Half-Life Fallout: HLFdebate: Does Free2play always mean pay2win? - Half-Life Fallout

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HLFdebate: Does Free2play always mean pay2win?



Hupsakee!

Posts: 20,680

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#1 Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:32 PM

Today, esteemed HLF members Rykane, Mr_Filament and ye olde admin Brumisator duke it out in a wordy debate to see whether mictrotransaction-based "free" games are a curse or a blessing for us gamers.
Be sure to give your own insights at the end!


Brumisator:

Most of us were brought up in the days when you bought a game, and it was yours forever, unless you sold it off to a friend of a very seductive enemy.
With all the changes to game delivery platforms in the last few years, licenses and DRM have reared their ugly heads at us more prominently.

And then came Free2play, the new white knight of gaming, oh how everyone adored the idea! After all, nobody likes to pay money for stuff! Linux and GPL AND GNU AND WHATEVER we cried! yay! free gaming!...and then we noticed there were strings attached.

Give your e-mail address?, okay, I can live with that...give your real name and street address? Well sheesh, no game I paid for ever asked for my personal information...my credit card number? but...I thought it was free to play? ...oh...but you..."can"...buy to win...
dun...dun DUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN!


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Mr_Filament:

I feel like this is neither a good or bad thing. It is a natural thing for sales methods to change with the times, and this is just a sales tactic.
You're essentially demoing the game, but are also getting a full game.

I often think of F2P as a game, which is free, with an expansion you can purchase. But ultimately, this is simply a sales tactic and will either flourish or die based on how popular it is. I'm sure we will see a new method within the next 10 years at least.


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Rykane:

I feel that now most MMOs are now going down the Free2play route it seems like its the natural progression for most MMO games.
It garners much more profit for the developers/producers and it also usually brings in a major boost in players when it switches to F2P. It lets people who were previously unable to try the game due it having a subscription now able to play it without having to worry about paying monthly.

Most F2P games now have micro-transactions which are not compulsory or play to win. Overall I think that because a F2P game is free it doesn't necessarily mean that its Pay to Win, it just simply allows more players to access the game and the developers/producers to also gain in profits. Its a Win-Win for both.


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Brumisator:

Well now that's all fine and dandy in theory, having a free demo that is a full game. However, in most F2P multiplayer shooters (and other competitive online games), you can often directly buy a weapon that's far superior to the default ones.
That weapon may or may not be available to free players, in the best cases, locked away behind dozens of hours of level-grinding. Thus, free players are simply cannon fodder for the rest. I'm not saying this is always the case, but it is very frequent.

As far as MMORPGs are concerned, I agree that you can have lots of enjoyment without paying a penny, but the whole idea of an MMO is to grind, and that is very exploitable.
My main gripe with the concept in this case is that if you are willing to take your wallet out, you will end up paying through the nose; ever-increasing amounts for things such as items, faster levelling, all kinds of nonsense. Remember, you're paying for the free players too, so in a business sense, paying players necessarily have to pay more compared to a flat subscription rate game.


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Mr_Filament:

Ultimately, it's player choice. We've always had the choice to play or not, and this is no different. I don't see F2P becoming the standard for every game, so what's there to worry about? Back in the day, we had these microtransactions, we called them Expansion Packs.Also, I've seen MMOs move from the grinding aspect, and pick up more on the quality gameplay aspect instead. In a way, F2P is like sending out an advertisement or sample in the mail.You can either choose to act on it, or enjoy your free sample and leave it at that.


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Rykane:

There are good examples of games which have became much more popular or they have been extremely successful due to them being F2P. One good example is Guild Wars. This game is completely free to play and it does have a micro transaction store but it is completely optional. Another example is Team Fortress 2, it has seen massive boosts in players and profits due to having gone F2P and with the micro transaction store it is not required to buy any of the content.

Usually in most cases when players are going to pay for content in F2P MMOs and Shooters they know what they are paying for and are willing to pay that amount for the content. Ultimately it is a choice and that choice is not compulsory.


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Brumisator:

Wow, hey now. Guild wars was free to play, not "free2play". You still had to buy the actual game, you just didn't have a subscription fee. And it was a great game
Making a corollary, that's why the salvation army don't give out free clothes anymore, they sell them for a symbolic price. people care more about something they paid for (whether it be with money or something else), having a psychological barrier for entry is a good thing.

I've already given my views on the paying master race Vs. the free peasants, so I'll move on to another curse of the F2P architecture: F'ING NOOBS!
TF2 is the perfect example. It used to be an incredibly well balanced and simple game, mechanically. Even leaving all the hats and crazy new weapons aside, it adopting the F2P model was a terrible price to pay for many veteran players.
The servers are bloated with thousands of free players who have no idea what they're doing, have no interest in team play, and even if you tries sticking to a certain handful of servers that used to be havens of good gameplay and nice players, the free population just flooded every nook and cranny of the game space, ruining any possibility of in-depth gameplay for the slightly-above-average gamer without access to an actual private clan server.


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Mr_Filament:

The thing is, we were all new once, no? Give it time and this trend will subside. From a business standpoint, this is survival.You give the base game away free, and hope that at least some players will invest some money into it, and they will.
Frankly, why work on updates to a 5 year old game unless there is some profit in it? Where we used to live in an age where you only had access to a few gems of player made content, and if you were lucky official add-ons.
We now have companies that expand upon a game and increase its life-span exponentially. Does this stymie player created content? To an extent, yes, but it doesn't kill it either.

We really just have to wait and see where this goes. I'd say in 4 or 5 years we'll be able to look back and really have a solid opinion on if this changed the world or was just a fad.


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Rykane:

The thing is, F2P games are here to stay. I doubt that they will go away any time soon, as they are seen to be extremely successful. With F2P games, since you are not paying for the content, there is no "need" to have the feeling of that you paid a subscription so you must play the game to use up the money you have spent.In some cases players actually tend to like paying a subscription as they feel they are paying towards updates and fixes for the game. There are some F2P games allows you to pay a monthly fee for a "veteran/gold" member status. This is essentially like pay a subscription if you're willing to put money towards it.

Overall I think the F2P model is a great way of allowing greater access to your game without any of the strings attached like other MMOs currently out there that use the subscription model.

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Here are our views...what is your stance on this thorny subject, fellow HLFalloutee?
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Ivan the Space Biker's Personal Aid

Posts: 6,449

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#2 Posted 22 April 2012 - 03:07 PM

Awesome debate guys, but you missed a couple of important consequences of free2play:

1) Given that it still costs money to make a game, a portion of the gameplay will be dedicated to entice players to make microtransactions. There is no way around it, they are forced into having the player go through direct & indirect advertisement and all the psychological shinanigangs to get them to impulse buy.

Take TF2, the game was meant to be teambased, yet there isnt a time now where people are focused on trading hats & purchasing custom items while the game is still in play. I would think most people want to play a game for the action, but this model takes a portion of the playing community outside of the original intent of the game. Developers intentionally stop the flow of the game in order to make a profit to survive.

2) Second point, i think some of you alluded, its the fact that once a few games start to go into F2P, then every player will start to expect all games to be F2P, otherwise they wont buy it. Take android/iOS games, nobody is willing to pay above 10 dollars (or its australian equivalent) for a game even though it would obviously cost much more if it was on a different platform.

Companies need to make money and F2P forces developers to build a microtransaction ecosystem and then focus on a game that pushes it. Take Zynga's Farmville for example, now expand that to every MMO, simplistic & addictive grinding games that leaves you and your wallet empty inside.
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Poison Piealicious

Posts: 4,115

#3 Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:26 AM

Most points about F2P have already been made.

In the end, though, it's just one form of paying for games. One that really only has merit for long lasting online games and despite being designed to encourage spending still can't force that on the players.

There is however the worrying aspect of these kinds of games being designed around the addiction impulses.
Do we really want games that are designed to work on people's psyche in such a way to try and get us to spend on it?
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Citadel Elite Guard

Posts: 1,327

#4 Posted 24 April 2012 - 02:47 PM

even games from 20 years ago were designed to around addiction impulses. thats basically the foundation of gaming.



The King

Posts: 3,903

#5 Posted 27 April 2012 - 03:34 PM

View Postmothmann, on 24 April 2012 - 08:47 AM, said:

even games from 20 years ago were designed to around addiction impulses. thats basically the foundation of gaming.

Sheesh, with that logic everything is more or less addictive. Air is addictive. Food is addictive. Water is addictive. Work is addictive. Cigarettes are addictive. Sex is addictive. Lying is addictive. Candy is addictive. Gambling is addictive. Watching TV is addictive. Video games are addictive. Sitting on a bench in a botanical garden whilst studying Latin is addictive. Redtube™ is addictive etc.



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