The Soapbox: MMO monetization that complements poor game design makes us all losers

    
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I have a problem: As much as I enjoy games, I can see that many online and multiplayer games are becoming designed more poorly in order to sell themselves as a service, and they’re getting better at the selling part without necessarily being worthy of it. With the latter, I’m fine buying DLC or paying a monthly subscription fee for monthly content. That seems fair. But when a system immediately feels grindy or broken, and the solution is an item in the cash shop, it’s a huge turn-off. It’s not a recent issue either, just one that seems to be coming up more and more. And it’s affecting not just me but the game communities I’m a part of, both in-guild and in the overall queuing population.

Modern games, especially with gacha mechanics, may have poor game design, but I’d argue it’s often due to profitable complementary monetization designs. It’s not just predatory; it also kills creativity.

Let’s start simple and focus on games with a cash shop that focuses on loot. Even in shops selling only cosmetic items, if the pursuit of loot can be skipped with a shop purchase, that is potentially less time in-game for said player if that item had been a drop. For a single-player game, only that player is affected, but if that player is in a kind of community – either among real-life acquaintances or in-game guilds – then skipping the play feature affects others, possibly giving them one fewer person to group with.

While I’d argue that MMOs with fuller features may not suffer as much from this sort of thing, a more loot-centric game such as Monster Hunter can feel empty faster if the playerbase simply purchases cosmetics. I’ve noticed the MHRise, which previous series entries granted fun cosmetics to craft, has more one-and-done events. In two months, players have received a grand total of one new equippable item (not emotes or stickers, which I have never used to date or seen fellow players use). The paid DLC cosmetics, however, are quite bountiful with each new update.

That may not sound like a big deal, but I was curiously surprised at how difficult it was to find players on MHR 3.0’s release night for the new true ending boss. The boss is not only difficult but much more rewarding than I expected on a loot/stat basis. The 2.0 release and other event quests rarely required any kind of wait for my partner and me; people would be placed in our quest with us almost immediately. The same was not true for the 3.0 release. To be honest, I know one of the reasons I’ve been playing the game as much as I have is for social purposes, not to chase loot. People I know who tend to solo queue leave the game quite quickly after they get their loot. But I thought, perhaps, this would bring people back.

What the cash shop does is add additional content for a price – sometimes items that cannot be earned with traditional means – and gives that money to the developer. While games aren’t free, granting that content also takes away motivation to play. It may not be a lot depending on the player and game, but that’s exactly what it does. Even though some players can simply pay for the new item, players who already paid full box price may not want to pay additional charges for new items.

This isn’t quite the same as an expansion, but has a similar effect: Those who cannot pay cannot access it, and if you’re in a group setting where someone cannot pay the price of admission, you may be less likely to participate. Even worse, though, is when a large portion of the community cannot afford the enter the content, and since MMOs in particular rely on large numbers of participants to achieve a feeling of massiveness, reducing the number of potential players threatens the game itself.

Making cash shop items also earnable in-game seems like a reasonable compromise but again that threatens the active playerbase by giving rewards without actually requiring participating in the game. It may motivate some players, but as Capcom hasn’t done this, it feels like Capcom has taken out some loot for us to pursue and locked it behind a paywall some players simply ignore and move on from, abandoning both the game and the communities within. But this is one of the simpler examples.

I won’t even go to an extremely bad model, such as basically every gacha-game out there making artificially “rare” drops statistically required for players to even begin to be competitive, though the Mario-Kart-that-should-not-be-named would be a good example of this. No, I don’t have to do that – because I can go to Star Wars: The Old Republic’s free-to-play model.

Even though SWTOR has eased its restrictions on non-subscribers over the years, the initial release of free-to-play for the game was incredibly painful: limiting action bars, the credit cap, storage, auctions, chat, mail, the number of PvP Warzones and PvE Operations one could participate in… the F2P version was incredibly limited even as a basic MMO. You could individually buy full(er) access to those options or just subscribe. The latter option was easier, but the former was tempting and still painful.

Let’s take a single design choice: limiting hotbars. While more modern, action-based MMOs often try to keep things simple, we all know our MMOs give us a glut of moves that have to be used at some point in our gaming career, and unless you’ve outgrown the content, missing that button could result in a death, wipe, or other situation that could cause the user frustration (and probably groupmates as well).

That’s without considering assigning things like mounts, recalls, target assignments, or crafting tools/recipes to hotbars. For most MMOs, if you showed a game dev an MMO intentionally designed to have lots of required action buttons but not enough space to put them all, unless they were very kind and thought you could explain your design choice, they’d tell you to either drop or merge redundant skills to make them fit better or add more bars. However, anyone specifically looking at how to monetize the game would see it’s a smart way to encourage people to increase their spending.

And I know plenty of people this trick worked on yet still ultimately quit the game – including me. That’s a clear example of bad game design with successful monetization. I’ve struggled to find a good term for this, but with some help, we could use Dr. Steven Conway’s wording to describe it as profit-driven contra-ludicity, or possibly hypo-ludicity. The contra-ludicity is the game against the player, while hypo-ludicity is described as the game essentially playing itself (like auto-running pathways in mobile MMOs).

Contra-ludicity in and of itself isn’t bad, as increasing the game challenge is a basic part of game design. When that increase, however, is used to create opportunities to sell a product, it becomes predatory, especially if that challenge hamstrings basic gameplay, such as with our SWTOR hotbar example. Similarly, when you have the option to earn an item in game or simply purchase it, it creates a kind of hypo-ludic situation in which the game simply grants the item you would be playing to earn.

But even games that feel pretty fair can abuse these mechanics. I’ve mentioned how when Pokemon Go’s Mega Evolution first came out, it was a disaster. Players were angry, and I’d argue many still are. I’m overly simplifying things, but essentially Niantic took a mechanic that was associated with ownership and instead tied it to rentals. Unlike pokemon you had to raid to own though, most “rentals” essentially “cost” three to four times more than a single pokemon did previously, and they were yours for only a few hours.

Niantic’s solution? Again I’m oversimplifying things, but it was to lump in a way to earn the rentals with the Buddy System, a system that currently juggles six different features, three of which are different resource gains and many of which don’t necessarily complement each other. Niantic has also attached quests to the feature that break the normal rhythm of pairing up a buddy and walking it to gain your bonuses, pushing players to cycle through their buddy’s quick non-walking reputation gains in the pursuit of rewards, defeating both the overall ideal of “buddies” but also the core walking experience the game is supposed to promote.

There is a way to ignore this clunky feature, though: either pay for additional cash shop items to earn/gain items to bypass the pain, or in the case of the premium item “Poffins,” send recorded AR tracking to Niantic (think Google Street view work, but paid with in-game items) to make stuff Niantic really hasn’t discussed with us, despite our attempts to get answers.

If developers want more money from us, I’d argue we should be paying for game experiences, not game rewards. At the same time, though, when we pay for an experience, it should be one that adds to the game, not one that simply makes it less painful to play.

horizonslineup.jpgOne of the major reasons I haven’t felt like paying an MMO subscription fee in years has been that I don’t believe many games that ask for a monthly payment give me content worthy of that money. I’ve said this several times, but my early MMOs – the Asheron’s Call series and Istaria/Horizons – gave me actual monthly content like new stories, dungeons, landmasses, player events, and even player races and abilities, all stuff that most companies lock into their expansions. SWTOR had been one of the few that initially seemed worth it until the story-based content I wanted was gated behind raids most casuals were a liability in, changing what felt like a social-story-based game into a hardcore raiding game with a story attached to it.

I still give BioWare and SWTOR some credit for at least initially attempting something new. It was a good try. I think the failure landed more on audience expectations vs. trying to make new content follow the traditional MMO recipe hardcore-raiding-obsessed devs have pursued for decades now.

But profit-driven contra-lucidity killed my desire to go back, even when it sounded like the company may have done some cool story things. Many players, not just for SWTOR but other titles, are willing to pay, but when the challenge is based-off of pain-ratcheting to determine at what point I’ll open my wallet, my choice is often to leave the game entirely.

I know game development costs money, but as games either thinly disguise gambling to avoid gambling laws or ask me to pay for the game to play itself, the genre becomes less a game and more a virtual casino/store with a chatroom. Maybe it won’t make piles of money, but game companies should let devs make good games first and use their money to continue to delight and surprise players, not nickel and dime them. I want to play games and explore virtual worlds, not go to the virtual mall to show off my new purchases.

With special thanks to Josh Zimmerman for terminology and resource assistance.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!

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Nana Hachi

In my opinion F2P is bad for games. And more and more people who like to play games grow up being accustomed to it. It hinders immersion. It takes away from the joy to find stuff while playing the game.

Cosmetics, pets, mounts, furniture are a part of a game and especially in MMORPGs they are an important aspect of the whole feeling of creating a character. For the interaction between players and for stuff to do.

Today it is so much more progress oriented, less community. A streamlined experience of ticking off a list of achievements. While achievement was always a part of Role Playing Games, there was other stuff to accomplish. Now this “other stuff” is hidden behind a real life price tag. It has nothing to do with the character you created in the game.

It really feels like they traded in the opportunity for stories to make instead more money. Player Story is long dead in MMORPGs.

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David Goodman

To me, it feels like games as a whole – not just MMOs – have been doing this for years. i’m old enough to remember when unlocking a new outfit for a character was something you had to earn in a game by doing something incredibly obscure that you had to buy a copy of Nintendo Power to find out about (but, in theory, your friend could tell you the button combination that did it.)

But for years, we’ve had content surgically carved out of our games and re-sold to us — either in the form of DLCs, or slightly more recently, just sold directly to us as a microtransaction.

Even the act of playing a game — A lot of people see “XP Boosters” as innocent, a way to speed up the grind. But who CREATED the grind? The developers did. The game is intentionally designed to be slow and frustrating to the point where you feel incentivized to buy the booster to get the “normal” experience.

For MMOs, I offer *some* small concessions: For a game that has a free and subscription tier, I understand limiting free accounts in some way as being an anti-spammer / anti-gold-seller measure. If you can’t use public chat or guilds and you’re limited in how much gold you can have, there’s a limit to what you can do to scam players. Hotbars were just…. gah. I still don’t play TOR to this day, even if that’s not a thing any more, that was a poisonous decision.

In some respects, I can understand that – after a game launches – artists don’t have a lot to do, and without something for them to create, they may be temporarily laid off as a result. In this case, having them make something cosmetic for a paid store makes sense, as it keeps quality talent inside the company and employeed. I support that.

But, the better decision would be to create a way to adjust loot lists and drop-lists IN-GAME so that items can be added dynamically without require a major patch or change. I think it’d make a company really good if they can say “Hey, we just added a bunch of new clothing and house decorations to the world with the last server restart – happy hunting!” Accomplishes the same thing, and keeps players invested and engaged.

… but that doesn’t generate a crapload of money in the immediate short-term, and we all know that’s what drives game development for the majority of publishers. (the actual developers may care about the game itself, but unfortunately, their feelings do not matter any more.)

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Schmidt.Capela

For me, at least:

– Things that provide convenience, such as fast travel or inventory space, are things I will either get together with the game — and, thus, bundle with the game’s initial cost when deciding if it’s too expensive — or else never get. Thanks to that it’s not unusual for me to pass on F2P games, without even giving them a try, due to finding them too expensive.
(Incidentally, I will never bother purchasing, or even downloading for free, a game that has an in-game cash store if I can’t find information about what is being sold and at which prices.)

– I will never purchase things that provide a gameplay advantage, such as boosts, items with stats, etc. This extends to characters if they are actually stronger than those I get with the game or can earn without paying.

– I will never purchase anything that can be earned in-game.

– If the F2P offering is obviously a demo in all but name, I’m open to making one, and only one, transaction to upgrade the game from a thinly-veiled demo to the full fledged product; similar to convenience items, I will also bundle the price of this transaction with the game’s initial costs. I will resent the publisher for not calling their obvious demo a demo, though.

– I’m open to subscribing if the subscription basically includes everything; in other words, for me to subscribe, I expect it to be actually impossible to pay for anything that isn’t already included in the subscription. It’s been many years since I last found a game that matched this, unfortunately, and thus it’s been almost a decade since I last subscribed to a game.

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Arktouros

Ah yes, SWTOR, everyone’s favorite punching bag for F2P business models. You say you don’t have to go to the “worst” example but every time I read something about selling hotbar slots and it’s really the only example of something like that. If that fruit got any lower you’d need a shovel to dig it up.

SWTOR did start out like you propose at your ending. It was a good game and arguably the most feature complete MMO to launch by that point. It didn’t nickle and dime anyone. It didn’t fail because of expectations, it failed because they mismanaged the game and let players progress too quickly. They let players be “done” with the game and in the MMO business that’s death. Sure enough people beat their stories and maxed out their gear and quit the game in droves. In response the business modified their business model to adapt to that scenario. 100% agreed they bungled this entirely but the game was never intended to work under that kind of business model in the first place. This wasn’t a case of bad game design and monetization complementing each other but rather a solution that has EA Executive written all over it.

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Bruno Brito

Ah yes, SWTOR, everyone’s favorite punching bag for F2P business models. You say you don’t have to go to the “worst” example but every time I read something about selling hotbar slots and it’s really the only example of something like that. If that fruit got any lower you’d need a shovel to dig it up.

SWTOR was bad, but it had nothing on Allods. Jesus Christ, that game.

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Arktouros

SWTOR was bad, but it had nothing on Allods. Jesus Christ, that game.

Personally I found Andrew’s use of worst to be amusing (hence the quotes) because in this case I think it has a bit of a dual meaning. While on the face of it, sure, worst is referring to an unfavorable business model to which you doubled down on. However I also see worst in this case to also be probably the least relevant example in gaming as, again, to my knowledge they’re the only company to even try to sell UI features.

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Bruno Brito

I mean, it was met with so much backlash and it was a joke for quite a long while that i never had the fear of other companies trying to sell UI features, indeed. It wasn’t going to become a trend.

I find the selling of power like Allods did, where you literally buy talent points from a specific point on, to be way worse and more insidious.

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Arktouros

Simply wielding your cash shop like a club and demanding people pay for character progress is pretty open what you’re about. Payment walls are not insidious.

An example of an insidious system would be Black Desert’s enhancement system. While all the mechanics are certainly available in game, the ability to recover from failure (as there’s penalties for failing) are greatly enhanced when using the cash shop. Sure I can spend 16 hours running Relic Scrolls for Memory Fragments to repair the failed attempts or swipe for Artisans to quintuple their effectiveness. It’s subtle because you don’t have to swipe…but man I really don’t wanna run Relic Scrolls for 16 hours. This is just one of multiple ways they do things like this.

Even the UI thing is fairly insidious on the face of things because as Andrew pointed out they designed a game where a multitude of hotbars would be needed but you could play without. Where I take issue was that the game was not designed poorly with this in mind as before the F2P conversion it was not a thing. It’s not like they were rubbing their hands going “I sure hope this game fails so when I give each character 30 abilities I can sell them hotbars.” It’s more an example of a company’s dumb greed and underestimating what us customers take for granted (probably made by some suit who doesn’t even play games).

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MagnifyingLens

Unfortunately, with the rise of free-to-play as the almost-default expectation in the MMORPG world (and especially among too many of the players), we have seen pernicious commerce-driven design principles become prevalent.

The MMORPG-verse as a whole has become a pick-your-poison landscape for the developers. There was a time were there were some fairly decent monetization implementations, but I’m hard-pressed to think of any presently.

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NeoWolf

Predatory over monetization is rife atm across the genre as a whole and it is fairly toxic and sadly we have Free to Play to blame almost exclusively for it all.

We had a situation where people who could afford to subscribed to and played MMO’s, lots of people who didn’t have the money or enough free cash saw the fun being had and wanted in.

Companies saw and heard this and wanted more money so when subscriptions invariably start to dip in an MMO as a game ages and new content starts to slow and stagnate we saw the trend of companies using F2P as a fix. Make the game free, throw in microtransactions, open the doors to everyone and incentivize spending by making it not only convenient but time-saving and people will fall into the trap again and again..

Except the only ones falling into the trap and spending majoritively are ones who had the money before and would have been subscribed.. while those who wanted in, got in and don’t pay a dime except very very rarely. Doesn’t really feel fair, because it isn’t. Especially when you consider how much MORE those paid are now paying for access to content and features they would have previously gotten as part of their sub compared to what they were paying before when it was just a sub. It is CONSIDERABLY more and more OFTEN.

We were SO MUCH better off with subscriptions than F2P and the fact that “some ” people still don’t see that, kind of blows my mind but then lets be honest the ones who are okay with are likely the ones who weren’t paying for a sub previously anyway and are enjoying the game on our dime and having the time of their life. Your welcome btw ;)

It does very much depend on the type of monetization though, some microtransactions like cosmetics, mounts, services (slots, rename, respect etc..) I don’t object to, but pretty much everything else level skips, xp scrolls, gear, BACKPACK space!! etc… I abhor with a passion. ESPECIALLY when it is per character not accountwide.

F2P monetization is the worst.

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Bruno Brito

I think this is a oversimplification of the problem and only points fingers at F2Players without realizing that there are models of F2P that are fairer. ESO is a B2P and it riddles their premium with lack of QoL to the point of irritation. GW2 is one of the most fair F2Ps in the market. WoW charges you sub to force you into raiding and nothing else.

The problem isn’t F2P in itself, is how much gamers allow themselves to be nickle-and-dimed for what is almost nothing in return. And this has existed before F2P was a thing.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

My intention was not to point blame at the players, but rather the business model. If for example you are a subscriber in an F2P game you get WAAAAAAAY less bang for your buck than you did in a pure subscription game. You are literally being nickel and dimed at every turn in most case and even sometimes for simple QoL features, which are now deemed “premium”..

Are there less offensive F2P “versions” of course, I even alluded to that by making note of some of the microtransactions I find inoffensive in F2P’s.

The only people who truly benefit from F2P business model games are A) the company and B) those who do not pay a dime and never had any intention of paying a dime because for them nothing changes. Whereas those who paid before are being hit far more and fare more often. It is a sh**y business model in general.

I agree absolutely however that people are their own worst enemies, they let these companies make F2P work by constantly paying for this nonsense, which is why I don’t anymore.

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Bruno Brito

My intention was not to point blame at the players, but rather the business model. If for example you are a subscriber in an F2P game you get WAAAAAAAY less bang for your buck than you did in a pure subscription game. You are literally being nickel and dimed at every turn in most case and even sometimes for simple QoL features, which are now deemed “premium”..

I mean, you said this:

“enjoying the game on our dime and having the time of their life. Your welcome btw ;)”

That’s pointing fingers. I don’t disagree entirely with your assessment, i disagree with who gets the blame here. F2Players are not “playing on your dime”, you’re buying a service. Game companies are offering a service for free and a paid service, and you buy from them. F2Players are the product to which they populate the world you wanna be a part of. But we don’t interact, and you don’t pay for my game, you pay for your service if you so desire.

Are there less offensive F2P “versions” of course, I even alluded to that by making note of some of the microtransactions I find inoffensive in F2P’s.

Wildstar was the best F2P system to date, to a point where it hurt them.

The only people who truly benefit from F2P business model games are A) the company and B) those who do not pay a dime and never had any intention of paying a dime because for them nothing changes. Whereas those who paid before are being hit far more and fare more often. It is a sh**y business model in general.

I disagree entirely in this specific spot. F2Players are extremely affected by paywalls and timegates. Allods takes upwards of five years for you to have acceptable gear for CASUAL raiding, if you’re trying to go completely free. ESO punishes you without the crafting bag, which means you need to buy either character slots to have mules or simply deal with it. Being a B2P crafter in ESO is a recipe for pain. Ragnarok Online takes months if you wanna try to refine everything without the scrolls to make refining acceptable.

You speak like F2Players are living in some sort of paradise, when they aren’t. They’re either grinding their stuff with time,or being inconvenienced by everything under the sun that gets monetized.

I agree absolutely however that people are their own worst enemies, they let these companies make F2P work by constantly paying for this nonsense, which is why I don’t anymore.

The reality of the matter is that people simply figured our that subs weren’t worthy anymore because the value of currency changes. Nowadays the costs are too prohibitive specially when companies either don’t innovate or don’t offer enough. At the same time, companies realized that f2p is worth because server costs aren’t nearly high enough to be a detriment for them, selling stuff that gives players the option to choose is way more profitable.

If sub-based monetization was still good, it would still be alive. The market spoke here.

And i’m going to die on this hill always: There ARE ways of making F2P work without being predatory. It’s just most companies don’t care about it, because they focus on short term profit instead of long term health of their game. This is not a F2P issue, this is a issue with the whole industry.

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Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

It isn’t pointing fingers as that is simply an irrefutable fact, the whole reason free to play players can play for free is because of those who spend money. Without those people those who don’t spend wouldn’t have a game to play. Its not blame its its just fact.

The point I was making is that the F2P business model only negatively affects paying players because they are those being constantly hit by the paywalls and timegates you mention in any meaningful sense as they are the ones who are going to be spending the money to overcome them. A non paying player in comparison may be inconvenienced by them but they are not contributing financially anyway they are not losing anything in the same way, it isn’t the same.
The whole business model is aimed at that percentage of players who spend often and hitting them all the time, it never ends.

Subscription didn’t die out because of currency changes, they died out because they have to maintain a certain number to remain viable. And if content slows as it invariably does or new games come along people go elsewhere. Without that player retention their available funds to do anything disappears, which just compounds the problem and makes it progressively worse in a vicious cycle as again less new, less interest, less players, equals less money and around and around it goes..until the game shuts down.
F2P avoids that because open doors means greater perception of activity which helps bring players who pay, which in turn provides more money for content etc.. all the while providing new shinies and BS things to bombard them with to milk the teet of their wallet even more. They even get to largely avoid the need for new content by simply just throwing new shinies at players to pay for.

I disagree you can make F2P non predatory, the only F2P models I’ve seen that are even vaguely palatable were not F2P at all they were Hybrid’s sitting somewhere between F2P and Subscription games having parts of both but not belonging solely to one business model or the other.

I agree the industry should take a more long-term view than short-term view when it comes to profits, but when shareholders are involved that sadly, won’t be the case, especially in today’s volatile financial climate. A long-term view would also help give players less of a sense of being taken advantage of, which is something a playerbase feeling is in no way beneficial for a company long term as it creates resentment.

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Bruno Brito

Subscription didn’t die out because of currency changes, they died out because they have to maintain a certain number to remain viable.

Which is a sign of the times. We are under one of the worst debt-ridden generations. Depending on the country, rate exchange is absurd ( which happened already in Brazil for instance ). 15 bucks yester-year is not the same as 15 bucks today. Companies had to adapt to a dwindling will and capability of players to pay monthly for games that they do not enjoy for 30 days exactly. We moved the goalposts for players buying the stuff they need straight from the cashshop without concerning themselves with sub small-prints.

And that’s a issue on companies not offering good enough subs.

Gaming had to adapt to the condition of customers, not the opposite. It’s how markets work. F2P was a invention born of necessity, it wasn’t shoved down our throats. And it’s older than people would like you to believe. Priston Tale was F2P until 39. FlyFF was F2P. The business model is not that young.

The point I was making is that the F2P business model only negatively affects paying players because they are those being constantly hit by the paywalls and timegates you mention in any meaningful sense as they are the ones who are going to be spending the money to overcome them. A non paying player in comparison may be inconvenienced by them but they are not contributing financially anyway they are not losing anything in the same way, it isn’t the same.

Time is a currency. So, i would say it’s the same.

I disagree you can make F2P non predatory, the only F2P models I’ve seen that are even vaguely palatable were not F2P at all they were Hybrid’s sitting somewhere between F2P and Subscription games having parts of both but not belonging solely to one business model or the other.

Dota 2. League of Legends. GW2 for a hybrid option. You’re not looking far enough if you can’t find a decent F2P option. I will concede most companies can’t make a good F2P model worth shit, but that’s on them, not on the model.

F2P avoids that because open doors means greater perception of activity which helps bring players who pay, which in turn provides more money for content etc.. all the while providing new shinies and BS things to bombard them with to milk the teet of their wallet even more. They even get to largely avoid the need for new content by simply just throwing new shinies at players to pay for.

Disagree. Most players nowadays are content-locusts and this won’t change until we see a entire new wave of the industry focusing on lateral expansion of their MMOs. F2P/B2P or Sub won’t change this, and my proof is the fact that the biggest Sub MMO of this planet has itself made their own players content-locusts. There’s a reason why people complain about GW2 living story all the time, and it’s because it’s not delivering enough and it’s constraining the team into these weird development cycles.

Lookout for games like Palia trying to change that and making player more into the long-time engagement. THAT will change a lot, both for me and for you. Specially considering that games that value long-term engagement are great for F2P AND P2Players alike, since one uses time and the other uses money in a non-disruptive way and the economy flows.

The whole business model is aimed at that percentage of players who spend often and hitting them all the time, it never ends.

Disagree. GW2 doesn’t punish you for not paying, or at least it doesn’t intend to. Anet issue with balance punishes some classes lacking the e-specs but it’s not a widespread issue. You can perfectly do EVERYTHING at core Tyria and not feel constrained. Hell, i would argue that the F2P restrictions are way more constraining than anything in the cashshop for paying players.

ESO punishes you with lack of QoL, but there are no F2Players in ESO, which leads me to my point that it’s not a model issue, it’s a company/scene issue.

Dota 2 doesn’t punish you for spending a single dime. The opposite, you only don’t look pretty. You have access to everything the game has to offer gameplay wise. LoL restricts your access to all the heroes but it’s perfectly playable if you put the time into it. Same as Smite. Neither of these 3 games offer a single purchasing advantage.

won’t be the case, especially in today’s volatile financial climate.

Not on tripleA MMOs for sure. Innovation will come from niche studios and games. And those will NEED to keep their playerbase loyal.

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NeoWolf

1. Exchange rates are all over the place, and if things continue the USD will cease to be the price in which things are valued and China’s CNY/RMB will be. Although the Pandemic has pretty much flipped everything on its head atm and everyone is losing money across the board. However the price of subscriptions has never changed, irrespective of currency volatility not in decades and isn’t likely to any time soon.
So we will have to agree to disagree on why subscriptions have become less prevalent than F2P’s

2. You cannot cite DOTA and LoL as examples of good F2P, firstly they aren’t even MMO’s they are MOBAs a completely different genre of games. secondly I have played pretty much every non PvP based MMO out there and by and large most F2P business models are garbage. Very few are inoffensive and nickel and dimey and most only get worse from that standard not better. Thirdly as I already established I don’t like the F2P business model, for people like me who pay in MMO’
s that business model is a leech on my a** that just keeps sucking ;) And as a result I pay WAY more now for MMO’s while getting way less than I got from MMO’s when I paid a sub… hence my issue :)

3. Well aside from doing a moderately good job of selling GW2 topeople, you haven’t really sold me on the viability of F2P business models. One relatively inoffensive example does not a precedent make. Lets way that against the amount of sh**y F2P business models shall we? :) And suddenly we have a tidal wave… Its great for people who play GW2, but what about the MANY more who don’t?

4. Little Innovation in any sector of MMO’s atm, let alone business models, but that is an ENTIRELY separate debate ;)

Reader
Bruno Brito

1. Exchange rates are all over the place, and if things continue the USD will cease to be the price in which things are valued and China’s CNY/RMB will be. Although the Pandemic has pretty much flipped everything on its head atm and everyone is losing money across the board. However the price of subscriptions has never changed, irrespective of currency volatility not in decades and isn’t likely to any time soon.
So we will have to agree to disagree on why subscriptions have become less prevalent than F2P’s

Subscription prices haven’t changed but the value of money has. Again, millenials are one of the generations with the least ammount of wealth and properties, and with some of the most ammount of debt. Debt that will probably be never paid. The 15 bucks that you payed 10 years ago is not the same 15 bucks you pay today. Everything is expensive now, and your money is worth less. This is specially egregious when you go outside the lens of NA and look at other places like SA, Europe, etc. Europe was literally all over the place before the pandemic, with some countries being stable while others having terrible economic crisis. South America exchange rates are humongous also because of economic crisis. So, we’ll agree to disagree, but i’ll keep saying, none of these are isolated cases, economy doesn’t work on vaccuums, gaming changed because it HAD to.

2. You cannot cite DOTA and LoL as examples of good F2P, firstly they aren’t even MMO’s they are MOBAs a completely different genre of games. secondly I have played pretty much every non PvP based MMO out there and by and large most F2P business models are garbage. Very few are inoffensive and nickel and dimey and most only get worse from that standard not better. Thirdly as I already established I don’t like the F2P business model, for people like me who pay in MMO’
s that business model is a leech on my a** that just keeps sucking ;) And as a result I pay WAY more now for MMO’s while getting way less than I got from MMO’s when I paid a sub… hence my issue :)

I can ABSOLUTELY cite Dota and LoL as examples of good F2P, and them not being MMOs is irrelevant. That’s just moving the goalposts.

Also, the rest of this specific example is just subjective, so i’ll agree to disagree, you have the right to your experience, just don’t use it as a general proposition. Ark for instance, doesn’t like the Gem-Gold exchange for GW2, and i do. Different strokes.

3. Well aside from doing a moderately good job of selling GW2 topeople, you haven’t really sold me on the viability of F2P business models. One relatively inoffensive example does not a precedent make. Lets way that against the amount of sh**y F2P business models shall we? :) And suddenly we have a tidal wave… Its great for people who play GW2, but what about the MANY more who don’t?

I’m not trying to sell F2P. Most of the F2P models are badly done and yeah, greedy as fuck. I’m telling you that GW2 is an example that F2P CAN be accessible and not entirely greedy-like, and the issue is not the model, it’s the industry. It’s the specific companies that settle the trend and others run with it because they can get away with it. It’s the PAs, the EAs, the Activisions, the My.rus, the PWIs, the NCSofts.

4. Little Innovation in any sector of MMO’s atm, let alone business models, but that is an ENTIRELY separate debate ;)

We can agree on that.

But yeah, let’s agree to disagree, this comment section is getting hard to read.

Reader
Bereman99

In two months, players have received a grand total of one new equippable item (not emotes or stickers, which I have never used to date or seen fellow players use). The paid DLC cosmetics, however, are quite bountiful with each new update.

Not sure if MH Rise really belongs in this list like the more egregious examples do.

The example you linked to – the palico outfit that came for free as part of an event – didn’t arrive until something like 10 months after launch. The first event that came with free equippable items (in the form of gear, as this was before layered armor, so not everyone would use) was the Devil May Cry crossover, and that was about 3 months after it had launched.

At some point, we are almost guaranteed to get a crossover event quest that gives cosmetics for us to wear, the same way World has.

As for loot to chase…

Players in World did get Devjilho and Kulve Taroth in about a 2 month time span and the associated items…

We got Bazelgeuse and Crimson Glow Valstrax, and the associated items in about a 2 month time span.

I don’t think the microtransactions/access to cosmetics in the shop have anything to do with encountering less players when looking to join random groups with the 3.0 update. World was both grindier – needed more total monster pieces for upgrades, had to farm over and over for RNG decos to make builds – than Rise and had a cycling event system that was based on a FOMO approach.

“Get in and do this event, cause it’s gone in 3 weeks” kind of thing. Thankfully they would bring them back with regularity, but that’s a kind of systems level design that is meant to increase month engagement. Being able to get a single outfit (that not everyone likes the design of) as layered armor in the shop isn’t going to be the thing that reduces player activity. Not by a long shot. And the idea that Capcom has “has taken out some loot for us to pursue and locked it behind a paywall” doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

And by the time the 2 month point rolled around, World had added its RNG fueled siege event, where you’d need to farm for those weapon drops and hope RNG gave you the one you needed and it was good. Rise has no equivalent to that, so it shouldn’t be surprising that players have more than likely finished with the game at a larger scale and it is now a more “play when I/my friends feel like it or when I’m on the go and can bring my Switch” style game.

TLDR – I don’t think MHRise belongs on the list because its microstransactions are not impacting gameplay. Certainly not the way SWTOR’s egregious limitations when it launched did, or the way Niantic has handled the megaevolutions system has impacted its game.

Or really at all.