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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck Games

Free-To-Play Switch Going Well For D&D Online 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the price-is-right dept.
babboo65 writes "Dungeons and Dragons Online is enjoying a second life in terms of player count and buzz, all thanks to its new business strategy: giving the game away. Turbine is making their MMO as accessible as possible, and that includes making players who don't pay anything as happy as possible. Subscriptions are up 40 percent. Ars explores how free can be very profitable."
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Free-To-Play Switch Going Well For D&D Online

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  • The game (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sinryc (834433) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:39AM (#29754231)
    The game is a whole lot of fun. I really hope this serves as an example for future online games. Micro Transactions really aren't all bad, especially the way that Turbine is doing them.
    • Re:The game (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:28AM (#29754713)

      I won't walk, I'll run away from games that employ strategies like this in the future. I got into a browser game a few years ago called Travian that promised to be "free" and you could buy "gold" if you wanted extras like instant builds or NPC merchant trading or +25% resource production boosts. I quickly realized that if you wanted to be in the top 500 players on a server of about 1500 active players you HAD to buy and use gold or else there was no way to keep up. I got so addicted to it that rather than wait 15 minutes for a resource to build I'd just insta-build it so I could move on to the next building level.

      The problem was that by abstracting the currency it made it far easier to spend out of control. You'd pay $25 for 600 gold (~4 cents for each piece of gold) and you'd spend 3 gold (12 cents) to NPC trade, 2 gold (8 cents) to instabuild your queue of up to 2 things at a time (if you had the "plus" feature which added the queue for 15 gold (60 cents) a week), 5 gold x 4 (80 cents) to boost production of iron, wood, clay, and wheat, 3 gold x 2 (24 cents) to boost attack and defense bonuses by 10%, etc. The NPC trading was by far the worst money sink since it was so easy to abuse. You *could* trade with normal players, but nobody really does past the first few weeks of game play (the game round lasts a year) since it is impractical to try and find a trade for tens of thousands of resources... so you NPC trade it instantly for 3 gold (12 cents).

      So, at a minimum you'd spend $6.56 a month for the Travian Plus feature plus +25% resource boosts, +10% offensive and defensive bonuses. That at first seems reasonable for running such a cool game, but I was averaging around $100 a month on gold because of NPC trading and instabuilding. My coworker had it worse because his two sons were playing and he was even worse with the instabuilding. His monthly Travian habit, including his two sons' costs were running him around $300/month. FOR A GAME!

      So no thanks, I'll take a $15/month subscription fee ANY DAY over a microtransaction arrangement where you need to eventually spend obscene amounts of money just to be in the top players.

      • Re:The game (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrMista_B (891430) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:39AM (#29754747)

        Your problem isn't the game, it's that you want to be 'in the top players'.

        Most people don't care about that.

        That you do, is nobody's fault but your own.

        • Re:The game (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CarpetShark (865376) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:25AM (#29754903)

          you want to be 'in the top players'.

          Most people don't care about that.

          I think most people would like to be in the top players. They realise, though, that most of the top players have sacrificed years of their lives for that little level number on their profile and shinier weapons, and (very sanely) don't want to compete on those terms.

          As an aside, this might mean that having some sort of safety cut-off for addicted players could make the game better for those healthier, less addicted players.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by spire3661 (1038968)
            I think you would be wrong. Most players just want to play.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by CarpetShark (865376)

              Evidence? From personal experience, I certainly would have LIKED to be a higher level. Just about every MMO player I've ever known has been heard saying things like "I'm just doing this to get to the next level", or "I can't wait 'till I'm level 200", or even "This sucks; there's no progression. Once you've got to level X, there's nothing new. There should be 200 levels, and then remorts."

              No offense, but given that most games have some sort of level system, and many players actively announce their curre

        • Re:The game (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Applekid (993327) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @09:21AM (#29756951)

          Your problem isn't the game, it's that you want to be 'in the top players'.

          Most people don't care about that.

          That you do, is nobody's fault but your own.

          I don't know about Travian, but, most "free" games I've played have content that's not available except for the Top Players. Well, sure, it's available but the second you enter the dungeon or get to the boss or whatever, you're squished pretty soundly. That's because these top tier events are balanced for those at the top, who get there using in-game paid help. To me, that's just as good as locking people out for non-payment.

          It's the right of the game developer to do that, of course. But they shouldn't really be billing it as a "free" game if you can't fully play it without paying. They should be honest and admit that if you're not prepared to pay, you're not going to play it all.

          If I wanted to play a game where chance of winning is directly related to the money I spend, I'd play Magic again. At least WotC doesn't pretend it's a free game.

          • by Darinbob (1142669)
            Actually, some for-pay games have content where that basically only top players can see. The raids hidden behind several layers of requirements for instance. I remember the few months I was in Asheron's Call and all the periodic free content additions were meant just for the top players, and I quickly learned that by the time I got to their level, that the bar would have been raised and I still wouldn't be able to see new content (though I could see ruins of past battles :-).
        • by pluther (647209)

          The problem isn't even that he wants to be 'in the top 500', it's that he wants to be in the top 500 NOW.

          D&D Online lets you earn points in game that you can spend in the store.

          But, if all you're doing is grinding for points, it's going to get pretty boring.

          But, if he just uses healing potions he finds/buys in-game instead of buying them from the store, and if he waits until he's accumulated enough points in-game to buy a warforged monk or whatever rather than buying them, he can play the game just fine

      • Re:The game (Score:5, Informative)

        by Targon (17348) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:14AM (#29754863)

        This is where you clearly have never even looked at the game in question(DDO). The game does not revolve around player vs. player, though there are some very very limited forms of it in the game(in certain taverns there are combat pits).

        The DDO method of free to play is really giving you an unlimited taste of the game for free by offering a bit of free content without making all content for free. You have the option to either play the free content on multiple characters to generate enough "Turbine Points" to purchase additional content, or you can pay real money for Turbine points which you can then use to get the content package of your choice. If you don't like being limited in what you can access, you can just become a normal $15/month subscriber to get access to all the content in the game. In a month or two, if you don't want to pay the monthly subscription any more, you can switch back to free to play, lose access to the non-free content you have not purchased, but you don't LOSE what you have accomplished. Those who pay the monthly subscription also get 500 Turbine Points each month they are a subscriber, and those points can be used to unlock content for the free to play if the player decides to go back to Free to Play status.

        So, DDO offers the best of both worlds. You get free to play with micro transactions, and you get subscription based for those who want all the content the game has to offer. There are also no "player rankings" as such, so no one really cares about who has the absolute best stuff, as long as your skill at playing your character is at an acceptable level(clerics who don't heal, or who don't know how to use mass healing spells in a raid situation may upset others for example). There is also a tolerance for poor equipment levels to an extent as long as party members know about it in advance so it doesn't kill what the group is trying to do.

        And, this is why DDO is seeing good subscription numbers from the release of Free to Play. Some people may upgrade for only a few months to get full access to the "premium" content in the low to mid levels, and then switch back to the Free to Play and then only buy the few high level premium modules they want access to after that. Or, if new content is released often enough, they may stick with their subscription so they don't have to buy each new content pack as it is released.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mcgrew (92797) *

          That sounds like shareware from the stone age. It worked then, no reason for it to not work now. For example, the first Duke Nukem, a squeaky little side scroller, gave you three levels for free. The game was so fun and had so many amusing aspects (like getting points for killing the energizer bunny) that you would gladly shell out the (iirc) twenty bucks for the Duke. I did, and Apogee surprised people who registered with not only the other six levels, but the shareware version of another game as well.

          Atte

      • by Jurily (900488)

        His monthly Travian habit, including his two sons' costs were running him around $300/month. FOR A GAME!

        Not "running him". He was spending that money on entertainment.

        Just because you can't control yourself doesn't mean the game is bad.

      • by Jaysyn (203771)

        You simply can't buy your way to the top in DDO. Any items you can buy can be found in game during normal play. I think the exception to that would be cosmetic stuff (wild hair dyes) & the potions you can buy that will give one character a 60% increase in XP for 6 hours. On top of that, completing faction quests will net you turbine points which you can use to purchase races & expansion packs among other things. I've been playing since the beta in July, have "bought" access to the warforged race

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Liambp (1565081)
        That is a sobering post and your story is consistent with other things I have read about Free to Play Games. However I think there is a distinction to be made between micro-transactions where you pay to "get ahead" and micro-transactions where you pay for additional content. Micro-transactions where you pay to get ahead (faster XP potions or Item shop weapons and gear for example) are fraught with moral hazard. In order to maximise revenues the developer has to sucker you in to make you want to get ahead
        • by Jaysyn (203771)

          Regarding the item type purchases I bought a suit of +1 full plate in DDO recently, spent 35 of my free Turbine points (they have sales & stuff). 2 dungeons later, guess what I found in a chest?

          • by jank1887 (815982)

            I believe that's the point. you can get stuff faster with microtransactions, but unlike many other games, you don't have to. You paid 35 points to have that armor 2 dungeons earlier than you otherwise would have...

        • by Machtyn (759119)

          In essence you are paying to avoid having to play parts of the game!!!

          Actually, I think it is not that the player is avoiding playing parts of the game, but rather avoiding the incessant grind to get to the point where the paid content becomes free.

          However, a poor chap like myself would suffer the incessant grind if the game was good enough.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        His monthly Travian habit, including his two sons' costs were running him around $300/month. FOR A GAME!

        Ever played golf? I know golfers that spend far more than that playing golf, and some of them really can't afford it. If you come up with a fun enough anything, people are going to spend money. Even when they can't afford it.

      • I don't know what game you were playing that lest you spend that much without capping it, but I would not go near it...however I do not think this one will be like that.

      • There's nothing like that in DDO. The store has some stat boosts and potions, most of which you could get from vendors in-game with the "fake" money you earn on quests. You can also use real money to buy in-game money. I would imagine the biggest thing though is buying quests. However, you don't really even need to do that since you get "points" for advancing through the game. I've earned enough points to buy 2 quest packs without spending a penny of real money. I would estimate around 2/3 of the game con
        • There's nothing like that in DDO. The store has some stat boosts and potions, most of which you could get from vendors in-game with the "fake" money you earn on quests. You can also use real money to buy in-game money.

          The DDO Store has been balanced so you can NOT make in-game money from store transactions. The items bought with Turbine points are bound to character or account, and cannot be traded or sold. There are no items purchasable through the DDO store that cannot be found in game with the exception of the cosmetic items that have no gameplay impact. For less than the price of a year's subscription, you can buy every Adventure (Content) Pack, Warforged, Monk, a shared bank tab, and have enough left over for a c

          • You are correct. I mis-remembered what buying points in the store with real money is for (since I've never done it). I have seen people in-game doing the math as to whether or not it was cheaper to subscribe or just buy stuff. I'm not a real MMO player so I have no intention of spending real money on anything though so the game works for me. If they hadn't gone free to play I would still be playing TF2 all the time instead of DDO.
      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        I kinda agree. My guilty pleasure personally is Mobsters on Myspace. It's essentially just a basic browser based combat game. You level up, buy equipment, fight other players, etc. Very much like text based games I used to play on BBS's.

        Thing is, all equipment can't simply be purchased using the in-game currency that you accumulate from doing stuff (which after playing for a week or more starts to accumulate so fast that it's devalued to the point of being almost worthless). Your very basic equipment c

      • So in other words, they relied on the psychology of people who feed the need to be int he top 500 players, and the rationalizations people will make (it's only a few dollars... not so bad) in order to make a profit. It actually sounds like a pretty good business plan, since there will always be a subset of players for whom being on top is important enough to pay for.

        As to how ethical this is... well, there's an opportunity there as well -- for those businesses who can advertise their moral superiority fo

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745)

        well if one implementation of the idea was bad, clearly no one can ever do it well~

        DDO has addressed this issue.

        You can't buy anything that makes you uber powerful.
        Even if you were UBER powerful, it wouldn't mean much because there are instance based dungeons.

        You can buy dungeons, but there are plenty to do if you don't buy them.

        You can get to level 20 and never spend a cent.

        It's the best integrated store in any game ever produced.

        I received some free points(everyone does) during the beginning quests and us

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "The problem was that by abstracting the currency it made it far easier to spend out of control."

        Yep, that has been working out quite well for the casinos for YEARS.

        :)

    • by Darinbob (1142669)
      I never really understood this business model. Say you have 10,000 players all paying $15 a month. Now you make it free, and you've got 20,000 players, but only about 10,000 pay any money and of those only 5,000 have a second or third transaction. It doesn't seem to add up. Granted, DDO wasn't going anywhere and was in the doldrums and this keeps it alive. There are significant support costs involved, it's not like it's just a web site that pays its hosting fees through a little bit of ad revenue.

      Simil
  • I know I'd probably never subscribe to a MMO. But this business model wouldn't make me feel "stuck" with a game I might, or not, like.

    If it proves to be a success, it will likely be copied by numerous other actors in that field.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Canazza (1428553)

      There are hundreds of Free-to-play 'MMOs' out there (most of them browser-based affairs and/or Korean) that use a similar model to DDO. Free Realms being one of the biggest (and newest).
      The idea of Free To Play and Microtransactions is one that's proven itself to be profitable.
      I can also see Blizzards new MMO using that model to prevent it clashing directly with WoW

    • "Give the first hit for free" is a business model that has always worked well for drug dealers, so if this MMO is as addictive as they hope it should work well for them.
  • What they are giving you, essentially, is an unlimited free trial period to play the game. You can download and play the game for free and, chances are, if you really like the game and decide to keep playing it, you will eventually give them some money. It's a fairly clever strategy - I wonder who else will follow suit (Warhammer?).
    • Re:Unlimited trial (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:57AM (#29754317) Homepage

      Note that you're also paying for convenience. You can buy anything with in-game earned currency, or you can just plop real cash down and buy things. Players that have more time than money can grind everything, and players who have more money than time can fund development of the game.

      Also do note that this is a pretty common mechanic in Asian MMO's. When a player has only intermittent access to gaming cafes, you have to find ways of monetizing the gameplay which doesn't lock players into repeating payments. Pay-or-play-for-items is one such strategy.

      • Re:Unlimited trial (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Wildclaw (15718) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:40AM (#29754527)

        Players that have more time than money can grind everything,

        Unfortunately, due to how the currency system is setup, that grind involves repeatedly creating and deleting characters, as the amount of a currency a single character can earn is limited.

      • by Targon (17348)

        DDO doesn't have a "pay for raid loot" system though, so you can't just drop money in to get what the long-time players have had to work for. Most of the micro-transaction stuff you can buy is centered around either the premium stuff that subscribers get automatically with their monthly subscription, or convenience items like healing or spell point potions. This keeps the paying customers happy that only those who PLAY their way into the high end game(free to play or subscriber) will be getting the b

    • by dword (735428)

      I've also played Hero Online [netgame.com] like that for years. After about a year of free play, I got bored because advancing got very slow and difficult, so I put up some cash. I've paid them a lot, but I got plenty of entertainment in return. This is a good strategy and it seems very fair - if you like the game you pay, if you don't you just go somewhere else and stop loading the servers. There are also those that never pay and just rely on free stuff, but that makes the games more entertaining for those who pay, beca

    • by stjobe (78285)

      I wonder who else will follow suit (Warhammer?).

      It's unlikely that Warhammer would implement this - there's no easy lines to draw between free-to-play and subscriber content in that game.

      As an aside, with the 1.3.2 patch 2/3rds of the Tier one (read: starter) content will be closed off or made more difficult to get access to - the RvR areas in High Elves vs Dark Elves and Dwarf vs Greenskin areas will be unflagged for RvR, all players will start in Empire vs Chaos area and the RvR area there will be the only one active.

      It's the first time I've heard of a

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:53AM (#29754297)

    Matthew 7:13-14
    Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

    How much easier could Satan be making it than providing the game for free online?

    Some required reading [chick.com]

    • The moral of the required reading is we should accept Christianity through a cartoon instead of Satan through a board game. I guess Satan must be in the DDO marketing dept and God at Marvel in illustration otherwise this epic battle on the entertainment media couldn't be taking place. It's just too bad God dabbled with magic in the Narnia series because that really confuses the church's current message about sorcery being evil. Oh well we all make mistakes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jank1887 (815982)

      thank you for the humor. I haven't been reminded of this travesty (travesty because some people take that comic seriously) in some time. Because I'm afraid you might be one of those people, I'll "feed the troll" with some counter humor:

      MST3K analysis of Dark Dungeons:
      http://www.humpin.org/mst3kdd/ [humpin.org]

      A less humorous, but wonderfully sarcastic "Dark Dungeons" point-by-point response:
      http://www.theescapist.com/darkdungeons.htm [theescapist.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      This cartoon certainly is real, chick publications is a somewhat whacky, apocalyptic organization that believes that the Roman Catholic Church is anti-Christian.
      On the other hand, I have played with people who argued with the DM that a spell shouldn't work the way the rules specified because "that's not the way it really works". So, there are some people who play D&D and believe that the magic in the game is a representation of something that exists in the real world, just like the physics in the game
      • by geekoid (135745)

        ""that's not the way it really works""

        in my experience that's just short hand for an inconsistent interpretation for of a rule.
        It usually is said after a DM says a player can't do something clever even though it applies to the rules.

        Like bouncing a lightning bolt around a corner. If a GM ruled I couldn't do that, I would say 'that isn't how it works'. At no time do I think lightening bolts could actually shoot out of my hands.... only my penis.

        A good point and a penis joke in the same post. That's the best

        • I was there, these people meant "that's not how magic works in the real world." They believed that he was a reincarnated priest from the lost continent of Mu.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Creepy (93888)

      ugh, not him again.

      Jack T Chick is to D&D what Jack Thompson is to computer gaming. I remember finding pamphlets by his loonie followers in bathroom stalls in college (seriously!). Chick at least has an excuse - he's Baptist and they tend to be a bit...zealous..., but Thompson is a friggin Presbyterian, so he's uh, zealous by choice (zealous = loonie). And why the f*ck do they all go by Jack?...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ConceptJunkie (24823)

        Jack Chick is about more than D&D. He is the poster child for everything that is wrong with _some_ Christians.

        As a Christian, and as someone who plays D&D, I can see the potential for harm in the game. For instance, I think playing evil characters could be problematic and unhealthy. However, the idea of the game in and of itself is no more harmful than kids playing cops and robbers, or perhaps more appropriately, knights and dragons.

        Is it a sin to read about Greek Mythology? Or to make the analo

    • by hoggoth (414195)

      HAHAHA That was hilarious!
      "Gather up your occult paraphernalia like rock music"

      Oh noes! The rock music is warping my brain... I feel like having money for nothing and chicks for free!
      Better switch to Debbie Boone quickly before I turn evil!

    • When I started reading I thought it was a joke. Now I'm not sure.

      I hope it is a joke, because either it is a joke or there are people spreading very stupid notions out there, if they aren't stupid themselves. And if they aren't stupid or joking they are being deceitful with their absurd brainwashing, which is even worse.

      I can't get it. As a christian I can say I don't get it at all. What is the point of all the veneration if the people ignore the teachings. Where is the understanding, altruism and good sens

  • Second Life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrMista_B (891430) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @02:59AM (#29754327)

    Second Life has been doing this for years and years, relying soley on microtransactions.

    From all accounts, they're still doing very well.

    • Re:Second Life (Score:4, Informative)

      by fake_name (245088) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:32AM (#29754487)

      The big difference is in Second Life those micro transactions are between players; Linden Labs takes a cut only when players convert ingame currency back into real money.

      • They make money when you convert Linden$ to real money. And they make money from land rentals. I suspect the last one is the large money maker.

      • Re:Second Life (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gutnor (872759) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:39AM (#29754975)
        The content of the "game" is also provided by other players. So, not really that much different, money goes to people generating content.
      • The big difference is in Second Life those micro transactions are between players

        Another big difference is that in Second Life the UI is truly awful. I have yet to see such an awful user experience in an online virtual world as I see in Second Life, nothing comes close. It feels like something out of the early 90s.

  • iPhone developers (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is the model to explore for iPhone game developers who are complaining about market resistance to price points above $2, and piracy. I also wonder if we'll see developers for the Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade) and PS3/PSP (PlayStation Network) give it a crack. I constantly end up with unusably small amounts left in my "wallet" on these services, and I wouldn't think twice about getting rid of it for small gains or more content. I guess you could say the cut price Rock Band Unplugged on the PSN is a start
    • by Sparton (1358159)

      This is the model to explore for iPhone game developers who are complaining about market resistance to price points above $2, and piracy.

      I was just about to say "Nope", but...

      My coworker, just before I hit "Submit", got an email from the iPhone Developer Program titled "In App Purchaces Allowed for Free Apps", so yes, maybe it is.

  • Runes of Magic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hotrodent (1017236)
    A friend put me onto Runes of Magic (which uses Micro Transactions) as I was an ex-WoW player, vowing to never pay for MMO games again. So I played for free for a couple of months and enjoyed not having the "pressure" to get value for money that a monthly fee seems to induce. The decision to buy a mount using real $$'s came easily. A few more purchases later, I'd spend about $50 and felt I had got my moneys worth. I spend when *I* want, not when a certain date passes. I can take a break for a few weeks and
    • by TheLink (130905)
      Installing that game is a pain in the neck tho.

      1) Their install file downloads sometimes don't work.
      2) Patching often requires yet more big downloads.
      3) Installation requires admin privileges even though the game shouldn't need admin privileges - in fact I have installed the game using a virtual machine onto a network drive and successfully run it from another machine - so no admin privileges are actually required.

      RoM is very gear based so if you want to PvP, be aware that someone willing to spend lots of $
    • by geekoid (135745)

      "vowing to never pay for MMO games again. "

      some friend. What's he do in his spare time, take light beer to AA meetings~

  • As a cheap bastard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Miner Willy (1654635) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @04:13AM (#29754647)
    I wholeheartedly support this courageous move.
  • Decent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by meglon (1001833)
    I'm trying out DDO, again.

    For a simple critique... the game has many small issues, which most other games have already dealt with.

    Their auction house is a disaster. The quests are fine, except it becomes a simple grindfest way to early. It's an instanced world, similar to Guild Wars, not an open world like Eve, or even EQ or WoW. It's very linear. That can be fine, but don't expect to simply go out and explore and achieve anything.

    The graphics are good, and run pretty smooth. The skill acquisi
    • by Targon (17348)

      There is a big difference between the long-time players and many of the new players just getting into the game. Yes, there are SOME people who are really bad, but most of the long-time players on Ghallanda at least don't take that sort of attitude. Then again, what you are seeing may be due to the World of Warcraft crowd trying to compare every last feature to WoW, rather than looking at DDO as a DIFFERENT sort of game, and not a clone of the old EQ game design with different graphics/rules.

      • Having played WOW before, its very hard not to compare, just give us the linkable items in chat and a tooltip on the party healthbars showing class/level/location and all is forgiven.
  • I played and occasionally still play one or the other MMO that relies on similar models: you can play free and have a great game and you can upgrade and get some more benefits anytime you want.

    Much easier to get folks hooked with some quality game time than with a shiny box, and once they are, they quite happily play some premium.

    Now this is not new, there are a lot of folks doing this, mostly small indy developers with smaller mmo's and browser games and they seem to be doing very well.

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:42AM (#29754989) Homepage Journal

    because I am not loading a windows partition just to play games.

    One reason I like Blizzard is that they have kept us in the loop for a long time, even before it was simple

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Targon (17348)

      DDO uses DirectX for rendering, and it would take a LOT of effort/money to recode the graphics engine at this point, and since the number of Mac people who would pay money would be fairly low, the return on investment would be so low that it would be a money losing effort. Then again, you KNEW that the selection of games that support Mac was fairly low when you bought your computer, so if you want to play games, you should have known that you would need to set up Windows to play the vast majority of game

      • Or alternatively you employ a competent software architect who doesn't choose to use DirectX thus tying your programme to a single OS.

        Blizzard manage to release both Windows and Mac versions of their games at the same time and presumably Diablo, Starcraft, Warcraft and WoW have all made their money back.

        Mythic have recently released a beta of a Mac client for Warhammer Online (based on Cider).

        More pertinently though, if you know nothing about software development perhaps you should forgo making comments as
        • Same difference (Score:3, Informative)

          by tepples (727027)

          it would take a LOT of effort/money to recode the graphics engine at this point

          Or alternatively you employ a competent software architect who doesn't choose to use DirectX thus tying your programme to a single OS.

          Then it would take a LOT of effort/money to hire a competent software architect who doesn't choose to use DirectX to recode the graphics engine at this point.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Targon (17348)

          I think you have missed my point. At this point, since the game WAS originally designed around DirectX, it would cost more money to update the game to support another API than would be made. It wouldn't make sense for Turbine to change the rendering engine to something multi-platform if the expected revenue from such a change would not be well beyond the cost of the development work. Since DDO is not being sold in stores, the only money made would be off the micro-transactions and the subscription re

    • by larryj (84367)

      I've just started playing. So far, I've been using bootcamp. I posted a link to a Linux/OS X launcher in a previous reply. That (https://launchpad.net/pylotro) plus Crossover appears to be working for some. Instructions at http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=200985 [ddo.com].

    • by wwphx (225607)
      Exactly! I went Mac over two years ago with little regret. I do run virtual environments for the rare occasion that I need Windows, but I'm not going to play games in such a setup, and I'm not interested in doing Bootcamp as I don't have much disk space. BTW, City of Heroes is available in Mac now, no idea if they're going to do or did Champions Online that way.
  • Silkroad Online is free-to-play and relies on microtransactions so players can pay real cash to buy items in their item mall if they choose. The international version of the game is overloaded with gold-farming bots and player-leveling bots. The 35+ servers are almost always filled to capacity, and it can take hours to log in. When you finally do log in, you can often find herds of gold-farming bots running around an area, often times in sync with each other, grinding on mobs. A lot of players even run

  • Puzzle Pirates (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @08:29AM (#29756253) Homepage

    I'm surprised nobody's mentioned the Doubloon Oceans on Puzzle Pirates yet.

    A while back Puzzle Pirates set up a bunch of new servers with no subscription fee. Instead, they had a second currency. Besides Pieces of Eight, the standard currency, there was a new one called Doubloons.

    On normal oceans, you could play for free with some restrictions, or you could subscribe and have all the restrictions lifted. On Doubloon oceans, you buy off those restrictions with Doubloons - some on a monthly basis, some on a 30-day-played basis (my 2-year-old character is about three weeks through his first "30-day-played" badge. I don't play often.) You can buy off only the restrictions you care about, or you can buy off everything, or you can even buy "super-badges" that give you more capabilities than you'd have normally on a subscriber ocean.

    The trick is that you can convert PoE into Doubloons. And not at a fixed game rate, either - it's player-driven.

    So let's say I play Puzzle Pirates for the fun of it, and don't care about all the subscriber features. I go out pirating, I make money, I buy doubloons off the market, I can get my badges.

    Or, alternatively, let's say my time is valuable to me and I don't feel like grinding. I go blow $20 on doubloons, then trade them for a huge number of Pieces of Eight. Now I'm rich, and I can go buy the pretty clothes and furniture that I want.

    Everyone wins! Including the publisher! Because, remember, at no point in this system can you actually create PoE with doubloons or vice-versa. It's always a trade. If a group of players want to spend $10 in doubloons on a bunch of high-level features, someone, somewhere has paid that $10.

    Eve Online does something similar. Now, Eve is a subscription-based service, but you can also convert timecards into items called PLEXes. Pilot License Extensions. Each PLEX is a 30-day subscription, and PLEXes can be traded, at will, on the open market. So, again, if you don't want to pay any money for the game, you don't have to - make the money ingame, buy a PLEX, use the plex, repeat. As long as you can buy one PLEX every month, you're set! (You may have to subscribe for a few months to gear up your PLEX-making.)

    Alternatively, if you want a small fleet of battleships, go buy some timecodes, turn into PLEXes, and sell. Lots of money, lots of battleships!

    Everyone wins!

  • I played the final stress test/beta or whatever it was before the game shipped. It was decent, but not good as WoW. Has the game improved a lot?

  • I hate to promote an EA game, but a few months ago after deciding it was time for a new game I could play casually I stumbled across Battlefield Heroes which is a free, micro-transaction/ad-driven, browser-based (the launcher) shooter.

    The advertising originally consisted of mock ads based on in-game art and themes (humorous) but more recently began to use real ads in a pretty non-disruptive way (launch screen/load screen). The micro-transactions can give players a indirect advantage by allowing them to g
  • WINE (Score:2, Redundant)

    by metamatic (202216)

    So does this work on WINE on Linux or Mac, or is this Windoze only?

  • by default luser (529332) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @01:11PM (#29760229) Journal

    After reading this story on Ars (Slashdot is always days late), I tried out the free account system. Three things that really made me happy:

    1. They never asked for a credit card. I just created an account like I was signing up for a forum.
    2. The download was quick and painless (maxed-out my 25Mbit connection, was playing in 30 minutes).
    3. I felt so free that I didn't even feel bad about not getting the chance to play it last night.

    I've been itching to try one of these MMOs, but couldn't stomach the monthly fee (I don't often have lots of time to play, and I also tend to put a game down after a couple months, then pick it back up later). For me, a monthly fee would be wasted. I like this pricing structure because I won't be forced to pay for anything, but if I really like the game I could see myself making small purchases here and there. If I find I really like this, and get worried about spending too much, I still have the option to upgrade to the VIP account for the normal $15/month.

  • by Ceiynt (993620)
    They should do this with some of the other "dead" MMOs. I'd love to play Earth and Beyond again. Tabula Risa would have been a gold mine with this style. Granted, all games wouldn't work with this. Some do, and do it well. As other's have mentioned, Maple Story and Silk Road Online are some of the most successful MMO's to use this style, and they make a ton of money.

    Please EA, bring back Earth and Beyond.
  • Regnum Online [regnumonline.com.ar] has already offered a free to play MMO for years now. Income is based on selling "premium" content to enhance play but not required to play.

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