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Old 2013-03-04, 14:57   Link #1
synaesthetic
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The Trend Towards Microtransactions and F2P games

[mod edit: This thread was split off from the Growing out of Anime thread.]

In a subscription-based game all I have to pay is the box fee and the subscription fee. I know that every month I'll pay $15. When a game goes F2P, I'll typically have to pay at least twice as much per month to get the same experience I received for $15 a month. In some games this is so extreme it's not even funny--I've heard many tales of MapleStory players being essentially forced to shell out hundreds per month just to keep their gear enchanted enough to play the game at high levels.

And because the game is "free," the developers can easily rationalize shady business practices. Content updates are slow. Bugs are never fixed. Customer service drops to a bare minimum. With the paywall (box price + required sub fee) removed, the in-game communities fall apart.

RMTs, hackers and botters spread like wildfire, and the developers rarely have any incentive to get rid of them--after all, illicit RMT behavior will simply screw up the in-game economy even more, thus driving more legitimate customers directly to the item mall.

Microtransaction models benefit only the developers. They do not benefit the players at all--players are much better off paying a flat $15 a month to get access to the entire game, rather than paying nothing to get access to a mere shadow of the game, or paying double (or triple, or even more) to actually progress through the gameplay.
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Old 2013-03-04, 15:25   Link #2
Tempester
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Microtransaction models benefit only the developers. They do not benefit the players at all--players are much better off paying a flat $15 a month to get access to the entire game, rather than paying nothing to get access to a mere shadow of the game, or paying double (or triple, or even more) to actually progress through the gameplay.
And what of those customers who pay nothing at all and make the most out of their free experience? Should we force them to pay a monthly fee for features they might not even want? Some people don't even have credit cards and never pay for anything over the internet.
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Old 2013-03-04, 15:35   Link #3
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And what of those customers who pay nothing at all and make the most out of their free experience? Should we force them to pay a monthly fee for features they might not even want? Some people don't even have credit cards and never pay for anything over the internet.
Hey, I'm not saying F2P models should be banned. I'm just extremely sad that they've completely taken over and left almost no options for those of us who'd rather pay a subscription fee and not have to deal with an item mall.
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Old 2013-03-04, 15:38   Link #4
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Hey, I'm not saying F2P models should be banned. I'm just extremely sad that they've completely taken over and left almost no options for those of us who'd rather pay a subscription fee and not have to deal with an item mall.
Oh, my bad. Sorry for the reaction.
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Old 2013-03-04, 15:42   Link #5
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In 2013 if you want a subscription based MMO you've got three choices: WoW, FFXI and RIFT. That's it. Everything else is F2P or B2P with an item mall.

When Elder Scrolls Online and FFXIV A Realm Reborn launch, we'll get two more, but who knows how long they'll stay subscription-based? The way the industry is going every new or new-ish subscription game ends up being converted to a microtransaction model.
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Old 2013-03-04, 15:48   Link #6
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And who knows how long WoW will be able to be maintained with Blizzard working on Titan as another MMO.

Also WoW is closing on a decade old now. While they have managed to improve the graphics and mechanics, they still are using a very old game engine at its heart.

I don't know what the most recent subscription numbers for WoW is either. It peaked just before Cataclysm, than had a fair number drop. I think several returned and they got newbies for Mists of Pandaria (though they also last some that think the idea was silly).


One can grow out of MMOs just as one can grow out of anime. I've not quite done either yet, though I am farily limited on both aspects. I don't watch a lot of new anime each season (maybe one or two shows) and I don't play MMOs as much as I use to. Just WoW with friends sometimes even though I can still play SWTOR and Star Trek Online for free.
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Old 2013-03-04, 18:58   Link #7
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
In 2013 if you want a subscription based MMO you've got three choices: WoW, FFXI and RIFT. That's it. Everything else is F2P or B2P with an item mall.

When Elder Scrolls Online and FFXIV A Realm Reborn launch, we'll get two more, but who knows how long they'll stay subscription-based? The way the industry is going every new or new-ish subscription game ends up being converted to a microtransaction model.
Now now, I know we're not exactly in the mainstream, but Eve Online is still very much subscription-based
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Old 2013-03-04, 19:03   Link #8
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I don't see why it's a bad model. Blizzard's battle.net serves games for many years, and most of the time gives full support. Most of Blizzard's praise has come from its updates and care for games that they really don't profit from anymore. So honestly, it's a false dichotomy that games must have constant subscriptions to maintain quality.

Microtransactions are just simply a middle path of these. It's a certain realization of the reality that servers will need to pay for, but not everyone has the time or money to constantly play. And clearly said audience is growing.

it seems to be the quality of the product itself, really.

I have never been compelled to spend an extra cent in Guild wars 2, since they've minimized the concept of a gear treadmill so I won't be afraid I'll "fall behind".

It's more reasonable to criticize companies for releasing incomplete games and expecting people to pay for needed features.
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Old 2013-03-04, 19:04   Link #9
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IMO the whole debate between f2p and subscription based MMO's can go both sides, but that i am not here for.

But rather for this video



Like this video, i don't think micro transactions are bad but it depends how it is used
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Old 2013-03-04, 20:43   Link #10
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Sound like you didn't play Team Fortress 2.

I don't hate F2P MMO just because I have no time to be dedicate to those games. It's hard to say the business model is the cause of bad quality game or not, because there are a whole lot more F2P games compare to subscription based games, thus it's easy to find fault in those games than the others. Beside, I believe I've seen more people complained about WoW's quality more than other games.
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Old 2013-03-04, 20:54   Link #11
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Subscription base is so much better. F2P games tend to nickel and dime their customers like crazy and most end up paying more in the end because of P2W and being limited in all sorts of different ways. - From my experience with Dcuo
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Old 2013-03-04, 21:50   Link #12
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Over my years of playing MMO's, I've formed the opinion that subscriptions aren't all that. Most companies are going to be great, or bad, regardless of the money pouring in, or how it pours in. Does it really matter if EA puts out a subscription or free to play? Not really, because they failed at both. On the other hand Blizzard does both very well, and have even shown regret on gameplay impact when reflecting on the D3 RMAH.

But DLC and pay to whatever are more insidious, in my opinion, because they prey on the impulse buyer psychology. It's worse than the old "quarter muncher" arcades of past, because your arcade machine wasn't linked to your credit card. People have terrible financial restraint, rich or poor, doesn't matter.

In addition to the psychological exploitation, these models also diminish quality control and content expansion. I saw this coming due to rise of always on PC games, but now that consoles are always online, developers who are increasingly pushed to meet deadlines are essentially saying "fuck it, we'll release to retail and patch it later". That's a problem, especially when you're paying so much for each game.

The other problem is content expansion. Nintendo has a great business model, rewarding early adopters with free content, keeping it around but at a minor price for late adopters, and it is always additional content that enhances and extends your experience without requiring it. Hell, this year you'll be able to buy the DLC to New Super Mario U, which replaces Mario with Luigi and replaces every level in the game with all new levels. This is what more companies should do, not this nickle and dime shit. It's a full blown expansion pack. Not a season pass, not overpriced DLC that lasts for an hour, required to get the whole story even. Not weapon or character skins you'll barely see, or in game currency you don't really need.

But then you get stuff like Capcom, which charges you to access characters that are already on the disk you've already paid for. EA tempting you to pay money to make things easier in Dead Space 3. Music games charging you more for a track than it costs on iTunes.

But as companies like EA and Activision push budgets higher, squeezing out the middle tier companies who used to provide those lower priced, "b" tier games, this is what you get. They're eying those mobile markets, stuff like Farmville, and drooling like mad over the constantly high stream of revenue "pay to" games bring in. All that money spent on one game that will be discounted in a month, and then its off to the used market where I won't make money, or a free to play game that I can milk for years? If I'm a bean counter with a board of investors, the second choice is the obvious one.

And because they know players will resist, after decades of the industry being built on a "buy once, own forever" model, they'll ease you in with so much digital goodness you won't even realize they're abandoning those old models as fast as they can ditch them. They hate the used games market. They're chasing the Hollywood model - big budgets and residual income. They could give two shits about "games". They don't see games, they see products. And companies like EA definitely lead the way on this.

And honestly, it's a doomed idea. Anyone who has been tracking this flood of money being dumped into video game budgets from the western companies, and their push to microtransactions, can see some incredibly eerie similarities to the 1983 crash that nearly ended the industry.

Ultimately, the problem with the subscription model is that it locks players into choices, while the alternative is snake oil salesmanship. The app market is glutted with shitty f2p apps, and the mmo market is quickly following suit. Console gaming is rapidly following the same path, and with it is a degradation of the vitality of the industry in the form of increasingly generic focus grouped titles.

Here's a good article about the industry, from last July: http://www.notenoughshaders.com/2012...all-of-gaming/

Note the article talks about Dead Space 3 at one point. I should mention that current sales are trending worse than Dead Space 2. It's doubtful EA made their money back on it.

The PS4 can render an old man head with amazing realism, but if it needs to sell 20 million copies to recoup the costs of that development just to break even, what good is all of that work? Ultimately, gaming is a business, and companies shouldn't be spending themselves out of business for the sake of better graphics. It's a bad idea if you're looking at long term industry health.

So when it comes down to it, subscriptions don't always translate into better company support, and f2p games don't translate into quality games. However compared to the "one and done" model of console gaming, and considering the exploding development costs of gaming, every major publisher is now making serious headway into microtransactions.

Personally I feel this is foolish, and ultimately I think the last one standing, laughing while shaking their head and saying "I told you so", will be Nintendo. After all, they watched it happen three decades ago.
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Old 2013-03-04, 22:55   Link #13
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I'm just going to say item malls aren't bad. But taking away options is bad. Gamers should always have a choice.

As for the tie in to game quality, blame businessmen. As much as I wish dev studios could publish games on their own, it's these businessmen who have no idea what it means to create a game and appreciate the content that utterly manhandles the gaming industry in a slow choke hold.

Case in point is the console jump. I know 6 years is a long time, but I think it took half that time for people to settle into this generation of gaming. Same goes for developers I think. Then out pops the playstation 4 and such. Hopefully by the time I'm even remotely interested in that load is when all the bugs are ironed out and they took away all the financial transaction equivalents of stealing if there are ever any. The highest possible graphics of the PS3 aren't bad. The only problem is the slowdowns, that's all they needed to fix.

back to games, what is the relation of mentioning console jump? As said above, making new gen games costs a lot. So instead of making new gen, why not make current gen more enjoyable? Instead of shifting to all item mall business model, why not make the current subscription base and physical copy market even better? Loss of money they say? It's not that people are buying less because of your business practices, it's because the product quality is not up to standard. Pulling business maneuvers like this only better the company but not the product. This can bait many a people to keep the company alive but in the long term you'll see people getting the wiser and just deserting the services.
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Old 2013-03-05, 00:48   Link #14
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I feel like this thread is targeted towards F2P MMO RPGs. To be honest, I have no experience with that genre at all. The last MMO I played was WoW and I got sick of it so I can't comment on that. However, the microtransactions model has worked great for two of my favorite series so it definitely isn't all bad. Usually they offer packages or bundle in the games I play and I have spent much less for the same experience.

Edit: How did this split off from an anime discussion thread? hahaha. Great point anyway.
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Old 2013-03-05, 02:13   Link #15
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There's nothing inherently wrong about subscription or micro-transaction models, they're simply different methods for game devs to monetize additional content. The problem is when they lose sight of the game and their customers, and instead start squeezing as much money as possible anywhere and everywhere at the cost of everything else.

F2P/MT have their own place and games that they work well with, but when you have companies like EA that goes out and say they're going to have MT in EVERY SINGLE ONE of their games, you have a problem.
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Old 2013-03-05, 02:25   Link #16
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One can grow out of MMOs just as one can grow out of anime. I've not quite done either yet, though I am farily limited on both aspects. I don't watch a lot of new anime each season (maybe one or two shows) and I don't play MMOs as much as I use to.
This is silly. I agree you can get tired of playing the same kind of game and your tolerance for the same story/tired tropes, etc. can wane but that's not the same thing as losing interest in an entire medium. I love novels as always, but I don't read a lot of the same genre fiction I used to read because it's all too predictable/tired (though there being exceptions to every rule). I don't watch much anime either these days. But it's not because I've lost interest in anime. It's because I've literally seen everything interesting (to me) available, multiple times in most cases... and not that many good anime air each season. If any one of the dozens of my favorite anime aired right now for the first time I'd be all over them.
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Old 2013-03-05, 04:12   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyp275 View Post
There's nothing inherently wrong about subscription or micro-transaction models, they're simply different methods for game devs to monetize additional content. The problem is when they lose sight of the game and their customers, and instead start squeezing as much money as possible anywhere and everywhere at the cost of everything else.

F2P/MT have their own place and games that they work well with, but when you have companies like EA that goes out and say they're going to have MT in EVERY SINGLE ONE of their games, you have a problem.
Oh no, I agree completely, it's just at this point the microtransaction model has dominated the market. There just aren't many options left for those of us who prefer a flat fee to get everything...

You know, smart people. Because we know $15 is less than $50. :P
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Old 2013-03-05, 06:13   Link #18
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You know, smart people. Because we know $15 is less than $50. :P
And 0$ is less than $15.

It's not the matter of how much it costs, but the matter of how much you are willing to pay for the game to enjoy it. I spent $10 for Sword Girls online, and I've been playing that game for more than 1 year, while it's constantly updated. Or currently, TERA online without paying a single cent, and I still haven't seen anything that forces me to pay.

Not sure if LoL belongs to this discussion, though it's true that I haven't spent a dime for this game either, and I've been playing it for 3 years.
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Old 2013-03-05, 06:41   Link #19
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Yes, but the difference here is you're paying nothing, and you get a barebones experience. This is how all F2P games work--they have to work this way. If you got the full experience from a free account, they would never make money. You have to pay to get the full game, even if you don't notice it. I can't be content with a half-ass watered-down version. I want the whole damn game. When there's a subscription fee and no item mall, that $15 a month always gets me the whole damn game. When the game is a microtransaction model... fuck, the sky's the limit. Horror stories of MapleStory where players are literally required to sink hundreds of dollars in real-world, cold hard cash PER MONTH if they want to progress at all through the endgame content.

The difference between me and an F2P player is this:

I want to pay a set montly fee for the full game... with timely content updates, bugfixes and balance adjustments, well-staffed and friendly customer service, and a community of loyal, long-term players--min-maxers, roleplayers, PvP fiends, casual collectors, girls who use the game as a pretty chat client... the list goes on.

The F2P player wants to pay nothing... for a glorified trial version of a game with slow content updates, lots of bugs, mediocre technical support, an item mall that none-too-subtly pushes you to constantly buy crap... and a community made up of illegal RMT farmers, botters, hackers, trolls and people who don't speak a word of English.

In a perfect world these things wouldn't be at cross purposes, but this is the real world. It is not possible for a "free to play" game to make money without being shit-terrible. They have to cut corners somewhere because only less than five percent of their player base is paying--and in order to entice the "whales" to pay enough to support the game (even in F2P maintenance mode) they have to grossly compromise game mechanics and allow bigger wallets unfair, anti-competitive advantages.
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Old 2013-03-05, 08:07   Link #20
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Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Yes, but the difference here is you're paying nothing, and you get a barebones experience. This is how all F2P games work--they have to work this way. If you got the full experience from a free account, they would never make money. You have to pay to get the full game, even if you don't notice it. I can't be content with a half-ass watered-down version. I want the whole damn game. When there's a subscription fee and no item mall, that $15 a month always gets me the whole damn game. When the game is a microtransaction model... fuck, the sky's the limit. Horror stories of MapleStory where players are literally required to sink hundreds of dollars in real-world, cold hard cash PER MONTH if they want to progress at all through the endgame content.
That's where you are wrong. I'm playing the whole game without paying anything. The only thing I spend more than others is time. This works in World of Tank, Sword Girls Online and League of Legends. The model isn't a problem. In those games you could get everything if you keep playing.

Yes. I realized we, the one who refused to pay, don't support the company directly, but you should know that the free players are indirectly support the company by create the "playing field" for those who are willing to spend money instead of time. The company can't and don't want to abandon any side of the players base, because it help them in one way or the other.

You're blaming the model for what should be the company's policies.
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