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Free-To-Play: Morally Opposed, Indifferent, Or Supportive?

The free-to-play business model is becoming increasingly popular, and it's inevitable that you'll see a lot more of it in the very near future.

This is a model that has resulted in plenty of discussions and arguments, so what's your take on the issue? Do you hate it for a variety of very serious reasons? Do you not really care one way or the other? Or do you see it as a promising style that you might really enjoy?

For my part, I'm not a big fan of paying as I go. There are pros and cons, of course, and I like the idea of jumping in and testing out a game for free. But there's just something...I dunno, sinister, I guess, about free-to-play. For whatever reason, it reminds me a little of gambling: It seeks to entice you and then keeps you coming back by means of your wallet. Whenever I hear "free-to-play," I picture some sleazy trench coat-wearing dude in a casino, chewing on a slimy toothpick and gesturing to the rows of slot machines and card tables. "The more you enjoy yourself, the more you'll pay," he's thinking...

Now, if there was some sort of setup where there was a maximum amount you could buy, that might be less creepy. So, if they released a game and only made $60 worth of total content for it, even if you ended up loving the game and buying everything, you'd only shell out a normal amount. And you would've had the added benefit of stopping whenever you like, before you ever hit the $60 limit. But such a concept could be abused like crazy; if you hook a player good, that person could end up spending a ton of cash. Remember, it's easy to forget how much you're actually spending when everything you see is only a buck of two.

Of course, everyone is responsible for their own lives. If you got hooked and doled out all that money, it's your own damn fault. I'm just not sure I like the idea, that's all.

Tags: free to play, free to play games, free to play model, gaming industry

9/22/2013 9:50:06 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (45 posts)

bigrailer19
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 10:20:13 PM
Reply

I dont like this model for consoles. It works well for phones because people can either pick up and play what they want when they want with a modest initial purchase, sometimes a free install. Its a convenience thing.

But with consoles we are already spending $60 initially. So why? So we can spend more to get the full experience? That just isnt right. I cannot stand the free to play model one bit for consoles.

I also hate subscriptions as well. They are pointless and thats proven because of other games not dealing in the subscription business. DC Universe was subscription based for a short time and theres good reason for that. They quickly went to a more streamlined approach with tiered packages and that seems to be the happy medium here. None the less, shouldnt have to pay to experience something youve already paid for.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/22/2013 10:21:21 PM

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Dancemachine55
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:57:39 PM

100% agree bigrailer. Free to play and pay for extras or speed up tokens suits mobile phones really well. Short bursts on the go.

But consoles? Maybe an MMO like DC Universe, but an RPG, action adventure game or shooter? I'm sorry, but I'd rather pay the once for the full product.

Imagine if Uncharted was on a Free 2 Play model. You get the first 3 chapters free and a pistol only. Pay for each chapter, pay for weapon upgrades or new weapons, pay for character skins, pay for multiplayer add-ons, pay for cutscenes, pay for more ammo, pay for more cash... Ugh, it would completely ruin Uncharted and remove gamers from the immersion of the Uncharted world.

I feel this break in immersion through micro transaction reminders will be Deep Down's biggest downfall. (No pun intended)
If the game wants to be taken seriously, it should look at Skyrim and GTA for inspiration, and Dark Souls and Journey for multiplayer inspiration. Would become an instant classic with game design like that!!

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:20:50 AM

Yeah, I would quit gaming if Uncharted were ever free-to-play. And you are right as well the immersion is no longer there. There comes great depth to games until you have to pay for it.

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Beamboom
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:38:28 AM

You don't pay an initial fee of 60USD for a f2p game, Big. They are initially free, that's the whole point :)

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 11:30:20 AM

I get the analogy of free to play beam. Im going to be very surprised if this hits consoles hard that it wont be more of a "pay-to-play" model. Think of it this way: games for consoles are much larger and take a ton more money to develop than those for phones or other devices. I dont see how a comoany can bank on making their money back and create a profit relying on purchaseable items.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/23/2013 11:31:22 AM

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Beamboom
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 12:40:19 PM

My reply was a response to where you say "with consoles we are already spending $60 initially. So why?" - and there's no initial spending with a f2p release. You download the game for free, and can start playing without paying a dime.

There's tons of f2p games on the PC and they are every bit as large as console games. Typically they are mmorpgs with gigantic worlds, like BioWare's Star Wars: The old Republic.

Also Sony has a hugely popular f2p multiplayer shooter for the PC (can't recall the name right now, but it's got a very decent metascore).
So this model is definitely not just for small mobile games.

Last edited by Beamboom on 9/23/2013 12:42:29 PM

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:58:04 PM

Oh yea I got carried away with that quote there. I think I was in the heat of the moment and stretched my comment a bit there or without doing it was referring to subscriptions. Either way I see your point now. Im not arguing that its currently working right now. I know it is and it makes me sick.

Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/23/2013 2:03:29 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 10:32:22 PM
Reply

I am completely opposed to it for otherwise normal retail non-MMO games.

- If you play online, your experience will be mucked up by all the free playing jerks just screwing around.

- You will pay more than the retail for the same amount of content. (Dead or Alive)

- Something free has no value, the resulting game is then just a system of ways to charge you money instead of the execution of a real vision.

- There is just too much temptation to abuse the gamers.

- There is no incentive for the game to ever end, we could have a game that just never ends as long as people pay and when they stop buying the story just drops off.

- There is no incentive for the developers to finish their game before releasing it, and so it may never be finished well after you've sunk money into it just because it did not make enough money to fund the rest of the project.

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xenris
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 10:36:57 AM

The exact same thing happened with Tribes Ascend on the PC.

All these promises, and blog posts about why F2P was the best option and how they would support it for years and years to come. Well 6 months after official launch they haven't updated it once and well that game was just a mess. They took a loved IP and just ran it into the ground. Changed elements that made it great in past entries and just butchered it with micros.

Everyone on the forums in polls said they wanted the game to be a 20 dollars download with mod support. Yet we got a game that to unlock all the content for was over 300 dollars, and there was very very little content there. Just a lot of unneeded perks, weapons, and exp barriers to temp you into buying the items or exp boosters.

This happens in a lot of f2P games but Tribes was the best example for me of how to destroy an IP with the model.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 10:45:56 AM

Those are the sad stories I don't want to see more of.

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Akuma07
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 11:07:25 AM

From a few of your points I can almost tell that you have never played a f2p game before.

I haven't come across any games where it is ruined by the free idiots.

There is definitely incentive to finish a game and fix all the bugs, maybe even more for a f2p game because the sole form of income for that game is for people to keep coming back and playing, so they need to make the game as entertaining as they can. With a full price game you pay the price and have all the content, bugs or not, you have already paid for it and the dev has made it's money.

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xenris
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 4:19:06 PM

Akuma, my story of Tribes ascend is 100% true. If you go on the forums you can see how much they ruined the game making it f2p.

Its because they can milk a game with the f2p model easily. They also designed gameplay mechanics around this and ugh...it was just a disaster.

Most f2p games can be played without paying a dime and enjoyed for a bit. But honestly I try almost every f2p game that interests me and a lot of them are garbage.

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Knightzane
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:08:17 PM
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^ World has a point. Although I feel it can be done if someone wasn't lusting after people's money. If Deep Down stays exclusive than I think there's more to it than it lets off. If it was all about money it would have been on everything. I'm not sure how I feel about F2P. Paying 15$ every month for the new DLC opposed to 60$ AND DLC. I just hope the F2P model isn't abused as once again, World said.

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EMax
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:08:47 PM
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Story in a game is very important to me. So far, all F2P games i've played offerred none or i have to pay for it (DOA5). In addition, some F2P business models seem to be attempting a sort of arcade like plan.
I bought a console partly because i didn't want to spend much money in the arcade. As Ben said, sometimes you lose track. Also some of these F2Ps seem like they were full game rejects or on the side projects. Against.

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RobN
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:13:36 PM
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I've seen it done incredibly well (kingdomofloathing.com comes to mind), and I've seen it done incredibly badly (Madden 25 for Android).

To me, the difference is simple - can you do MOST everything without paying with a little bit of patience? Or is it a choice between paying, going without, or spending 40 hours a week for six months to accomplish something without paying? Because the first is fun, the second just sucks, and the third is painful.

Too many pay-to-play games feel like you're being harangued by hundreds of carnival barkers. If it's constantly in-your-face or if it's all about stopping me from playing unless I pay, then forget about it.

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To Be Decided
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:19:26 PM
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I am kinda on the fence about this (Har Har To Be Decided). If the business model is done right then I am not to bother by it. If it done horribly wrong were I can see the psychology there trying to pull of to start that money vacuum all I have to say "is nice try but it is not going to work" and then delete it and move on. I am still curious to were deep down goes with it, if it fails well I can always enjoy it's music. I think the DC Universe model works the best. Have it free to play with certain limits then have tiers like those that want to pay monthly or buys an expansion for MMO. For others its hard since it really all depends on the genre your trying to do it on.

Last edited by To Be Decided on 9/22/2013 11:20:39 PM

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cLoudou
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:19:45 PM
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I don't really know how to feel. I like free things but they usually come with strings attached.

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xenris
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:38:23 PM
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That is my main problem with free to play games.

Like Ben said, if there was a 60 dollar cap that would be cool. However most of these games if you were to buy all the content would cost upwards of 200 dollars sometimes more.

The model can work but it rarely rarely rarely is done well.

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Akuma07
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 11:10:05 AM

League of legends, planetside 2, dota 2, warframe. Are just a few that work very well with the f2p model.

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xenris
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 4:27:32 PM

Dota 2 is just a free game. I don't classify it as the free to play model because the micros are 100% cosmetic.

Trust me I know I have 1500 hours logged into Dota 2.

League of legends has a terrible model in my opinion for a moba. Locking out heroes is stupid end of story. Every moba should follow the dota 2 method. Make your money off of tournaments and cosmetics nothing game altering.

Planetside 2 you can play without spending money but how far did you get in it? I logged in about 100 hours and saw very quickly that you need to pay money if you want to compete with the other guilds. You can earn them but the grind is pretty bad in my experience. Now I played it at launch so things might have changed by now. In my opinion it is a pretty good model.

Warframe from what I played is handled well. But the one drawback is that you have to spend money if you want to unlock the whole skill tree. Otherwise you can play for free as much and as long as you want without anything getting in the way.

F2P games that are a rip off? Spiral knights, 9 Dragons, Allods online, Tribes ascend was but you can now buy everything for like 30 bucks or 50 so its not that bad but it was horrific, SMITE, EQ2 not a complete cash grab but pretty bad, RF Online and I could probably list more but I try and forget the crappy games I have played.

For those 4 games you listed there are several f2p games that are cash grabs.

I don't hate the model but I think it is usually used to make more money from a game than the game is actually worth.

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Jawknee
Sunday, September 22, 2013 @ 11:53:06 PM
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If most of these are anything like that My Little Pony game on the iPad with micro transactions, its a complete rip off. Some of the content on there cost upwards of $99.99. Ridiculous that anyone would pay for a of that crap. I have an Iron Man game on the iPad that is the same way. $149.00 to unlock all his suites. I mean wth?

Maybe in in the wrong business. Time to start designing some free to play crap for iOS. :)

Last edited by Jawknee on 9/22/2013 11:54:37 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 12:31:30 AM

Remember, they are trying to extort money from rich idiots who are bored at the office playing their silly games since they get paid vast sums to do nothing. $150 for this game so I can continue to look busy? That seems reasonable!

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bigrailer19
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:26:14 AM

Thats how they work. I was playing this game called friendly fire on my android device and it was actually fun for awhile. But you get to a point where things get stagnent and you must start buying stuff to go on. Basically you create a base with defenses and resources. You tuen build an army to attack other bases whrreyou can consume their resources. Problem is its beginning to take a lot more reaources to build my base and to get those resources I have to build up my oil wells and mining. In order to do that I need to upgrade my base. Its like a big circle that only paying for things will allow you to achieve. Sucks. On top of all that the next upgrade for ky base takes 2 days. By then my base will have been ransacked and resourcws depleted. Theres a catch; you can purchase gems to make it build faster! Awesome. Not. Yeah and its like $99 for 500 gems which doesnt last long.



Last edited by bigrailer19 on 9/23/2013 1:28:13 AM

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trumpetmon65
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:05:51 AM
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I find that free to play is usually fun up to a point, and then all of a sudden, buying a few things would make the game much more convenient. I guess if it was really good it would be worth it. I like the idea of making a game free to play up to a certain point and then paying a one time fee to progress. Or I guess if it's an mmo then a smaller monthly fee. put the micro transaction setup suuuuucks.

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kraygen
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:32:36 AM
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If done right it can be fantastic, at least for MMO's. Honestly I don't see it working for any other genre and I've only seen a couple of MMO's that managed to do it right.

Most just screw it up, so I really don't want to see the model expanded into non-MMO's game styles.

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playaplus
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 1:47:45 AM
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i like how tekken revolution does it. 5 free online matches a day. now let's say I spend $1 on a premium 4 tokens (can play if 5 free matches are used) If I use a token (1 token per match) and when, I get it back. If a person is good then they can play for hrs on just $1. Just using as example. I dont really care. sure i'll try a f2p game out. If I like it then I may consider shelling out a few and if not, on to next game no biggie

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:07:58 AM

Oh man, that seems sickening, I'd rather pay one price and play it all I want.

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Mogreen
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 2:12:19 AM
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I'm fine with it or in the don't really care boat. I enjoyed DC Universe online for 3 different stints of about a month(lol) with out paying a single dime. I reckon that's how all free to play games for me will be unless the game is incredibly amazing, which I doubt it will be otherwise it wouldn't be free to play amirite?

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Draguss
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 3:22:41 AM
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Easily exploitable, but honestly not much more than most other models, we're just more used to them. I've played a few that I liked, plenty that are crap, and a couple that were obvious scams. I wouldn't say it's a bad model, just more extreme in it's pros and cons.

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Lawless SXE
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 3:25:27 AM
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I don't think it's all bad. I mean, if Sony were to institute a monetisation system for user-generated levels in LBPHub - backed up by an adequate quality control system, it could provide great creators with enough money to allow them to buy just about anything. It would be giving back to the community, rather than just nickel-and-diming it.

It could be brilliant, but too often the idea of squeezing money out of the consumers proves to be a core tenet of the design philosophy, which only drags the experience down as a whole.

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PlatformGamerNZ
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 3:42:31 AM
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yea i know what u mean there was a couple of free to play games i played from NEXON back in the day and between the two games i probably shalled out maybe 250 dollars over about 8-10 years of playing but i never felt cheated i bought stuff at my descresion and i did feel that alot of items i say on sale in the store were over priced and only bought stuff that was cheap or on sale but i saying that we got given probably $50 for being loyal so it wasn't so bad but yeah i don't like the model being used wide spread and i mentioned it to my mate last week and we both agree it doesn't work for every game and the fact that lost of games are trying to use it makes it icky to me now but in saying that i still have 3 free to play games ready to play on my laptop and i was gunna try another one but it's taking for ever to download and i think i won't bother soon cos i can't wait any longer and i have CS:GO anyways
i don't like it that every company thinks they can make a game wit the F2P model and it's gunna work it just doesn't work like that. and it anoiys me

happy gaming =)

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Beamboom
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 4:03:59 AM
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I consider f2p-games to be one giant demo of the game, and I don't mind that one bit. It will definitely make me try games that I otherwise would have passed.

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Vivi_Gamer
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 4:05:49 AM
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Oh I am very morally opposed to Free-to-Play titles. I thought we were already getting conned with DLC this generation, but this takes it to a whole new level.

Just looking at the few examples we have already. With the dead of Alive 5 F2P package if I were to pay for everything the retail game has to offer (This being the ultimate edition) it would work out double the cost! This is after the disc has been released!

I just don't understand how people would rather play their game in bits that witness the experience as a whole. Why would I want to buy a fighting game with a limited variation of characters, even if I were not to use some of the characters I would still want them there.

Lets take another example Tekken Revloution oh it's free to play, yay! When you go on it, you see that you are restricted to how many times you can play the game with tokens... unless of course you buy more tokens. Do people really want the gaming industry to turn into this. i certainly don't.

Or take the latest offender. Final Fantasy Type-0, A game we have been begging for to be released outside of Japan for years now. So we finally get and what do we receive 'Agito'. A compressed version that is free to play. Animations for conversations have been replaced with that horrid, cheap 'visual Novel' art style and I want no part of it. Rumours also state that you will have to pay for continues in the game... Which is just relentless.

If this is the direction the industry is going I will honestly quite gaming. I love gaming but if they're not willing to present their products in a manner that is fair I want nothing to do with them. While it is good business in the sense that people will buy into anything, I know when I am being ripped off and I shall not put up with it.

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ProfPlayStation
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 4:09:31 AM
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I see free-to-play being similar to Online Passes, and something which will pass even more quickly. Publishers are looking for a quick buck, and this seemed like a good idea a year or so ago. Since then, the ones who kicked off the trend, like Zynga, are running into trouble, despite operating in the bluest of all blue ocean markets: smartphones.

I think that once these developers realize that the console market is fundamentally different from smartphones, F2P will go away, or at least be scaled back severely. Games are the main attraction on consoles, and F2P stuff just won't cut it.

The only way I see F2P working is in the realm of side-projects. For instance, Tekken Revolution is nothing more than a severely watered down Tekken Tag Tournament 2. There are people who will enjoy being able to play for a couple minutes a day before being pestered for money, and more power to them. When that happens, you can either complain about it, spend the money for a few more minutes, or buy the real game from which it was derived. I think nearly everyone here would choose the last option. You get your game, the cheapskates and penniless kids get their cheap game, and everybody wins.

The problems happen when a game puts all their eggs in the F2P basket. That is when you feel ripped off, when effort would have been better spent elsewhere, and where the most hurt will be.

So, it all depends.

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___________
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 5:24:56 AM
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F2P is great, the forcing people to pay 60+ bucks for every game that releases is the archaic stupid way of selling games!
biggest problem though is companies just get greedy and do the service total injustice.
we need to find a balance between how much you get and how much you pay.
and thats the hardest part.
so many F2P games these days are pay to win games, or pay to finish games.
ie you get a crappy piss weak weapon and cannot compete till you shell out some cash.
or you can pay for 10 keys to unlock the next mission instantly, or you can play 50 hours of side missions to unlock it.
yea, thats FUN!
we need to find a balance where F2P games end up playing the same as what todays games do, only difference being the cost.

perfect way to do that start splitting up the features?
i never play MP games, rarely play co-op maps, so why should i be paying the same amount as what everyone else does when im using 1/3rd the content?
you rent 3 ipads for a hour costs the same as renting 1?
WTF!?
they need to put a cap on it though.
say you can spend x for this feature, x for that feature, and x for this feature, or x for everything.
and obviously keep the costs reasonable.
F2P can work, in fact its SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than the ancient useless mechanic weve been using for FAR too long!
it just needs to be implemented carefully.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:09:32 AM

baka

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SirLoin of Beef
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:12:33 AM
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The only games I think F2P isn't bad for are MMOs. Lord of the Ring Online went F2P and it increased their subscriber base. You get a good amount of content without paying a red cent. Star Wars: The Old Republic lets you play through a class's story line through level 50 for free, too. Some of the stuff EA charges for is a little over-the-top but it is possible to play through all 50 levels of the class quest for free. And most of the class stories are pretty good, too.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:58:24 AM

"possible" is the problem as I see it.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 9:59:00 AM
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Coin-op games were fun back in the day but they are gone for a reason.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 @ 6:46:51 AM

They were also very profitable. f2p is here for a reason. ;)

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Temjin001
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 11:18:56 AM
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Implementation is important. It can make or break it for me. And there's some games I just don't see f2p working well for at all. I wouldn't want the next Elder scrolls, Uncharted, or GoW using a f2p model.
I've only tried f2p titles Tekken Revolution, Doa5, and Ridge Racer Driftopia, all essentially arcade style games. I like them, particularly Tekken Revolution. I'm not a tag fan of tekken play so it's nice having a one on one implementation tweaked specifically for that mode. I've logged in about 135 ranked matches. The online connection is great. The time it takes for the game to find a competitor is also great, in this regard way better than Doa5 U anyway.

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Akuma07
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 11:21:12 AM
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From a lot of the comments here I feel like a lot of people haven't experienced f2p much. I suppose that is to be expected with console gamers.

There is a lot of types of games that don't fit the f2p model, or at least they haven't yet.

F2p is a gamble for the dev, they need enough people to come back and continue playing and paying for the additional goodies for them to make any money off of it.

f2p is designed to give gamers a taste of the experience and offer them the ability to buy add ons to that experience but it is entirely our choice. No one is forcing our hand. The core game is free but if you want it to be more fun then you have to pay. This is how it is meant to go. If you have a game in which it prevents you from progressing in the story unless you pay is an abuse of the system.

League of legends is one of the most played games of all time, and earns millions. It is entirely based on the f2p model.

as far as I am concerned I am totally fine with f2p games. I see it as the same argument against gambling, at the end of the day, no one is forcing you to do anything. In a $60 game you are forced yo deal with any bugs. The community has a LOT more influence on a f2p game. LoL is mostly balanced around pro players. I dont think sjngle player games should be f2p. I dont agree with games like ace combat going f2p, unless it is entirely multiplayer.

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BattleFox21
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 2:45:08 PM
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I agree there should be a maximum amount that one can spend, unless they want to use DLC to revive said game, otherwise 1) people will go for broke n 2) people will begin to get bored with this business model just like the C.O.D. coming every year people are starting to realize how old it's getting. I hope this doesn't become the standard and if it is we will definetly need a cap of some sort. People will eventually realize how much more expensive it is and start fleeing by the masses it will just be a matter of time. Then again, knowing the gaming industry they will milk it for all its worth till we do get sick of it.

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Lunar_Miyuki
Monday, September 23, 2013 @ 2:49:45 PM
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F2P games theirs nothing wrong with why don't we look at a game most people here haven't played called Perfect World International its a F2P MMORPG that has a cash shop but this cash shop has a unique system implemented you can buy the cash shop currency with in game money or real money thats right in game money

now heres the thing yes thats alot of grinding and farming to buy the cash shop currency with in game money but the fact that you don't need to spend a penny to get anything in the game

now let me address the cr*p statement about F2P idiots this statement is true and false Idiots are everywhere in the world
ill use a few examples Kurt angle olympic gold medalist recently got busted for like his third DUI in other words drunk driving

whats the difference between someone who has millions of dollars getting busted for drunk driving and a guy who can barely pay his bills getting busted for drunk driving besides money their both idiots for driving drunk
now tell me again why people use the term F2P idiots when theirs idiots on both sides of the fence

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VictorDeLeon
Thursday, September 26, 2013 @ 2:21:19 PM
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800% against, when they say "free" it should cost nothing, ever. but you'll pay this for 2$, that for 4$, ... And spend more than the price of a full game in the long term.

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