Sunday, May 29, 2011

Picking Amongst the Free

Earlier this week, Spinks asked whether there are now so many non-subscription offerings that the model is no longer a selling point.  If and when we get there, I think this will be a good thing. 

For now, we're looking at two trends.  First, games that do choose to stick to the old pay to play model are meeting a higher bar, and it seems to be catching some of them unexpectedly on the chin.  Being free to try is not necessarily a huge selling point, but being pay to try may be an increasing detriment in a world where even the paid games have free trials. 

Second, the non-subscription offerings that are out there may be increasingly fighting for time in gamers' schedules.  Over in EQ2 (both the subscription and non-subscription sides), we've had large cash store sales.  However, exactly as Spinks predicts, this fails to interest me because I'm not in the market for cash store loot, and I am in the market for bonus exp.  This was absent from EQ2 (which usually offers bonus exp on holiday weekends but just came off a welcome back bonus week), and present in Runes of Magic this weekend, so that's where my time went. 

At the end of the day, a sale or a discount (including all the way down to "free admission") is still only a good deal if you actually want the thing that's on sale - the biggest wastes are the things you purchase on sale (whether in cash stores, as Nils points out, or in traditional stores) that you don't end up needing.  I, for one, look forward to the day how a game makes its money can take more of a backseat to whether it is worth the money. 

2 comments:

mbp said...

One tremendously healthy thing about f2p and the various hybrid payment schemes out is that it encourages players to dabble in multiple games. The elimination of a box fee and subscription removes the barrier to entry means you can play a game for a week or so, go off and play something else and then return to the first game.

While I am sure an individual game company would love to lock their players in overall I think it is better for the industry as a whole to have lots of players who swap between games.

Mike ... said...

Definitely agree that pay-to-try is essentially dead. Rift has had free trials since a week or two after launch and I'd be shocked if the great white hope of MMORPGs, Star Wars: The Old Republic, did not.