Showing posts with label F2P. Show all posts
Showing posts with label F2P. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Too Many Assumptions: EU Court Ruling Allows for Re-sale of Used Digital Games by End-Users

There is a stir in the online PC gaming community today over a EU court ruling that allows for the resale of digital licenses.  Read up here.  The important part of the ruling is: "Therefore, even if the licence agreement prohibits a further transfer, the rightholder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy."  This is big news.  HUGE news for software copyright.  The immediate Internet conclusion is that Steam or any other digital distribution platform for games will have to allow end users to resell their games for profit.  However, its all being taken too far in regards to digital distribution.  This will not and cannot change anything with digital distribution.

I won't claim to be an expert in copyright law, but I do consider myself a logical thinker.  Thinking this out a bit, I don't see anything in the ruling that forces a digital distribution platform to allow another user access to a game license bought by one of its other users.  The license to a game can be transferred to another user, but access via a digital distribution platform is under a completely different license.  The ruling may force the likes of Steam to allow user account sales, but it does not in any way look like it forces Steam to allow a different user access to a license you've resold.  Theoretically, as you no longer own the license, Steam could deactivate your access to the game while the new owner is forced to procure the game files and installation methods independent of Steam.

In fact, it would be like buying a new game from Walmart and then having a law forcing Walmart to resell that game for the purchaser, deliver it to the new owners house, set it up for them and ensure it is in brand new cloned working order, and then provide all the monies to the original purchaser.  It makes zero sense.  Walmart sold you the game and if you resell it, it is up to you to figure out how to get it to the new owner and its then up to the new owner to have a method to use it.

Oh and there is a little United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling (basically then upheld by the Supreme Court) for Vernor v Autodesk in the good ole' US of A which pretty much puts the kibosh on the reselling of software licenses.

Even if we were in fairy-tale land and the resale of used digital games was allowed, I wouldn't want it.  The sale of used physical copies of games already forced developers into the models we currently have.  Downloadable content (DLC) and the piecemeal sale of games is a direct result of developers looking at ways to get around used game sales.  Every developer now is building or has built online service platforms around their game franchises to lock features behind pay walls.

I much prefer the path the PC gaming industry is actually on: free 2 play (F2P).  Players want to pay for games and are more than willing to happily spend away on games that keep them engaged.  The F2P model allows them to try before they buy and then show the developer in a tangible way what they like about the game.

There is so much doom-casting about the current gaming industry that we are all missing the fact that the PC gaming industry has completely transformed itself over the past two years.  Reselling of digital licenses for digital games would be a huge derailment.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The 3 MMOs you ARE NOT paying attention to, but should be


Features: crafting/building focus, perma-death, open PvP, set in colonial New England (aka The New World), free 2 play, "generations"

The developers have been very clear that this game is about freedom.  They are removing the "grindy" parts of MMOs to get the players to the "end game".  Players logging in on day one are in the "end game" and participating in the community.

With freedom comes consequence.  A prime example is the idea that there will be forests in the game that players can clear.  Clear an entire forest and waste the wood on something, players are out of wood in that area.  This fits right in with the focus of the game's narrative: the New World.  Players will be focused on building and expanding in the new territory and that will open all kinds of avenues for teamwork and competitive play.

The discussion of freedom extends further when you start talking about open PvP and the fact the game will feature perma death.  A player's character can be murdered, never to be seen again, but only if the "murdering" player consciously makes that decision.  Incidental murder will not be possible and being flagged a murderer will  be a very troubling position to be in when you are caught.

This all sounds a bit out there, but the developers have experience in the perma-death, crafting/building MMO realm.  They already run Haven and Hearth, Salem's predecessor that has executed and learned from most of these ideas.

Lastly, Salem is going to be free 2 play (F2P) which should allow for anyone curious to get their feet wet.


UPDATE: Apparently I missed the fact that as of Monday, Dominus has shut down due to lack of funding.  This was completely out of the blue for a game that was charging ahead towards a beta and eventual release.

Features: three-faction "realm vs realm" (though legally they cannot call it that), SWG-style gathering

If Star Wars Galaxies and Dark Age of Camelot (DAoC) had a love child, it would be Dominus (formerly Prime Online: The Battle for Dominus).

Dominus, based in a SciFi setting, will feature three-faction warfare along with an in depth crafting and exploration system where resources will be unique to an area and be finite (in the fact they could be gathered into extinction).

The game is also being geared towards PvP combat with the three factions battling it out for control of zones and areas similar to DAoC frontiers.  There will also be a bounty system where players can hunt individual targets or live with one foot in the grave by carrying a large bounty on their head.

Dominus also marks the return of Sanya Thomas (now Sanya Weathers), of DAoC fame, back to the MMO community manager standpoint.  If you haven't followed MMOs for a long time, you may have missed the fact she pretty much invented how modern day community management is done for an MMO.


Features: based on Otherlands book series by Tad Williams, SciFi and Fantasy combined (or really any sort of world they want to add as Otherlands is really a metaverse capable of any idea that can be thought up), eDNA system, free 2 play

While Dominus and Salem have received a bit of press and a small mentioning in some notable blogs, Otherlands on the other hand has received almost no attention.  And that's a damn shame because the Otherlands books by Tad Williams are a superb read.  Not to mention the game is shaping up to be an excellent free 2 play MMO experience.

The Otherlands is a meta-verse in which users log in and have experiences in various worlds.  Everything from World War I to swords and sorcery fantasy is covered.  The areas in the game will be varied from the main meta-verse hub to a fantasy world that grew out of a chess board and features a giant floating game of chess happening in the sky (and that description doesn't even come close to doing the area in question justice.  Watch this video to learn more about the chess board zone.)

The important thing to understand is that the zones in the game are "simulations" and therefore are not meant to simulate a "real" world.  Things can be serious or exaggerated and it all fits into the game's lore. Rules in the simulations can be bent and broken, changed, or given context.  Its really a perfect fit for an MMO.

Another neat feature is non-static NPCs.  NPCs will be on life cycles where they actually travel and have things to do.  A fisherman will go to fish, a baker will go to buy flour, etc.

However, the coolest thing going for Otherlands is the idea of eDNA and the MyLand feature.  The basic premise is players will be able to find something in a simulation (aka zone) and take a  copy of it's eDNA which can then be brought back to their MyLand zone to transplant a copy.  Its MMO housing on steroids and this is one MMO where instanced housing zones make complete and logical sense.

If there is any MMO that I'm excited about these days it is Otherlands.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

DOTA 2: Steam's killer App? Killer FREE App?

Steam, as a platform, benefits from having as many users as possible.  Every user is a potential game sale or series of sales.  Valve, the developers of Steam, have come up with many, many ways to get users to buy into the platform.  First, Steam is free to install.  Second, they have great sales.  And over the last year they have moved into the free 2 play realm bringing F2P MMOs to Steam and even releasing their own Team Fortress 2 as F2P. However, even with Team Fortress 2 being popular, I can't help but feel that Steam is missing a killer app that defines it.  Steam needs a completely free app that will drive a massive rush of new blood to it's shores.  The more I think about it, the more DOTA 2 is shaping up to be that killer app.

DOTA 2 is in beta and Valve has yet to announce it's planned business model.  Other popular MOBA games on the market, such as Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends, are free 2 play.  The developers of both make money off players paying to unlock access to champions/heroes and for other non-game affecting bonuses (such as alternate skins for avatars in LoL).  At the same time, each week, a small pool of champions/heroes is always available to play, meaning a player could play LoL or HoN completely free of charge.  Now the big question is whether Valve will follow suit. 

At first I felt that it would be crazy for Valve to not follow the successful model that LoL has laid down.  I didn't (and still don't) think DOTA 2 can be as successful as it can be if there is a front-end price tag attached.  DOTA 2 needs to be free 2 play.  However, the game play of DOTA 2 does not feel suited for the LoL model.  DOTA 2 shines by having all the heroes available for every player for every match.  DOTA 2 will not work with a rotating pool of free heroes each week.

So how does DOTA 2 go the free 2 play route?  Simple.  DOTA 2 will be just that: free 2 play.  I mean 100%, unobstructed free 2 play.  Outside of mailing Valve a wad of cash with a funny note for Gaben, there would be no way for player's to spend cash on the game.

Sound crazy?  Maybe, but I think Valve can justify the costs associated by the sheer volume of players it could bring onto Steam.  Each Steam user is a couple clicks away from becoming another statistic on Valve's already impressive sales charts.

There is more to it than just bringing new users to Steam.  Because not only would this move promote Steam,  but it would promote Steamworks -- Valve's game developer tool set -- which further ties games and gamers into the Steam platform.  Oh and Steamworks is 100% free for developers to use.  If DOTA 2 turns into a smashing, world-wide sensation (it clearly has the potential) with Steamworks doing all the heavy lifting, it will further propel Steamworks into the game development limelight.

The stage is set for Valve to shake things up with DOTA 2.  Does this mean a completely free 2 play DOTA 2?  I believe so.

Monday, January 02, 2012

2012, the first post

2012, the first post.  Where in lies a reflection on predictions of the year that was: 2011.  And maybe some prognostication of the year that's just begun: 2012.

I kept the predictions light for 2011 and I'll tackle all five of them in one go:
1. World of Warcraft will maintain its dominance.
No doubt World of Warcraft is still top among MMOs, but to say its maintained its dominance is ignoring the fact that WoW took a significant hit this year and had to break out the pandas to keep people's interest.  In the larger genre of persistent online games, League of Legends has soundly trumped WoW's numbers with over 30 million active users and concurrent user numbers well beyond that of WoW.
2. Free 2 Play will continue its march forward and many will consider 2011 the year that F2P becomes the dominant business model not only for MMOGs, but for any online game (MOBA, FPS, etc.)
There is no doubt that Free 2 Play has landed with most major publishers having already published or considering to publish a F2P title(s).  2011 also marked the arrival of F2P on Steam; the premier digital distribution platform for games.  The subscription MMOs fell like flies to a flyswatter this year as several joined the F2P ranks and enjoyed immediate success.
3. "the game that shall not be named" will NOT launch this year.
OK, it squeaked into 2011, but just barely.
4. The "next generation" Xbox will be announced by Microsoft. Nintendo and Sony will stay with their current generation.
I was way off here.  Xbox 360 is marching strong and Playstation 3 is still playing third fiddle.  Nintendo, of all companies, is the one out front with news of their new Wii U console.
5. This blog will be completely different and may actually feature commentary and experiences from games I'm actually playing.
Proof: I posted about Fallout: New Vegas and I actually played that game!

Now onward and upward to my predictions for 2012 and beyond

1. The world will not end.  (just wanted to get that one out of the way)

2. I will post more than I did in 2011.  (just wanted to give ya'll something to look forward to)

3. "the game that shall not be named" will have a tough year, but will survive.  The argument to take the game Free 2 Play will begin around July.

4. Warhammer Online will be shut down this year.

5. DOTA2 will launch, but fail to make much more than a drip into the MOBA scene.

6. League of Legends will hit 50 million players and still be flying under the radar in the online gaming market

7. A major game will "surprise launch" this year with little to no notice and possibly be Free 2 Play

8. Indie games will continue to creep into the spotlight and we will see another Minecraft-level indie break out this year

9. At least 4 of these predictions will be right :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DC Universe Online Revenue Up 700% due to Free 2 Play

Another game gone Free 2 Play (F2P) and another success story.  This time it was DC Universe Online from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) and the success was a 700% increase in revenue for the game.  So it's no surprise that they are also launching their other titles such as Everquest 2 into the F2P atmosphere.  With my SOE hate somewhat in my past, I may have to give DCUO a try now.  It is on Steam after all :)

Full article on the revenue increase can be found here: LINK.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mobile gaming: perfect example of free 2 play gone WRONG

Free 2 Play /wink
Back when I fought against the free 2 play (F2P) movement for PC gaming it was because I was worried about quantity outpacing quality.  The PC F2P scene fortunately turned the corner towards quality, but another market, mobile gaming, has turned into a classic quantity over quality scenario.  The majority of F2P games for my Android phone are nigh impossible to play due to spam advertising and required micro-transactions.  Most free apps couldn't even be considered legitimate previews of the game and feel more like a mugger trying to get at my wallet.  Mobile gaming makes even the worst offenders in the PC F2P movement look like saints.  If people were up in arms about something like Allods Online, then they'd be stroking out over the state of F2P mobile gaming.

The unfortunate reality is that F2P games on mobile are far more successful through spam advertising and micro-transactions.  The developer ends up making more with these methods than with one-time purchases.  This is mostly because the pricing model for mobile apps is in the basement and if an app is greater than a couple dollars, it is doomed.

I understand developers need to make money and for the mobile space it's easier to follow the trend instead of making a statement with a paid-for only app.  The problem is that both advertising and micro-transactions directly conflict with gaming on a mobile device.  Think of the size of mobile screens and almost always having to reserve space for an advertisement banner.  It is flat out ridiculous in most cases and when that accidental click of an advertisement occurs the player is usually dropped from the game completely.  To note, some games are able to do advertising in a responsible way (like in between turns in Wordfeud FREE).

Secondly, mobile gaming is about quick access and simpler mechanics (which doesn't mean worse games).   The in-app micro-transactions conflict with both of these.  Nothing kills a game worse than spending the first five minutes finding out you really need to spend 99 cents to unlock something to make the game actually playable.  Then another five minutes is spent figuring out which payment service the game is using and by the time it rolls around to game time the player is ready to move on to something else.  Contributing to this further is again the screen size on mobile devices.  Pages for the in-app payments have to almost always be seperate screens, further pulling players away from the game.

These are all reasons as to why I was very happy to read this article and see Rockstar talk about how they are going into mobile to deliver quality games and not just to make money:
Besides, individual markets and platforms aren't something that seems to greatly interest Houser in the first place. "This is my personal opinion, but I think a lot of people in the general mobile industry are more focused on making money than making good products," he commented. "We're a business, too --we have to think about how to build revenue and we value the knowledge you need for that, but we want to conduct business with superior products. Focusing on nothing but business is depressing to me; it's boring. I want people to understand that we make games for more than just to make money."
I believe mobile gaming is going through growing pains and as we see more big developers like Rockstar step in with true, quality games aimed at core gamers we'll see a reduction in the downward spiral of game pricing and F2P mechancis.  The current situation is not sustainable.  Only so much shovelware can exist before the market crashes.  History has taught us this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Warhammer Online going MOBA

Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes was just announced at GamesCON.  It is a 6v6v6 multi-player online battle arena game (MOBA).  Oh and its free to play (F2P).

This has me mildly interested, mostly because its F2P.  I enjoyed Warhammer Online for what it was: a RvR game.  I didn't enjoy Warhammer Online for what it could have been: an instance-heavy RvR game that was consistent with it's path from start to finish.  Unfortunately WAR split it's focus and by the time launch rolled around, it was a bucket full of holes that held water for only so long before being drained.

Wrath of Heroes extracts the RvR and compacts it into an action-oriented mash up.  It is a play for the MOBA market that League of Legends currently dominates and that DOTA2 is currently doing a money grab for.  Fortunately, there is plenty of demand and I cannot fault Mythic/EA for putting their foot into the door.

I will give it a try when it comes out or if I get invited to Beta.  That is unless it requires Origin.  Not really interested in getting involved with yet another digital distribution platform.  Sign up for beta on their site.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Global Agenda: Free 2 Play works

Global Agenda launched as a subscription game, but has since gone Free 2 Play (F2P).  I jumped on board when the game came to Steam and while I haven't spent any money myself, I have played with several players that are enjoying the money they have spent with the new F2P model introduced with Free Agent.  Most of those players joined at the same time I did and bought into the Elite Agent one-time $20 ($15 with coupon) micro-transaction.  From what I can tell, this is the path most players are taking once they determine they want to stick around for a while.  After that they start picking up the occasional Boost for an extended play session which puts more money in Global Agenda's pockets.

The studio behind Global Agenda, Hi-Rez Studios, are quite pleased with Free Agent's success as well. In this interview with PC Gamer they had this to say:
“We have many many more people creating accounts every day, many more people playing concurrently, our revenues are higher than they ever have been before which means we can develop content and put it into the game faster than ever before.”
This is just more evidence that the F2P model is the way for new MMOGs to go, even when they are MMO-lite such as Global Agenda.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Global Agenda: PvP

After some initial confusion on how to participate in Global Agenda's PvP missions, I finally got the chance to jump into some Mercenary Operations on my level 12 Assault character. I haven't given up on my Robotics character, but its a bit complicated to play correctly so I figured I would learn the game as the less-complicated Assault class.

I played through a few matches and did well (or at least I feel I did well). As I'm a "free agent" and have not paid for a Boost or Elite Agent status, I do not have a choice of match-type. I am forced into whatever match type is randomly selected for me.

Unfortunately, the game does not do a very good job of explaining what type of match the player is being placed into. The player has to know to look at the loading screen and map name to know what type of match they are entering. A smarter player may have read the Player Guide and Mission Types prior to playing the game and know what these names mean, but that's like trying to read a manual before putting your kid's Christmas presents together.

The first thing that surprised me about the PvP matches was that players of all levels are allowed in.  As a level 12 Assault, I was playing with and against level 20+ characters.  While I died plenty of times to what seemed like instant death shots, I never felt like I was completely outgunned.  My level 12 Assault was able to keep up pace just fine.

The confusion on match type and my newbness did lead me to miss the objective-based gameplay of the matches, so I focused mainly on killing the enemy.  My stats did the talking as I was able to place high in the charts for kills and damage.  I know this probably perturbs established players looking for wins/loot, but this is what happens when new players are sent to mingle with the veterans.  Also, the game is a semi first-person shooter, so it's not surprising some players (like me) will initially focus on shooting the enemy instead of chasing the objective.

I did have fun during the matches, but Global Agenda has a funny way of making me feel disappointed by pointing out that I am a Free 2 Play player and as I didn't pay I missed my chance to get prize X and Y. Oh and it points out all of the experience and currency I missed out on by not paying up.

While I certainly understand the necessity for a F2P game to make money and this is certainly a valid way to do so, I can't help that it feels like a repeated slap to the face. But whats funny is that just a few years ago while playing World of Warcraft if I had been presented with a screen at the end of a dungeon that said "Pay $5 now and you can get this EPIC item" I would have probably ponied up the dough. However, Global Agenda is no WoW and in the F2P era we are entering, loot doesn't hold much water with me when it comes down to just dishing out a credit card number.

Overall I still enjoy Global Agenda, but I'm realizing that there really isn't much that is going to hold me long term. There is certainly nothing I feel compels me to spend any money on the game. I am doing just fine as a Free Agent.

You can keep up with my screenshots from Global Agenda via my Steam profile.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free 2 Play World of Warcraft

...until level 20 that is.  Meet World of Warcraft: Starter Edition which will let players play the first 20 levels of the game for free.  Rock, Paper, Shotgun has some more details:
"They’re calling it the World Of Warcraft Starter Edition, and it’s still limited by other trial aspects, such as not being able to use the auction house, and suffers a few other caps such as a limit of 10 gold. If trialees get to level 20 and want to open up their game and keep playing then it’s possible to to purchase the Burning Crusade for $20 and subscribe for the normal amount. The Burning Crusade has also now been unlocked for free for anyone who owned the original game."
Question now is: is this Blizzard feeling pressure from the F2P revolution or Blizzard just trying to hook more subscriptions on an aging game? Only time will tell.

EDIT: Oops, said it was the first 25 levels when in fact its only the first 20.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Free To Play (F2P) Arrives on Steam

A slew of free to play (F2P) games have arrived on Steam including Global Agenda and Champions Online.  The micro-transactions within the games will all be available through Steamworks (to my understanding).  Anyone familiar with buying hats in Team Fortress 2 will understand the Steam integration of micro-transactions.

This is really good news and Steam is a perfect vehicle for F2P games.  The biggest barrier to subscription games is requiring a credit card up front.  F2P removes that barrier and then the biggest barrier for F2P games is the client download and account setup.  Both of these, for the most part, can be taken care of via Steam.

I'm looking forward to more F2P games to hit Steam.  Personally, I'd love to see League of Legends or Allods Online on Steam.  Of the first wave of F2P games, I may try out Forsaken World (a straight up WoWDiku MMOG) or maybe Spiral Knights (co-op dungeon beat'em'up) or Global Agenda (shoot em up MMO thingy).

Friday, December 31, 2010

In The Year 2011, Heartless' Predictions

Read up on my 2010 predictions here.  Keep reading for 2011!

1. World of Warcraft will maintain its dominance.

2. Free 2 Play will continue its march forward and many will consider 2011 the year that F2P becomes the dominant business model not only for MMOGs, but for any online game (MOBA, FPS, etc.)

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic will NOT launch this year.

4. The "next generation" Xbox will be announced by Microsoft. Nintendo and Sony will stay with their current generation.

5. This blog will be completely different and may actually feature commentary and experiences from games I'm actually playing.

Friday, October 08, 2010

YOU are STILL wrong about Free 2 Play games

Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) has doubled, DOUBLED, their revenue since going Free 2 Play (F2P). Many people said this was the end of LotRO. Dungeon and Dragons Online's success changing to F2P was a fluke.  F2P does not work.

I suspect these same people will continue to tell us how terrible F2P is for MMO games. They will say "of course F2P versions of games make more money because all the crazy people have to spend more money now". These are the same people that will still be paying to play World of Warcraft or some old bastion of subscription gaming ten years from now.  The rest of us will be off enjoying the many new worlds opened to us with the F2P model.

Of course, these type of people are and continue to be WRONG about F2P.  MMOs are business propositions first, games second. This has always been the case. The business model that makes the most money is going to win. F2P works and makes money. Welcome to the real next generation; the free 2 play generaton.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Economy of FREE

FREE, 29 holiday song downloads on Amazon. You clicked.  I know you did.  It's ok, I'll wait for you to get Silent Night playing in the background before you come back to read this post.  FREE is hard to resist, especially with no strings attached.  FREE is also worth money, because out of the hundreds of people that download a FREE song, some will end up buying one.

Gamasutra has some hard numbers: 58% Of PlaySpan Users Buy Goods From Free-To-Play Games
And not only did free-to-play games see the highest purchase penetration among users, they also generated the most money on a per-user basis. The average user's expenditure on publisher-sold free-to-play digital goods over the course of 12 months was $75, compared to $60 for MMOs, and $50 for social network games.
F2P games, with micro transactions, serve all levels of investment from players. There is no barrier to entry because its free to play, increasing the potential audience. Those willing to spend very little, can still access the game, earning money from a market segment that the subscription model misses. Those willing to pay more are allowed to do so and are not capped at their monthly subscription cost. Both end up supporting the ability for free riders to hitch on at no cost.  A free rider being just another sales opportunity.

World of Warcraft has forever cemented the subscription model as valid. F2P games are quickly validating micro-transactions.  This is not an argument that F2P is better than the subscription model. It shows that the F2P model is working and that those people screaming about $10 horses are falling behind the times. Also, it shows that advertising can be done with the product, not flashy Mr T commercials (as epic as they are).  That's a win for the customer as we get a free game to play, no strings attached.