to pay for teleports (or take a slow ass run or ride), You have to pay for quests. You have to pay for experience scrolls to make any decent rate. You have to pay for hieros, and if you dont have hieros, you will be kicked out of groups. You have to pay for spells (and once you get past 70+, youre spells gonna start costing millions a level.

So basically, this game.. You have to PAY for everything. Add in that after 70, its pure grind, no matter how many other “ways” to level their are, grind is the only real way to do something.

Grind, or turn to the item shop to skip or slow it.

Even lesser known P2P games like Requiem: Bloodymare aren’t immune. Here’s ranxeroxxx talking about the costs of endgame levelling in it here.

To grind at 100% efficiency in North Hammerine (or anywhere) for 30 days.

$14.99   Premium Sub

$22.00   30% xp bonus (4×7 day + 2×1 day)

$ 8.00    50% lant drop bonus 30 day

$ 2.00    Item reduction tool 30 day

$ 3.75    5x Rare Self AED  (assuming 5x deaths per day avg.)

$50.74   total

Why is it so much? Because you are looking at tens of millions of exp for those levels.

My own experience in Mabinogi is that it was even easier to spend. the “sub” fee of fifteen bucks for Nao’s support is all that makes the game playable: otherwise you are unable to self-rez and eat a huge exp penalty, have to grind for potions to prevent your items from falling off when you die or degrade faster, have decent bank and bag space, and others. However there was even more: $10 a month for an extra rebirth, which resets you to level one stats and lets you level up again for more AP. You can get it for free once every 3 weeks, but you will easily hit the cap where you can reach the amount of AP from straight leveling before it. The best players rebirthed and leveled to 50 every single week, and they did damage which decimated you.

This isn’t counting pet purchases. A mount costs an additional 10-15, and people often used multiple pets both for storage and for combat/crafting. I’m not going into gachapon, or random item capsules. $10 for ten tries at a specific set of items in the hope for rares.

Everyone is focusing on how F2P is good for bringing people in, but no one is really thinking about what happens when you are “in” for the duration. F2P games charge tremendous amounts to be competitive at the higher levels. I refused to include Allods Online in this because it would have made it too easy, but the next time you champion a game going F2P, just remember the costs of many of them.


7 Responses to Why F2P isn’t a good thing.

  1. Tesh says:

    “F2P games charge tremendous amounts to be competitive at the higher levels.”

    There’s your problem. How expensive is it to be competitive in real life competitive sports? Seems to me that high level competition is pretty costly all over the place.

  2. Tesh says:

    Er, “problem” as in, that’s the source of the trouble, not “that’s why you suck”. The article is good. 🙂

  3. Dblade says:

    Well, I don’t mean competitive in the sense of being pro, or server best. The better term for PvE might be endgame ready: having a decent set of gear, the right build, clearing the right instances.

    For PvP it’s worse, to be competitive means having the decent basic setup to even play and be effective. There always will be imbalances in every game, Aion is as bad as any F2P game especially at 20-35 in PvP. But when they gate it not using time, but money, people will drop out of it. Not being able to fight off a rifting twink in Aion doesn’t mean the rest of the game is closed to you.

  4. Tesh says:

    There’s another issue, then: “endgame ready”… the notion that the endgame treadmill is the pinnacle of PvE is something that just isn’t true for everyone. You can play through all of the leveling content for Allods for example without spending a dime, for example. Yes, you’ll spend more *time*, but it’s not a given that you’re dumping cash into the game. Spending cash makes it go faster, sure, but that’s the premium you pay instead of a sub. As in so many other things, it’s a balance.

    …and people drop out of time gated content, too. Especially when time playing *costs money* as in a sub model. You can’t forget that. You’re not just paying time, since you have to pay to have access for that time.

    The trick isn’t so much idealogical purity as balancing costs and benefits. Allods botched that badly with their shop, granted, but that’s a measure of pricing, not so much the inherent gameplay/monetization balance.

    You pay a price for sub games, you pay a price for “F2P” games. They are just different. F2P isn’t free for certain playstyles, definitely, but as has been noted elsewhere, it’s a question of whom is subsidizing whom. Item shops make hardcore players subsidize casuals, sub games make casuals subsidize hardcore players. Neither is really fair, but at least if both are available, players can pick the one they prefer. If you mix the two, as in DDO, W101 and LOTRO soonish, players can play the same game but still choose their preferred model.

  5. Dblade says:

    Well, for PvE so far its leveling, crafting, and endgame as the three main activities. Most people will do endgame because its team-based as opposed to solo or pickup.

    As for the price you pay for f2p games I think its worse all about. Free players pay draconian time costs for the privilege to save 15 bucks a month. Hardcore players pay much more money costs. Really the only ones who benefit are those who play so infrequently neither cost matters to them.

    I don’t think it’s a good model at all compared to a sub. A sub gates by time, but they don’t need to add extra grind to force people to use grind reducing items. And the grind in subs isn’t that bad overall.

  6. Tesh says:

    Ultimately, it comes down to paying for time or paying for content for me. I much prefer the GW, DDO or W101 model of paying for content. I’ve never purchased potions or gear or whatever. I just buy content, and I love it.

    So… I’m with you on disliking bad schemes that make some “F2P” schemes… ungracious and unwieldy. Allods Online really botched their potential, for one, but even so, Item Shop games in general don’t have far to go to really screw up. (Though it should be noted that the deep lure of grind and easy content generation of treadmill design is a sub game’s Achilles heel… one that too many games fall to.)

    That said, content purchase games sometimes fall under the “F2P” label, and I maintain that they are being unjustly lumped in with some rather incompetent offenders.

    I mean, look at game sales before MMOs. It’s all about purchasing content. GW is pretty much a standard purchase game that just happens to be online multiplayer. The notion of a sub game is more of an aberration in the history of games, and Item Shop games fill a weird knuckleheaded spot in between.

    Would that more games actually sold content, methinketh. Whatever the label, that’s what I’m looking for.

  7. Dblade says:

    The content purchasing, well it’s tough. I agree that it is less pernicious as a pure payment model. I don’t think though for a heavy player its a good value compared to a sub, because turbine games seem to want you to be VIP for the best content value.

    But apart from GW we don’t have a pure content model in MMOs. Even turbine sells cosmetics and items. And you do have issues in making compelling content to pay the bills.

    What’s interesting is that Mabinogi originally sold content. They had several of their story mission lines as only available if you bought it, but moved from that to item and convenience sales.

    I think though if it were pure content, you’d win the debate hands down. If Turbine F2P leads to that model being predominant I wont complain a bit.

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