Eliot was writing a piece about Final Fantasy XI’s return home event a week or two ago and I suddenly had a pang of nostalgia – not for FFXI, which I never really got into, but for the idea of MMO freebie events period.
Most MMORPGs are now at least partly free-to-play, and I have to say that at least for accessibility reasons that’s a good thing (for monetization and creativity, not so much, but that’s a rant for another post). But when most of them were locked behind a sub, they had good reasons to turn on everyone’s accounts for free from time to time. And those events always created windows of opportunity to return in big clustered groups of friends and potential friends.
That wasn’t just good for the studios in terms of potential customers roped back into the ecosystem; it was a coordinated invitation for the good kind of invasion. I mean, you can hold a party any night of the week; no one’s stopping you, and that takes some of the fun out of it. But when there’s that one good one where everyone’s gonna be there, it has magic and sparkle. And that’s how free return events always felt. It was always for a game my crew hadn’t played for a while, and suddenly we had a good reason to go back as a group. And sometimes that blossomed into a more permanent residency and we’d get hooked again.
Do you miss free return events in MMORPGs?