More On Business Models, Subscriptions, And All

It was the hot topic of last week, and the question of whether subscriptions are good or bad is continuing to rumble this week.

We’ve got a couple of fascinating opinion pieces here – one of them arguing for subscriptions, and another one pointing to the success of the non-sub options.

But it’s what they say in common that’s as interesting as where they differ:

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SWTOR F2P: One Year Later, Has It Worked?

It’s almost a year since flagship MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic announced that it was going Free To Play.

So has it worked? Has it managed to save the game whilst keeping it playable?

Two old-school SWTOR bloggers, fans since before the F2P transition, share their thoughts on what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong:

  • Shintar thoroughly reviews her experience with the F2P transition, as someone who hated the idea initially, and finds that it hasn’t actually affected her play much – but that’s because she still pays for a subscription…

    Read “Random Free To Play Thoughts” »

  • And Njessi takes the topic point-by-point, finding that F2P has definitely negatively affected some things, like crafting, but that the core of the game remains the same.

    Read “One Year Later: Free To Play” »

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F2P Discussions Continue

The discussion over F2P as a viable, fair, fun business model continue, with a couple of really interesting posts this week.

Whether you’re looking at the game decisions or the larger ramifications of how we “vote with our wallets”, there’s something here for you:

  • Azuriel explains why he finds that most F2P games are the worst of all worlds, removing interesting choices and optimisation, despite being pretty much their ideal player.

    Read “The Worst Of All Worlds” »

  • And Tobold looks at how both Kickstarter and F2P are changing the ways that we signal support and approval for the games that we like.

    Read “Voting With Your Wallet” »

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3 Links For Friday: Feedback, Following and F2P Payment Models

It’s time for the increasingly-traditional Friday roundup post!

This week we’ve got an eclectic collection of posts, from a look at the difficulties of item description (in a text MUD, but applying to all games) to a combination HOWTO and travelogue…

  • Big Bear Butt chronicles his trials, tribulations and eventual solution as he used WoWhead data to search all over Azeroth for the Unborn Valykr.

    Read “Following the Unborn Valkyr” »

  • Tobold asks for a slightly more sophisticated dialogue about F2P – rather than just treating it as one homogenous mass, he argues we should be looking at the details of each game’s payments, and discussing what works and what doesn’t.

    Read “From the general to the specific” »

  • And The Ancient Gaming Noob looks at the problem of whether to describe weapons with numbers (which are immersion-breaking) or simply descriptions (which can be really hard to interpret).

    Read “The Feedback Issue” »

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Scott Hartsman Leaves Trion – Blogger Reactions

Yes, the visionary and much-loved Executive Producer of RIFT, Scott Hartsman, has left the title and its parent company Trion. His departure has left a lot of commentators asking if Free-To-Play or other major changes are on the horizon.

It’s early days yet, but here are some of the initial reactions from the blogosphere:

  • Chris at Game By Night is dismayed, but reminds us that the rest of the RIFT team are still there” The few that I’ve met and interviewed have always been masters of their craft and I have a lot of faith in them to do great things.”
  • And Green Armadillo believes that Hartsman’s departure removes the major obstacle to RIFT going F2P” If things have started to go downhill – and the layoffs suggest that they have – then we can expect Rift to lose its subscription in 2013.”
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SWTOR Roundup: Is F2P doomed? Does My Virtual Ass Look Big In This?

SWTOR’s Free To Play transformation is well underway – and it’s still a very controversial subject. But it’s not the only topic under discussion this week – we’ve also got a look at the uncanny valley and some seriously inappropriate outfits…

  • Justin Olivetti at Massively takes a critical look at the design of SWTOR’s F2P, and worries it will drive potential players away“Whether I’m a subscriber, a paying free player, or a complete freeloader, I need to feel appreciated and welcomed by the game and its studio. F2P isn’t an automatic pass to the golden life, just an opportunity for a fresh start — or restart.”
  • Green Armadillo looks at one aspect of the F2P plan – caps on credits for non-subscribers – and predicts potential disaster” My server at least is seeing the global trade network flooded with unlock items that cost several dollars worth of cartel coins but that cost well under 350,000 credits. “
  • Talking of disaster, Njessi has been cataloguing in pictoral form all the ways you can have a SWTOR fashion crisis“Second, bikinis. So many bikinis. SARCASTIC THANKS, CARTEL MARKET.”
  • And Syp (no relation to Justin up top there, nosiree) considers how SWTOR’s presentation of its NPCs may have diminished his enthusiasm for the game“Sure, they have good voice acting, but their faces don’t really show emotion or match up to what’s being said. “Angry” and “orgasmic” are basically the same expression. “

Enjoyed today’s roundups? Please consider sharing them!

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SWTOR Roundup: The Business Of Free, Class Bias, More

So what’s up in SWTOR this week?

As Free To Play starts, most of the discussion is about its pros and cons – but not all…

  • Shintar muses on her reactions to players playing each of the advanced classes, and her immediate for or against biases” If nothing else I expect Guardian players to be well-intentioned, however other than that I pretty much anticipate mediocrity.”
  • Green Armadillo writes two interesting posts on the F2P model – early observations and thoughts on why it’s structured as it is” What I’m guessing they were most afraid of was that introducing charges for stuff that was free earlier in the game (e.g. quests) would have an especially strong effect on players sticking around. “
  • And Njessi argues that the F2P model needs to evolve, and some things that aren’t just need to be free“You’re going to need more inventory space before you even leave the starter planet. It’s just going to turn people off the game if they boot up the game, play for a few hours (I mean, literally, to level 10 is a few hours) and they already find themselves needing to make a purchase”

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them!

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What’s Good In MMOs Right Now?

Is anyone else kind of intimidated by all the new MMO content right now?

I mean, we’ve got RIFT: Storm Legion, Mists of Pandaria barely a month old, Guild Wars 2’s new patch, Riders of Rohan, SWTOR F2P, Everquest 2’s expansion, WoW Patch 5.1 in the wings, new indie MMO efforts everywhere (Dragon’s Tale, Salem, Day Z or whatever it’s called now)… It’s exhausting.

Fortunately, a lot of bloggers are writing some great reviews to help us all decide what to do first:

  • Lono shares the impressions of a friend of his who was new to SWTOR when he started playing the Free To Play version” Soon enough Jay realizes he needs more space in his inventory so he’s off again to the store and finds out it will cost him 175cc for 10 inventory slots.”
  • MMO Muse shares first impressions of new sandbox Wurm-a-like game Salem – which sounds very interesting“Another one of those sandbox games, isn’t it? Yes, pretty much. But not one of those “I sit here and craft 60 pointed sticks” one; while playing, I was moving and exploring most of the time, and only stopped for crafting once or twice in the whole time.”
  • Rixx Javix considers what a sports enthusiast who didn’t know EVE would think as he watched the latest EVE tournament“This reminded me of the first time I saw Australian Rules Football on ESPN. I ain’t got no idea what the heck is going on, but I know it is a sport. I’m thinking this is European since the announcers have got some kind of accent, and they are rather pasty, like they haven’t seen the sun in awhile. “
  • Chris at Game By Night gives us a detailed rundown of his first impressions of RIFT: Storm Legion“Another thing that I have to give Trion props for is the scope and beauty of their vision. The expansion is just VAST and everything is so BIG.”
  • Healing The Masses dives into the new Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon and comes out with a rundown“these new mini dungeons seem like the perfect length in a way as it is rather easy to keep them feeling fresh during a run in terms of visuals and mechanics but when added together they make for a rather cohesive little gaming session.”
  • Jaysla has been trying out Challenge Modes in Mists of Pandaria, and offers an enthusiastic recommendation“Challenge modes are a lot of fun and I recommend everyone give them a try. They’ll really make you work hard to use every possible advantage available to your class and spec and allow for some creative puzzle solving.”
  • The Ancient Gaming Noob tried out Guild Wars 2’s free trial, and came away with mixed feelings“nice game. But not different enough that I am going to drop what ever I am doing now to run off and play it. “
  • And Entombed tried out the Guild Wars 2 Fractals dungeon too, and loved them“What I experienced was nothing more than a wonderful addition to the game. “

Overall, the winners from the weekend seem to be GW2’s new dungeon (but not the live event – see our next post), Storm Legion, and Challenge Modes!

Are you feeling MMOverwhelm right now?

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Controversy Watch: WvWvW, SWTOR F2P, Brawler’s Guild, More

A few weeks ago I was saying that the MMORPG blogosphere was quiet.

Ah, I remember those days.

Right now, there are tons of interesting debates to get your teeth into – from the WoW Brawler’s Guild (Cash For Features SCANDAL!) to Guild Wars 2’s wobbling WvWvW populations (PvPers in server desertion SHOCKER!). So, who’s saying what, and do you think they’re right or wrong?

SWTOR Free To Play

  • Joe at Corellian Run Radio posts a thorough analysis of the heavy Free To Play restrictions coming in SWTOR, saying that they’re going to force-choke the game” I make this prediction – the number of players will jump through the roof next week. The activity will be VERY high for three months. The revenue will roll in. And, just like launch, after those three months revenue will tank as the active player count falls.”

Guild Wars 2 WvWvW Numbers

This one’s a new controversy – with easy server moves and top PvP guilds jumping from one Guild Wars server to another, will the game’s uber-PvP mode cope?

  • Jeromai looks into the implications for his own server of some of the most major PvP guilds leaving for distant shores“Is it unhealthy, in the sense that these multi-game-spanning guilds are more focused on their own communities and less about fostering -server- communities?”
  • And Healing The Masses sounds an optimistic note for WvWvW from their own experience“I think the system in place will do well over the coming months especially after the server populations settle down and guesting is enacted so people can’t bunny hop around to the better servers in WvW. “

Guild Wars 2 One-Time Events

The furore over GW2’s one-time events has mostly subsided, but there are still interesting things to discuss about it…

  • Bernard Parsnip responds to the one-time events’ fiercest critic, Azuriel, saying that publicity reasons justify Arena.net’s decision to run one-time gameplay“Guild Wars 2 is a new game that is not based on a well-known IP. It NEEDS this press coverage. Furthermore, the business model relies on front-loading revenues from players, so continually growing the player base is crucial until the RMT shop can pay for the overheads of the game.”

WoW Dailies And Grinding

  • Big Bear Butt complained about dailies and gearing up – but then practical experience has shown him that it’s actually comparatively easy to get raid-geared in MoP“If you’re a new raider, it does not take that long to get to where you need to be to get started. I just proved it. And once you’re getting drops from the raids that are now being released, you WILL get items of such higher iLevel that the LFR stuff will be massive downgrades.”
  • And The Godmother is looking at alts, and how she and other players will level them and prioritise them with all the grinding“The shift has been subtle, but it has been noticeable. Alts are likely to be left by the wayside by many except those with a huge amount of time and patience. Its not just about the achievements either, there are a lot of choices bound up with the way the current system is being weighted.”

WoW: Brawler’s Guild

  • Typhoon Andrew defends the design choices Blizzard are making with the Brawler’s Guild, including their invitation policy“New gameplay is asked for constantly, so anything which adds options without placing a highly prohibitive barrier is good.”
  • And Rohan looks specifically at the Guild’s content gating – high AH prices – arguing that it’s never been tried, and is worth experimenting with“To my mind, selling the Invitations on the BMAH might not be the best possible idea, but it might be the one with the least side-effects, and thus, the least-worst idea.”

Bullying and Unpleasant Players

So, let us know – what do you think?

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SWTOR: The State Of The Game & more

Star Wars: The Old Republic’s developers recently released their “state of the game” summary, and several bloggers have been discussing their statements. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the galaxy, another blogger’s just suffering in the throes of (lack of) romance…

  • Njessi is thoroughly confused at a rather odd is-it-isn’t-it same sex romance plot – or not – in SWTOR“Wait, what? How is this supposed to be tempting to me, when I know full well that same gender romances are not in the game – so what the hell is she offering? Playing a scintillating game of Trivial Pursuit or Parcheesi? “
  • Syp looks over the State Of the Game, and feels that it’s a very mixed bag“If BioWare is keeping its head in the sand over the whole “subscriptions was our main downfall” line, at least it’s not trying to ignore or obfuscate the fact that the studio’s suffered a lot of personnel losses from the very top on down.”
  • And Tobold argues that the State Of The Game does indeed say “Yes, our game failed”“To me, saying “our game cannot hold subscribers” is a rather frank admission of defeat. It is equivalent to saying that the game on offer just isn’t worth $15 a month to most people. “

What did you think of SWTOR’s State of the Game?

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