With all the recent discussion about The Old Republic in the forums and the Bombcast, I'm wondering: what exactly qualifies as "free-to-play"? The way I see it, TOR is not a free-to-play game, as it charges the player with an initial purchase of the game. I guess there are several models for these games which may overlap in some cases:
- Free-to-play: You don't have to pay for the game or for access to online multiplayer. Usually supported with micro-transactions and in-game stores, e.g: MapleStory, League of Legends, Dota 2, Allods Online, DC Universe Online (on PC).
- No monthly fees: You have to buy the game/client, but you can play online free of cost. Your gameplay may be limited or not, but if it is, you should be able to experience the vast majority of the game without many restrictions, e.g: Guild Wars, Guild Wars 2, The Old Republic (in the near future).
- Limited demo: You can try the game and play for free, but up to a certain level, with the option to convert your account to a "full" account, e.g: World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online.
- Pay the game, pay the monthly fee: You have to buy the game/client, and also pay monthly for access to online content, e.g: World of Warcraft, The Old Republic (for the next few weeks, at least), EVE Online.
Is there any need to make the distinction between all these models (or any other possible one I may be missing)? I feel that calling a game like TOR "free-to-play" is somehow cheating the system, because you still have to go to a paid gate to access the contents of the game. And, on top of that, you still have optional monthly fees and micro-transactions.
So, what's your take on this?