style="border: 0px solid ; width: 620px; height: 388px;"
alt="5 reasons why other games should adopt wow's f2p model"
Free-to-play has become the rage in online gaming especially since
Turbine successfully moved both href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo"> style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons and Dragons
and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/lotro"> style="font-style: italic;">Lord of the Rings Online
to f2p. The question on everyone’s mind was if, and when,
Blizzard would adopt a similar plan for href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow"> style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
(Going to a full f2p model for style="font-style: italic;">WoW
would be daft in my opinion. WoW makes at least 150 million dollars a
month for Blizzard. Why kill that cash cow?) However, Blizzard made
headlines when they announced their f2p model for style="font-style: italic;">WoW.
However, Blizzard made headlines when they announced their f2p model
for WoW. What Blizzard actually did was not make the entire style="font-style: italic;">WoW
experience a f2p one, but rather they followed in the footsteps of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/war"> style="font-style: italic;">Warhammer Online's
free trial" and extended their
trial period to forever. This extension also came with quite a few
limitations placed upon the f2p account. The
model and approach that Blizzard has taken is something that should be
taken seriously into consideration by other game companies for a
variety of reasons.
To refresh our memories, let’s take a quick second to
re-examine the particulars of Blizzard’s f2p model for style="font-style: italic;">WoW.
To begin, a level cap of 20 is placed upon the characters. Once you hit
20, you won’t gain one more experience point. Second, the
character can only have up to 10 gold, so no gold-farming for you! You
cannot trade so you can’t use your free account to farm or
trade with others nor can you receive twinkie goods from your main
account. Tradeskills are capped at 100, so the really cool stuff is out
of reach of your crafting mitts. You can’t form a party and
most of the chat channels are locked out except for say, party, and
whisper. You can’t talk to other players unless they have you
listed as a friend or whisper you first. Quite a lot of restrictions,
eh? There’s a method behind the madness, which leads us to
our first reason on why other game companies should emulate
Blizzard’s f2p model for style="font-style: italic;">WoW.
Adds More Players
The purpose of any game is to have as many players as possible. The
hope with f2p is that said players eventually become paying players. By
making the trial period with style="font-style: italic;">WoW
a permanent one, it encourages new
players to venture into Azeroth and stay. They can now immerse
themselves into the game at their own leisure. A MMOG isn’t
like a shooter in which you can know within a few minutes whether the
game rocks or if it blows. Personally, I originally got hooked into style="font-style: italic;">WoW
not from fighting monsters or choosing one class or race over another.
No, I was used to such choices coming from a pen-and-paper rpg
Dungeons and Dragons, baby!)
and playing multiple
computer rpgs over the years. No, what got me was when I first flew to
Ironforge on a gryphon. The incredible amount of world details just
blew me away as I realized that practically everything under my
mount’s flying form was territory I could actually walk
through and explore.
Adding more players is great for the bottom line of the game companies,
which is a good thing. Companies need to make money so they can
continue running the game, adding new content, and work on new projects
as well. If a game is to thrive, it needs a continuing influx of new
players. Elitists may yell and rage at all the newbs coming into the
game, but new blood keeps a MMOG strong.
Revitalizes Starting Areas
Adding new players to the population brings us to the second reason;
revitalizing starting areas. We all have had the same experience in
MMOGs that have been out for a while. Most people rush like mad to get
to the end-game content, and even casual players eventually reach
higher level and move on to greener zones. Thus, if we start an MMOG
well after it has launched, or creating alts after we’ve
maxed out our main, we get to experience the emptiness of starting
areas. A lot of games have designs where there’s no need for
players to return to the starting area after they’ve left it,
which means that it becomes a virtual ghost town eventually. All you
know is that it seems that your hero wanders alone through the
wilderness, his despairing cries for companionship carried away by the
However, by capping f2p players, Blizzard ensures that there is a
reason for players to stay in the starting area…they have
nowhere else to go unless they want to pay. This helps in two ways. The
obvious reason is that it allows you to solicit help and provide
companions as you work on alts. The second reason, and more important
one, is the impact upon new players. If a player is seriously
considering playing a MMOG, but they want to try the game before they
subscribe, what makes a better impression? Starting out in a newbie
zone that is empty and devoid of other players or rather a newbie zone
that is teeming with hordes of players? The answer to that is fairly
obvious. A player wants to play a game that other people are playing.
If he only sees one or two people during his trial period, why would he
pony up the bucks to play the game on a regular basis? So having more
players, which in turn repopulate starting zones, makes a good first
impression upon potential new customers.
Locking the chat channels for the f2p player is sheer genius. We have
all suffered from Barrens chat (the leading reason for players losing
IQ points in the online gaming world), but now that suffering
isn’t amplified a hundredfold. By locking the chat channels,
Blizzard makes sure that their paying customers aren’t
aggravated by the hordes of new players. This is a great thing because,
while you want new players to come in, you don’t want to
alienate your existing player base.
If a new player has a problem, they can find other players and
communicate by using the say channel. In addition, players
won’t be bombarded by alts by gold sellers or other spammers.
By putting a muzzle on f2p players, Blizzard avoids the hassles of
spammers clogging up the chat channels or sending you endless tells.
Not allowing trades keeps new players on a level playing field. If you
get into PvP, you won’t have to worry about twinkies as that
they would be unable to get higher-end gear. You have to remember that
the ultimate goal of f2p is to have players join up full time and
become a paying member. If a new player wishes to try their hand at
PvP, at least they know that they won’t be going up against
some overpowered foe in a duel or arena.
Getting killed in PvP is no big deal as long as you’re
getting in some kills yourself. I remember one of my first PvP battles.
I was a rogue and an opposing rogue, who was a few levels higher than
me, ganked me quite a few times during the battle. I kept coming back
looking to get some payback, and he kept sending me back to my grave.
Eventually, though, I managed to come up behind him just before the
match ended. With about 40 seconds to spare, my sneak attack from
behind proved victorious and his crumpled body fell at my feet. I was
ecstatic! It didn’t matter that I had died quite a few times
at his hands; what mattered was that I managed to get my vengeance and
satisfaction by at least dropping him once.
The point is that the game needs to hook new players any way they can.
Having a fun PvP experience early in the game on a level playing field
serves as a hook. There’s time enough later when the players
become full subscribers to get wiped out in PvP by players who
obsessively PvP and grind for uber gear. :)
Gives You a Taste
Like a good trailer for a movie, the f2p experience should give you a
taste, but making you want more. The lure itself becomes a hook to get
players to become paid members. They say everybody hates a tease, but
that’s only if there’s no possibility of getting
first base. A new player will be able to make up their mind about style="font-style: italic;">WoW
by the time they hit the level cap of 20. That gives them plenty of
time to experience what the game has to offer in questing, exploring,
and crafting. If a new player likes what he sees, is getting into PvP,
discovers his inner Julia Childs and loves cooking or some other
crafting, or gets hooked on any number of factors that makes him want
to keep playing, then all he has to do to get to the promised land is
to up his game and pony up some cash.
Like shareware from the days of yore, Blizzard’s f2p model
allows you try before you buy. If you’re not interested or
just plain cheap, then you can only partake part of the game, not the
full experience. This separates the wheat from the chaff. People who
are interested in playing will eventually become paid members, while
those who are just looking for something to do or just goof around will
stay at the bottom of the heap.
Blizzard’s approach to a f2p trial is something that should
be considered seriously by other game companies. When the biggest dawg
in the yard does something, they do it for good reason (and
lots of research to back up their actions). Having a level-capped f2p
model allows for an influx of new players (always healthy for the game)
which can revitalize starting areas, which in turn, makes a favorable
impression on new players. However, Blizzard has made sure that they
don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by not alienating
their subscribers. By locking chat channels and restricting trade, they
keep an invisible barrier between subscribers and f2p members. It is up
to the subscriber if they wish to communicate with the f2p crowd, which
derails all the spamming that would have occurred if the opposite were
true. Finally, the f2p model allows players a chance to kick the tires
and see if they’re interested in playing the game as a paid
All in all, the f2p model by Blizzard encourages new players to join
the game, gives them a chance to test their mettle in Azeroth,
increases the population of starting areas, but at the same time,
keeping their subscribers happy by not subjecting them to endless cries
of “how do I do this?” or “what is the
best build?” or any other inane chatter in the chat channels.
Thus new players and existing players are served without any harm done
to either. It’s a win-win for Blizzard and it could be a
win-win for other companies too should they choose to emulate
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