Monday, February 25, 2013

Freemium MMOs Are The Future

Freemium is the latest trend in MMO, and plenty of AAA games have changed their business model from Pay to Play to Freemium. There are however other MMOs that are still trying to use the Pay to Play model. Is Pay to Play model really still viable? or are Freemium and Buy to Play really the way of the future? (Do take note that when I say Freemium I also consider Free to Play and Buy to Play to be on the same boat).

There are plenty of games under development that are planning to use the P2P model, titles like Pathfinder Online and Elder Scrolls Online comes to mind. But are these games really sure that people will just pay willingly? We can see from the recent years how many games have changed their business model from P2P to Freemium. TERA, Aion, DDO, LOTRO, STO, Champions Online, AoC, SWTOR and plenty of other titles. Some eventually died but most of these games have received positive feedback and have gained so much more players after they became Freemium.

The main problem in my opinion is competition. There are plenty of high quality MMOs nowadays that offers great MMO experience without making the players pay anything. Why would people pay for something if it doesn't give so much more than the much cheaper competitors? And don't tell me that Freemium and F2P games are crap because while some of them are, there are some of them that are definitely very interesting. Take for example Path of Exile, which is a far superior title when compared to let's say Diablo III. Mechwarrior Online, HAWKEN and the soon to be released Neverwinter are also great free to play titles. Yes, I know some of these titles aren't MMOs but Freemium and F2P for online games like these are also a trend right now, just look at blacklight Retribution, League of Legends, DotA 2, HoN and many others.

Freemium gives people the chance to try out the game before deciding to invest more money into the game. Smarter Freemium models even minimizes the limitation for free players so that they can really experience the game fully. TERA for example fits this bill quite well with its very small list of limitations that doesn't make free players feel like second class citizens.

Now compare that to a game like Vendetta Online which at the time this post is written is currently still on Kickstarter. This game adds a Free to Play tier but alienates the free players by giving far too many limitations, effectively boxing them together as "second class citizens". This doesn't sit well with me as I really hate it when game devs/publisher do stuff like this. If you're going to treat free players like scum, might as well just make it P2P.

I don't know what can really make or break a P2P game. Does it need big IPs to succeed? not really, as SWTOR took a plunge dive and went Freemium. Does it need innovation? maybe, but The Secret World is pretty unique and still needs to change into B2P model just a few months ago. What then is the key to a P2P MMO's success? I would not have a definite answer for that sadly. I'd say it have something to do with luck.

So how about Elder Scrolls Online, Pathfinder Online and so many other soon to be released games that are going to use P2P model? are they going to succeed or fail? My prediction would be the same as my prediction for both SWTOR and TSW. Those games are going to go Freemium/B2P in about a year. Now I might be wrong, but from what I'm seeing my prediction could be pretty accurate. Let's wait and see.

1 comment:

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