The Daily Grind: Are free-to-play MMO conversions saviors or signs of doom in your eyes?

Sometimes it's about tweaking the right people.

When Dungeons & Dragons Online converted to a free-to-play business model, it was back when I was first working as a writer in the industry, and it was a pretty big deal. And let’s be real here, that conversion is a big part of why that game is still running right now. Nor is it alone in that field; I don’t think we’d still talk about games like Star Trek Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic if they hadn’t transitioned to a free-to-play model a while back.

We still barely talk about games like WildStar and Champions Online, but at least they’re still here. That counts for something. But that seems to be the other side of things; sometimes a free-to-play model is bailing out water when the boat is half-submerged. Free-to-play certainly didn’t save LEGO Universe or City of Heroes. Some games convert and then go on functional maintenance mode for all eternity, and some games convert and still die off.

That may sound morbid, but it’s fascinating to me in the context of questions like whether or not Warhammer Online could have survived if it actually went free-to-play. So let’s talk about that. Are free-to-play MMO conversions saviors or signs of doom in your eyes? Do they indicate a move with the times, or do they tend to make you feel a game is floundering?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Kero Kero

All it means is the company has milked all it can until it has a depreciating return and the better choice is flipping it to f2p for a new stream of money. its not that scary.


F2P just stalls off the dying of a game. You might get a few more years out of it… longer if it was actually something worth playing at some point. (I’m sure there are exceptions but I’m just speaking in general terms)

Oleg Chebeneev

Silly question. Its not a matter of opinion. It is the straight fact that F2P conversion saved plenty of MMOs that would just shut down otherwise. Sign of doom is big drop in playerbase, not F2P conversion.

Nate Woodard

SWTOR being free to play has nothing to do with why I’m scared for the game. Same for a lot of the titles mentioned above. It really comes down to the publisher and what they are willing to do for the game in question.


The REASON games go F2P is: It makes the game development company MORE MONEY (and that’s the bottom line).

The ONLY reason Western market game developers did take that route sooner was” Before Dungeons & Dragons Online showed otherwise, said developers thought Western gamers would never go for the idea. (Although the fact that during the superscription only ‘Gold Sellers’ made enough to become a full blown underground industry that made millions for operators and became large enough that MMO developers found it necessary to sue in an attempt to curb the practice.)
Once they saw that this market segment would, many gave it a shot and found that yes, it brought in more money. Today, no, F2P isn’t the sign of a ‘dead’ MMO, again it’s just a choice and if done right, improves the profit margin.


FTP is like a nail, it can hold up a failing game or nail its coffin shut. Just a matter of how it’s used.


F2P is a second chance for an MMO. But, it’s not a get out of jail free card. You(devs) still have to work extra hard to shore up the weaknesses of the game and make it worth playing. All F2P does is buy you time.

Kevin Smith

A game switching over after launching as a P2P is a bad sign. There are only two reason they do this. One is because the game isn’t bringing in enough people to keep the game running as a P2P. Second is the developer has realized they can get more money by nickle and diming players through F2P which is a horrible title as they are never truly free. There is always something they put in that must be paid for down the line if you are going to stay relevant to the others in the community. Out of all that have launched as F2P in the last 10 or so years I can count on one hand just about the ones that will actually give you the whole game without needing to purchase something to complete everything the game has to offer. I know it is a business but lets not call it free because nothing is ever free.

Kickstarter Donor

Can be both. Depends on the game and what the initial F2P launch does after the first 2 or 3 months. If they go full P2W cash shop even if it isn’t a failure by player activity standards, it is a failure in my eyes and I won’t touch it again.

If the do a decent cash shop that isn’t predatory on the games player base and is something like cosmetics only or slight exp boosts. Then I could find myself playing it still after the F2P conversion if it maintains a population.

Kickstarter Donor

I don’t see F2P conversions as the inevitable Doom of a game, indeed many of them make games “do” better financially..but only because F2P conversions come with a huge over monetisation of well…everything… and THAT is what I do not like.

Its why I prefer subs and always have, its going from a pay my £10 a month and I get everything, and I can earn everything all I need to do is play and have fun…
Too with F2P if I want it I’m going to have to pay real money again and again and again from cosmetics to slots to content to customisation and personalisation to mounts, to well everything…

And then to top it off they say hold on all those really desireable items..were actually NOT going to let you buy or earn no those we are going to put in RNG boxes which are mostly full of sh** and were going to charge you to get a chance at what you want albeit a ridiculously small chance.

No F2P conversion are not the Doom of a game they are the DEATH of my interest..