Posts Tagged ‘f2p’

So I’ve not written anything of any real substance for some time now and I’ve been busy lately with being ill and partaking in two betas. One of those betas being last weekends Neverwinter weekend. I went into the game not expecting much from a game that is being produced to be totally f2p. With no selling price on the game and no subscription I thought that the game would show a real lack of depth and playability but boy was I wrong.

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Not only is the game VERY polished (for being in Beta) but it actually plays as a AAA title mmo. First off, It’s game-play is on par with that of Rift and TERA, although the combat is much much more fluid than TERA. A lot of love has gone into this game and it’s plain to see for anyone who looks close enough. A lot of aspects come directly from other well established games and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Graphically, this game is on par with SWTOR (A very good looking game) and actually not too far off GW2, which is the prettiest mmo game on the market right now. The engine seems to be able to handle what is thrown at it, which was a huge question mark hanging over the game due to it being f2p.

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Character creation is great. You have your typical selections of race, sex and the ability to pick from preset looks or make up your own for your avatar but when it comes to stats the game changes. With DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) you built the character however you wanted, by picking where your stats went into but with Neverwinter you roll the dice and get what is handed to you. However, if you don’t like what you end up with then you can re-roll the dice until you get something you are happy with. Being a D&D player, I miss not being able to build my class how I want upon rolling it. I think if Neverwinter had gone down this road instead of what they have then maybe it would have been a bit better but this is just semantics really and not an issue that effects the over-all game play. I can understand their reasons for doing it this way. They didn’t want the game to be too difficult for the casual player to understand and hand an obvious advantage to the D&D player or anyone who is a fan of the other Neverwinter RPG’s.

The races available for this beta weekend were as follows..

  • Human
  • Halfling
  • Dwarf
  • Half Orc
  • High Elf
  • Half Elf
  • Tiefling

There has been a promise of Drow being made available on release so don’t worry all you Drow fans.

Classes were as follows..

  • Control Wizard
  • Trickster Rogue
  • Guardian Fighter
  • Great Weapon Fighter
  • Devoted Cleric

Although the classes released for the Beta were well balanced in terms of group make-up (5 people in a group), there are a distinct lack of your typical D&D classes. Most notably Sorcerer, Barbarian and Druid were missing, along with other mainstays such as Ranger and Favoured Soul but what struck me the most about the classes was the lack of ability to build however you wanted to.  Being a D&D player, the ability to build however you wanted was a great aspect that made the game unique. You would often find that your typical classes were used in different manners which then gave the ability for the party to be more versatile and to aid them in achieving different things that your standard classes possibly couldn’t. For example, In a campaign I played with friends I played a favoured soul who was neither a primary healer or a divine caster. She operated as a tank with  great self buffing. This ability to play however you wanted will be greatly missed in my opinion.

The classes themselves are fun though, don’t get me wrong. From the sneaky Rogue to the up-front powerful dps from the Great Weapon Fighter, the classes are well thought out and executed and the combat is fluid and fast paced. If anything, I’d say that the Cleric class was over-powered but that’ll probably be corrected before release. My only real gripe with it is that you are rooted to the spot when using skills. I think they could have taken a page from Guild Wars 2’s combat and allowed you to move while executing moves. Apart from that it’s great. In my opinion, it’s even more fluid and better paced than that of TERA, which prides itself on being pure action combat.

Story wise it seems to be well constructed and thought out. I only played a certain amount in two days over the weekend but from what I saw it seems very fluid and constructive with a good narrative. The game being voiced makes a difference too. Like SWTOR, all npcs are voiced, further lending itself to the story and giving a more realistic feeling.

I’m greatly excited about this game now. I’m looking forward to any further testing phases and the eventual release of the game but as a PURE (no buy cost, no subscription) f2p game, it’s certainly the best one I’ve seen. Other games developers take note on how to make a game a real labour of love. Neverwinter is going to be a great game. Watch out for this one.

Written by John Gibson

 

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Since my days of playing World of Warcraft, through to my five year stint in LOTRO, I was an avid subscriber to the mmos I chose to play. I purchased the boxed, installed the games and month after month stumped up the required asking price for a subscription because I thought that the games would benefit from my financial support, plus the fact that f2p was never an option at that point as a valid business model for the games companies. These days however, almost every major mmo has a f2p option with others going f2p soon or already in the process of transitioning from a pure subscription business model to a hybrid of the two. A few mmos that are on the horizon are even going pure f2p, which you could have never imagined two or even three years ago. Creating a game in this way would have been seen as suicidal and just looking to fail. Not now.

When LOTRO moved from subscription to a hybrid, offering f2p to people who wanted to experience the world of middle earth and grind points to make purchases, or even buy points using real money, a lot of people thought it would spell the end of the mmo when in fact, Turbines revenue increased drastically. SWTOR moved from sub to hybrid model less than a year after it’s release due to a huge drop in subscriber numbers. I’ve never seen the game so busy now. Even Tera has recently moved to a f2p hybrid model and reports are that player base and income has almost doubled.

This beggers the question.. would a new, pure subscription model game be profitable and last?

There is a whole host of games out there, Triple A titles at that and a lot of them run a hybrid model where a vast number of the player base don’t necessarily play as f2p, but play as the hybrid where they spend money every so often and buy points, which they can spend on items or unlocks which are specific to their characters or play styles. I would say this is more considerate for people who don’t have extra income to expend every month of a game subscription and can buy parts of the game as and when they need them. There is also a section of the player base who just hate being tied into a contract, which is what subscribing is. Yes, it’s only a month to month rolling contract but it’s still a contract and that just doesn’t sit well with some people. Some games offer a lifetime pass, lotro being a good example of this. When the game was released they offered a lifetime subscription for £150, which basically means that you never pay a subscription again. All you pay for is any expansions that are released. GREAT DEAL!! you may say but not for the game company who has now switched to a hybrid model and no longer makes money from those players except once a year when they release an expansion. Turbine don’t like these people, lets at least be honest about it. Yeah sure, they give lifetime members 500 turbine points a month to spend in the store but they contribute nothing in terms of value to Turbine and lotro. People who still subscribe also receive those 500 points but contribute monthly to the running costs of the game and it’s upkeep. The people who spend real money on points are the cash earners for the company. 

But getting back to my point, With games on the market that offer f2p and hybrid models, which seem to be attracting the largest volumes of players due to these facts, I don’t think a game with a pure subscription base would get anywhere near enough revenue to be able to sustain this model, or even enough players to make it worth while.

What do you think?

As a little something extra,I’m going to list a few games which have changed from Subscription only to hybrid models so you can see the vast scope of this change of gaming business models.

LOTRO / Star Trek Online / SWTOR / Rift / Aion / Age of Conan / DDO / Tera / Final Fantasy XIV / The Secret World / DoTA 2 / League of Legends / Dust 514 / MechWarrior Online / Neverwinter (Yet to be released) / Planetside 2 / World of Tanks

These are just the BIG games, which could be described as A, AA or AAA titles. There is a further 4000+ games out there that are f2p.

Why would anyone pay a subscription anymore?