The Daily Grind: What are your expectations from buy-to-play MMOs in 2019?


Because I am old I still remember the halcyon days when the original Guild Wars shocked the world with its plan to serve as a full MMO that you played for free. Free! You just paid for the box, and then you just played! The only thing more insane would be games that you could play for free without ever buying anything! What madness would that be?

Needless to say, the past decade has made that concept pretty laughable now. But I think it is interesting in light of the fact that we now have a sizable contingent of games that do serve as buy-to-play titles. Destiny 2AnthemGuild Wars 2Black Desert OnlineThe Elder Scrolls Online… there’s a long list of these. And they’re still fencing around what looks like a perfectly fair business model along the way.

The thing is, expectations on these games can vary a lot. I’d wager that most of the people who bought Anthem expected the game to be playable as a single-player title even if the game stops getting supported after a certain point, but is that realistic? What would the end-of-life look like for titles like Black Desert Online? It’s an interesting question to think about. So what are your expectations from buy-to-play MMOs in 2019?

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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B2P games?

Only things I really expect is:

Minimal cash shop if any. If you are requiring a pay wall to get in then you should not be leeching people to death with over the top cash shop items. Black Desert is a major offender of this.

“Optional Subscription” – Either have a sub or don’t, charging $50 for a game and then having a somewhat mandatory subscription for addition $15 a month is just ludicrous.

Sally Bowls

Why does GW2 still get lumped into the B2P list? It is not literally B2P. Nor is the expansion revenue near enough to support the reduced headcount. (NCSoft execs said expansion sales were a quite small minority of revenue for HoT and I can’t see any reason the subsequent, less-promoted expansion would change that much.)

What does B2P even mean if a game you can play by spending zero money where the “box” sales are not near enough to keep it going at its current level is called B2P?

Sally Bowls

B2PINO – buy to play in name only

The conversation depends upon whether you are talking literal or effective. E.g., a “B2P” game that costs $10 but is frequently on sale for $4, where many players there more than 9 months have spent $hundreds in the cash shop and where 95% of their revenue comes from the ca$hshop – that is literally a B2P game yet IMO I think of it as a f2p game since it is the same monetization DNA as F2P. Similarly, at some point, if most longer-term players are spending $100 a year on DLC, that starts to look more like a sub to me than [FB]2P.

Similarly, how does one characterize a “B2P game that launches as B2P gets dozens of millions of box sales, then inevitably goes F2P? Is that a B2P game or a F2P game that realizes that there is incremental revenue from initially charging the too-hip-to-F2P audience an upfront fee to your f2p title?

IMO, the difference between F2P and B2P is $40. IMO, at the end of the day, unlike SP/coop, for MMOs the initial $40 or $60 is insufficient to keep them in business. So the success of the game depends on the cash shop (f2p) or mandatory dlc (sub.)

Toy Clown

I’m not sure if it’s fortunate, or unfortunate, that I have zero expectations from free-to-play titles. I’ve learned to coincide big $ expenditure with “free-to-play”, so I tend to stay away from them. Also with F2P titles, you get all sorts of people elements in one big open-world PvP bag and that’s a huge turn-off as well.

I really have no interest in new MMOs anymore unless they come from a AAA background, charge a sub, or just have a great, creative vision that breaks from the mold. Sadly I see lots of creative ideas floundered up in open-world PvP titles and I just prefer my PvP consensual.

Anton Mochalin

I’m playing Warframe for several years and did exactly one Platinum purchase ~4 years ago paying around $20 for 2k plat on discount. I still have ~1k i.e. 50% of that plat on my account and had a ton of fun with the game. Free-to-play is the future because player aquisition has much less friction for F2P games. Not sure what you mean by “all sorts of people elements in one big open-world PvP bag” when most of free-to-play MMORPGs are PvE sandboxes.


Hmm. I can’t believe I actually have to say this, but given the current trend I’ll spell it out.

I expect buy-to-play games to be complete. Yes, features must be as advertised, implemented, and fully realized. Other pay methods can vary on that depending on what is being offered. But not buy to play. I’m paying full box price for a complete game with full acces. That’s the deal

Sad, that it has to be spelled. out. Oh yeah, I don’t give a shit if it is a service. It needs to be ready at launch, not later down the freaking road.

And, there should be no paywalls of any kind. Better throw that in.

A tip on Anthem, btw. There is a single player mode although I fail to understand why Bioware doesn’t add it as a featured QoL. When you start up a mission you can choose to make that mission Public or Private. If you choose Private, you can launch that mission with you as the only group member. Voila! There is nothing you can’t finish and the difficulty scales. But if it gets too chaotic, you can set the difficulty setting to “Easy” yourself.


My expectations for MMOs are pretty low regardless of business model.

I think MMOs will be on limbo until SC and New World launch, if either of those succeeds we will see more AAA western MMOs in the future, if both fail, the genre will just disappear in the west.

There’s a faint possibility of CDProjektRed or Ankama doing a AAA MMO but neither would rush into anything, so it could easily take a decade for those guys to put out a AAA MMO.

Kickstarter Donor

I dunno, I just hope we get some decent shit and can be happy with it.

My expectations are pretty reasonable, if maybe extremely vague, I think.


b2p is the gateway to p2w/f2p, because it’s not sustainable.
In order to fund your game under b2p, you have to keep selling the game to people …. at some point you are going to reach saturation, and/or you can’t push paid content out the door fast enough to satisfy your corporate sponsors. For a one-shot game experience in the single player arena, sure it works; just look at all the big ticket games taking their annual sales on the “best version of {game x} ever”meme (insert your (least) favorite franchise/ip as desired) … but for a persistent game like an MMO where you have significant running costs, it creates pressure to generate “alternate income” … cue the inevitable cash shops.

Andy McAdams
Kickstarter Donor
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Andy McAdams

I don’t even know anymore. It’s like the lines have become so blurred and so many games have some monstrous combination of B2p, F2P, and sub I don’t even know that I make the distinction.

What’s probably worse is that I don’t even really know what to expect from a new MMO, regardless of monetization strategy. Our genre has been lurching along for the last few years with disappointingly small amounts of consistent success, but oodles of pre-launch hype from various communities. It’s not lost on me that most of the hype-flames are doused post-launch by shady monetization.

I don’t know that I expect anything from any MMO anymore. What I hope is that for any MMO I play that I can find an amount of fun at least equal to the amount I invested in it without feeling like I’m being manipulated into spending money to enjoy the game I already paid for.

Bruno Brito

Prog-servers, because why improve your game when you can just relaunch it with it’s garbage older interaction.