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Loading... is the premier daily
MMORPG news, coverage, and
commentary newsletter, only from Ten Ton Hammer.

We gamers expect a lot from a AAA MMOG launch, and not without
good reason--if we're going to plunk down roughly $60 of our
hard-earned cash for a game, we want it to be polished and fun. But the
same financial realities that keep us pinching our gaming pennies
generally force MMOGs to rush to launch, leaving polish in the hands of
a too-short beta. What if big name developer could make
during a game's beta phase by adopting a free-to-play with
microtransactions model? Explore this topic in today's Loading..., Beta


The Pulse

You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
result is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/" target="_blank">What
is The Pulse?).

are today's top 5 Pulse results:

  1. World
    of Warcraft
  2. Star
    Trek Online
  3. Lord
    of the
    Rings Online

  4. Dungeons
    Dragons Online

  5. EVE

movers today

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/140">City of
    Heroes (UP 8 to #19)
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115">Age of
    Conan (UP 2 to #8)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/38">EverQuest
    (UP 2 to #14)
Recent Releases

  • 1/26
    Effect 2
    (release date)
  • 2/1
    - Global

    (release date)
  • 2/2 size="-1">
    - Star
    Trek Online

    (release date)
  • 2/16
    - href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/expansions/sentinelsfate/index.vm">EverQuest
    2: Sentinel's Fate (expansion)
  • March

    - APB
  • style="font-weight: bold;">Spring 2011
    - Star Wars:
    The Old

Loading... Daily

What do you expect from a MMOG? When you plunk down $50-60 (or more, if
you’re the kind who’s into collector’s editions), install the client,
patch and fire up the game for the first time, what is it you’re hoping
to find? You want that game to be fun, of course. You want the virtual
world to impress you. You likely also expect a high degree of polish,
from functional mechanics to classes that feel balanced and unbroken.
But, if you’re like most gamers, you’ve become skeptical that any MMOG
will deliver these things at launch.

On our weekly conference call yesterday, the Ten Ton Hammer editorial
staff wandered off on a gaming-related tangent about player
expectations. Jeff “Ethec” Woleslagle noted that gamers used to be a
lot more tolerant of the work-in-progress nature of MMOGs back in the
pre-WoW era when there were only a few titles on the market. Back in
the days of Ultima Online and EverQuest, we put up with a lack of
polish. Most of us diligently reported bugs and were even somewhat less
likely to complain about them. We enjoyed the evolution of our chosen
game, and we felt as though we played a role in that evolution. We were
part of something.

These days, however, we’re a far more demanding lot. In the immortal
words of a Queen song, we want it all, and we want it now. We’ve paid
good money (in a tight economy, no less) to buy the latest MMOG, and
that MMOG has 30 days to impress us and convince us to add a $15
subscription fee to our monthly expenses. If it fails to impress, we’ll
move on--there’s always another game on the horizon if the current one
doesn’t deliver.

Jeff also pointed out that those with a penchant for free-to-play
games, particularly in Asian markets, don’t seem to have a problem
enjoying MMOGs that are, let’s face it, usually less robust than their
AAA cousins. Why is that? Is it just a different mindset altogether? Or
could it be that the lack of any significant monetary investments
allows players to lower their expectations regarding mechanics and
polish and just have fun? Does a bunch of gamers having fun engender
the sort of community that makes a game “sticky,” retaining players for
the long haul?

In that serendipitous, one-thing-leads-to-another way that thoughts
often move through my head, the overwhelming demand for href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/sto">Star Trek Online
beta (we’re out of our plethora of keys already, but you can still href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/79227">download the
client)  got me to thinking about whether AAA MMOGs
could parlay their open betas into something free-to-play-esque. We
know that most games are rushed to launch due to financial
pressure--pay-to-play games don’t make money until they start selling
boxes and subscriptions. But what would happen, I wondered, if a MMOG
launched a lengthy open beta complete with the sort of
microtransactions that fund the ongoing development of free-to-play
games? In other words, what if the big name developers could make money
while taking their sweet time to launch a polished pay-to-play version?

I think the biggest hurdle would be converting players to a
subscription-based model after they’ve
experienced free-to-play content. (Maybe the folks at Turbine
could tell us how it's worked out for them. They successfully converted
Dungeons & Dragons Online to a free-to-play model with a
subscription option. I wonder how many free-to-play members have since
subscribed.) If you could help fuel the development of a AAA game by
paying for certain aspects of its open beta content via
microtransactions…would you? If you knew that buying points to purchase
that prestige class, or that special mount or pet, would fund a lengthy
beta, enabling the developers to launch a pay-to-play game that was
everything it promised to be, would you get out your credit card? And,
when it came time for that game to go pay-to-play, would you feel
invested enough to subscribe? Your involvement in the community would
likely play a huge role. If you were made to feel that you were part of
the development of something special, and if you’d made friends and/or
joined a guild, you just might stick around.

The notion of a lengthy open beta funded by microtransactions came to
me late last night when I was desperately trying to get to sleep. I’ve
had perhaps 4 hours of shut-eye tops, and only one large cup of coffee
so far today, so I’ll readily admit that my idea is probably full of
holes. But I think it’s also full of possibilities. Head over to the
to tell me whether I’ve got it all wrong, or whether
on to something. While you do that, I’ll be in pursuit of more

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of
the Day

From our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=663">STO
News & Articles Discussion

10 Things to Know About Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online's open beta, which kicked off yesterday (not without
the usual open beta hiccups), is the hot topic of the day. If you've
got your beta key in hand, what better way to fire up your warp engines
than to read up on 10 Things to Know about STO? Check out the href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/79092"> article
and then add your own thoughts href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=48922">here.


Awesome Quotes from the
Epic Thread

No epic quotes yet. href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=48922">Make
a statement!


Have you spotted an Epic Thread on our forums? href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=32559">Tell

New and Exclusive Content Today at Ten Ton Hammer

3 new Ten Ton Hammer features today! 47 in January!
47 in 2010!


  • Star
    Trek Online
    Beta Journal #4 - No Tank, Healer or DPS?

    Star Trek Online
    is officially out in the public arena for Open Beta. All of you who
    have been ignoring the tweets, the forums, the Facebook updates and the
    Ten Ton Hammer exclusives about the game better learn fast. Our latest
    beta journal is here to help as this week’s blog will enlighten you on
    the careers of Star Trek Online and how they match up with the more
    traditional roles of Tanks, Healer, or DPS (aka the holy trinity). Read
    on and get ready to beam aboard.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/reviews/addons/spartan-ui">WoW
    Spartan U.I. Addon Review

    Spartan U.I. is an add-on developed for World of Warcraft
    to free up
    your screen and enhance the game's default GUI. It integrates with
    Bartender 3, the popular action bar addon, and takes over the bottom
    portion of your screen so that you can move all of your addons, bars,
    etc. out of your gameplay area. David "Xerin" Piner has recently spent
    some time playing with Spartan U.I. and has provided an extensive
    review of this add-on. Should you rush out and download it or place it
    on your U.I. /ignore list?
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion/guides/crafting/armorsmithing_pt2">Aion
    Armorsmithing 100-199

    grind in Aion got you down? We give you the rundown on how to make it
    as painless as possible in our guide to Tier 2 of Armorsmithing!

Hottest Content

  1. Star
    href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/79046"> Q&A
    with Al Rivera - All About Ships
  2. Star
    Trek Online
    Beta Journal #4 - No Tank, Healer or DPS?
  3. Carved
    in Stone
    or Written in Pencil: Developers' New Year's Resolutions
  4. Star
    href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/79051">– Ten
    Ton Hammer’s Hands-On Beta Impressions
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo/guides/warchanterbuild"> style="font-weight: bold;">Dungeons and Dragons Online:
    Character Build – The Warchanter
  6. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/78752">Global
    Mission Types Interview with Exec. Producer Todd Harris
  7. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/reviews/addons/spartan-ui">WoW
    Spartan U.I. Addon Review
  8. WoW href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/79042"> - Creating
    the Perfect
  9. The
    Anatomy of
    Fleets in EVE
  10. Dungeons
    & Dragons Online
    Eberron Unlimited Review

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer

- Karen "Shayalyn" Hertzberg
and the Ten Ton Hammer team

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.