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.

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