Well, like some relationships that come to an end after a glorious many years, the Pay 2 Play business model for MMO’s is heading in the same unfortunate direction. The Pay 2 Play MMO’s that have reigned at the top for over a decade, are slowly being demolished by it’s developers and publishers, for the more popular and still profitable business model – Free 2 Play. There are plenty of F2P MMO coming out this year which, begs the question…should all MMO titles adapt the F2P model, right at launch so, as to compete with the new F2P MMOs? Yes, is my opinionated answer and I’ll tell you why. First, MMO’s are a great idea. Period. And always has been ever since the internet became popular and capitalizing that popularity, game developers finally utilized the MMO idea with the now available technology and VOILA! MMO’s were born! Now fast forward to present time…….MMO’s have been around a while and because of that obvious fact, new game developers and companies have risen to taste some of that sweet pie, like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft clearly has.
Now, subscriptions are a great, logical way of representing your business model, especially when you give so much content for it but, what happens when you don’t? Take for instance, Champions Online. They came out of the gates running but, just didn’t have the stamina to stay in the P2P race long enough. Main problem: They did not create enough game content before they launched and paid by losing a majority of their subscribers a bunch of months later, partially, because of it. They soon opted for the F2P model as plan B and fought to stay alive and surprisingly became fairly prosperous. F2P does come with limitations to the account like, fewer character slots, areas available, restricted character classes and so on. Many new MMO’s out there are opting for the F2P at the start. Even Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is learning that it might be time for a change, at least partially, in their case(longer free trial). MMO developers have been so stubborn in the past but, they are now realizing that F2P still can be just as profitable and yet, accessible to everyone’s price range thus, attracting more people and incidentally turning Plan B into Plan A…with a smile. Welcome to F2P ladies and gents, please watch your step…it’s quite bumpy at first but, it’ll change soon if, you have a solid game and players give it a chance. If not, your dead in the water no matter what the business plan is. It’s an obvious reality. So, why don’t you jump on to the F2P band wagon right way developers, and reap the increasingly profitable business model! It’s all right…it won’t hurt for long…just in the beginning.
Here are a few games that are making or have made the switch:
DC Universe Online – Sony Entertainment
A superhero MMORPG that features stunning unreal engine 3 models, mind blowing physics engine and it’s action-oriented game play, to create a compelling story driven MMORPG with amazing art direction. But, with the lack of content, a low level cap and a sometimes tedious combat, DCUO slowly showed a decrease in their subscriptions and badly needed the F2P model to revitalize the game’s population by attracting players of all price ranges. DCUO has a bright future especially now, with three DLC recently released that added more powers and missions, new items and special powers available at the cash market and updates released often…it will seem DCUO will have a happy and long running game life.
Champions Online – Cryptic Studios
A superhero MMORPG that features a luscious and rich background story, sharp, colorful models, crazy customizable character creator, well constructed environments and a unique combat system that allows for slow and fast action game play. But, Champions lacked the content needed to attract long time players especially because environments in the game seemed unfinished, a low level cap and not enough early and end game content. This is because of it’s hasty launch and as a result, they lost many subscribers. F2P was the perfect option. It allowed the developers to add new content as fast as possible and also attract a larger market in the process. Champions is still hanging on and has a large enough population, lots of new updates and this will hopefully be enough to move the game forward to the unseen future.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Bioware
Star Wars: The Old Republic is an MMORPG that features a fully voiced acting in game cinematic, crisp character models, an evolving class system, all the force powers you can imagine, a solid lock-on combat system, untold history where the Jedi and the Sith were at there peak and the galaxy was a whole new(old) place. Fans of Star Wars and the Old Republic games will and have been excited over the release and have proved it with 1 million subscribes in 4 days, the fastest growing MMO to date, dethroning World of Warcraft. With a crazy amount of subscribers and fanatic, adoring fans, hungry to play, Bioware still has decided to tap the F2P model in November. Naturally, its a way of grabs more players to fill their world, using their cash market as a method to make more profits and creating more in-game buying options for players. Future looks good…Plan AB makes this MMO a safe bet.
World Of Warcraft – Blizzard
What can I say about this MMO that hasn’t already been said countless times before? Well, I”m going to say it anyway…WoW is a medieval fantasy MMORPG that features a spectacular world, great amount of character classes and races available, wondrous in-game music, polished models and environment graphics, a large passionate gaming community, exciting skills and abilities, and almost an endless amount of content for the committed players. Now, WoW is the poster child for the P2P business model and has been very successful but, with other intriguing MMO’s that are being release F2P, WoW I’m sure, wants to keep there P2P model but, also capitalize on the F2P market by extending their free game trial to lv 20. That will work to get some players interested and give WoW a try but, without actually making a sincere commitment to F2P, they will never get a big enough slice of F2P pie to be satisfied. We’ll see if WoW does decide to make the move but, they’re sitting pretty still so…there’s no rush.
All in all, F2P is becoming the best solution for this world’s economy and for gamers worldwide. It might feel like switching to a F2P model is a last resort decision solely made for the loser MMOs but, the reality is that it’s slowly becoming the norm and is the best way to attract the entire massive gaming market while still having a fighting chance to make profits in this sea endless of F2P MMOs. We’ll see what the future will bring for MMOs but, I have a sneaking suspicious it’s going to be FREE 2 PLAY.