Saga of Lucimia says it’s turned down two publishers to avoid going free-to-play

It’s a good time to pile on predatory cash-shop models, especially if you’ve got a better one, and in-development hardcore MMORPG sandbox Saga of Lucimia is doing just that. While citing EA and Star Wars Battlefront II as the lead villain, however, Lucimia dev Tim “Renfail” Anderson isolates microtransactions as a whole, not just the lockbox phenomenon that saw EA dragged to the principal’s office.

“While the cash shop model has risen to prominence in the past decade, to the point where the vast majority of MMORPGs have shunned the subscription model in favor of larger profits, it is a system rife with poorly executed versions,” Anderson argues. “While there are some examples of microtransaction systems that work relatively well — I would argue that Elder Scrolls Online is a prime example in this category — the vast majority of them do not.”

It’s worth noting in passing that the handful of MMORPGs that maintain subs also include microtransaction cash shops these days, but Anderson is leading up to his point: that it’s only major studios, beholden to shareholders, that disgrace themselves with nasty, player-unfriendly monetization policies in the pursuit of money over everything else. Indie MMOs, like Lucimia, he believes, have other options, including the option to cater to smaller playerbases with other models, like the sub-only model Lucimia aims to have. In fact, Andrerson says he’s turned away two publishers for the game already because he refuses to consider free-to-play-with-MTs.

“That’s not to say that we’re completely against microtransactions. We’re not. We’ve spent a lot of money on microtransactions (I’ve personally spent a good chunk in SWTOR and ESO for cosmetic items). We feel strongly that ESO is a great example of a game that has, more or less, managed to blend a cash shop relatively well (though not without controversy) into the game, and it is almost entirely based around cosmetics. Which is very important to note: cash shops are at their worst when they offer players some sort of competitive advantage or some type of game-altering buff or effect. But for the type of game we’re building, we don’t see the microtransaction route being the one that makes the most sense for our MMORPG. Which is why, for better or worse, we’re opting for a subscription-based model.”

“We’ve heard multiple arguments from players that at some point we’ll have to move to a cash shop, because there just won’t be enough money in the subscription model to keep our lights on,” Anderson concludes. “Our point of view is that if we can’t manage to offer enough of a value for players to feel justified in paying their monthly fee to play our game, then we haven’t done our job as game developers.”

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29 Comments on "Saga of Lucimia says it’s turned down two publishers to avoid going free-to-play"

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Tulerezzer

Can’t wait to play this game with a monthly sub. I get great $/hour value out of mmo’s and have never thought a monthly sub was bad deal.

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Tim Anderson

We’re in the same boat Tule!

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Jeff

I remember when the sub model was the big evil thing that ate children and belonged to the Dr Evil fan club.

‘What do you mean I have to buy the game AND pay 10.00 bucks a month to play?!!!”

That complaint would sound ridiculous today, just like complaining about cash shops will sound ridiculous in five years. I respect Tim, he has some good ideas and a lot of drive, but he is going to wish that he wouldn’t have made those statements in a couple years.

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MassivelyMacD

“Hardcore”, “Sandbox”…

Yeah, I think sub model fits well. Look at all the hardcore sandbox MMORPGs out there that do “well”. Add sub on top of that and you surely have a winner.

Some folks…

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Malvious

I doubt a game lile this will survive on a sub model.

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Dystopiq

Sooner or later they will lose the sub after launching or drop it as a requirement.

Xijit
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Xijit

It is funny how no one wants to talk about B2P.

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Veldan

Because it’s an inferior model. B2P can’t survive without microtransactions because no MMO is going to run on the box price alone. And if you need a cash shop anyway, you’re better off just going F2P, because what the cash shop brings in is going to be the prime source of income anyway.

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roo woods

Guild wars 2 can be played on the box price alone ( of course there are optional microtransactions too though for cosmetics )

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Veldan

Yes, and that’s exactly what I mean. Any B2P MMO will put in a cash shop because the box sales aren’t enough (whether because of necessity or greed, I cannot judge). It’s really no better than an F2P game to me.

And they’re not just “for cosmetics”, I’ve played GW2. You can convert real world money into game money there (dollars to gems to gold), just like in all the F2P games, so anything that can be traded in the game is effectively available through the store.

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

Its mostly “greed” and essentially converting real money into ingame gold isnt something only F2P or B2P MMOs do, subscription based MMOs do it as well. Ultimatley they’re business and like any business they want to make as much money as they can.

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Jeff

I disagree, B2P can survive just fine if the developer can create quality Bi-annual expansion packs.

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Veldan

Maybe it can, maybe not. Noone will do it though, not without a cash shop, because it would simply bring in a lot less money than F2P or sub.

Xijit
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Xijit

here is the million dollar question: how much will that sub be?

Because if it is another $15 a month / $150 a year subscription, than you can take it and your “F2P is the devil” philosophy & shove them both where the sun don’t shine.

Players did not embrace F2P because we didn’t have a choice; we did it because it is the lesser of 2 evils after developers / publishers kept screwing players over with outrageous access prices followed by the black mail of having our characters wiped if we ever dropped the sub fee.

You give me a $5 a month sub fee / guarantee my progress will still be there if I come back after a year and I will pony up.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Gosh, what game does that? The only game I’ve ever played that wiped characters was Diablo 2, and there was no sub to play on Battle.net. I’ve come back after years away to WoW, Guild Wars, Rift, GW2, LOTRO and too many more to list and found my characters all there. Yeah, I’ve lost names when servers merged and probably some mail, but that was the extend of it. Sounds like you’ve had some really bad luck.

Xijit
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Xijit

Most places have honestly laid off that strong arm tactic, so it is more of just me being a crusty old gamer walking up hill both ways, back in the day that was every game.

I remember FFXI had a 3 months inactive sub & your character was gone policy … and I distinctly remember that because I tried coming back after 5 months and not being able to stay with the game because I was too sad that my Red Mage did not exist anymore.

Then Square Enix started running more “return to vana’diel” promotions after FFXIV was tanking, and getting an email saying that “Wren” (the name of my Red Mage) was waiting for me, and I was all “you muthafuckas … you had that character data archived and just hid it as a punishment for dropping my sub?!?!?!”

But it was common practice for every pre-2010-ish MMO back then to have “character wiped after X your subscription ends” policies.

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thalendor

Every? I played EverQuest back in the day, and I don’t recall them deleting characters, other than those that were both low level and inactive. And, even in EQ back then with it’s slow leveling getting to level 5 or 10 (the threshold was somewhere in that area) did not take that long so it’s not like you were loosing that much, unless you used that toon as a mule, which would just be poor planning at that point.

Xijit
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Xijit

*shrug* I haven’t ever played everquest, so I guess not every, but all the other ones I ever looked at did it.

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Stropp

I played Asheron’s Call, Everquest, Anarchy Online, Ultima Online, and several other pre-2010 MMORPGs. I returned to all of them at least once after at least a years absence.

None of them had deleted my characters.

Edit: Just remembered some more: World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, Age of Conan. Same thing. No deleted characters.

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MesaSage

If I worked at NORAD this game still wouldn’t be on my radar.

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Bryan Gregory

The vast majority of people who say vast majority are a vast majority.

I’m totally down for more subscription based games.

Emmanuel Carabott
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Emmanuel Carabott

Hmm I am not really sure what is the most predatory if free to play or subscription at the end of the day. Of course it really depends on the implementation but at the end of the day in both cases we’re being abused to a degree and in my opinion the scale leans heavily against subscription. I mean think about, in free to play you have options how you act… unless its a bad p2w implementation where you’re kinda forced to pay of course.

One might you might spend $30-$50 in a month to buy cool skins and such and sure you could argue that’s abuse since in a p2p game you’d have paid $15 and got that same cool skin without paying extra but if next month things are tight and I cannot afford to pay anything in the f2p game that’s cool no problem, in a p2p game you’re locked out of your “investment” and that really gets me. There is psychological pressure there as well in reality, the game I was longest subscribed to for example was eve online… I’ve literally spent 1000s in subscriptions on it, sometimes during busy months I’d pay the sub but log on may twice or three times in 1 whole month but I’d still pay it because well I don’t have much free time and when I get some time I want to play my favorite game and for that i have to be subscribed, whats the alternative? stop playing ? That’s not that easy to do either, I mean I spent 1000s on this game should I just throw it all away?At the end that was the obvious solution and the day I unsubscribed from eve was the day I decided no more subscription for me.

Ironically Eve was also the game that nearly made me rethink my stance when they announced their hybrid model. If only they didn’t make it that restrictive that is. Thing is I am fine paying a sub if I am free to unsubscribe and still get access to the game I paid for, its fine to have incentives to pay but the majority of the game needs to remain accessible for this to work imho. For the Eve model to work I’d say what should happen is the game should give expired subscribers full access to the skills they have already trained, to all ships and all game systems. If you never subscribed you get to train until a set level, that’s fine but for everyone else above that level the game would disable advancement unless you’re re-subscribe. If that’s deemed not enough things like diminishing returns could kick in, things like you get a 10% reduction to monetary rewards across the board cumulatively every 10 hrs in a single month such that say a 1M isk reward would net you 729k if you played 30 hours during the month already. This penalty would reset at the start of every month of course. It could also apply to item sales, at the time of the drop the current diminish return percentage can be applied as a permanent sales tax to the item. IE If I get a drop worth 1M isk on the 30th hour, if I sell it on the first day of next month I’d still get 729k for it as 170k would be taken by the game as diminishing returns tax so to speak. I’d happily resub if Eve did something like that but I just cant get myself to pay for games that Devs will take away from me the moment I stop giving them more
and more money anymore.

Like getting back to this video some points that I found baffling are his critic of Swtor business model. He said that the game kinda forces you to sub… Yes it does but if you don’t sub you can still play and paying an x amount of money will also unlock nearly all the annoying systems forcing you to sub too while at the same time what saga of lucimia plans to do is still force you to sub like Swtor does only here once you stop paying you stop playing (didnt mean to make that rhyme) . Like wise he said some players play free to play games and spend $5 – $10 in a cash shop here and there in lieu of a subscription and he kinda boosted that by saying they may play multiple free to play titles and spend that in multiple games and thus it would add up… but thats also worst with subscription games.. you can still play multiple subscription games too, did that myself a few times and you still have to pay multiple subscriptions only here we’re not talking about $5 – $10 but instead its generally $15 a pop. And once again while in your free to play title its up to you if you want to pay or not, in a subscription game that option is taken away from you.

Devs need to be paid and its only fair but there is a reason why time after time P2P has failed and thats not because every company was greedy and went after more money but simply because today there is so much competition and good f2p titles that it is hard to get players to justify throwning vasts amount of money at a game knowing the moment they stop paying they can kiss their game and their investment goodbye. Now there are other arguments in favor of subscriptions. F2P / B2P titles for example tend to move cosmetics from ingame rewards to cash shops and that can be an issue in terms of game enjoyment no doubt. However the argument that “we’re going to go subscription based because we dont want to exploit players” is a bit disingenuous imho. You dont want to exploit players, great just do a fair cash shop… dont sell power, dont put loot boxes , dont put items you need to keep buying (like insurance stones etc..) and you solve the whale problem, however “extorting” $15 after $15 or you dont get to play anymore isnt really safeguarding player’s finances like sometimes they try to make it sound. Just like bad F2P had to be redesigned (remove p2w (real p2w) etc..) before F2P was widely accepted so I think subscription needs to be redesigned to be seen more fair by the community if any game hopes to be successful using that business model. Eve online had the right Idea, its also iterating on it and getting it better. any future game that intends to go with that model would do well to take a few pages from their playbook and hopefully do better. If we pay for content regardless of business model I feel we should keep access to it. classic subscriptions are just unfair. I’ll close this epic wall of text with one closing thought. How would developers feel if after playing their subscription game for 5 years the day we decide to quit we refund all the money we paid? cause as it is thats how it feels from our side really.(not a perfect analogy but close enough i feel)

noberght
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noberght

Microtransactions have evolved into what they are today… I wonder what they will be in another 5-10 years?
Because they are not going away.
The biggest issue I have with a number of the Microtransaction found in modern MMOs is that…. People no longer are playing the games as much as the games are now playing the people.
Too much Psychology embedded in MMOs nowadays.

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Melissa McDonald

I’m sure some games have taken a stab at it, but to my mind, wholly inadequately.

Cash shops should all be about cosmetics. People LOVE them, will pay for them, and they don’t offer any advantage. Hire some designers to make hundreds of clothing outfits. Mounts. Hats. Boots. Accessories. Invest in that idea, and watch people enjoy the many varied looks your game offers, and watch the money come rolling in.

The Secret World had the best cosmetics system for an MMO really – your clothing was completely a separate issue from your buff items. But, they have far too few pieces of clothing, and what they have is bland and unimaginative, and unattractive. I suppose it matches their homely avatars, but why create such a nice system, then have a few dozen pieces, if that?

Then you compare it to games where the community makes the clothing, like Second Life, or even going back a bit Star Wars Galaxies. I had hundreds of wardrobe options in SWG. In Second Life? There are literally millions.

Far too many MMOs have paltry cosmetic options. I think I own just about every cosmetic in LOTRO, and it ain’t that many.

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Sray

Free to play does not inherently mean predatory business model. The biggest video game in the world is League of Legends, which is a free to play game that is frequently praised for a very fair monetization model that never makes players feel like they have to spend money in order to compete.

I just want to point out, much like Anderson does in the quote, that microtransactions and free to play/buy to play are not flat out evil. Subscriptions aren’t inherently fair either: what good is a subscription if a game isn’t regularly putting out new content and bug fixes? No business model is flat out good or bad: it’s how they treat the player that matters.

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qweazdak

League is different than a MMORPG, like SWTOR and ESO. The MMO industry just needs to come up with a fair way to have microtransactions.
Oh yes, treating the player base well should be #1 priority. 100% agree.

Nathaniel Downes
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Nathaniel Downes

Not every game can use every revenue option. Some lend themselves to it better than others. It is good for the Saga of Lucimia team to have identified their target, and are sticking to their guns.

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Armsbend

Less talky-talky more more make a game first.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

killing it today;)

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