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Your Arguments Against Free to Play Are Boring. A Discussion Via Twitter
by Chris Zukowski on 03/16/13 12:38:00 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Nick
Bought Ridiculous Fishing yesterday because that's basically all Twitter told me and I figured I'd cave eventually. Twitter was spot on.
 
It's a super fun game and I'm glad at least a few people are making solid non-F2P apps for iOS. Wish more did. #DeathToF2P

Of course I could be wrong; everyone either hates paying or loves F2P, and I'm doomed to be in the minority view. :P

Honestly if Apple would just add a proper demo system for games more people would be interested in pay-up-front games. My guess is most people just want to try something before dropping money on it. Demos might help make these pay-up-front apps more popular again.

Chris
f2p is the ultimate try before you buy. I have tons of full price games that I never played. But 100% of my iap $ was used

Nick
I dislike how IAP inherently changes design to slow you down and try to get more money from you.

Chris
Slowing down gameplay is as old as games. See every nes game and arcade game and jrpg

Farmville sucks but I think it gets held up as a straw man for all f2p. There are great f2p games that don't feel greedy.

Nick
Absolutely, but most still bug you a little here and there to try and get more money. It might be subtle but they do it.

Regardless I never had a SNES game tell me I have to wait a half hour or pay $5 to play the next stage. That’s obviously an exaggeration but the fact is that f2p games are centered on continuing to monetize players. When I play a game I don’t want it to keep trying to sell me more things. I want to just buy the game and enjoy it.

Chris
To your point about "just enjoy it" I would pay $5 to skip all the grinding in SNES games like Secret of Mana / FF VI because I don't enjoy that part of games, but I do enjoy other parts.

I just dislike the knee jerk hatred for f2p and the rose-colored nostalgia for old games. Very old man "back in my day"

Nick
I was being a little tongue in cheek about "DeathToF2P". It's here, people will use it. I just don't like it.

I'm not particularly rose-colored about the old game designs; I simply appreciate that I bought a game and then played it.

Chris
F2P is an exciting model that when done right is more democratic than the high bar of entry that traditional retail games have

Nick
The high entry is there for $60 games but I think the rise of the $5-$20 category (in indies particularly) is the sweet spot At $5-$20 it's not a huge risk, usually there are demos, and once you have the game you just have the game.

I also prefer it as a developer because I can make a more niche game that maybe appeals to 5-20,000 people and be successful. F2P generally works on statistics where you need to appeal to a much, much larger audience to be successful.

Chris
I wish indies didn't regard it as such an anathema. F2P could do well for creator and consumer if creative people look at it.

Nick
Had to look up "anathema". :P It could; I would just rather focus on the game mechanics and designs than the monetization.

Chris
Don't lump all F2P in lacking game mechanics. Some of the smartest stuff comes from F2P. It isn't all slime and car salesmen

Look at stuff by @spryfox, and games like zombie highway, and shellrazer.

I just want indies to have dental care and health insurance and be able to raise a child and send it to college. As the top grossing appstore charts tell you, people want F2P. I just wish indies would realize it.

Nick
I didn't mean to imply that. I just meant F2P requires time focused on monetization which is not something that interests me.

I bought the Triple Town unlimited turns IAP for $7.99 because that game is awesome and it basically bought the game. They offered me a way to take a game that hinged on time constraints to encourage spending and make it not so. If more F2P games did that, I think my opinions would change. But many F2P games don't and that bothers me.

Chris
Exactly! Look the problem isn't with F2P. It is with slime ball companies. If smart people make good F2P, we all win.

Chris
Also, your game looks rad.
And I didnt realize that you pulled a Peter Molyneux to leave MS. I want you to do well and have dental care.

Nick
Heh, yeah me too. Hoping my first game gets the ball rolling and games 2-n will actually get me into that stability. :)

Thanks. It's got a ways to go and then I still have to try and get people interested in buying it. Uphill battle. :)

Chris
Dude make it free. People like that.
At least watch this great talk: Realm of the Counter Intuitive God

Nick
It'll have a demo, if that's what you mean. ;-) Heh I have watched that talk before. Some interesting points in there for sure.

Now that my brain is all in F2P mode, I think my core complaint boils down to the insistence of having virtual currency.

There's a continuous earning/spending cycle that keeps begging for IAP to get something. If a game simply said "Hey this first level is free. Then you can piecemeal buy other levels (like in a multiplayer game)" I think that sounds reasonable.

I think it comes down to: is there an upper limit on spending? How much is it to "buy" the game? When am I done spending?

Chris
There are games that I played TONS - Like starcraft 2 and paid the same as a game like Bioshock which I played for 10 hrs. From an economics point of view, it shouldn’t be like that. I should pay more for SC2. But broken model of retail games says no. The great thing about F2P is that I pay for exactly as much as I want to extract from the game.

In the crazy world we live in, letting people pay for as much as they want is considered bad and making them pay before they know what they are getting is considered good.

Nick
Demos could solve the second issue. The first is, as you mentioned, potentially an implementation issue.

Chris
Remember @EvilSharkey said you should climb a wall of dicks because you tricked him into spending $1.

Nick
How could I forget? I pull that video out every once in a while and get a good laugh at it.

Chris
You had a demo there with pixel man

Nick
So how could he be tricked out of money? Anyone can freely try the demo and see what the game is like.

Chris
The problem is you don't know how much game is behind the demo. I took that criticism with my game City Tuesday.

But a well designed (not nickel and dimming one) f2p game lets you know what you are getting and buying. Have you played planetside 2? I think that is a perfect example of good f2p and would not be as good if it was $60 up front.

Nick
I haven't tried it. Playing too much Battlefield 3 lately. :)

Damnit now I'm thinking about how to do good F2P in future games. Way to question my opinions with your logic and reason! :P

Of course thinking about and doing are very different things. Still not sure I'd implement F2P in future games.

I won't say you have made me a true believer in F2P, but he's certainly made me question my beliefs. Solid Twitter discourse, FTW.

Chris
My job here is done. < Ninja Smoke Bomb >


Nick Gravelyn is a game developer who previously has worked for Microsoft on XNA Game Studio and in Microsoft Studios working on interactive TV. He left Microsoft in October and hopes to one day earn a living making on independent games. His current project, The Ember Prophecy, is a top down adventure game. You can follow his progress (and his ramblings) on Twitter @nickgravelyn.

Chris Zukowski is user interface designer who also develops games that are mostly about interface design. In 2012 he released City Tuesday a game about time travel, social media, terrorism, and standardized graphics. He is currently working on a game for iOS. You should follow him on Twitter @adventuremtn.


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