We’ve been taking a second look at many games recently here
at Ten Ton Hammer. Most of those second looks were undertaken to see
how the games had changed and if they were worth going back to once
they made the decision to go free-to-play (Champions
Now it’s time to look at the game that started the revolution
of the hybrid F2P/paid subscription model sweeping the industry: Dungeons
Let’s begin with a little bit of background information.
I’ve been a lifelong gamer, playing everything from video
games to board games. However, one of my favorite style of games is
pen-and-paper role-playing games. I started playing Dungeons
way back in 1981 (when it was known as Advanced
!) and have since
continued playing to the present day. When Dungeons
was announced, I was
therefore eager with anticipation over finally playing online in the
game world that I had spent so much time adventuring within my
imagination. While I was initially disappointed that the game setting
wasn’t Forgotten Realms (or Greyhawk), but rather Eberron, I
eventually came around and embraced the setting.
The latest class for DDO: the
I thought that Turbine did a good job of capturing the feel of
the pen-and-paper game, and had made good choices in tweaking the
mechanics for online gaming. My gaming group spent many hours
adventuring in Eberron, but we eventually drifted away to other games
over time. When the new model was introduced, I decided to return to DDO
to see what changes and additions had been made to the game.
biggest difference in Dungeons
and Dragons Online
is how you choose to play the game. Turbine introduced a hybrid
subscription model that ranged from free to the paid monthly
subscription that we’re all familiar with. There are three
levels of subscription in DDO
free, premium, and VIP. Free players have two character slots, limited
gold capacity, and limits on chat, auction house posting, forum
posting, and in-game mail. In addition, there are many adventures in DDO
that are unavailable for free players as well as some character races
and classes. If a player wishes to get access to these classes, races,
and aventures, then they must purchase them from the DDO
Premium players are players who have purchased Turbine Points, the
currency you use to buy things from the DDO
Store. They do not have limits on forum posting, auction house listing,
or gold capacity. They also receive a total of four character slots.
Like free players, if they want access to certain races, classes, and
adventures, then they need to purchase them from the cash shop.
members are those who pay a monthly subscription fee to play the
game. They get a total of ten character slots and full access to
adventures, races, and classes. The exceptions are favor based races
(Drow) and classes (Favored Soul and Artificer). (Currently, the
Artificer class in only available through purchase, but Turbine has
stated that, in the upcoming Update 12, players will be able to gain
Artificers through favor.) VIP players also get 500 points per month to
spend in the cash shop.
Does this mean that a player can play the entire game for free? The
answer to that is no. You will eventually want to spend some money to
buy various adventure packs, which are groups of themed adventures
bundled together. You can gain free points to spend in the cash shop by
gaining favor, but you’ll have to grind like a madman for a
very long time to get enough points to buy more than a few adventure
packs. This talk of buying leads us to….
and Dragons Online
going to their hybrid model, microtransactions came to the game in the
form of their cash shop. The store contains many items for sale,
including experience boosts, vanity items, tomes to enhance stats,
hirelings, adventure packs, gear, and more. The prices are, overall,
pretty reasonable, and there is always a sale of some kind going on.
The best feature of microtransactions in DDO
is that when you purchase a class, race, or adventure pack, it unlocks
for your entire account on the server you are on. If you wish to level
a bard after playing a rogue to end-game, you’ll have access
to all the adventure packs that you’ve purchased. This is a
welcome change from the cash shops found in Eastern games, where items
are bought only for a limited time or for a single character.