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"free to play"


EricBall

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Although I don't program games for a living, I visit gamasutra.com daily. A common topic in many articles is "free-to-play", from philosophical treatises to in-depth tutorials on how to best convince players to pay-up. Personally I think "free to play" is killing the industry (Nintendo being the current whipping boy) because it disrupts the most direct feedback loop between the creators and the players.

 

You see, IMHO players should be paying for content, because this is what the programmers (and other artists) are creating. Subscription based games are the best example of this as part of the monthly fee can be used to fund content creation - which makes the players want to continue paying the subscription. Sequels are a more drawn out form of the same thing. If enough people bought the first game, then a sequel gets made for people to spend more money on.

 

But FTP doesn't work like that. It uses "free" to entice as many people as possible to play the game. But then it turns around and tries to find ways to get players to pay as much money as possible. But the players don't want to pay - they are in the "why pay when you can have it for free" mindset.

 

Furthermore, because the players often aren't paying for content, the creator's effort goes into finding ways to improve & optimize squeezing money out of players. And in some cases all players (whether they are paying or not) are costing the creators money in server rentals & bandwidth.

 

Meanwhile, traditional payment games and companies (e.g. Nintendo) are suffering because buyers have access to large amounts of free content.

 

 

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There's always been a disconnect between developers and gamers since Nintendo arose. Now under the guise of gamasutra essays they can self-reinforce anti customer concepts like free-to-play which is actually pay-to-win.

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I don't like games that are "free" when you get them, then put up pay walls to proceed through the game. I don't know what brain-dead nincompoop thought that would be a good idea. I've stopped playing several games precisely because of that (Asphalt 5, Real Racing 3, GT Racing 2). Otherwise-excellent games are ruined by me having to continue to pony up extra money just to buy one car needed for one stupid race. It's not just once - it's repeated.

 

I much prefer the model where a limited demo is free, and you can try it, see if you like it, then pay a flat fee for the full version if you want. If then the developer wants to sell add-ons (that aren't required to get through the game), players could buy them if they wish. Out of principle, I'm refusing to buy their content. Not because I don't want to pay for games, or support developers, but because I don't have any idea how much it might end up costing me to actually play the entire game.

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Same here - I deleted Candy Crush Saga when I realized that.

 

I'm still playing Simpsons Tapped Out. It's a FTP game with premium content, but that content is not required in order to make progress in the game. I have purchased additional content, but that was only after I'd been playing for quite some time and I decided I'd been enjoying it enough that I'd toss some money their way.

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I've done that a little with Asphalt and Real Racing. And you can grind your way through those games by endlessly re-racing events (thanks for that play mechanic, Gran Turismo :roll: ). But I've also found that if I wait enough between play sessions, some games will throw free credits your way to entice you back. So I can be patient. ;)

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Speaking of free games, a few people complained when I deleted these free games a while back:

 

randomterrain.com/games/index.html

 

And one person really, really, really, really wanted one of them back. It's not that big of a drain on my site, so I'll let them sit there for as long as they'll work in modern browsers. I'm sure there will be some Flash upgrade in the future that will kill them.

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You guys have proven my point. Because the game is "free to play" you object to paying $$ for additional content.

 

And while "pay to win" does exist, there are mamy other "monetization" methods.

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I don't object to paying for additional content - I do that in TSTO.

 

I have a problem paying for required content when there's no way to know what it'll cost me in the long run. I don't want to invest time and money in a game only to find out that in order to finish I'll need the "$100 uber power up".

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I have a problem paying for required content when there's no way to know what it'll cost me in the long run. I don't want to invest time and money in a game only to find out that in order to finish I'll need the "$100 uber power up".

You have a good point. And I think that kind of "bait and switch" will cause problems for the industry in the future.

 

OTOH, I stopped playing Force Unleashed near the end because the difficulty level went way up.

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I don't object to paying for additional content - I do that in TSTO.

 

I have a problem paying for required content when there's no way to know what it'll cost me in the long run. I don't want to invest time and money in a game only to find out that in order to finish I'll need the "$100 uber power up".

 

Agreed wholeheartedly.

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