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Goblin’s Corner: Pay-to-Play vs Free-to-Play


Goblins Corner Head 1

As the time passes and we getting closer to the Close Beta events of TESO, many players wonder which payment model the game will follow.

In the current MMO industry the 3 most popular models are; The P2P with monthly sub, the F2P with in-game shop which affects gameplay in a certain level and the newly GW2 model which doesn’t have monthly sub but you pay once to get the game. Of course GW2 model has an in-game shop as well but there aren’t any restrictions to the gameplay itself.

At the moment the only MMOs which still have a subscription model is World of Warcraft (WoW), EVE online and Rift.

P2P vs F2P - 1

Then we have all the Asian MMOs which westernized into a complete free to play model; besides Aion and TERA. This kind of free to play model has a catch – in practice it’s a pay to win model. Many players are against it. The reason behind it is simple; the need to play the game for progress is vaporized.

The other free to play model is the one that games like EverQuest 2 (EQ2), Lord of The Rings Online (LoTRO) and most recently Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) followed.  This model is followed by games which had a subscription before and then turned into free to play with an option for monthly subscription. In this case there are some restrictions into gameplay for the free players. Those restrictions doesn’t affect the player’s experience into the game, but affect the difficulty of progress and in some cases the luxury of player’s game style (i.e. limited inventory, items restrictions, etc)

From what we saw so far, this model works for most games which turned from P2P to F2P. What we have to consider in this point, is that those games don’t make big profit from their current player base. They still get money from their in-game shop, but the expansions and updates coming once they go F2P, they aren’t so great. This model helps the game to keep going but it isn’t the best option for a fresh new game where players have great expectations.

P2P vs F2P - 2

The last and most successful in my opinion is the model which followed by GW2. A good payment upfront to get the game, which means the design team can take back some big portion of money which they already invested into the game and then make the rest from a well-designed in-game store. Gw2 store doesn’t provide any game-breaking items; most of them are cosmetics which doesn’t upset players who can’t afford to pay. Also, WoW uses this idea of in-game shop for mounts, but again is all about cosmetic without affecting the gameplay.

The question is which route TESO will follow. The straight forward P2P which, in the eyes of MMO players (mostly), would be a risky thing to do or the most secured free to play mode with a strong payment upfront ?

The P2P would give good money back to the investors in a short time after launch, but has the risk, that players won’t willing to pay for a content which isn’t better than other games out there have with better offer (F2P).

The F2P with upfront payment and with a well-thought in-game store works great so far, based on GW2 experience. They have constant release of new content, small scale but still, they keep their players hooked.

TESO has a chance of great success if they follow GW2 model. The marketing name of ESO will bring many players to get their hands into the most anticipated game of 2013. With this strategy, devs won’t have to worry about how many players remain to their game afterwards to cover up their invested money like SWTOR did. They would earn a respect amount by sales and then, they could make the rest through fancy items from their in-game shop.

Which way do you think TESO will follow ?

P2P vs F2P - 3

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2013 by in Goblin's Corner and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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