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Role Playing (Games) The Almighty Buck Games

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

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

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @03:57AM (#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.

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

    by Miner Willy ( 1654635 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:13AM (#29754647)
    I wholeheartedly support this courageous move.
  • Re:The game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Professor_UNIX ( 867045 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @05:28AM (#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 @05:39AM (#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:Second Life (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:18AM (#29754885)

    The other big difference is that they don't need to provide an actual game, just the tools for everyone else to create something game-like for them.

  • Re:The game (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:25AM (#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:Second Life (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gutnor ( 872759 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:39AM (#29754975)
    The content of the "game" is also provided by other players. So, not really that much different, money goes to people generating content.
  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @06:42AM (#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:The game (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @07:48AM (#29755327) Journal
    I think you would be wrong. Most players just want to play.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @10:49AM (#29757413)

    Hmm... ok, lemme accept that challenge. What are alignments when it comes to players of games?

    Lawful good would be playing by the rules and hacking down the dungeons the way they're meant to be.
    Neutral good would be doing the same but looking for the shortcuts.
    Chaotic good would be pretty much the same, but trying to find loopholes in the game dynamics that can be exploited within the system.

    Lawful neutral would be playing by the rules and using every single (allowed) addon available that makes your life easier.
    True neutral would be ... playing.
    Chaotic neutral would be playing, then dumping your money into some high-risk adventure or idea.

    Lawful evil would be playing with the sole purpose to find something you could hand to your lawyer to sue the company.
    Neutral evil would be writing bots.
    Chaotic evil would be using them.

  • Re:The game (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark ( 865376 ) on Thursday October 15, 2009 @01:49PM (#29759917)

    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 current level and character progression on forums etc., I think the burden of proof is on you here.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison