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Free 2 Play, not good


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#1 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 882

Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:59 AM

I see a ton of articles left and right saying this will be the new model. The problem: I will never ever purchase an item in game, neither will my friends or my brothers. And I really mean never. Lets say that free to play at some point does fail but a majority of games try it out. It would be hard to go from free, back up to 60 dollars and I think psychologically it would ruin people from buying games.

For years we have been trying to target piracy, the act of getting a product for free by stealing it. Now we are teaching people that those things we were supposed to get a slap on the wrist for, was actually ok. How confusing.

Campaign and Story games will not work. I don't see any profit in giving someone Uncharted for free. The idea that someone will buy so many in game items to offset the people who pay nothing, is absolutely absurd. That might work for MMO's or such where people are freaks about the game and play it so much that it is worthwhile. For story based singleplayer games, there should be no need to buy an extra gun or item. And again I know a lot of people that just want to play the campaign, so you start with a loss.

I haven't bought a game in a couple years. I rent them because 60 bucks is too much (especially when u build a collection and your 360 dies). I think a lot of people feel this way and if they are going to buy items in game, they might end up capping at 20 bucks. Not to mention parents buy games for kids. Usually happens around the holidays. I can't see a kid asking their parents once a week for a credit card to purchase in game items. Parents will catch on quick and wonder how they are spending all that money.

The unfair advantage. I recently played Blacklight Retribution. The game is mediocre. I am a person that wants to play games a few hours a week or spend a day beating a campaign. In order for me to get kills in Blacklight, I have to either play the game for 20 hours to level up, or buy stuff. One case is you can get incendiary sniper ammo, so if you hit someone non-headshot with a sniper rifle it does 1/2 damage and then burns you till you die. Without it, you just do 1/2 damage. So you have already made the game unfair and what I feel a bad design issue, and I'm supposed to either give them money, or play the game for 20 unjoyable hours until I can enjoy the game? Reminds me of the South Park WoW episode where they play for a month and then finally say "now we can play the game."

In the end nobody really knows what they are talking about, and will be a game by game basis. I just hate that these big names get to have articles and we are to assume that it will just work because their title is CEO. It seems to early to tell and I think my points are all valid and have yet to be tested. You can't sell a game F2P and priced at the same time to really compare at the end of the day and say you made more money because of this or that. I'm very interested to see Crytek's Warface game and see how well it does. They are the most outspoken about F2P and have said all their games will be that way.

Edited by dpadam450, 16 August 2012 - 11:00 AM.


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#2 GameCreator   Members   -  Reputation: 746

Posted 16 August 2012 - 11:28 AM

Free to play is not new. Nor is it suddenly going to be the only thing out there. Just as cheap indie games didn't destroy the market, neither will this. Rest assured that companies have ran the numbers and feel more confident about them than you do. I don't plan on buying anything either but many people do.

Also know that the concept of making nothing or little at first is also not new. The idea of consoles was that companies would lose money on them at first and would only later make a profit once some games sold. Companies also make money off of DLCs and expansions, where the investment is less as the engine and much of the content is already done.

So rest assured the gaming market will continue to flourish.

#3 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1985

Posted 16 August 2012 - 11:59 AM

I never thought of it before. Make games that are free to play and redistribute and instead opt to make money by selling digital merchandise. Software piracy becomes less relevant as players need to complete a financial transaction in order to play the game effectively.

If I were to start up an online combat sort of game that I got for free and then I was confronted by a message indicating that I then had to purchase my weapon and ammunition with real money to continue, that wouldn't be that much different than say what you experience when you go some place to play paintball. And if the amount that I spend in game for the equipment that I need to survive the game is equal or less than the amount I would've paid to purchase the software initially anyways, then my bottom line is the same and I just have to get over my hangups of buying digital merchandise.

I don't see any reason why companies wouldn't be on board with that line of thinking.

#4 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:03 PM

I don't think people get confused about F2P and piracy.

F2P is a model that is getting more popular as companies, with great study and preparation, are investing because there is LOTS of people out there that like buying accessories for game.

When I mean LOTS it is LOTS. Games from AeriaGames, or Nexon's Maple Story make more money than WoW ... believe me.
MapleStory for instance sells items just because they are pretty or different (no stats are added to the player), and those items expire in 30 days. People keep buying them indefinetely ... it is insane I know.

Watch this interesting video from GDC where Valve's empolyee explain how they managed to make TF2 Free to Play.

Edited by kuramayoko10, 16 August 2012 - 01:03 PM.

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#5 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 882

Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:17 PM

I think that there are several games though that are not persistant. Some people get on the same game every day for a year. Those games probably make people want to buy stuff. But I think for most people, they play a handful maybe 1-10 games a year and they just move from game to game. There are a lot of different types of gamers and I think that MMO/Online only games are the only ones with those people that will dish out tons of money. I bet for those it will fail too at some point because it is hard to get funding. "We project 1 million copies sold, you should fund us to make this game" "so how much money will you make with 1 million units sold?" "no idea"

#6 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17912

Posted 16 August 2012 - 06:31 PM

The thing you're missing is that this isn't a strategy they're hoping will be successful, or thinking might be successful -- it's a strategy they're already using than demonstrably IS successful.

Of course it won't work for all games, and of course there are issues to be dealt with, but this isn't some gamble that will put most companies out of business -- this is a well tested model that has been getting good results, and will continue to be used -- and hopefully refined -- where appropriate.

"We project 1 million copies sold, you should fund us to make this game" "so how much money will you make with 1 million units sold?" "no idea"

That isn't how it would go down. There would be a projected number of users, a projected percentage of those users that would purchase, and all sorts of wonderful graphs and statistics for ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and ARPPU (Average Revenue Per Paying User), etc., all of which would be backed up by a solid business plan and studies of how similar games have performed. Efforts are often also made to earn a smaller amount of money from non-paying users via advertising or other methods, so whilst they are less valuable than paying users they aren't purely a loss either.

Remember, with traditional "for sale" games, there's still no guarantee you'll definitely be able to sell the projected number of copies, so F2P is no more or less of a certain result.

#7 heshiming   Members   -  Reputation: 203

Posted 16 August 2012 - 07:04 PM

I agree with you on the point that freemium is only suitable for MMOs. If people and their friends are hooked together on an MMO platform, they are likely to stay and purchase power-ups.

The recent rise of freemium games seemed to have lots to do with the success of Farmville. In the old days, there simply weren't that many similar games. People didn't move from game to game because they didn't know there were others. But it's a different story now. Take iOS for example, you'll see its free game chart constantly moving. It's a very high competition area.

I tried purchasing coins in games like Jetpack Joyride, Chasing Yello, Rushing Alice. What I discovered is that these coins are pretty much wasted, and have no major effect on gameplay. They only makes you look better or luckier. If you look closely, the majority of purchasable items on iOS free games are consumables. Unlike MMOs, where you typically purchase for a permanent item, such as a weapon. And because in such small games, mechanics are too simple to be altered by coins. It leaves you the exact same feeling when playing with purchased items.

In a game like Jetpack Joyride, purchasable items seemed to be a part of the game design from ground up. But for most others, it's like a last minute job. They didn't think of why the player needs purchasing.

In the end, it's very difficult to keep the player hooked with a free version, and make him wanting more at the same time. There are a lot of well designed free games, which made moving from one to another an easy action. And to be successful, it's not about designing a good game. You'll have a better chance if you can reach the people who have the habit to purchase a lot of items even though they are useless.

#8 shurcool   Members   -  Reputation: 439

Posted 16 August 2012 - 09:42 PM

I don't understand why there still isn't a competitive online FPS game (ala Counter-Strike) which is free to play, but you have to buy your weapons/bullets/gear with real money. Suddenly buying a really overpriced gun that's only marginally better than a cheap AK-47 becomes something only the rich can afford, and not something everyone always buys.

#9 Kaze   Members   -  Reputation: 948

Posted 16 August 2012 - 10:54 PM

Can anyone explain why a game has to be $60 or free to play with no middle ground.

#10 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17912

Posted 16 August 2012 - 11:24 PM

I think indie and casual (sometimes made by big companies like EA) games are probably your middle ground. Posted Image

#11 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

Posted 17 August 2012 - 12:17 AM

So people will invest so much into their game avatars and and other settings that a AAA game could potentially be funded by DLC purchases?

Because I would never do this either, like the OP, I asked my wife if she would do it. "'Ey wife, would you ever play a game for free and buy accessories for your character and such, even if they just look pretty?"

"Nah."

"Why not?"

"Because," she said, "eventually you'd get tired of the game and then you've bought all this stuff for nothing."

I asked, "Well what if it's cheap? Like $0.89 an item or less?"

"Well maybe."

"What if it gives you no statistical advantage, it just looks pretty?"

"Nah."


At least, that's what she told me. Posted Image

#12 noisecrime   Members   -  Reputation: 735

Posted 17 August 2012 - 03:26 AM

So people will invest so much into their game avatars and and other settings that a AAA game could potentially be funded by DLC purchases?

Because I would never do this either, like the OP, I asked my wife if she would do it. "'Ey wife, would you ever play a game for free and buy accessories for your character and such, even if they just look pretty?"

"Nah."

"Why not?"

"Because," she said, "eventually you'd get tired of the game and then you've bought all this stuff for nothing."


Accept you are quite likely to already being doing this in other parts of your life and despite being adamant now you'll never do it in a game you'll probably surprise yourself sometime in the future ;)

Its simple really, take a look at your belongings, do you really have nothing bought that is frivolous, based on some existing franchise? A DVD of some TV show you love, a T-shirt of some band/icon/IP, books that expand some franchise universe, jewellery that is based on some IP, CD soundtrack to some movie you enjoyed? The list is pretty endless, but its exactly these sort of things, your voluentary 'support' of some IP/franchise, that is where one level of freemium works.

Obviously there are different levels of freemium support, from simply buying coins to progress faster etc, but the real deal is when you get emotionally invested in a game/IP, that you want to identify with with it. That's when all these 'stupid' items to purchase suddenly attain 'value' in your eye's and why you switch to justifying purchasing them.

Your other points also happen in the real-world too and people are quite happy to throw their money away. Clothes, jewellery, shoes, its rare that a person only buys what they need, instead they will buy stuff to make the feel good, look good, identify with a 'clan/movement'. Frequently these things don't last long either, you get tired of wearing the same shoes or clothes, you go off a band that you bought the t-shirt too, or they simply fall apart.

So whilst on the face of it, all your points sound perfectly logical, logic often has nothing to do with it ;)
Its the emotional side that gets you to invest, time, effort and ultimately money .

Personally I think this is a good thing. Let those who are invested in your game/IP/Franchise support it with money, they are happy to do so and often happy to invest more than would have normally been charged for the game. Those who aren't as invested just play for free instead, they aren't important, except they represent a larger user base that you may be able to convert into supporters. What I like about it, is that it removes the whole piracy issue from the equation, you no longer need draconian DRM to play the game, just some damn good security for purchased items. Obviously there will still be hackers to deal with, but nothing is perfect.

There is a quite a good video talk of this here that explains how and why this works, along with why it may be even better than the old $60 fixed price route. Of course thats not to say this is the only solution, its just one approach to consider.

#13 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1471

Posted 17 August 2012 - 06:23 AM

Here are some case and points for F2P
Zynga - Pogo - SecondLife - Runescape

Letting players play for free, and than setting up a micro-purchase system, seems to be effective in the long run, if one has a good game to start with.

My own MUD, as soon as I figure out certain graphics and networking issues, will be F2P, with membership and upgrade options, as I see it as a better strategy for the kind of platform I want to deploy.

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#14 kuramayoko10   Members   -  Reputation: 386

Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:14 AM

I don't understand why there still isn't a competitive online FPS game (ala Counter-Strike) which is free to play, but you have to buy your weapons/bullets/gear with real money. Suddenly buying a really overpriced gun that's only marginally better than a cheap AK-47 becomes something only the rich can afford, and not something everyone always buys.


Haven't you heard about BlackLight: Retribution?
Team Fortress 2 also falls into the category you are looking for.

So people will invest so much into their game avatars and and other settings that a AAA game could potentially be funded by DLC purchases?

Because I would never do this either, like the OP, I asked my wife if she would do it. "'Ey wife, would you ever play a game for free and buy accessories for your character and such, even if they just look pretty?"

"Nah."

"Why not?"

"Because," she said, "eventually you'd get tired of the game and then you've bought all this stuff for nothing."

I asked, "Well what if it's cheap? Like $0.89 an item or less?"

"Well maybe."

"What if it gives you no statistical advantage, it just looks pretty?"

"Nah."

At least, that's what she told me.


When you ask this that way nobody would accept the offer.
If the person is not engaged in the game how could she feel attracted to an item of it?

I can give you a real life example that happened with me.
In my entire life I rejected all kids of in-game purchases, including premium accounts and etc. My philosophy is "buying a virtual item that you will forget in a year or so is a waste of money".
I have played Tibia, Gunbound and many other free games with my brother and he would buy premium accounts and virtual cash quickly. I still kept to my philosophy and didn't buy it.

Recently I was playing Spiral Knights (also free with purchasable energy). I loved the game but my brother didn't enjoy it so much.
I convinced my cousin to play it with me and we had lots of fun. After one month playing together, we decided to buy energy. I was reluctant at first, but I thought "I like it so much, the energy will make it even more fun. Besides I didn't pay for the game ... and it is nice to show my support to the developers!"

tl;dr It ended up with me buying an item. My brother didn't. And I don't regret a bit of that.

Edited by kuramayoko10, 17 August 2012 - 09:16 AM.

Programming is an art. Game programming is a masterpiece!

#15 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 882

Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:21 AM

Remember, with traditional "for sale" games, there's still no guarantee you'll definitely be able to sell the projected number of copies, so F2P is no more or less of a certain result.


Yes, but there are 6,7 halo games. You know if you sold 5 million copies and your game is 80% rating, then you are probably going to sell the next version with 5 million copies. Now if those are all F2P and you have to re-buy items each time, then it is a dangerous model and I doubt people will keep buying items for each game. You can either force me to rebuy those items in the next version, which many people will not. Or give the items for all games, which defeats the purpose of your profit. Both ways lose. So anything other than an MMO its a fail in my opinion. I also think that people will get sick of buying the same items for every single game. "buy a gun" "buy a gun" "buy a gun".

The problem is that these people aren't saying "it works for certain games" every loud mouth CEO/designer are like "NO IT WILL BE ALL F2P IN 3-10 years". (Except for Sony CEO that said it will not be that way). And I just don't know anyone who has ever purchased an item in game.

From a design standpoint though you basically have to take away from the design to make people purchase it. People that don't buy the upgraded cool stuff might end up feeling like the game sucks. Say for a car game. If you had to purchase all these rims and stuff and you are a car freak that wants to have a sweet car. You take that away from the player and now your car game is unacceptable.

#16 stupid_programmer   Members   -  Reputation: 1080

Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:41 AM

So people will invest so much into their game avatars and and other settings that a AAA game could potentially be funded by DLC purchases?

Because I would never do this either, like the OP, I asked my wife if she would do it. "'Ey wife, would you ever play a game for free and buy accessories for your character and such, even if they just look pretty?"

"Nah."

"Why not?"

"Because," she said, "eventually you'd get tired of the game and then you've bought all this stuff for nothing."

I asked, "Well what if it's cheap? Like $0.89 an item or less?"

"Well maybe."

"What if it gives you no statistical advantage, it just looks pretty?"

"Nah."


At least, that's what she told me. Posted Image


My companies entire business model is F2P. I've lost count of the number of people posting on our forums that say they never buy stuff like this and one of our games is the first time they've ever bought something like this. And you also have to realize that the minority support the majority in these kinds of games. Less then 5% of players actually ever buy anything and way less then that ever buy large sums or repeat buys.

I will agree that for the way that a lot of game types currently work, F2P isn't probably the best model. But you would be surprised at the number of people that will buy a hat that does nothing but look cool in game.

#17 NaturalNines   Members   -  Reputation: 334

Posted 17 August 2012 - 02:46 PM

Remember, with traditional "for sale" games, there's still no guarantee you'll definitely be able to sell the projected number of copies, so F2P is no more or less of a certain result.


Yes, but there are 6,7 halo games. You know if you sold 5 million copies and your game is 80% rating, then you are probably going to sell the next version with 5 million copies. Now if those are all F2P and you have to re-buy items each time, then it is a dangerous model and I doubt people will keep buying items for each game. You can either force me to rebuy those items in the next version, which many people will not. Or give the items for all games, which defeats the purpose of your profit. Both ways lose. So anything other than an MMO its a fail in my opinion. I also think that people will get sick of buying the same items for every single game. "buy a gun" "buy a gun" "buy a gun".

The problem is that these people aren't saying "it works for certain games" every loud mouth CEO/designer are like "NO IT WILL BE ALL F2P IN 3-10 years". (Except for Sony CEO that said it will not be that way). And I just don't know anyone who has ever purchased an item in game.

From a design standpoint though you basically have to take away from the design to make people purchase it. People that don't buy the upgraded cool stuff might end up feeling like the game sucks. Say for a car game. If you had to purchase all these rims and stuff and you are a car freak that wants to have a sweet car. You take that away from the player and now your car game is unacceptable.

You keep switching between "me" and "people" as though you as an individual and the masses are inseverable. Fine, you don't like to pay for things, yet there's a whole XBox Live community that pays for goofy avatar dressup items that have no affect other than an aesthetic value not even included in the very game its based on. Apparently not every shares your sentiment, which you should be thankful for as they're probably funding the games you're enjoying (or resenting) for free.

You're also forgetting the old formula: Time = Money. As a gamer with a career, every hour I spend gaming is an hour I don't spend working which is an hour I lose money. If you provide a game and tell me I can skip a boring hour of grinding for $5 to expedite my entertainment? You're making me money, and I'm a fan. I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up an old game, contemplated replaying it, then tossed it to the side because I didn't have an extra hour or so to slog through the slow beginnings.

Honestly, though, all the negative diction and general hostility to those responsible for game creation makes it seem like you just have a chip on your shoulder about paying for a game. Money, whether you like it or not, makes the world go round.
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#18 dpadam450   Members   -  Reputation: 882

Posted 17 August 2012 - 07:04 PM

To sum it up. I'm stating that there are people that think buying a hat is cool. They probably will do that in a multiplayer game. There are plenty of people that don't care about buying that hat for any game they own. On top of that, if you play only singleplayer games only or maybe a bunch of multiplayer games at once, are you going to buy hats for every game you own? At some point I think we are going to not care about buying hats/useless accessories.

If all we have to offer is custom funny pirate hats or whatever, are we really going to buy a pirate hat in every game we own, and will we at some point stop buying pirate hats because it is getting old?

Honestly, though, all the negative diction and general hostility to those responsible for game creation makes it seem like you just have a chip on your shoulder about paying for a game. Money, whether you like it or not, makes the world go round.

Uh..I create games at EA and at home. I'm not hostile towards myself or anyone else, just saying nobody has made the point other than TF2: a multiplayer only game, that people will buy dumb items in it (along with some other games). F2P has not fully been tested and nobody has made the points I have about kids not having credits cards etc. The money might be there now (for a few games), but to say this model is universal, that is what everyone is preaching that in 10 years everything will be F2P and I'm saying that is $200 a year they lose from me and everyone I know, and I'm sure a lot of other people because we don't care about pirate hats, and those that do, will probably get bored with it.

Edited by dpadam450, 17 August 2012 - 07:05 PM.


#19 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1471

Posted 18 August 2012 - 05:14 AM

Why do you people keep saying "Only works for MMO", when sites such as Zynga, Pogo, and Secondlife are - NOT - MMOs

Secondlife has over $10,000,000 USD worth of in world purchases every month - as of Aug 2012, they have over 30,500,000 user accounts, with a median daily login rate of 56,000 unique users, and 12,000 unique signing ups each day.

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#20 noisecrime   Members   -  Reputation: 735

Posted 18 August 2012 - 05:58 AM

From a design standpoint though you basically have to take away from the design to make people purchase it. People that don't buy the upgraded cool stuff might end up feeling like the game sucks. Say for a car game. If you had to purchase all these rims and stuff and you are a car freak that wants to have a sweet car. You take that away from the player and now your car game is unacceptable.


Not true. Dirt 3 and I imagine the latest one offered a car pack, which meant you could purchase all the in-game cars straight away, instead of playing through to unlock. I don't remember off-hand if that applied to the MP cars, I don't think it did and besides all the cars are pretty much equal in MP, with slight tweaks to prefer a certain play/driving style.

Of course I thought people must be mad to buy the cars, since unlocking them is part of the fun of playing the game for me. But then other people don't necessarily have the skills, time, or desire to play through the entire game just to unlock cars and were more than happy to pay extra money on a full price game, just to get them.

If all we have to offer is custom funny pirate hats or whatever, are we really going to buy a pirate hat in every game we own, and will we at some point stop buying pirate hats because it is getting old?


You missing the whole point though. Its not about buying any old random pointless thing, doing that in a game is not going to generate money.

Its about getting your customers emotionally involved with the game at some level, so that they feel buying items add value to their experience. In exactly the same way you might buy a t-shirt of some band you like. It has zero bearing on how good their music is, wearing it doesn't make their music sound better. Instead its about showing your support for the band, showing to others that you support them, being part of a group/clan etc or just having something cool to wear.

Just because the items are virtual doesn't mean they have less worth, as 'value' is in the eye of the beholder.

With regard to your 'pirate hat' example, there are so many other factors to consider. For example a specific clan might decide they are all going to wear pirate hats for a week. Other players see them and think it looks cool, so they buy them. Peer pressure can influence the buying habit, you may suddenly feel left out if you are the only one not wearing a pirate hat. Perhaps the developers create a 'pirate theme week' and most of their players decide it would be fun to wear a pirate hat for a week, so they all buy one.

Its not that its a 'pirate hat' that's important, but what it stands for or what it can stand for either to an individual or the group playing the game.

Now as with regard to your single player games, I can see that being a concern as its a much harder sell. However its still possible to get gamers emotionally involved to the point where they will purchase game related items. Its also possible to bundle the game with physical items, for example there was a musician who released his latest Album for free, but he also released a CD version that came with an exclusive t-shirt. The cost of CD and t-Shirt was far greater than the material value, but becuase it was bought by fans, they didn't mind.

F2P has not fully been tested and nobody has made the points I have about kids not having credits cards etc. The money might be there now (for a few games), but to say this model is universal, that is what everyone is preaching that in 10 years everything will be F2P and I'm saying that is $200 a year they lose from me and everyone I know, and I'm sure a lot of other people because we don't care about pirate hats, and those that do, will probably get bored with it.


Yet by your own admission in your OP, you already state that you haven't bought a game in years, you already rent them because $60 is too expensive for the games we get nowadays. So how exactly does publishers switching to a different business model make it worse for them if you're already not spending money on their products?

As for kids without credit cards, well 16 year olds can get them now, but bedsides you don't need them, parents simply buy 'point packs' just like they can with xbox MSP and a host of other services (e.g. iTunes). There is no barrier here.

Edited by noisecrime, 18 August 2012 - 06:21 AM.





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