Over the years i have played numerous online games, some of them good, some of them bad and some of them disappointing. A few years ago when the F2P market started booming the whole concept was new and interesting, instead of forcing people to buy a game and pay a monthly subscription, you could just download and play immediately and buy “extras” from the game shop for convenience. You could pay for VIP access and have higher rates and some special boosts/skins while overall not giving you any kind of significant advantage over the free players.
Unfortunately that system is utopic at best, because people eventually lose interest in the game and the online population declines as time goes by. When that happens revenues from VIP’s and cosmetic items are not enough to keep the game running and make the publisher profit. The only way to make more money is to introduce items for sale that give an advantage over free players and to halt development costs. This will go on and on until the game eventually dies.
Now i won’t talk to you about the countless korean grind fests that infest the mmo market with quick western translations just to grab a quick buck from people, i will tell you about personal experiences i’ve had with some of the biggest online games and how all that left me with a bitter taste for the whole industry.
To start with, Lineage II. I used to hardcore play back in the day (2005) with a group of friends, the game was riddled with bots and gold farmers but that is a story for another day, we grinded approximately 1 year to get to the level cap and gear up. After that the fun started, PvP, Sieges, PK’s etc. What made all of it fun was the fact that it all boiled down to personal skill and how much time you had invested into the game. So, if i was a no-lifer i would have a +10 Draco bow and 1 shoot people, that would be my reward for the time investment. Of course as time went by we moved on to other games, two years ago we decided to start fresh on the European Innova official server, the game was now F2P with an optional premium subscription for double exp rates. After levelling up for a couple of months we reached endgame, to our surprise every aspect of the game was locked behind a huge paywall that in first glance was invisible unless you reached said level and tried to do certain stuff.
It was almost impossible to compete with people that spent hundreds of dollars per month in the cash shop. From weapon enhancement boosts, to PvP damage boosts and unfair buffs and potions. Gear that costed billions to craft or to buy, which money you could only make by buying and selling cash shop items for ingame Adena. That was the moment we decided that the game was dead for us, i didn’t mind paying a monthly fee for exp boosts and drop rates, or even some kind of mild advantage, but this was an abomination.
Next on the list, Aion Online. We started playing at the game’s launch in 2009. It was subscription based with an initial purchase of 50$. To the day i believe it was one of the best online games i have ever played, everything from the PvP system to the skins and character designs was very good. After playing for 2 years our guild was one of the top in our server (Perento) and we had members in the top 10 PvP ranks, myself included. Then for some reason i still cannot understand, NCsoft decided to ditch the European servers of Aion and sell them out to some shitty German company called Gameforge. The game shortly after went F2P and the cash shop plague started all over again. After playing for 2 years, 30 people in our guild quitted shortly after the F2P transition due to the unfairness of the cash shop. Needless to say after that fiasco i grew a personal vendetta for NCSoft games and it seems i wasn’t wrong for doing so.
Every game NCSoft has released upto now has either shut down, sold out or become a total cash grab. People are still falling victims of this whole travesty again and again. A prime example of that is the new Blade & Soul game. It launched as F2P with a limited cash shop and VIP features which are logical at first glance. They lured in people saying the usual bullshit that the cash shop will remain fair and it won’t give advantages over other players. That may be true for now, since the game just launched and a lot of people are playing, BUT i can bet you anything that after a few months when the launch hype has subsided the cash shop plague will start all over again, making all your invested time into the game look like a joke.
Please take my advice and consider the following words carefully,
“Nothing is really free, what changes is the currency you pay for something, be it money or time, people say time is money, so when it takes you double the time to do something unless you pay, you are still paying with your time.”
Taking into consideration this advice, by all means, if you want to play a F2P game do it because you are fully aware of what you are getting into. What you shouldn’t do is play a F2P game and expect things that will never happen. In the case of companies like NCSoft stay away with a 10 foot pole, there are several other quality F2P games that don’t have the policy to trick and fuck over their players and are straightforward to their intents from the beginning.