Is it really a good idea to just “wait until it goes F2P”?

“Wait until it goes Free To Play” has become a standard line about new MMOs. But why? And is it really a good idea?

Gazimoff of Mana Obscura has been playing MMOs since “Free To Play” was a dirty term, signifying a game was low-quality and not worth it. Since then, of course, things have changed – and of late, we’ve probably all seen one person or another say of a new subscription MMO “Nah, I’ll just wait until it goes F2P”.

It’s a fascinating and potentially worrying development – and in his post this week, Gazimoff explores the reasons behind this attitude, and its potential consequences

“Have our previous experiences conditioned us as consumers to expect games to switch to free to play? Are we becoming congested with too many games we want to try and not enough time to play them, so we’re cutting back on the ones we subscribe to? Or is it just a polite way of saying that we have no intention of playing a game, either at launch or for the foreseeable future?

My own suspicion is that there’s elements of all three. With pre-launch betas becoming larger in size and scope, many of us get the chance to try an MMO before we put our hand in our pocket. Instead of buying the box, subscribing for a few months then ditching the game for something else, we elect to bide our time, drifting from beta to beta while we wait for a bargain. A game might grab our interest, but we have a ready-made, plausible excuse for why we shouldn’t buy into it.”

I’d not really considered the “wait to F2P” trend before, but it’s an interesting development – and Gazimoff does an excellent job of exploring all the ramifications of gamers now considering a drop from “subscription” to “free with microtransactions”.

I found the question of the effect this will have on future MMOs particularly interesting. I can’t see all MMOs going for a non-subscription model – the subscription cashflow is just too tempting – but they’ll clearly have to do something to offset gamers’ belief that if they just wait a year they’ll get it free.

Will we see new MMOs launching with a “never to be F2P, ever” sticker?

What do you think?