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  1. #1

    Question Your view on the MMO Types

    This is one of the dilemmas that I've been thinking about for a while, and was wondering if I could hear some direct opinions from the community, rather than reading the articles on google.

    As all of you know, we have two types of "MMO business models" in general: Subscription-based and Free-to-Play.

    75% of the gaming companies that I worked for had a subscription-based MMO, but having complained about its "subscriber base limitation" and how "F2P MMOs make a lot more money" everyone seems to have switched to the latter model eventually.

    However, at the same time I literally haven't met a single person that has anything positive to say about the F2P model as a gamer (well, at least the "classic" F2P with microtransactions; not the open-source games or something like that).
    Pretty much everyone hates "freemium" and "pay-to-win" content, restrictions for free members, any kind of forced advertising or content that makes paying members significantly more powerful than others.

    But all that seems to be present in the majority of modern MMOs.
    It appears that the gaming companies prefer F2P model, but not the gamers (even though statistically it's still the most popular model).

    So this made me wonder:

    1) Are you a fan of F2P? If yes, what attracts you to this type of games?

    2) When deciding to try a new game, which concept do you find more off-putting: long-term subscriptions and a requirement to leave your card details in the game, or a potentially imbalanced "pay-to-win" content?

    3) If you created an MMO of your own, which model would you choose (or would you come up with an alternative option of your own?)?
    Last edited by DanDragon; 2015-07-21 at 07:20 AM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    75% of the gaming companies that I worked for had a subscription-based MMO, but having complained about its "subscriber base limitation" and how "F2P MMOs make a lot more money" everyone seems to have switched to the latter model eventually.
    It's true though; with a subscription, the most you will ever get is $15 a month. With F2P, you have the potential to get hundreds in that same time frame from a single player, and since your playerbase is not gated by the sub, they may or may not choose to pay later on down the road.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    However, at the same time I literally haven't met a single person that has anything positive to say about the F2P model as a gamer (well, at least the "classic" F2P with microtransactions; not the open-source games or something like that).
    Pretty much everyone hates "freemium" and "pay-to-win" content, restrictions for free members, any kind of forced advertising or content that makes paying members significantly more powerful than others.
    Companies must find a way to entice potential customers into buying something, and cosmetics just simply ain't going to cut it unless you have several million active players like DOTA 2. Thus, your going to have to either 1. restrict access to free players, thus creating a P2W situation or 2. buff paying players, thus creating a P2W situation. There is simply no way around this unless you have damn good artists and an unrealistically massive playerbase.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    1) Are you a fan of F2P? If yes, what attracts you to this type of games?
    No, as F2P inherently isn't really F2P simply because of the reasons listed above. DOTA 2's payment model attracts me, and is so far the only game in existence that is truly F2P, but sadly that is an exception and not the rule.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    2) What do you hate more: having to leave your credit card details for subscription or "freemium" / overpowered members-only content?
    The latter.

    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    3) If you created an MMO of your own, which model would you choose (or would you come up with an alternative option of your own?)?
    I'd attempt a F2P DOTA 2 model where you just pay for cosmetics. If you budget your game around that it is potentially possible and probably far more profitable.

  3. #3
    1)Yes, I like F2P because the lack of a sub makes me feel like I never 'have' to play in order to get my money's worth, and I'm left to support the game with my money if I choose to.

    2)Overpowered members-only content. However, the games I typically play don't have this. They have cosmetics and boosts and get-it-now items which can still be earned by just playing the game for free. IME the only time pay-to-win becomes a problem is in PvP. And since I never PvP, it never becomes a problem. If the game isn't fun enough, I just walk away.

    3)I would probably go with the B2P model and support it with a cosmetics cash shop that features a RL-to-IG currency switch model that also allows IG currency to purchase the RL-to-IG currency(see Guild Wars 2).

  4. #4
    When players think F2P they think P2W and very little games out there actually do P2W mechanics. People are just un-educated.
    Pokemon FC: 4425-2708-3610

    I received a day one ORAS demo code. I am a chosen one.

  5. #5
    1. Yes, I am a fan of free or buy to play. I like paying for what I get, and getting exactly what I paid for. Subs feel like a ripoff to me, over time.

    2. Both. I would never play a game that gave a tangible edge to higher payers, but like I said, subs are a ripoff to me.

    3. Any game I made, no matter the genre, would be buy to play. Extra purchases or services would be purely cosmetic, such as skins.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    Companies must find a way to entice potential customers into buying something, and cosmetics just simply ain't going to cut it unless you have several million active players like DOTA 2. Thus, your going to have to either 1. restrict access to free players, thus creating a P2W situation or 2. buff paying players, thus creating a P2W situation. There is simply no way around this unless you have damn good artists and an unrealistically massive playerbase.
    I agree, but that does seem to be the problem: unless there's plenty of opportunity to "show off" with some unique cosmetical changes (either because the game is insanely popular or the changes are significant), there doesn't seem to be any real motivation to keep spending real money on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by lawow74 View Post
    1)Yes, I like F2P because the lack of a sub makes me feel like I never 'have' to play in order to get my money's worth, and I'm left to support the game with my money if I choose to.
    I know what you mean; I've been subscribed to Elder Scrolls Online for about a year and played probably less than a week in total... X)
    However, the game was clean from imbalances caused by paid content.

    I wonder if people would go for a "Pay as you go" kind of game, where the subscription is based on the amount of time played instead of a static monthly number...?
    I'm not sure if there are any games that do something like that though...

    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    When players think F2P they think P2W and very little games out there actually do P2W mechanics. People are just un-educated.
    I agree, but then again, it seems that the majority of F2P games just don't bother to adjust the paid content to maintain some sort of a PvP balance. So unless the paid content is purely cosmetical, it does affect the outcome of battles...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    When players think F2P they think P2W and very little games out there actually do P2W mechanics. People are just un-educated.
    LOL!

    STO, LOTRO, SWTOR, RIFT, AoC, CO, Wildstar under the new plan, PW... just to name a few, all have some form of P2W mechanic. Either 1. free players have restricts/diminished/impeded access or 2. paying player get buffs/exclusives/whatever you want to call it.

  8. #8
    Forgot to mention P2P does not exclude a company from nickle and dime you. WoW and GW2 for example charges you for server transfers while Rift just gives a free one every 7 days per character.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    LOL!

    STO, LOTRO, SWTOR, RIFT, AoC, CO, PW... just to name a few, all have some form of P2W mechanic.
    I can't tell if that is sarcasm or not. Though convenience things have been taken as P2W before but that is a personal definition basis. Fundamentally You don't pay anything to win something in those games.
    Pokemon FC: 4425-2708-3610

    I received a day one ORAS demo code. I am a chosen one.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    I can't tell if that is sarcasm or not. Though convenience things have been taken as P2W before but that is a personal definition basis. Fundamentally You don't pay anything to win something in those games.
    In STO, you can't even get BIS equipment without paying, and to do elite STFs you have to have BIS or otherwise you'll get blown up. SWTOR flat out screams at you to pay. AoC doesn't give a damn. IDK if that's P2W in your book, but in mine, P2W is any advantage/disadvantage that requires you to pay, either to gain or get rid of.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    IDK if that's P2W in your book, but in mine, P2W is any advantage/disadvantage that requires you to pay, either to gain or get rid of.
    True that!
    I just recalled a couple of games like RuneScape, where 80% of the world is restricted to non-paying members. I mean, you're not "paying to win" technically, but if you are playing you are "sort of" being blackmailed into paying for the members features to succeed (as otherwise you won't find all the bosses, all the equipment, all the quests)...

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    In STO, you can't even get BIS equipment without paying, and to do elite STFs you have to have BIS or otherwise you'll get blown up. SWTOR flat out screams at you to pay. AoC doesn't give a damn. IDK if that's P2W in your book, but in mine, P2W is any advantage/disadvantage that requires you to pay, either to gain or get rid of.
    I don't know what STO is so I'll give you that. AoC and Rift? No. SWTOR isn't P2W it's a subscription hybrid. It's free to a certain point then it becomes P2P like WoW. Runescape is also like this.
    Pokemon FC: 4425-2708-3610

    I received a day one ORAS demo code. I am a chosen one.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    I don't know what STO is so I'll give you that.
    Star Trek Online. It's been around for 6 years now.

    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    AoC and Rift? No. SWTOR isn't P2W it's a subscription hybrid. It's free to a certain point then it becomes P2P like WoW. Runescape is also like this.
    When your advertising your MMO as "Free" all over the internet and on Youtube commercials, when in reality 80% of the game requires you to pop a credit card after the first couple hours of a fancy tutorial, it's called P2W. Yes, it's different from demos and trials, because they didn't say that you could play the game for free, unlike some other companies. End of story.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    Star Trek Online. It's been around for 6 years now.



    When your advertising your MMO as "Free" all over the internet and on Youtube commercials, when in reality 80% of the game requires you to pop a credit card after the first couple hours of a fancy tutorial, it's called P2W. Yes, it's different from demos and trials, because they didn't say that you could play the game for free, unlike some other companies. End of story.
    You're not winning anything. You are paying access to a game. You're numbers are exaggeration. Runescape has advertised both and SWTOR is the same boat.

    End of story
    Pokemon FC: 4425-2708-3610

    I received a day one ORAS demo code. I am a chosen one.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by zito View Post
    You're not winning anything. You are paying access to a game. You're numbers are exaggeration. Runescape has advertised both and SWTOR is the same boat.

    End of story
    https://account.swtor.com/play-free

    Pretty misleading advertisement, don't you think? And don't say that by clicking a couple more times I could've found out about the true nature of their bussiness model; that's what Youtube ads link to.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Valyrian the Eternal View Post
    When your advertising your MMO as "Free" all over the internet and on Youtube commercials, when in reality 80% of the game requires you to pop a credit card after the first couple hours of a fancy tutorial, it's called P2W.
    It is actually a giant PITA for developers and frustrates me immensely... the fact that the term "Free" in 9 out 10 cases indicates hidden charges and members-only content makes it impossible to publish something that's "100% free".

    I mean ok, you can register for free and see some of the game. But if you are forced to pay to see the rest of the game's content, it's not really free.
    You don't call films in the cinema "free" just because they let you into the foyer where you can see the trailers & banners, right?

    So games that are not accessible in full without paying shouldn't be called free either, IMO...

    - - - Updated - - -

    This thread has gone slightly off-track, however.
    To zito:
    you haven't really answered the original question: do you personally prefer such F2P hybrids?
    Would you rather pay for the "remaining 80% of the content" in a "Free" game or would you prefer to know all the costs upfront?

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    So this made me wonder:

    1) Are you a fan of F2P? If yes, what attracts you to this type of games?

    2) What do you hate more: having to leave your credit card details for subscription or "freemium" / overpowered members-only content?

    3) If you created an MMO of your own, which model would you choose (or would you come up with an alternative option of your own?)?
    1. I have nothing against F2P, prefer it over other pay methods due ease of access. Ala Carte pricing is customer friendly.
    2. Neither. I am not even sure what this question is asking. Poor wording.
    3. F2P. High revenue, greater market potential as a point of fact.

    It appears that the gaming companies prefer F2P model, but not the gamers, even though they're still using it.
    This is so inaccurate as to be laughable at best and shamefully ignorant at worst. Gamers prefer F2P majorly. F2P games are among the most successful games of all time- of any genre. Only a handful of MMOs (specifically) are successful with sub only pay models.
    Last edited by Fencers; 2015-07-21 at 02:56 AM.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Fencers View Post
    This is so inaccurate as to be laughable at best and shamefully ignorant at worst.
    No need for such harsh critique, it was not my intention to offend anyone (sorry if it sounded that way, it was the middle of the night when I wrote my post ).

    My point was that from a professional perspective (i.e. by looking at pure numbers in MMOs) the F2P model looks clearly dominant; everyone seems to be using it and from the statistical point players appear to "love it" - tons of money are being spent in F2P every day.
    However, I have not encountered a single F2P gamer in real life who had any positive feedback or praises about it (until this thread, hence the reason behind its existence).

    Every time I saw something F2P launched, it was accompanied by negative comments about "the disadvantages of P2W" (which I can mostly relate to).
    It is exceptionally difficult to launch any free-to-play title (be it "100% free" or P2W) as everyone appears to react to new brands of that kind unanimously bad (again, I understand that it's not how it looks from the statistical point of view of the popular F2P games, it's just a personal observation of comments left by other people).

    While every subscription model game that I know struggled with a general lack of players' desire to leave any card details with the publisher.
    Hence my second question, "what is a bigger turn-off for you" (i.e. long-term subscriptions or a possibility of an imbalanced paid content).

    I'm just trying to understand the majority's view on these payment methods and find out if there's any model that most players (at least more than 50%) would support and prefer to the traditional ones.

    I hope this clears things out a bit.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Ok, so what I gathered from everyone's responses so far (before this thread took off on a tangent):

    - The dislike for subscriptions is unanimous due to a poor value for money and a psychological pressure to get your money's worth out of the purchased time.
    - it doesn't look like anyone posted as an advocate for the ability to purchase some sort of a "guaranteed extra power" over other players via real money in F2P; no one seems to like the imbalanced paid features.
    - The F2P is mainly preferred because of its ease of access (even if it's limited at some point)
    - No one seems to mind the cosmetical and similar paid features, as long as they are not forced upon you.
    - Most negativity around the "Free-to-Play" stereotype seems to be based on the misrepresentation of the "free" part in all the advertising (something I complained about too), not so much on the actual restrictions of content.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong though!
    (and it would be great to hear more views)

    But so far it looks that according to these criteria, the most user-friendly business model (taking in account that the game has to be profitable to pay for its hosting, maintenance etc., so we're not considering "100% free" and open-source games) would be:

    1) A game with a free trial/demo (but advertised as a "free trial", not as a "free-to-play game")
    2) The trial can allow to explore a certain percentage of the game / reach a specific level and continue playing within that limit indefinitely.
    Otherwise, a one-off lifetime membership charge
    (something similar to the first Guild Wars' model, but acquired after trying the game) unlocking the rest of the content permanently would be required.
    3) It is ok to offer optional cosmetical add-ons and paid features, which do not make you more powerful, but expand your in-game choices or allow you to be more unique (custom characters, item appearance, unusual player housing options etc.).

    What are your thoughts?
    Would you get on board such a model or is there something you'd change?
    Last edited by DanDragon; 2015-07-21 at 06:44 AM.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by DanDragon View Post
    However, at the same time I literally haven't met a single person that has anything positive to say about the F2P model as a gamer (well, at least the "classic" F2P with microtransactions; not the open-source games or something like that).
    Pretty much everyone hates "freemium" and "pay-to-win" content, restrictions for free members, any kind of forced advertising or content that makes paying members significantly more powerful than others.
    Really, you haven't? I can only imagine you've been going around with your eyes closed and ears plugged then.
    The positive of free to play is the freedom to play when ever you want. You don't have to feel pressured to play because you're subbed, and you don't have to face a pay-wall when re-subbing.
    Lately, quality triple A titles are rarely pay to win if free to play, so that's not much of a concern. Even those that do tread close to the side of "pay to win" aren't necessarily unreasonable in execution. An otherwise free game that requires small monetary supplements when played extensively or seriously isn't unreasonable. The idea of P2W is often (as is the case with the OP in this thread it would seem) unjustified nonsense thrown around to make f2p sound bad.
    Additionally, many p2p games have been adopting micro-transaction, losing the thing they held over f2p.
    By not having a subscription model, f2p games are also designed different in some areas. For example, I feel games like WoW and FF14 don't respect my time in some respects, there's much more time gating shenanigans going about. They essentially implement "busy-making" tactics designed to keep players around till the next subscription payment period.

    Even restrictions through pay walls in f2p aren't necessarily as bad as p2p. P2p features the ultimate restriction: cough up the 15 bucks for this month, or you're not allowed to even log on (in many cases to a game you've actually purchased).

    I subbed to WoW for many years, and I'm currently subbed to FF14, so p2p isn't all bad, and I'm willing to partake. But I definitely prefer f2p.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Arewn View Post
    Really, you haven't? I can only imagine you've been going around with your eyes closed and ears plugged then.
    The positive of free to play is the freedom to play when ever you want. You don't have to feel pressured to play because you're subbed, and you don't have to face a pay-wall when re-subbing.
    You misunderstood my point slightly; I'm not defending the subscription model (in fact, I am against it myself) and I'm definitely "pro" having free access to the game.
    It's not the "free" games that get all the bad reviews, but those that lure you in as "free" and then make it their point to extract as much of your money as they can using any cheesy microtransactions available.
    I'm referring to the fact that a "try a new free-to-play game now!" ad usually links to "Oh sh*t, not that scam again..." type of response.
    This is what I've been hearing mostly (and if you disagree then we do live among two different audiences indeed ), and that's why I started this thread: to dispel any rumours and get some actual opinions.

    I'm not trying to say that the F2P concept is bad; instead, I'm trying to come up with a perfect implementation of it (see my previous post in this thread) and think of a F2P model that sounds fair to developers and players, but doesn't cause disgust at the same time.

    It's not related to any particular game, but I am working on a number of projects that may be launched in the future, so I wanted to find out the players' preferences to be able to suggest a specific model to my colleagues and be able to back it up with real feedback from MMO players (not other developers).

    Let me know if this doesn't make sense.

  20. #20
    IMO I think Tera mmo has the F2P system down almost perfectly.

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