The “Free to Play” release model.

“Free to Play” has seen a sudden rise in popularity and is becoming rather frequent in the gaming industry but to what avail?

It has been a few years now that the free to play (F2P) model for video games has come into the standard and it seems to have been doing rather well in some cases. We have the legendary league of legends, reboot of DotA and Counter Strike, MMO’s along the line of Skyforge and some shooters like Warframe. Overall, it seems to be doing rather well.

Although, there is some concerns that have established themselves over the life time of this new model. What is a successful scheme of still retaining and income for continued develop, when is an in-game store game breaking and should all developers be pushing for this standard.

These are probably the 3 questions that concern us gamers, we’re not playing the game to make money, we are instead playing it in hopes it will not cost us anything besides a bit of our time and sanity. Let’s be honest we all would like certain things for free. The problem that arises for the concept of “free” specifically in this industry where items are rarely without patches and bug-fixes puts us at odds. Software needs to be monitored, that monitoring requires resources such as developers, licences, updates etc. all things that for a company costs money. So when a game is free to play and aims to have a long lifespan, there needs to be a way that they fill this income gap and this can have some unprecedented results.

The Buy to Play model has a few catches, promising all like free to play but locking it behind expansions and limitations

The result of the buy to play, which by the way was how all games have been, now sees you paying a once of fee to play the game, claiming that afterwards you won’t have to splurge any more money on things like subscription services. Which sounds great, only until you realize that they basically giving you a gimped version of the game. I say this because it may mean increased waiting times to craft items, limited number of character creation, ridiculous time frames of playing to unlock even the smallest upgrade. This wouldn’t be an issue if these games weren’t going at the triple A title price.

In game stores are often mismanaged and are just to coax more money out of people

With games that are truly free to play, as in everything including expansions we get the in game store. Now, if implemented correctly, the in-game store is really a massive positive addition. It can encourage player base development like in the terms of Dota 2 and CSGO. Include some nifty cosmetics and time reductions. Nothing that brakes game play but is worth considering for quality of life changes. However, there are some which simply break the game. The classic black desert game store comes to mind, where the in-game store made the game playable. Tera, which includes a store that can add bonus effects to your character that can make them more powerful. These are the things that really break games, so much to the extent that it becomes almost unplayable.

This is not a standard to push for, despite it being appealing it lets us down more often than not.

While the free to play opens any game to a much larger market, we, as players, have to consider a few things. Making games cost money, if a game is free to play understand that in no way does the company make money even if you play the game, so be less demanding. Subscriptions are somewhat the bane of any game. One look at a subscription based fee, and pitch forks and burning are already on the menu, but realize this. This is a steady stream of income for the developers, this means that they have more hands on deck to expand and really take things to the next level. It is these cases where we are paying for a service that we should be demanding, it is these situations where gamer’s should be demanding, they’re paying good money for it aren’t they.

 

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