25/06/2011

[TOTW] The Gaming World Next Step – Free 2 Play with Micro-Transactions?

Nothing is ever free...

Lately there has been a lot of news considering popular games turning into Free2Play business model, one of those games was surprisingly Team Fortress 2. While this might be supporting a new way of getting into the game it may also be a swift and deadly marketing scheme so you can cough up more money to the developers and publishers.

Let’s face it, Free2Play sounds like a very interesting proposal on games, the games are free so they will fill up servers and become more popular for those who don’t have the economic capacity to buy the game, but this will also open a Pandora’s Box with certain games that will be free to enjoy and play, this meaning that you will not know the outcome and many players don’t like big changes like that and start to become fearful on how the community will be impacted


Oh awesome! More money with little transactions, we are sure geniuses, *BONK!*

The Team Fortress 2 clearly is an example that is currently seeing a separation on the community, the pro-free2play people and the anti-free2play people. The people who are actually in favor of the game turning free will welcome new players which will possibly make the games more varied in skills and distinguish people who actually have the game longer then who currently just joined in and this is seen by the amount of things they have in the inventory or the “skills” the players has in comparison with the new cluster of players. This part of the community also thing that it will benefit the competition and the diversification of clans and pro-leagues making it more competitive in the long run then if the game was still only with the retail value.


On the other side of this and supported largely is the anti-Free2Play parts of the community, most of the players are very upset if not completely enraged with this situation. The claims of these players are as valid as the former supporters, the claims are simple: the game will get overcrowded with people that most of the servers won’t be able to take the influx and will be full most of the times, the players that are coming are either players who played first person shooters like Call of Duty and others and this will get very conflicting because the learning curvature might be higher due to people only wanting to get a Kill/Death Ratio or how many people they killed and not going after the objective, the community is fearful that the players that this will bring are going to change from somewhat mature to mostly kids following some comments in various websites, this will have a significant impact on the game.


But this is not all that’s at stake here; the main problem of Free2Play is the micro-transactions that the games will suffer. For those who aren’t recognized with what micro-transactions means, it’s simple, the game will be free, but to get that extra content or special items you need to pay a small or depending on what you want to buy, significant amount of real cash for them, and this is a problem. Micro-transactions are the new “DLC” but now it’s even a worse method of cashing up to your game, sure the game is free, but you mostly pay it if you want to get the “full” content, worse thing still is that you might even have to cash in for further DLC’s and this is not only Team Fortress 2, but a lot of games are considering turning free to play and by this World of Warcraft already is studying its interest on joining this movement, EVE online is now seeing major protests in game about turning the game into selling Pay-to-Win micro-transactions were players are sure that this will destroy the games economy (one of the most well developed economies in the gaming industry).

The Gaming community needs a real wake-up call on this matter and not be fooled by such a promise of Free2play game, what you get is sort of a trial out of the demo barred with sales of what could’ve been the actual game if bought, if this starts turning into the future of all multiplayer games (and we are also seeing a very similar movement, Call of Duty Elite is a product of something similar but in a much more exploratory way, since you have to pay the game and still pay for “additional content”).

The Free2Play movement isn't all bad though, if considered from a different point of view the games will be free to play so you can try it out and if you do like it, you can delve into the game more by buying its additional contents, the influx of gamer's that will come just to try it will breathe new air into the games that are possibly dying, and you can see huge success on games like Maple Story, or Ragnarok which turned some servers free and they are still getting new players.

In the end, it’s a double edge sword and it’s on the hands of the gamer's to say when enough is enough and developers and publishers to set the bar on how much they are going to try and extort people for such a business model.

What’s your take on this? Discuss.

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