WildStar: Producer Says F2P Model Not Dead; F2P “Not A Magic Bullet” (PCGamesN.com)

It seems like such a waste of effort to have to explain why you’re NOT going Free 2 Play for a new AAA MMORPG.

Two years ago, the gaming community turned up their noses at F2P declaring an MMORPG had “failed” and was “worthless” if it swapped to that business model, let alone if that was the business model at launch. “Pay 2 Win” was freely associated with most every F2P game. Even now, there are quite a few MMORPGs that still have subscription models in some format: WoW, EVE, EverQuest II, RIFT (you can still subscribe for extras), TERA (same thing as RIFT), SWTOR (tons of bonuses for subscribing), FFXIV:ARR, and Elder Scrolls Online (launching next year), to name several.

I find it odd that gamers now expect F2P for AAA MMORPGs at launch? If it’s a good game, I have no issue subscribing for $15 a month. If it’s F2P and not P2W, I have no issues paying $15-$20 a month via cash shop items.

******************************
Not Jeremy Gaffney.

We’ve talked a couple of times to Carbine Studios’ Jeremy Gaffney in the last few months. He’s currently promoting his promising subscription MMO, Wildstar, and on each occasion he’s made the same broad point: in the massively-multiplayer market, things are not necessarily as they seem.

“Games that look very successful in free-to-play may or may not be making profit,” he told us most recently. And then added, cryptically: “Games that look unsuccessful in subscription may actually be more profitable.”

“Different games with different business models work in a very different fashion,” he said of his new game’s chances in a bustling field. “If you look at City of Heroes [which Gaffney produced] compared to Guild Wars, it looks like City of Heroes is a smaller game.

“And it is, fewer people play City of Heroes, they peaked out at – I don’t know the numbers – something like 200,000. But 200,000 subscribers paying $15 a month, if you do the math, that makes about as much money as selling 6 million boxes, if they last long enough.”

Gaffney cited a “couple of reasons” for Carbine’s decision to steer clear of free-to-play for Wildstar. Both lie in the “variability” of the payment model.

“There’s variability as a player because you don’t know if you’re going to get sucked in and pay $1,000 a month, because some people do. As a publisher it’s a juggling act because most the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that 1 or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free.

“As a publisher [that variabililty] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?

“So free-to-play’s not a magic bullet.”

Instead, Carbine have adopted an Eve-like business model: CREDD. Players can buy CREDD items for real-world money from the developers, and trade them with a second group of players for in-game gold. This second group can then cash in their CREDD for game time and, if they’re earning enough gold, play the game for free indefinitely.

“A bunch of games have done similar systems,” said Gaffney on the system’s inspiration. “Eve’s is probably the most popular and the best known. So many people don’t know what PLEX is and so it’s tough to describe. It’s such an efficient way of taking players that want to pay a lot, who want to put extra money in the game, and then that directly funds other players game time and so it’s a lot more direct.

“So essentially one set of players create their time, [another] use money to pay for the sub, and it’s a win-win and it pisses off gold farmers because it’s a legal source of trading gold with other players and so gets in the way of gold farmers.

“And we like pissing off gold farmers, too.”

Hear hear. But what do you make of Gaffney’s assessment of the MMO market? This is a man who’s been around since Asheron’s Call, so tread respectfully.

Advertisements

One Response to WildStar: Producer Says F2P Model Not Dead; F2P “Not A Magic Bullet” (PCGamesN.com)

  1. Pingback: When ‘Free-To-Play’ Doesn’t Work Out | Gamemoir

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: