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The Negative Effects of F2P As Told by the Lead Dev of Frozen Synapse


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#1 MazingerZ

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 08:35 PM

http://www.mode7game...-payment-model/
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#2 Corsair

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 07:03 AM

I would disagree. F2P, P2P, and B2P all have to be considered at the start of the design and eventually molded into one of them. They help decide the content you provide, the type of content you'll be selling at a time. Sometimes you can see sloppy transitions and problems in games that change business models, as shown in a few P2P MMOs that made the switch to F2P. They run into the problem in what or how to monetize in a system not made with that in mind.

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#3 Krazzar

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 09:11 AM

Most F2P games are an evolution of the demo system and not truely just a free game. The negative aspects come in when developers or publishers get lazy and nickel and dime players at every turn. There are negative examples of every business model partly because behind every game is a team that may take the easy approach and not fully support their product or support it in a way you agree with.

With F2P you get to try the game and in order to get the complete experience you have to pay for the kinds of extras you like. That may be an advantage to you because you can pick and choose the things that are important or that you would actually use or choose to limit your commitment and keep it free. In other cases the "additional" purchases in order to enjoy the game must occur too frequently than you like. Planetside 2 is a pretty good example of this model.

With B2P you get a complete experience, but usually there is something more to add on with DLCs or a cash shop.  This doesn't have the demo function that F2P comes with, but it still has expandability with add-ons. The DLCs and cash shop items can get out of hand and confer too much benefit or be priced in a way you do not agree with. You have the choice to participate in the chunks of content you are interested in. ArmA2 and Killing Floor are pretty good examples of this model.

With P2P you get the least choice, but there usually are DLCs, expansions, and a cash shop anyway.  All payment structures have expandability built-in.

Games can change their payment plan, but they usually go from most commitment (P2P) to least commitment (F2P) to get more people playing.  When converting it seems most games don't put much effort into making it a fair trade-off, but who would expect them to when their game isn't doing as well as it could and the conversion is mostly an emergency measure?

#4 Hector

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:03 PM

I agree with this sentiment at this point. I would never play a game that has a sub but... As we can see from a certain game that we are not allowed to talk about in general gaming, games that are totally designed around a cash shop just tend to suck. When a game is designed to just suck all gold from you so you start buying gold then the fun stops. Just playing the game with friends costs money, it is not fun. And eventually after some other design decisions that are very questionable I will lose interest.

I think the article is correct, when you design around a payment model then you make very questionable design decisions to wring the most money out of your payment model. You stop designing games and start designing slot machines.

Edited by Hector, 02 January 2013 - 05:04 PM.


#5 Turambar

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 07:23 PM

F2P can be good, but it very easily breaks the ethos of games: To play and have fun and be less critical/cynical. So he makes a strong point about the negative influence of business model of esp. F2P because it can be like poison and get into the blood of the game. Done well it allows trying before buying or buying exactly what you want, but it too easily is a scam targetting the herd and not the indivudual's enjoyment.

#6 draxynnic

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 12:55 AM

Take away the microtransactions element and the same comments can effectively be made for subscription models. The ideal scenario for the gaming company for a game with a subscription model is one where 'winning' the game is a large time investment and where players are essentially put in a Red Queen's Race where if they stop playing for a month or two, they're going to fall behind - this, then, pushes players into buying more hours or months or whatever the subscription happens to be measured in. Like the article talks about in F2P games, this then leads to encouraging addictionretention, and looking to stretch out the same content for as much in-game time as practical.

The distinction is that in the F2P model, the aim after "retention" is achieved is often to stretch out the grind to beyond what most players can stand, and then offer microtransactions that will allow a player to short-cut the process. P2P games look to fall just below the typical player's grind tolerance level, however, so that players keep playing (and keep paying subscriptions) for as long as possible rather than giving up in disgust. The measures to reduce grind in WoW, for instance, is likely the result of Blizzard recognising that as a greater proportion of more casual players enter MMOs, the average grind tolerance is going to decrease.

Either way, whether F2P, P2P, or B2P with microtransactions, if you allow the business model to have too strong an influence over your game design (and lets face it, that seems to be the norm with MMOs) it's going to compromise the quality of the game.
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#7 licho

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 02:14 AM

I feel the same as the guy.

For me this whole f2p thing is just a lie. Its not free to play - lol. Its get free cut-version and pay us a lot later.
And something need to be sold. It may be content, or maybe some utylity stuff, or convienience....
However there is a really strong presure to spoil a game, so there will be more to sold.
Part of it is DLC-madness, especially one released at day 1.
I do not want to sound like kind of hippie, but its breaking a market, bringing too much distrust and siappoinment.
You never really know if what you bought is already full game, or you still will need to buy something more to really enjoy it.
Am i the only one who is not exiting which such a vision.
in
I kinda miss times where games in 1.1 version was a complete experience. Not a modern era demo, or 1st dose of meth or platform for future endless dlc.

Also i agree that design around f2p modern may result in creating worse game. In many ways its not my problems. Since there will always be some fair developers and my money will go there. Visa Voting always works.

As for my personal sad story i once played DDO, a nice little game in dungeon and dragons settings. It was kinda nice, i enjoyed it for a while, but then poped this small little things like:
- At some point there was a real problem to get enought experience points to level up. And of course there was a lot products in cash shop to boost exp.
- At some points a new level of gear was comming from raids, unfortunetly the raids have a timer (you cant do raid one after another) but then... in cash shop was a lovly item to bypass the timer.
- Also for some classes you need to carry a little more consuables and weapons for different occasions, and inventory space was limited. Guess what you can do with cash shop....
And so on.

To really enjoy the DDO i should have spend pleanty of cash, so i figured out that for the same cash i can as well buy pack of box games and have much better time for the same price.


From the other side, i also played League of Legends - one of MOBA games. Which is also f2p game, but somehow its quite fair. You can collect enought points from just gaming. And "cheap champions" are generally not worse than "top shelve" one. (at least not for long) At some point its good idea to buy runepage pack, but this is not much $$$. The primary shop stuff are various skins for champions. However its pure vanity stuff. LoL does f2p quite fair.

To sum up the real problem may not be b2p, cash shop, dlc whatever. But when it becomes fact that there is no way to buy complete prodcut for resonable price. And at some point you get more fun/price ratio from just taking family to the theater.

Edited by licho, 14 January 2013 - 02:43 AM.


#8 dawdler

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 06:19 AM

View PostKrazzar, on 01 January 2013 - 09:11 AM, said:

Most F2P games are an evolution of the demo system and not truely just a free game.
More like an evolution of shareware...

Either way, I disagree with the article. I think good F2P games need to be designed as such from the start. Shoehorning in F2P in an existing game have often turned out badly. MMOs is the best example - most of them have unacceptable limitations that shouldnt be there.

The only thing bad about F2P or ingame shops/DLC is human greed. Plain and simple. Dollar signs flash in front of their eyes and its all they see. Most game companies seem to argue that 500 buying a weapon for $5 is better than 50,000 buying a weapon for $0.5. I dont get it.

Edited by dawdler, 14 January 2013 - 06:20 AM.


#9 Corsair

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 06:43 AM

View Postdawdler, on 14 January 2013 - 06:19 AM, said:

More like an evolution of shareware...

Either way, I disagree with the article. I think good F2P games need to be designed as such from the start. Shoehorning in F2P in an existing game have often turned out badly. MMOs is the best example - most of them have unacceptable limitations that shouldnt be there.

The only thing bad about F2P or ingame shops/DLC is human greed. Plain and simple. Dollar signs flash in front of their eyes and its all they see. Most game companies seem to argue that 500 buying a weapon for $5 is better than 50,000 buying a weapon for $0.5. I dont get it.
Well, part of this second part comes down to the type of players willing to spend. I have a favorite link I like to pull out in times like this, Paying to Win. It's one of the former devs of Battlefield Heroes. Despite them choosing a path I don't personally agree with they do give a decent amount of hard numbers and other valuable pieces of information on the workings of a F2P game. In general there is going to be a specific set of players whom will pay for cosmetic options most often. Moving the price down won't net similar increases in purchases.

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#10 licho

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:34 PM

I dont see f2p as evolution of shaware. With shaware there is some final version of game with official price.
With f2p everything is shady. And i have just no idea how much should i spend to trully enjoy the game.
The result is often that its just cheaper and more fun to buy several box games than sink in f2p cashgrab.

#11 SpellWeaver

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:06 AM

Free to play isn't a bad thing  is it done badly? Yes.

It's like devs don't see by limiting the things you can do ingame don't make people want to spend money on it, they just want to stop playing. Just look at SWTOR, limiting my UI and giving me a blatant disadvantage just because I haven't thrown money at you yet? Cmon. "F2P" Companies like Gameforge just do it wrong, I don't know if you've ever played Aion Eu but there is basically A quest that you need a 'Temporal stone' and  this temproal stone is barley possible to  to get and the easiest way to get it is at the trade broker (Acution house) and guess what, free players can't use the aution house, and a bunch of other BS limitations. Instead I've got to camp there and spam chat waiting for a good samiratan or someone who understands me.

But I tottaly agree with that guy, never compromise your game over your business model, He sounds like the type of devs we need these days. People who actually play games and understand our point of veiw.

#12 MrIllusion

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:50 AM

I think there are enough examples that show all these payment models are viable.

What I'm really cautious of, are games that change payment model abruptly.

I agree with the author that game elements are intertwined with the payment model; how you want to keep the money coming in affects how you design certain aspects of the game.

Therefore in order for the payment model to change, it makes sense that the devs have to go back and tweak the game accordingly. If it's just going to be a case of "let's make it F2P cuz we can't attract enough subs", I'm still going to stay away.

#13 beadnbutter32

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:49 PM

The original referenced post was some guy complaining that somehow there is difference between designing a buy to play or sub to play game vs a free to play game, when in actuality they all have cash shops and they all make most or all of their revenue from microtransactions.  The one time $60 Anet gets 'might' cover one years worth of maintaining a game online, but the real profit only comes when enough deep pocket players get addicted to the most lucrative microtransaction scams like 'legendaries.'

Compare the rate that microtransactions are updated and new ones introduced to the rate of fixing bugs and delivering long ago promised portions of the game that are still missing, and you get a clear picture of how microtransactions not F2P, ruin a game.

#14 Specialz

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:02 AM

All this amounts to is that f2p like every payment model can be bad if not done correctly.  That doesn't mean p2p is better, imo p2p is actually worst than a f2p game. At the minimum with f2p you can play it casually get what you want and GTFO without spending dime directly. With p2p, you have to first buy the game, then possibly keep paying money for the sake of paying money. And I say this because really paying a sub doesn't benefit the game in any way short of meeting executives and shareholders expectations, you still have to pay for expansions and if you don't pay once you lose it all.

To me the people that blindly support p2p do so because they are used to it, not because it is somehow better. The are really no benefits to p2p, in both cases of p2p and f2p both of them can be driven by greed.

Remember just because developer says something is bad doesn't mean it is bad. They could have an agenda and or they could just be misinformed. A lot of people have the tendency to take developers word w/o thinking about the why. Example, the whole gabe hates windows 8.

#15 Winterclaw

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:43 AM

All I know about F2P is I wouldn't want to touch it in any game that some company like EA has its claws on.
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#16 SpellWeaver

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:01 AM

View PostWinterclaw, on 29 January 2013 - 03:43 AM, said:

All I know about F2P is I wouldn't want to touch it in any game that some company like EA has its claws on.



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