Thursday, August 19, 2010

Free to play MMOs

Firstly let's talk about this injustice:

Tobold wrote in a comment:
Frankly, I find that Free2Play design a LOT more fair than the monthly sub design where the guy playing just one hour a week pays the same as the guy playing a hundred hours. In the monthly sub model the people who play the least effectively subsidize the people who play the most. I agree with your statement that this is great for the "serious" player, but it is rather unfair for the casual player.

The added advantage of the Free2Play model is that at times where you don't play at all, your cost is zero. In a monthly sub game you'd need to unsubscribe and resubscribe for breaks, and often keep paying for time you never used.

In my opinion, if you look at how much money people waste by subscribing useless insurance policies every month, this more.justice.for.MMO.subs argument appears absurd.
Add to that the low costs of playing MMOs in the first place; especially for players with some income.

And if you are still not satisfied: It is perfectly possible to have players buy points with their credit cards that can then be spent on accessing the game for
1) a day
2) two days
3) a week
4) a month
5) a year
6) ..

Just consider that people who constantly have a look at their watch don't have fun (and are not fun to play with!). So don't offer a sub for 5min and don't make players pay in retrospect.

Thus, this grave injustice, even if you think that it must be removed, can easily be eliminated completely with a slight modification of current subscription models.

Now, the only reason left for item shops (that I am aware of), is that players with a good job and much money should be able to substitute that money for in-game time, because the unemployed otherwise are better in-game than they are.

Firstly, I consider it immersive and credible and actually quite natural that characters who accomplish a lot of deeds in a virtual world progress more. They progress by those deeds.

Secondly, that ansatz implies that playing the game is not fun and it should be possible to skip it to have more fun. If that is what your favourite game is like, you should really stop playing now!

Thirdly, I just don't want a virtual world that allows character progression based on real-life wealth. The equation (more money = less time, and vice versa) is not realistic. The correlation may be positive, but it is far from +1.

Finally, I don't think a MMO should focus so much on exponential character progression. People usually 'get it' after a while and lose all motivation. (See T-Sets in World of Warcraft). Often they burn out. Sometimes they become addicted. It's just not fun in the end. It's not even admirable game design. It is based on greed.

Future MMOs will focus more on what you experience while you play the MMO, instead of how you build that 100,000k-crit numerical demi-god. This will also solve a lot of issues with players (high-lvl/low-lvl) playing together. Not even speaking about immersion. I can't wait.

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