February 10, 2013
MMORPG Update: Trying some F2P in 2013
If you’re an MMO junkie like me you’ll be used to paying your subscription fee or even fees for your games of choice, but in the last 12 months there has been a distinct shift with a lot of the games out there to utilise the free-to-play (F2P) model. You’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that it’s been a contentious issue which has divided the gaming community. There are so many different MMORPGs out there for you to choose from and if you are unsure of the style you want to play the F2P model is definitely a great way to find out what it is that you like doing, mmorpg.com have a great A-Z list. If you do already have friends playing something like World of Warcraft, Diablo III or Guild Wars, or you are happy to pay the flat/subscription fee these are great games to get involved with and there is a big community out there to help you find your feet.
But what is F2P exactly?
F2P games don’t require you to pay a fee to play the game, you can play forever, for free. Some players will then choose to spend money on things within the game via in-game stores such as new gear, experience boosts, aesthetics (e.g., hair and appearance), repairs, etc.
So, why are some subscription-based MMOs moving to this model?
Subscriptions can be a barrier to adoption, you have to persuade people to commit to a regular monthly payment. This model allows anyone to try the game and enables those people who decide to get more involved with the game to buy things that they want within it to make their online experience more enjoyable. Gamers can also play several games at the same time without incuring several subscription costs. It’s great for software companies because they can get more players to try their games which means that games no longer need to appeal to a mass-market, you can now have successful, profitable games that can corner a niche in the market.
In that case, why are people still going with the subscription-based model?
It all comes down to MMOs being able to justify their subscription fees in the eyes of the gamers. World of Warcraft for example, still looks relatively safe, especially given its revitalised subscriber numbers following the release of Mists of Pandaria, but for other games it may just be a matter of time. While F2P may seem like a good way to give consumers more options, not everyone is happy about it. Unlike monthly subscriptions, there are many variations on the F2P model. They may not have time limits like free trials but they are often limited in other ways to encourage gamers to spend money in-game. As a result, the amount that a F2P game can actually be enjoyed for free varies greatly from player to player and between games.
Is there an answer to this question of F2P or subscription?
Not really, but it’s worth noting that they are not mutually exclusive. In some cases a F2P version is coupled with an optional subscription plan that includes access to all of the game’s features. There are always going to be different play models and I think it’s just a matter of finding the model that works for the game and also for the gamer.
If you are thinking of trying out an MMO for the first time, or if you want to try something new, we’ve shortlisted 5 free MMOs that you can try right now:
1. Aion: Ascension
Outstanding visuals, air combat, PvP, raids, dungeon runs.
Large dynamic confrontations against some of the largest and most varied open world bosses.
3. The Lord of the Rings Online
Challenging combat, haunting music, and amazing graphics.
4. Planetside 2
Truly epic, massive combat on a scale never before seen in stunning detail.
5. Runes of Magic
Comparable to WoW, but with dual class system, which allows you to enjoy the skills of both.
There doesn’t seem to be a perfect business model for MMORPGs, not now anyway – so we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for future developments and keep you updated on what’s happening with MMORPGs in 2013.