Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Talking about F2P, again

I can’t get my mind set on a position regarding free-to-play games. On the one hand, most F2P games make me feel as if I’m supposed to spend way more than I would spend on a regular game to actually get to play a decent game. Even then, most F2P games don’t offer the same experience that a full-price game does even if you pour a lot of money into them. On the other hand there’s League of Legends…

I used to enjoy playing League of Legends quite a bit during beta, I don’t play it much anymore these days due to a variety of issues. None of the issues I have with the game are connected to its free-to-play nature though. Sure I could invest a whole lot of money into getting various champions unlocked and getting all the glyphs needed to play them optimally, but as a casual game it is just fine to play with the free characters (which change all the time!) and you don’t need to play all that much to collect enough points to a character you really like.

If you play the game competitively I suppose you need to have a selection of characters to play with and a whole lot of top-level runes to use – but if you play the game competitively you also play a lot and gather a lot of points that allow you to get the necessary unlocks for free. Note that I have not played at that level, so I can’t know for sure, but it feels to me as if playing the game completely free is quite an option.

“[Free-to-play games] will raise the bar on quality since only good developers will get paid.” – Marc Merril

Oddly enough, Riot Games still seems to make money – at least according to League of Legends executive producer Marc Merril and his recent statement at Kotaku. I’m unsure what to think of that as it seems to be a commonly known fact that you can only make money with free-to-play games by essentially forcing your players to purchase digital goods. Most F2P games we see are hamstrung by the desire of the publishers to make a lot of money and introduce ridiculous handicaps for players who aren’t willing to play. What’s so special about the League of Legends model that makes it work so well?

I’d love to see actual numbers concerning free and paid-for players in League of Legends, they’d make for some good insights and interesting discussion.  I think that a free to play game that is actually fun to play for free but that still makes enough money to be interesting for the publishers is a very good thing indeed. It just doesn’t seem to be a very attainable goal at the moment. Marc Merril thinks F2P makes for better games. So far, we’ve mostly seen the opposite.

  • I wonder how long the F2P model will stay popular. It is all the rave nowadays. But it influences design – every other week something funky is on sale in the shop. In the end, and if you really want to play, you will for sure pay even more.

    The F2P model will also stop being the salvation of every crappy game. Why? If everyone is F2P, and there are sales of everything, everywhere, people will pick their favorite and spend less if any money on their 2nd and 3rd choice games.

    I really like Guild Wars and hope Guild Wars 2 will stay a lot like GW1. But I already notice an alarming trend, there is no holiday where not an extra funky costume is for sale in the shop, which initially did not even exist. After a while they sold char slots. Then came inventory slots. Then skill unlock packs for the lazy gamers. Now costumes.

    I wonder where it will stop. Star Trek Online is a rather expensive game: Boxes sell for next to nothing, probably due to the bad reviews. Then they ask for a sub. Then they also sell sometimes not really optional things. The Excelsior cruiser for example is not fancy fluff, it really gives you an edge.

  • I think f2p has the big downside that it is so cheap. I really like league of legends game wise and i play it quite a bit. On the other hand it has the worst community ive ever come across… immature, unfriendly and so on. I think that comes from the f2p as well. it a bunch of angree kiddies whos parents dont wanna pay wow for them that ruins the whole game :/
    If youd offer a seperate server with maybe some skins every month and a bit higher stability for about 10 bugs a month I think I would play there instead and the free part can stay free…