December is always dominated by the holidays here in the
People are so busy making wish lists and crossing off shopping lists
that they give little thought to anything else. Some people prefer to
receive several small gifts while others prefer getting one really
gift. I tend to prefer the grand gift over several decent ones,
much the way I prefer one great game over several so-so ones. That's
the modus operandi
of the average MMOG subscriber, right? A gamer finds the title that
suits him best and plays it for as long as possible. What about us F2P
gamers? Is it better to get one very solid title or several games from
enjoys DOMO, but other offerings from Aeria Games have not been as fun.
More is Better.
If Not, It's at Least More.
with Demons," I discussed how the style="font-style: italic;">Shin Megami Tensei
series gives me hope that Aeria Games will deliver a F2P MMOG that is
I also noted that href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/997"> style="font-style: italic;">Dream of Mirror Online,
which has been among my favorite F2P games for a long time
now, had a sound translation while Shaiya
suffered from a shoddy translation. The only other title hosted by
Aeria Games that I have tried is Cronous,
which had poor graphics and super-slow performance that caused me to
uninstall after just five minutes of play time. style="font-style: italic;">
is actually an example of a very successful F2P company that keeps
adding titles to its network (they're up to twelve now according to href="http://www.aeriagames.com/games" target="_blank">the
website). Without playing them all, I'll go ahead and make
the prediction that none of them will challenge the average
game anytime in the near future. Even so, Aeria's goal (I assume) is
not about making it big
with one title but succeeding on a small scale with multiple titles. style="font-style: italic;">
Tired of elves and goblins? Try
style="font-style: italic;">Twelve Sky, their
martial arts game. Want high speed action that makes your heart thump?
Try style="font-style: italic;">Project Torque,
the racing game. Bored in general and want something completely
different? Meet Richman
Online, a board game played on a massively multiplayer
level. If Aeria makes enough games, surely they'll develop a core of
fans that like their work and try all their titles. And just maybe
appeal to a broad audience. With so many choices, everyone has to like
Casting a Wide Net
Another company that offers a variety of titles is
Internet Gaming Gate (IGG). The best I can tell from target="_blank" href="http://www.igg.com/">their
homepage, IGG is up to nine games announced or already live.
Some of the games look similar to others. Many share nearly identical
interfaces. On the other hand, some are quite different. The only one I
have ever tried is Wonderland
(see closed beta previews href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30335">here
and I saw enough to get a feel for what I believe IGG aims to
IGG games seem to use simple but colorful graphics (
or it didn't happen) and focus on pushing players to explore
adventurous urges. The vibrant colors are a tip off that the games are
designed to catch the attention of a younger audience, and the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/30425">haphazard
translation tells me emphasis is placed on quickly producing
a large quantity of titles appealing to different tastes rather than
riding on the success of a single title. When players get bored or
frustrated with one IGG game, they will find another waiting for them
or in development to release soon.
I had fun with Wonderland
the two times I played it. But it didn't hold my attention long. To
keep me interested, I need a higher quality game with plenty of solid
Magic is not the only game Frogster produces.
Make Just One Game?
When I really stop and think about it, I don't know very many
development teams who make just one F2P game. As much as I have praised
the strategy game from NDOORS is just one of their properties. And
while the quality of Atlantica
is very high, I can't judge the value of other NDOORS productions,
which are mostly played in Korea, based on my favorite F2P game.
Frogster Interactive has me pretty psyched about Runes of
Magic, but the German company already has style="font-style: italic;">Bounty
Bay Online ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/31502">download it
from Ten Ton Hammer) and href="http://www.tentonhamster.com/image/tid/167"> style="font-style: italic;">Stone Age 2
going with style="font-style: italic;">The Chronicles of Spellborn
in the works.
NCsoft makes several games besides
style="font-style: italic;">Dungeon Runners,
some free and others not. NEXON has more than style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi. Goldcool
Games does more than Magic
Only a couple of games on
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/50657">my last Top Ten
are the only games currently in operation for the companies who own
from KingsIsle Entertainment and Warrior
Epic from Possibility Space. The makers of style="font-style: italic;">Wizard101 are
already at work on their next project if you believe href="http://www.kingsisle.com/products.html">their website.
Meanwhile, Possibility Space always claimed to be trying to build a
network of games starting with Warrior
Doing One Thing Well
It seems that the climate of the F2P arena pushes companies
making or publishing multiple games so fans can play a new game every
day. I think of their process being like underwear with the days of the
week written on the tags: safe,
comfortable, and not too flashy. I crave something with more depth and
long lasting appeal; I want that one pair of silk boxers that I can
wear on the nights I plan to get lucky. My wife, on the other hand,
says F2P games are like pulp fiction (like href="http://www.eharlequin.com/">Harlequin romances):
they're cheap, they're quick, and they have little lasting appeal. Like
me, she'd like to see a company take the time to make the style="font-style: italic;">New York Times best
seller of F2P games. It doesn't need to be a timeless masterpiece; it
just needs to be good enough to earn some acclaim.
Of course it makes sense for companies to branch out and build
off of success. Gravity Interactive made style="font-style: italic;">Ragnarok II
because the first one was so popular. Still, if I had any say in the
matter, developers would put effort into making each release a
quality title. It is my sincere belief that a handful of single-A or
double-A titles would do more to promote F2P gaming than a heap of B or
C games will do by flooding the market.
Everyone's Wish List
If you need to find that perfect gift for the gamer in your
life this holiday season, you can follow href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/50560">Savanja's
advice. Generous types can href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/50642">donate some
to help buy toys and clothing for the children of good people of
Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment, who have not been paid in quite some
to our sources.
If I could have my holiday wish, it'd be for F2P developers to make one
very good game at a time. I know the industry is brutal and investors
want immediate return, but the time of the F2P game is coming. Let the
average joes produce multiple mediocre games. The dominant team will
the best games.
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