WildStar (Finally) Going F2P


Two notable MMORPGs launched in 2014 with subscription models: Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) and WildStar. Four months ago, Bethesda Softworks announced that ESO was going B2P (buy-to-play). Today, Carbine announced that WildStar is going F2P (free-to-play).

For whatever reason, game developers have been painfully slow on the uptake that gamers do not like subscription MMORPGs. The only sub-based MMORPG that has been able to maintain a meaningful playerbase is World of Warcraft (WoW).

WoW is in the unique position of having a huge amount of polished content and a huge community, which are barriers to exit for existing players. That is, players have invested so much into WoW and their characters / guilds / community that they stick around, even though that requires a subscription. As I’ve said previously, even Blizzard would struggle to replicate the success of WoW in a new subscription-based MMO, and Blizzard has pursued non-subscription models for their recent new releases.

Customer expectations have shifted. Gone are the days where subscriptions were the norm, and the question for gamers wasn’t whether they had to pay, but rather which MMOs they wanted to play and therefore had to pay for via a subscription. In today’s environment, a subscription fee is a monthly reminder to a paying customer to question where the product is providing sufficient value. Moreover, the perception that F2P games are inferior quality has diminished over time. This isn’t to say that there aren’t poor F2P implementations out there – there most certainly are – but over time developers are figuring out F2P systems that work for non-paying and paying customers.

The online gaming community has the reputation of being fickle, and gamers will not continue to pay a subscription if they perceive any or multiple of the following to be true:

  1. The game is not meeting their (pre-launch) expectations
  2. The game is buggy / not polished
  3. There isn’t a critical mass of their friends or other players in the game – the world feels lonely. This was the reason I unsubbed from WildStar
  4. There’s a shiny new game coming out soon
  5. They’ve already experienced the content and are bored

About that last point, subscription-based MMORPGs have an inherent flaw in the business model: the cost and time it takes to produce new content are always going to be meaningfully higher than the amount of time it takes for players to consume this content, and gamers have the expectation that they’ll receive a steady stream of new content with their subscription. Developers have contributed to setting this expectation, e.g. here is what WildStar’s Executive Produer Jeremy Gaffney said (bold emphasis mine):

“There’s two major options to play,” he said. “One is super simple: buy a box, and pay a subscription. There’s a class of player that likes that, because they know how much they’re paying, they know the playing field is level, and they can expect big updates. That’s the joy of the subscription model.”

On top of this, Gaffney set the expectation that the cadence of patches would be monthly. Later, Carbine shifted to a quarterly schedule.

Simply put, pushing out polished new content on a regular cadence is very challenging. Therefore for years I’ve stated that developers need to develop highly-engaging replayable content – players don’t necessarily need a big world, but they need a world that’s fun to play in, even if it’s small. Think about MOBAs – players play in the same maps / scenarios over and over, and the content is simply the champions or heroes that they can choose to play. Or think about Minecraft, where the developer created the context but the players shape and define the world. Another good example of replayable content is WvW in GW2. Many gamers would love to have a huge, dynamic world to play in – I would too! – but the economic reality is that isn’t sustainable for developers.

The other flaw with subscription-based games, which Mike Donatelli acknowledged to PC Gamer, is that it creates a significant barrier to entry. I do believe that B2P (buy-to-play) games are a nice balance for the developer and the gamer to help the developer recoup their pre-launch investment, but B2P games are only viable for well-established IPs such as Guild Wars or Elder Scrolls. So for any new IP (e.g. WildStar), there really isn’t any model to consider aside from F2P. The question then becomes how to implement a F2P system that creates a sticky, non-onerous experience for non-paying customers but incents players to spend real money. Wargaming has done a tremendous job with their F2P system in World of Tanks (WoT), and WoT has one of the highest ARPU for F2P games.

Hopefully 2015 is the last year that we’ll hear of new MMOs with subscription models, which is still 4 years too late.

EDIT #1 (2015/05/28): some folks are pointing out that FFXIV is subscription-based. Yes, that is true, but remember, Final Fantasy is an IP that is almost 3 decades old. You can charge a sub when you have a very established IP because you have an existing large fan base. IMO a new game without a well-established IP will flop if it launches with a subscription model.

EDIT #2 (2015/05/29): so y’all understand, I am 100% fine with paying a subscription. Happy to do so. The problem is, a lot of people aren’t, and when those people leave in sufficient numbers, the game world feels empty, and that inevitably impacts me.

The thing I really care about is that games succeed, because that will drive further investment into new games, which means more choices for us as consumers/gamers. The reality is that subscriptions don’t work in today’s market for the majority of cases. I’m not anti-sub, but I am most definitely anti-game-fail, and my fear starting back in 2010 is that investment will shift from richly-complex PC games to superficial tablet and mobile games the more that PC-based MMOs flop. Over 3 years ago I wrote that business models for MMORPGs must evolve. The industry has been slow to realize this.

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Posted in Elder Scrolls Online, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, WildStar, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft
32 comments on “WildStar (Finally) Going F2P
  1. Sergio Klein says:

    I agree.
    I also left because there were no pvp queus poping up. So I was paying for nothing…I mean, I just wanted to PvP and there wasn’t any going on. I refused to go to a PvE server so I left…Wildstar is though, the most FUN mmo I ve played

  2. sgilder says:

    Going free to play should help breath some life back into the game. My question though is the issues that were present in the game a year ago still there?

    The game was fun for sure but had some pretty noticeable balance issues and battlegrounds were a joke, imo.

    I did get an email about the F2P transition but it sounds like it will be Fall before this happens? I looked around briefly for a date listing when this will occur but didn’t find anything. I would be interested to know when the switch occurs.

    • Sergio Klein says:

      they pretty much solved everything, from RNG to PvP gear access, to money earning through pvp etc…ive heard the pve improved a lot too.

    • The game was fun for sure but had some pretty noticeable balance issues and battlegrounds were a joke, imo.

      The quality of the PVP experience in terms of combat and class balance improved over time, especially as the ridiculous steep vertical progression from blue to 1500 to 1800 gear was reduced.

      I left because BGs were taking 5-10 minutes to pop, the population was gradually decreasing, and the RNG runes made for a frustrating experience.

      I did get an email about the F2P transition but it sounds like it will be Fall before this happens? I looked around briefly for a date listing when this will occur but didn’t find anything.

      I doubt a particular date has been announced yet, even though Carbine most likely has a tentative date they’d like to hit.

      • sgilder says:

        Well I will probably check it out again.

        Some new games might come out before the F2P takes place and capture my interest.

        I know I’ve been interested in what Gigantic will bring to the table as far as online multiplayer arenas are concerned. Its visual style is really cool, all of the skills are skillshots, and isn’t like the other “mobas” that have come out lately. The “laning” in mobas really bores me. Maybe Gigantic will be different and exciting.

  3. Troy Alleman says:

    Even two older MMO’s Ultima Online and Everquest still hold subscriptions. Not the numbers that MMO’s have today but they still hold enough people to survive but not thrive. The sandbox atmosphere of Ultima Online and even Star Wars Galaxies is something imo is missing from current MMO’s. I have been looking at Shards Online in the future to possibly fill this gap. Any opinions on what to look for in the future?

    • Aakek says:

      Everquest went to F2P model at least a couple of years ago. SOE/Daybreak also got rid of individual subscriptions for their games last year if memory serves in favor of a lower cost All Access pass to every game.

    • Even two older MMO’s Ultima Online and Everquest still hold subscriptions

      People point to some of the much older games as proof that subs are not dead, but IMO much older games such as UO and EQ cater to very niche audiences of players who have nostalgia. I doubt those games are experiencing any kind of meaningful growth in terms of new player acquisition.

      I have zero issue with paying a monthly subscription personally, but I won’t pay for a game that I feel has lost critical mass.

      I’ve stayed with games long after many other players have left, e.g. WAR, RIFT, and later SWTOR, and it’s depressing.

      The sandbox atmosphere of Ultima Online and even Star Wars Galaxies is something imo is missing from current MMO’s

      I agree. I think sandbox elements would be greatly welcome in MMORPGs. The opportunity to shape the world is very attractive to players (e.g. Minecraft, EQNext, heck even WvW in GW2).

      Any opinions on what to look for in the future?

      CU and Crowfall are 2 MMORPGs I’m keeping an eye on.

      And Armored Warfare, for tank warfare.

  4. thedenofsin says:

    I guess I am failing to understand the point of the article.7 Are you saying that subscription models are ancunsuccessful models for MMO’s? Or are you saying players simply are less willing to pay a monthly subscription?

    • aakek says:

      There are a lot of things said :)

      Subscription based models typically generate less revenue. It is much easier to get someone in the door for free, show them something they enjoy, and then get money from them with a cash shop.

    • I’m saying both.

      In today’s market, or in the market of the past several years, sub models have proven ineffective in terms of sustained revenue, and players bail because they feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth.

  5. Jaif says:

    Eve Online, which draws the PvP/Sandbox crowd. In part, they succeed by having one big server where everything counts.

  6. Jericho says:

    “but remember, Final Fantasy is an IP that is almost 3 decades old. You can charge a sub when you have a very established IP because you have an existing large fan base.”

    Nope, this argument does not hold any water. Let me explain with 2 words…Star Wars. SWOTR. Arguably one of the most (if not the most) established IP. The game had major flaws and the content was lacking so it did not support the subscription model. You could argue that EA wanted the game to be a F2P/Microtransaction game from the get go, but (then)Lucasarts and Bioware wanted it to be a standard subscription model, they had their chance, blew it and EA won out in the long run.

    The example of FFXIV doesn’t actually hold water either. The 1.0 game was such a complete mess that the President of the company ended up resigning partly because of its failure. They shipped off the original Producer/Director to some pasture somewhere and moved in a guy who had a vision. Someone who has managed to produce timely content updates that keep the community involved.

    Subscription models work for MMOs that keep its community happy. XIV is a game where they know where their bread is buttered. PvE. Sure there is a dabbling of PvP in the game, but its not a priority. The PvE experience is the priority and that keeps subscribers. 4million worldwide (including China) is basically the best numbers of a non WoW mmo … ever.

    Wildstar never understood what would make their community happy. They focused on what the developers wanted. They were all old school WoW and Everquest raiders who wanted to make the content that they felt nostalgia for. Content that just no longer works for today’s gamer. Hell I love FFXI, I feel nostalgia for its type of group gameplay all the time, but even the devs of that game have adapted the game to not require other players for a vast portion of its content. Carbine just never understood this. What we got was a basic clone of WoW in almost everyway except for its combat system. A game that was snarky, cartoony and wanted to be “fun” for fun’s sake. Then it created an endgame system that forced players to turn on each other. To end content before it was barely begun because the party was not capable of doing the dungeon as fast or efficient as required to obtain their goals.

    And then… they refused to adjust these requirements to the community’s needs. If this was not enough they then did not put out any meaningful content for long periods of time. In fact, most of their major patches were class balance and fixes to existing content. Yes they have added some side content and an entire daily quest area. But in its first year, Wildstar has received less content than WoW did in the current year. MMOs need content early and often to sustain a subscription model, Carbine failed.

    All in all, this response is too long, and should have had a TLDR that stated, you are making bad analogies. Wildstar did not fail because it was a subscription model game. It would have failed if it was launched as B2P or F2P. For no other reason that the developers misstepped in their end game design, refused to remedy the situation for far too long and then lacked the speed in the development team to put out new content regularly.

    • Nope, this argument does not hold any water. Let me explain with 2 words…Star Wars. SWOTR. Arguably one of the most (if not the most) established IP. The game had major flaws and the content was lacking so it did not support the subscription model

      You misunderstand me.

      I said a game with established IP can charge a sub, not that it should. Other games that don’t have an established IP shouldn’t even consider a sub.

      Wildstar never understood what would make their community happy. They focused on what the developers wanted. They were all old school WoW and Everquest raiders who wanted to make the content that they felt nostalgia for

      It’s possible that the concept wasn’t flawed, but things such as completing the attunement process for raiding were utterly brutal. Carbine wanted to create a “hard” game, but they made it so difficult that the game wasn’t sustainable for raiding guilds, and raiding guilds are one of the more stickier elements for successful PVE.

      To end content before it was barely begun because the party was not capable of doing the dungeon as fast or efficient as required to obtain their goals.

      I agree with this.

      I think WildStar made things such as dungeon runs too much of an all-or-none thing. IMO, a better design is to have baseline rewards for any completed dungeon run, then tack on bonus rewards for increasingly better runs.

      This will encourage people to complete runs, but also have the carrot of higher performance means more reward.

      Wildstar did not fail because it was a subscription model game. It would have failed if it was launched as B2P or F2P. For no other reason that the developers misstepped in their end game design

      Anytime you put a subscription on a game, you are automatically making people judge it in a very different way.

      The game design and implementation issues you mentioned would still have been issues, but the community is much more forgiving IMO when they’re not paying for what they perceive as a flawed gaming experience.

      Just to give an example, I know of many people – myself included – who have made return tour(s) back to GW2 for the simple reason that it costs nothing to do so. There was never a subscription, so the barrier to re-entry is effectively zero.

  7. Jeddak says:

    Doesn’t FFXIV have significantly fewer than 1 million subs worldwide? It’s not blowing anything out of the water. It’s a solid game, but has issues of its own that longtime fans of the series don’t mind.

    I agree with your thoughts. I think that’s why you have these smaller MMO projects like CU and Crowfall popping up–their devs are emphasizing replayability, especially around PvP gameplay.

    I’ll probably check out WS again once the F2P model drops; I had a lot of fun in Walatiki :).

    • these smaller MMO projects like CU and Crowfall popping up–their devs are emphasizing replayability, especially around PvP gameplay.

      Exactly!

      I’ve been saying for a long time that developers try to cater to too many different and conflicting interests in the same game.

      As I said in an article just about two years ago (https://taugrim.com/2013/06/06/the-two-big-issues-plaguing-mmorpg-game-developers/), many devs have tried to go after too much scope, e.g.:

      • PVE leveling content
      • PVE endgame content
      • PVE raiding content
      • Battleground PVP
      • Arena PVP
      • World PVP

      That’s a crapload of content and systems to design, code, and test, let alone (try to) deliver with polish. On top of that, a game with so much scope has many different audiences with dissimilar needs and desires, and you can’t please everyone.

  8. gameldar says:

    I was listening to Jeff Kurtenacker (did the music for Wildstar) on sound cloud again yesterday and thought – I wonder if Wildstar is F2P yet and went and checked their website – nope. Only to see your post this morning – I had to laugh at the timing.

    So are you going to give it another go Taugrim (assuming this revives the player base where BGs pop within a reasonable time)? What do you think of the F2P conditions? I don’t know enough about how much access to money/reputation/auction house etc influences game play (I played in the beta, but never when it went live – mainly due to lack of time and having a sub – like you I loved the combat).

    • So are you going to give it another go Taugrim (assuming this revives the player base where BGs pop within a reasonable time)? What do you think of the F2P conditions?

      Short answer is I’m going to wait and see.

      If there is meaningful population growth, I’d consider it.

  9. Tom Dixon says:

    [quote]a subscription fee is a monthly reminder to a paying customer to question where the product is providing sufficient value.[/quote]

    Why is that put across like its a bad thing? I see subscriptions in this regard as a constant check and reminder to the developers to keep producing great content. And Wildstar has been pumping out fantastic content since launch.

    [quote]About that last point, the subscription-based MMORPGs have an inherent flaw in the business model: the cost and time it takes to produce new content are always going to be meaningfully higher than the amount of time it takes for players to consume this content.[/quote]

    Why does it take longer for a sub game to make content then a F2P game? Is it because the updates are larger and contain more content?

    Its not always a bad thing for content to take longer, Wildstar had released loads of content quarterly, like no other MMO out there in terms of size and speed of delivery. So i have to say that this point almost seems invalid.

    [quote]The other flaw with subscription-based games, which Mike Donatelli acknowledged to PC Gamer, is that it creates a significant barrier to entry.[/quote]

    That barrier to entry is what restricts but doesn’t eliminate toxic behaviour. It helps reduce the content binge mentality of the F2P players, reduce the trolling attitudes, reduce the bot spamming and many more.

    While its a barrier to the younger players and poorer players, unfortunately gaming is a privilege and not a right. Just because there is a new game, doesn’t mean you have the right to have it.

    F2P is parasitical in nature, like Ivy wrapping itself around a tree and suffocating it. Every now and then you need to cut the roots to the Ivy to let the tree grow.

    F2P monetizes and artificially limits content, where with a sub everyone would have equal access. It limits the content by placing paywalls in front of it, be that the dungeon caps from SWTOR or the unique armour that would have been accessible to all and is now a $20 purchase.

    F2P turns content designers and developers into revenue designers, where there focus is to get you to spend and not to get you to enjoy. Just because Tera has tons of people in the starting zone, doesnt mean they are spending. And this is what turns developers who used to make content specifically for players, into making fluff to get people to spend to pay the bills.

    F2P has brought us WoW clones for the past 5 years, because they are easy to make, familiar to most and easy to milk. Look back at the last releases, there is a common trend that you copy WoW and slap a shop on it.

    There was a great bit of research that showed people who play F2P games like Candy Crush, loose track of how much they spend and will often spend more then the typical cost of a subscription based game. This to me signals the reason why developers head this way and its greed.

    FFXIV 1.0 failed flat, but rather then offering it for free, SE scrapped it and remade it. Games only go F2P when they are badly designed games for what ever reason, not because they are great games.

    I have never in 25+ years of gaming and 15+ years of MMORPG gaming ever seen a good F2P game and F2P cash shop.

    • Tom Dixon says:

      Sorry I can’t format correctly in here.

    • There is one thing you need to understand, which I wrote above. I totally fine paying a subscription, but my personal preference doesn’t mirror that of the broader community.

      I see subscriptions in this regard as a constant check and reminder to the developers to keep producing great content

      The issue is that for every major MMORPG release since 2008, devs have not been able to keep pace in terms of creating new content relative to customer expectations.

      People paying a sub expect new content at a rate that is not sustainable for the developer in most cases.

      Offhand, the only developer I’ve seen in recent years that has been able to produce a meaningful amount of new content over time is GW2, and I believe that’s because GW2’s B2P model was elegantly done.

      Why does it take longer for a sub game to make content then a F2P game? Is it because the updates are larger and contain more content?

      There are two different things we’re interleaving here:
      1. a F2P game by nature tends to focus on MVP (minimum viable product), because they need to focus on a core experience which is engaging
      2. gamers have the expectation that a subscription-based game will create new content constantly

      F2P doesn’t mean creating content is easier.

      Wildstar had released loads of content quarterly

      I’d actually argue the opposite.

      In the first 6 months, IIRC the only meaningfully new content were zones which were reskins of lower level zones. There was a lot of content that simply didn’t work (e.g. warplots).

      That barrier to entry is what restricts but doesn’t eliminate toxic behaviour

      Gamers will have toxic behavior…because they’re people. It has nothing to do with the business model.

      F2P is parasitical in nature, like Ivy wrapping itself around a tree and suffocating it. Every now and then you need to cut the roots to the Ivy to let the tree grow.

      Look, I won’t disagree with you that there have been many examples of F2P games that have a monetization scheme which creates an awful experience. E.g. it’s pay-to-reduce-awful-grind, or pay-to-win, etc.

      I personally prefer subscription based games. The community as a whole does not.

      be that the dungeon caps from SWTOR

      I can’t speak to where SWTOR is now, but their early F2P implementation was very bad because of the caps on x, y, z.

      F2P has brought us WoW clones for the past 5 years, because they are easy to make, familiar to most and easy to milk

      WoW clone is easy to make? First person I’ve ever heard say that. The market is littered with failed WoW clones.

      This to me signals the reason why developers head this way and its greed.

      I’d call it financial viability, instead.

      The track record in terms of financial success for major subscription-based games since 2008 has been dismal.

      My greatest fear for years is that at some point, developers will stop being able to produce MMOs, because investors will realize it’s bad business and pour money into superficial mobile and tablet games instead.
      https://taugrim.com/2012/05/24/the-business-models-for-mmorpgs-must-evolve/

      I have never in 25+ years of gaming and 15+ years of MMORPG gaming ever seen a good F2P game and F2P cash shop.

      You’re speaking from your own perspective.

      Spend a few minutes looking at this list, it’s full of F2P/B2P games:
      http://caas.raptr.com/most-played-games-april-2015-grand-theft-auto-v-muscles-in/

      • Tom Dixon says:

        Wow, thanks for the reply, wasn’t expecting to get into a discussion with yourself!

        I totally fine paying a subscription

        I wasn’t meant to sound accusatory with my comments, so i apologise if i came across that way.

        The issue is that for every major MMORPG release since 2008, devs have not been able to keep pace in terms of creating new content relative to customer expectations.

        So is this a development issues or a community issue? Consuming content faster then you can expect it to be created.

        People paying a sub expect new content at a rate that is not sustainable for the developer in most cases.

        I only play sub games (If i can help it) and while i do expect new content, i don’t expect it every month. I was very happy with Wildstars 4 monthly updates (And the community there was also) and if any dev follows that path in the future I’d be just as happy.

        a F2P game by nature tends to focus on MVP (minimum viable product), because they need to focus on a core experience which is engaging

        I don’t think that this the case, when a game is F2P, the first 20 hours or so is what needs to be good, the rest of it can and often is garbage. They want you in the game and buying and they’ll add as many hooks as possible to get you separating from the money in your bank account.

        gamers have the expectation that a subscription-based game will create new content constantly

        I do expect constant content creation, but at a reasonable pace. I stopped playing WoW back in WOTLK and since then there content release has been terrible. I was still subbed to Wildstar until the F2P announcement and i was very happy with there quarterly drops.

        F2P doesn’t mean creating content is easier.

        I don’t think that’s true, people often say “SWTOR is constantly getting content” but they are referring to the cash shop items, so if you consider cash shop items as real meaty content, then they are updated more often then subs, but if you then look at the real meaty content for SWTOR, that comes with the expansions.

        In the first 6 months, IIRC the only meaningfully new content were zones which were reskins of lower level zones. There was a lot of content that simply didn’t work (e.g. warplots).

        Some of there content is reskins, I’ll give you that. But some of it are entire new zones, battlegrounds, raids and gaming systems. Drop 2 which came out 2 months (IIRC) post release added a new battleground for example. Then the most recent drop 5 added a new zone, new raid, new game system (Contracts) and a absolute tons of changes. You don’t get that type of content 4 monthly with F2P games, granted you might get some patches but most of them will be to introduce more fluff and general bug fixes.

        Gamers will have toxic behaviour…because they’re people. It has nothing to do with the business model.

        I definitely agree with you there, but F2P allows the easy recreation of accounts on the fly when their reputations have gone or they’ve been banned. I could now make around 6-8 accounts for any F2P game and my responsibility to that account is negligible, due to things like the pick up and drop nature of the game and the often boosted level experience. Not only that you often see what i call “Content binges” where people come back for the new content, consume it crazy fast and leave. This toxic behaviour often goes unnoticed, but it wildly effects guilds and the dedicated community.

        Switch that to a sub based game and well you’ve got a lot more to loose and i feel with that it helps limit (Not eliminate) some behaviours.

        WoW clone is easy to make? First person I’ve ever heard say that. The market is littered with failed WoW clones.

        Yeah i think we are getting crossed wires, by WoW clone i don’t mean mimicking its success, more the way the game works. Look at Echo of Souls for example, SWTOR (WoW in space with less content, features and more bugs), Allods online, Forsaken World, 4Story, Alganon, Runes of Magic and many more.

        I feel the F2P is like a cash grab by poorer quality developers, they see a big successful game, copy its design and sell the game to you piecemeal. Games that go from Sub to F2P are games that just are not up to the standard to require a sub from the community.

        The track record in terms of financial success for major subscription-based games since 2008 has been dismal.

        Oh i agree, but is that because the game and developers where not up to the job to justify the sub? If we expect a certain quality standard with a sub and developers can’t reach that, do we have too high expectations or do they not bring their A game to the table?

        Spend a few minutes looking at this list, it’s full of F2P/B2P games:
        http://caas.raptr.com/most-played-games-april-2015-grand-theft-auto-v-muscles-in/

        I’m sorry but I’m not sure what this is meant to show me? It shows a lot of F2P MMORPG’s in the list, but that doesn’t mean they are A) Good and B) profitable.

        Archeage is widely renowned now for being P2W, SWTOR is a cash cow for EA, they have gambling machines and hyperspace crates which is bordering a scratch card system, FFXIV is a sub game and the others above are MOBA’s and WoW. I personally don’t include MOBA’s into the MMORPG genre, because well its not a MMORPG.

        Wildstar was the first in a long time that could have been pretty big, but they catered to the wrong crowd. If the developers acted sooner and added and changed things would that have justified the sub? Personally i think it would have, but as you’ve said before the community has changed.

        The community has become a self destructive entity, demanding unlimited content, quality, bug free and lengthy content at a faster rate then developers can produce it. They want it for free, not realising that they are spending more for the same content, then if they paid a sub. They want unlimited support and server uptime but to not pay for the cost of that (I have a friend who works for a sub contractor for a company who looks after and manages a wide array of server farms for some MMO’s (I wont disclose names) and they tell me its a very very expensive system to keep running.), they then in the same breath complain that a game is P2W or are concerned its going P2W while advocating it goes F2P.

        The genre as a whole has become stagnant, its producing the same hotbar MMO’s time and time again (Echo of Souls, SWTOR , Allods online, Forsaken World, 4Story, Alganon, Runes of Magic) when the community wants more then that. When SWTOR was released we wanted SWG 2 – The Old Republic, but instead we got a WoW in space, when ESO was released we wanted Skyrim with friends and instead we got a WoW/GW2 hybrid and when ArcheAge released we wanted UO2 with better graphics and we got a P2W hacking mess.

        So is the problem a developer or a community one as to why the sub isn’t working? Would a developer who offered what we wanted and requested a sub fail because of the sub or because of the communities demands?

        I apologise if my formatting is terrible, i don’t know what I’m doing! \o/

        • Wow, thanks for the reply, wasn’t expecting to get into a discussion with yourself!

          I appreciate thoughtful posts such as yours! The interaction is fun for me.

          so i apologise if i came across that way

          No offense taken.

          I realized after posting the article that some folks would misinterpret my POV to be pro-F2P and anti-sub. I’m not personally in favor of either, I just want games to be successful, because more success stories means more continued investment in MMOs, which means more choice for us.

          Sub-based games just have a lot of challenges these days for succeeding.

          So is this a development issues or a community issue? Consuming content faster then you can expect it to be created.

          The community has become a self destructive entity, demanding unlimited content, quality, bug free and lengthy content at a faster rate then developers can produce it.

          A lot of gamers blame the community for why games don’t succeed. Even that is the reason why games fail, it’s a non-starter from a business POV. As the old business adage goes, the customer is always right, and blaming the customer never got any business anywhere.

          It’s not like there aren’t games that are wildly successfuly. LoL went from zero to #1 in the span of a couple years, based on their game design and financial model. For the record, I don’t play LoL – the gameplay in the tutorial was so boring I had no interest in finishing it.

          I was very happy with Wildstars 4 monthly updates (And the community there was also)

          I don’t believe the community was “very happy” with WildStar’s first 4 monthly updates. Remember than when Carbine switched to quarterly drops, the big reason why was improving quality.
          http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/09/26/wildstar-switching-to-quarterly-content-drops-due-to-bugs

          I also saw countless threads on Reddit and the official forums about players unhappy about bugs, class balance issues, etc, and that the rate of those things getting addressed was too slow.

          when a game is F2P, the first 20 hours or so is what needs to be good, the rest of it can and often is garbage

          That’s a generalization.

          I can tell you honestly that the best PVP game experience in an MMO I’ve had in the past several years has been World of Tanks. By a mile. The PVP in WoT is highly skill based and tactical. WoT is F2P. This doesn’t mean all F2P games are great games, but WoT has consistently hung around the top 12 or so on Raptr for two years running.

          I was still subbed to Wildstar until the F2P announcement and i was very happy with there quarterly drops

          I wish I had the link, but there was a 3rd party web site that used the Raptr API to show top 200 games, and WildStar wasn’t even on the list after 6 months. It was the steepest drop of any game I’ve seen since following the Raptr blog.

          Most of the people I’ve talked to about WildStar said they were rolling out updates / fixes / content too slowly. This is after they had left and I was still playing.

          Not only that you often see what i call “Content binges” where people come back for the new content, consume it crazy fast and leave. This toxic behaviour often goes unnoticed, but it wildly effects guilds and the dedicated community

          If a game is only sticky when new content comes out, the game is not inherently sticky.

          That’s a game design issue, not a community issue.

          Wildstar was the first in a long time that could have been pretty big, but they catered to the wrong crowd. If the developers acted sooner and added and changed things would that have justified the sub? Personally i think it would have, but as you’ve said before the community has changed.

          I don’t think WS targeted the wrong crowd or demographics.

          I think WS confused “hard difficultly” with grind and RNG.

          Aside from that, the gaming community hasn’t really changed in recent years. People become incredibly judgemental about a game when they have to pay a sub, and they’re quick to bail because of a sub.

          Archeage is widely renowned now for being P2W, SWTOR is a cash cow for EA

          …and that is why I didn’t bother to play either of these games under the F2P system for any meaningful length of time.

          AA sucked, the grind and leveling was awful.

          SWTOR had such a lame initial F2P system, e.g. free player could only do X content Y times in a given period, that I wasn’t willing to waste my time on it.

          F2P =/= good game in every case.

          F2P is a financial model which the masses prefer.

          F2P allows the easy recreation of accounts on the fly when their reputations have gone or they’ve been banned

          This is true – there is no barrier to entry.

          That said, for any account on an F2P that has meaningfully progressed in terms of leveling/gearing/etc, banning that account is painful to the player.

          It shows a lot of F2P MMORPG’s in the list, but that doesn’t mean they are A) Good and B) profitable

          That list shows what people are playing.

          At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

          Games on that list that are in the top 10-12 that are F2P are also very financially profitable. LoL and WoT are two great examples.

          I personally don’t include MOBA’s into the MMORPG genre, because well its not a MMORPG.

          Well, the rub is that the same people are playing both. I don’t play any MOBAs actively, but most of the people in my guild do play MOBAs.

          MOBAs are reshaping the expectations of the gaming community, including those who play MMORPGs.

          Would a developer who offered what we wanted and requested a sub fail because of the sub or because of the communities demands?

          IMO, it’s really simple: a good game that is backed by a financial model that encourages customer acquisition and customer retention will succeed.

          I apologise if my formatting is terrible, i don’t know what I’m doing! \o/

          Haha, you got the HTML quoting right.

          I hope someday that WordPress.com implements better quoting capability.

  10. Danrex says:

    Hey Taugrim, Frizz here. Not sure who told you ESO was pay to win? It most definitely isn’t. They allow you to buy things that help you out but not in terms of combat at all. For example, I have used xp pots, you can train your horse to go faster, and you can buy potions or aesthetic gear. None of which help you in battle at all, since you can train your horse without this its just slower. I have not seen one thing you can buy that would benefit me in pvp fights. I actually think ESO is one of the best games around at the moment. I’m playing it and the community is thriving, especially now the console gamers are coming in.

    • Heya Frizz!

      Not sure who told you ESO was pay to win?

      I didn’t say ESO was P2W. I said it was going from sub to B2P (buy-to-play).

      • Danrex says:

        Oh yeah must have misread. It’s actually really good pvp and the imperial expansion is coming out and everyone is upset because all the dungeons are in the pvp zones, but I think that is great.

  11. Save101 says:

    The link above is a really cool Guild Guide for ESO

    • Yea I’m bummed to hear this – layoffs suck – but not unexpected.

      Also not unexpected was the announced stop of development for EQNext.

      I still think WildStar could have been successful, but it would have required some major differences in how the game was produced:
      1. it should have launched as F2P
      2. PVE content should have been designed to scale in difficulty more gradually and without such a black/white attunement process
      3. the PVP gear tiers shouldn’t have had such massive gaps

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