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.