Exploring more on Free to play

I love Twitter. I pretty much have an addiction to it. I spent 8 days at a girlfriend's this month. She had neither cable nor internet. It was like living in the dark ages! Ok, that's probably a little melodramatic, but can I say that based on the experience I may have noticed I twitched for my phone on a regular basis to check twitter, my email and facebook. This morning my twitter told me Champions Online announced they would be going Free to play early next year. ( Thank you Anne!) I wouldn't say I found the news unbelievable. It's becoming a popular refrain from the gaming companies.

I then found myself in a spirited conversation about Free to play. My feelings on it really couldn't be contained in 140 characters. Good thing I keep this blog around. :)

I don't hate Free to play for it's own sake. I should make that crystal clear. I have played Free to play games and even enjoyed a handful of them.

What I don't enjoy is when a pay to play game goes Free to play mid-stream.

Of course it has it's pros. People who have wanted to try the game have no barrier to entry. They can "try" the game for longer than a trial, and continue to play and perhaps pay according to their own terms.

From my own perspective, when a game I have been playing has switched it's business model, I've found it frustrating.

It goes beyond the forum cries of "children and posers." It's about the way the changes the store can bring to the way I approach a game.

I don't think I am entirely alone in this, but I am perhaps in a minority?

For instance, in DDO, I found the community changed. The player base before free to play had generally been tight knit, older, and well versed in Pnp rules of play. After free to play Turbine found they needed to add "signs" to the landscape to alert players to quest lines available to them. I found this disturbing. I'd played DDO and never found myself at a loss for where to go next, but the influx of new players seemed unable to follow the story lines from Korthos through the harbor into the Marketplace etc. I won't say the new people were dumb, but it was as if they were in such a hurry to blow through the content they couldn't or wouldn't read and enjoy the story.

The player base experienced a definite split. The has and has nots or rather I pay and you don't. People began putting up groups excluding free to play players. I didn't like it, but to be honest, some things took some getting used to. If you put up a LFM and weren't paying attention, you would find yourself running to an entrance and your group would thin out as players realized they didn't have the adventure pack. It made some guilds become terribly insular as they choose to simply skip PUGs all together and join alliances where they found other subscribers who knew the content and played with skill.

After reincarnations hit the game, and really I've ranted enough about Turbine's lame attempt to keep players interested in the game once they'd tapped their head on the 20th level cap, the Hearts of Wood hit the store. I didn't know these weren't lootable and it shocked me. When Turbine took the turn of only offering something in the store for real cash I didn't like it. ( as an aside according to Madfloyd's blog post on myddo.com in update 7 Hearts of wood should begin to drop in level appropriate chests!)

When guild housing FINALLY came to DDO, Astral Diamonds could only be found in the store.

LOTRO went Free to play a few months ago. I have to be honest here, I have only logged into it a few times. I paid the rent on the house I worked so hard to decorate and to check out a few things.

I still get the constant stream of "ad" emails from Turbine. The last one just kinda sent me over the edge. "Last chance to buy your Special Summer steed mount!"

One of my absolute favorite things about LOTRO was the festivals. I looked forward to them. I know when both the spring and summer festival's launched this last year I had my finger hovering over the "launch game" button. I worked my rear end off to earn tokens fishing, running races, and by gods I won't even tell you all the things I crafted and sold on the auction house to earn the gold for my spring and summer steeds.

Now you can buy all the housing items and steeds from the store. :(

Dyes. I made a bunch of money off of gathering the ingredients, farming and then using my scholar to make dyes in LOTRO. You can now buy dyes in the store.

The hubby used his cook to make food and sell it on the auction house. You can now buy it in the store.

I could go on, but it's simply disheartening.

It's not that I begrudge people the opportunity to play the game any way they choose to. It's that when I play a game and enjoy it, and then they rip the rug out from underneath me and tell me "Hey, don't work so hard, just use your credit card" I tend to get a little pissed off.

I LIKED playing LOTRO the way I was playing it. Sure I could still work my rearend off for things, but it stings a little when I see someone riding by on their summer steed and I wonder if they "earned" it or bought it. It DOES make a difference to me.

Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe I am being shallow and narrow minded. Maybe it's because when I started MMO gaming the idea of paying for your gear was repugnant and would get you banned, not only by the game, but by your gaming friends that I simply can't seem to pull the trigger and get with the times.

So yes, for now I am only playing DDO once a week with my static group. I haven't touched LOTRO. I am sticking with EQ2 because the way they chose to handle F2P suits me. The F2P servers are completely separate from the subscriber servers. People still have the chance to try EQ2 out and play and pay for it their way, but I can play it MY way and subscribe to it and not worry that I am going to work for 6 months on my Epic gear only to see it as an option in the store a year from now.

I think in future if a game launches Free to play I won't have any issue starting out just like everyone else. If a game launches with a subscription model, I won't be buying a lifetime subscription, and I think I'll wait and see if it goes Free to play. Why buy?

Perhaps I am an old fuddy duddy. That's ok. At least there are still options open to me. I suppose if all else fails there is always World of Warcraft! *throws up a little in her mouth*

We should all pay attention to the disclaimer that pops up on screen every time we log into a game.

Gameplay May Change During Online Play

Game on!!!