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Assumptions about Free to Play

April 6, 2011

Dear Reader,

I had, a few years ago (when it still cost money) a brief tryst with DDO.  More recently, I eloped for a few months with LotRO.  Both, as we know, are owned by Turbine and have, since, become Free to Play.

In our WoW-sickness, my buddy and I were discussing what we wanted to do to potentially give WoW a break.  We, of course, mentioned Rift, but it was dismissed.  With Star Wars just over the horizon, we don’t want to become entangled in another MMO.  Then, we dicussed going back to DDO (not LotRO, though). 

We talked about the good points for a while, then he expressed his biggest concern about revisiting DDO: it was free to play.  He didn’t want to play with a lot of kids and “bads.”  Naturally, I couldn’t resist pointing out to him that it seems, nowadays, that there are plenty of kids and “bads” playing WoW as well.  He agreed, since the evidence is clearly in my favor, but still, he felt… unsure.

He assumes, and I don’t know but admit he may be right, that Free to Play games work because they have very large volumes of players who  spend a little bit of money once in a while.  His assumptions run that in a game that’s heavily based on grouping (it becomes impossible to solo equivalent-level dungeons after around level 6 in DDO), we’d have to constantly be at the mercy of morons who are not filtered out by having to pay a monthly fee.

The problem I have with this is that (a) there are plenty of “morons and slackers” (to borrow Gev’s phrase) in WoW as well and (b) money is in no way a filter between “good” and “bad” players.  Once again, it’s hard for him to argue because the evidence is in my favor, but once again he’s still… hesitant.

And the thing is, so am I.  Even though I can rationally argue against his bias, I’m hesitant, too.  I don’t consider myself to be an elitist (well…), but there’s something about free to play that makes me feel like I’m swimming with the unwashed masses.  I know it makes no sense to have such a bias, but… there it is.

As much as I’ve avoided asking questions for a few months because asking questions in a letter is rather pointless, I’ll ask.  Anyone have any experience with Free to Play games?  Particularly in comparison to WoW?


Stubborn (who refuses to admit he’s biased, even when the evidence is clearly against him)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 12:32 pm

    The thing is, up to a point, your friend likely isn’t too far wrong. DDO got flooded post-F2P (it is a pretty cool concept) with a rather large number of players who weren’t interested in the franchise per se, but were just looking for a new video game without the cost.

    The bigger problem I found isn’t finding groups that are acceptable, it’s finding groups that don’t have content you don’t own.

    That being said, with a duo, you can handle content into the teens without a larger group. The groups I had post-F2P weren’t any worse than those before–you would think the D&D bit-heads would be more interested in the cave exploration diving aspect, but after you run an instance 20-30 times, you’ve figured it all out, and everyone just does the minimum mad dash.

    Getting to L6 is actually a pretty long ordeal, and by the time you reach that first group quest to leave the island, most players have some concept of their (limited) toolbox and actually do just fine grouping up.

    • April 6, 2011 2:33 pm

      It’s not much that I thought he’d be wrong, but that I don’t know that WoW is really that different, which is probably why my gut is also quite suspicious of F2P as well.

      I agree that it was an ingenious concept, and I remember reading when LotRO was going F2P that DDO had made more money than ever before after its transition.

      Also, leaving the island? I admit it was a LONG time ago I played DDO, but all I remember was running around in one big city with a few “outdoor” zones (like instances, I guess; there was a jungle one, one right at the city gates, and one in the desert – those are the only 3 I ever saw). How much has changed?

    • April 6, 2011 3:45 pm

      The starting area is significantly different than you’d remember if you played in subscription. Instead of the old starter island that was primarily solo, it now has a “starter island” that gets you through ~4-5 levels (I’m a little fuzzy on it, I haven’t played it in awhile either).

      The new island has a number of the beginner instances that used to be found (the short catacomb dungeon, the small cave, etc.) but they’ve also added another outdoor zone with 3-4 dungeon areas. The story leads you to a “final” dungeon which generally requires a group to complete at the appropriate level. After that you go to the main city and it’s pretty much as you’d remember.

  2. April 19, 2011 4:26 am

    Free2Play games (meaning cash shop only) that I have played:

    Jade Dynasty
    Heroes of Three Kingdoms
    Forsaken World
    Dungeons & Dragons Online (only for 5 min though lol – I hated the art direction that much)
    Atlantica Online

    All of them have had FAR better, more civil and more civilised communities than WoW has had since vanilla. Especially Cataclysm WoW I found to be… quite frankly, horrifying.

    (I played WoW for 3 years, up to when WotLK came out, and I quit instead of buying. Then one month recently for Cata, levelled to 85 from level 1 as a priest, and quit again, this time for good. So this is the context I’m coming from when I make statements on the communities you’ll find in F2P games. I also play Guild Wars, but GW has a unique model, so I won’t count it in the list above.)

    • April 19, 2011 4:27 am

      Oh and two more, sorry, forgot them, and I think one of them is dead.

      Chronicles of Spellborn (splatted)
      Pirates of the Burning Sea

    • April 19, 2011 12:50 pm

      Asking here from a place of ignorance, but what about the communities felt better to you? What qualities did you see there that you don’t find in the majority of WoW players? I ask because I’d be interested in writing a list of those qualities in a post and starting a focused discussion on how to bring about those qualities.

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