Is F2P the death of gaming?

So, Free 2 Play, right?

It's kinda been this thing that for years have been synonymous with weird Korean MMORPGs and Facebook games meant to spam your wall with ads.

I've been giving some of them a go over the years, most notably was the game Granado Espada, which is a pretty standard Korean MMO that sets itself apart from having the player create a party of three characters to control at once, effectively creating your own party. The great thing about it is that the A.I. who controlled your party members and your chosen character if you were idle, did a pretty good job of attacking the closest target with your ranged character, tank it with your tank when it got in close and heal everyone up with the healer... oh, and did I mention that it was set in a sort of renaissance fantasy universe and had a Euro Trance soundtrack? It was quite possibly the best screensaver I ever had, while still being Korean, grindy and broken.

Now is the dawn of the pretty decent ones. I was just playing Iron Grip: Marauders today, which is an excellent turn based strategy/management type deal, yesterday I played Rusty Hearts, which is a loot driven brawler sorta game and I've also gotten started on D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter, which is a turn based social dungeon crawler where you don't really have to bother your friends for resources every two seconds.

These games are all well and fine, but I still feel a bit dirty paying for progression in these. I realize that it's a very feasible business model for these kinds of games, but it kinda feels like paying for cheat codes and morality tells me that you feel better about accomplishing something that you've put hard work into.

Quality is certainly going up though and the games I've mentioned earlier certainly points the way of what F2P should be. Question is if it's something that will hurt the industry in the long run? As it is right now, you never seem to hear about any professionals who really reviews these games and a lot of the reason for this is that these games are free... You can just pop it on and have a go for yourself if you think it looks interesting.

Problem with this is that if sites like Giant Bomb will start to fade away because no one is reviewing free games, the consumers wont know what to play and the market will be drown in titles and eat itself up, kinda like the video game crash of the 80's or the current iPhone market place.

Maybe then games will evolve into this thing where they are integrated into everything and you'll end up having XP bars on your TV and get bonuses for watching the same channel daily and sharing clips with your friends. It sorta already is like this. I got a message in my Twitter feed from Gabe over at Penny Arcade that told me the percentage of a book he had read on his Kindle and I started wondering if he got achievements on that thing as well.

No one can really presume to know the future of gaming, but it is interesting to see the Free 2 Play model evolving and I believe that as long as imagination is alive we will continue to get great stories told through that medium.

19 Comments
20 Comments
Posted by DarkbeatDK

So, Free 2 Play, right?

It's kinda been this thing that for years have been synonymous with weird Korean MMORPGs and Facebook games meant to spam your wall with ads.

I've been giving some of them a go over the years, most notably was the game Granado Espada, which is a pretty standard Korean MMO that sets itself apart from having the player create a party of three characters to control at once, effectively creating your own party. The great thing about it is that the A.I. who controlled your party members and your chosen character if you were idle, did a pretty good job of attacking the closest target with your ranged character, tank it with your tank when it got in close and heal everyone up with the healer... oh, and did I mention that it was set in a sort of renaissance fantasy universe and had a Euro Trance soundtrack? It was quite possibly the best screensaver I ever had, while still being Korean, grindy and broken.

Now is the dawn of the pretty decent ones. I was just playing Iron Grip: Marauders today, which is an excellent turn based strategy/management type deal, yesterday I played Rusty Hearts, which is a loot driven brawler sorta game and I've also gotten started on D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter, which is a turn based social dungeon crawler where you don't really have to bother your friends for resources every two seconds.

These games are all well and fine, but I still feel a bit dirty paying for progression in these. I realize that it's a very feasible business model for these kinds of games, but it kinda feels like paying for cheat codes and morality tells me that you feel better about accomplishing something that you've put hard work into.

Quality is certainly going up though and the games I've mentioned earlier certainly points the way of what F2P should be. Question is if it's something that will hurt the industry in the long run? As it is right now, you never seem to hear about any professionals who really reviews these games and a lot of the reason for this is that these games are free... You can just pop it on and have a go for yourself if you think it looks interesting.

Problem with this is that if sites like Giant Bomb will start to fade away because no one is reviewing free games, the consumers wont know what to play and the market will be drown in titles and eat itself up, kinda like the video game crash of the 80's or the current iPhone market place.

Maybe then games will evolve into this thing where they are integrated into everything and you'll end up having XP bars on your TV and get bonuses for watching the same channel daily and sharing clips with your friends. It sorta already is like this. I got a message in my Twitter feed from Gabe over at Penny Arcade that told me the percentage of a book he had read on his Kindle and I started wondering if he got achievements on that thing as well.

No one can really presume to know the future of gaming, but it is interesting to see the Free 2 Play model evolving and I believe that as long as imagination is alive we will continue to get great stories told through that medium.

Posted by SamFo

No... Motion Controls were the death of gaming... *rollseyes*

Posted by coakroach

@DarkbeatDK said:

Problem with this is that if sites like Giant Bomb will start to fade away because no one is reviewing free games, the consumers wont know what to play and the market will be drown in titles and eat itself up, kinda like the video game crash of the 80's or the current iPhone market place.

You lost me there.

Posted by UnrealDP

@coakroach said:

@DarkbeatDK said:

Problem with this is that if sites like Giant Bomb will start to fade away because no one is reviewing free games, the consumers wont know what to play and the market will be drown in titles and eat itself up, kinda like the video game crash of the 80's or the current iPhone market place.

You lost me there.

Ditto, also free to play is not the death of gaming, just because it's new and strange doesn't mean it's "The death of gaming".

Posted by Subjugation

No, there are plenty of F2P games that don't have the taboo item shop to give you an unfair advantage. Take the upcoming Guild Wars 2, which will be F2P after buying the initial game, that relies on that payment model via aesthetic changes you can purchase and regular expansion packs which places the burden on them to produce content the consumer wants to purchase. To be quite honest I'm a little fuzzy on what point you're trying to make.

Posted by Gerhabio

God, I hope so: I want to be there at the end!

Posted by Skald

Nope, still games.

Edited by themangalist

I absolutely hate the idea of paying for progress. Let me tell you how it broke Battlefield Heroes:
 
If your level 5 character uses a free gun versus an enemy level 5 character who bought a gun, he has probably a slight edge of +1/ +2 damage. But when you're level 30 and you are matched with players of the same level range, you are forced to buy weapons because there are no free high tier weapons strong enough to compete with paid weapons.
 
Conclusion? Fuck F2P. I for one would pay full-price for a game rather than pay for stupid shit weapons i know i'd soon need to replace, quite more than a few times. Guild Wars >> whatever shitty transaction-based MMO you were referring to.

Posted by DarkbeatDK

@coakroach said:

@DarkbeatDK said:

Problem with this is that if sites like Giant Bomb will start to fade away because no one is reviewing free games, the consumers wont know what to play and the market will be drown in titles and eat itself up, kinda like the video game crash of the 80's or the current iPhone market place.

You lost me there.

Well what I think and didn't write, for some reason, was the problem of saturation. How the market crashed in the 80's because there were too many consoles and not really any neat way for consumers to know what to get because of the lack of coverage. Games on the iPhone market suffer from the same problem since there really aren't any major sites covering new releases, meaning that underdog quality games has a good chance of vanishing in the sea of mediocrity on the iPhone. If all games become F2P and sites stop covering games because they are free and don't really have a cash value attached to them, it might change gaming as a whole.

@Subjugation said:

To be quite honest I'm a little fuzzy on what point you're trying to make.

Me too actually... It's 5 in the morning and I think I'm trying to express how I'm both excited that Free 2 Play games is something that actually is becoming kind of good, but also trying to weigh it against what might happen if every game would change into this model. Calling it "the death of gaming" might have been a bit too dramatic on my part.

Posted by ShiftyMagician

I get your concerns like how everyone gets concerned about each new thing that comes around in the industry, but seriously so long as people want to play games, there will be people willing to fork out money for traditional and/or new experiences via traditional and/or new methods. I will definitely still do that as I don't believe the F2P model will work with games like The Elder Scrolls games anytime soon. The F2P models always seems to work best on multi-user experiences from the looks of it.

Just so long as we don't get swamped with games with a Pay-to-Win mentality and focus more on selling us amazing looking content to bolt-on to our existing experiences without it feeling like they short-changed the original experience in order to do it, then we'll all be good. Even if it does happen, it doesn't take that long for the industry to revert back to former working methods as it is ultimately the demand of the consumer that decides the fate of the Industry, for better or worse.

Finally, Indie games exist now, so gaming will never die (this is subjective but dammit those devs can do no wrong in my eyes).

Posted by DarkbeatDK

@themangalist said:

I absolutely hate the idea of paying for progress. Let me tell you how it broke Battlefield Heroes: If your level 5 character uses a free gun versus an enemy level 5 character who bought a gun, he has probably a slight edge of +1/ +2 damage. But when you're level 30 and you are matched with players of the same level range, you are forced to buy weapons because there are no free high tier weapons strong enough to compete with paid weapons. Conclusion? Fuck F2P. I for one would pay full-price for a game rather than pay for stupid shit weapons i know i'd soon need to replace, quite more than a few times. Guild Wars >> whatever shitty Korean MMO you were referring to.

On one hand it does feel like cheating to buy progress, but on the other hand it could mean that you are paying for a very specific part of the game that you wanna specialize is, rather than a one time deal of 60 American Dollars.

A shooter that does it better than Battlefield Heroes however is that War Inc. game. In it you earn in game currency that you can use to rent weapons in the game for a few days with, but you can also pay for the specific weapons with real money up front and some weapons can only be purchased with real money. I'd much rather stick to Call of Duty and get all the guns for my one time fee, rather that suddenly discovering that I've bought guns for 200 American dollars over the course of a few months. It wouldn't surprise me to see Activision roll out that model for their 2012 Call of Duty however.

Posted by sagesebas

@DarkbeatDK: Don't worry there will always be a market for traditional games, you are thinking of games as all the same category the fact is they are just growing to different demographics.

Posted by coakroach

@DarkbeatDK: Alright, thanks for clearing that up.

The ideas that free-to-play games have brought in have already had positive (Dota 2 most likely being F2P) and negative (charging for aesthetic items in $60 games) effects.

I think you're right that more enthusiast press looking at free-to-play games would be good, but at the same time I doubt the impact they will have will be big enough to result in 'the death of gaming'.

Posted by Ravenlight

X is generally not the death of Y.

A more accurate title might be "Will F2P Gain Prominence Over Traditional Pricing Models?"

I'd like to think that if this turned out to be true in the future GB would review more F2P games. It seems like they tend to review the games that are most interesting to them and the public at large, and there aren't a lot of A+ F2P tiles out there yet. I'll be surprised if they don't a t least do a Quick Look for DotA2, though.

Posted by kashif1

no, I don't think there will ever be another subscription based mmo but free games will just improve things. Free games will force traditional games to become better, and that is a good thing for gaming

Posted by TekZero

Personally, when I think of F2P games, I think of those crappy browser games. I know the industry has moved on, but I still believe that anything worth playing is worth paying for. So, I don't think I'll ever play a free to play game that isn't a beta/demo.

Posted by Breadfan

As long as there's money to be made making games, the current pricing structure for games will never go away.

Posted by James_ex_machina

LOL
That's all I got

Posted by Kyreo

No.  It is a new era in gaming.

Posted by Galiant

No. Worry about something else.