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Businesses The Almighty Buck Games

Do Free-To-Play Games Get a Fair Shake? 181

An anonymous reader writes "This article makes the case that most gamers treat 'free-to-play' games with derision and scorn when they really shouldn't. The author refers to it as 'snobbery.' We've all either encountered or heard about a game company using shady business practices to squeeze every cent from their users through in-app purchases (a.k.a. microtransations, a.k.a. cash shops), or a simple pay-to-win format. But these stories don't represent all games — by a long shot. It's something endemic to shady developers and publishers, not the business model. Think about traditionally-sold games, and how often you've seen a trailer that horribly misrepresents gameplay. Or a $60 game that was an unfinished, buggy mess. Or a Kickstarted project that didn't deliver on its promises. The author says, 'When something is new, when it isn't aimed at you, when it is created by strange people in strange places, when it breaks established norms and when it is becoming hugely popular... it's scary for the establishment. The ethical critique is an easy way to fight these changes, a call to protect the children or protect the irrational people who obviously can't like these games on their own merits. We begin to sound as reactionary as the ban on pinball or the fears over jazz music corrupting the minds of our youth.'"
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Do Free-To-Play Games Get a Fair Shake?

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  • by B33rNinj4 ( 666756 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:18PM (#46709311) Homepage Journal
    The microtransactions are what really turn me off to F2P games. Most games allow you to progress rapidly to a certain point, then you hit the wall HARD. You either continue to shell out a few dollars here and there, stop playing, or just continue to coast along without spending a dime. If I was just being offered cosmetic items, I wouldn't have a problem. However, in many cases you have zero ability to progress.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2014 @07:25PM (#46709355)

    Path Of Exile follows that model, microtransactions are and always will be purely for cosmetic items... not to mention that the game rated better than D3 when it came out (judging by the players, anyway)

  • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Thursday April 10, 2014 @03:59AM (#46711737)

    Except... It's not actually true that these are all "games that are designed to exploit people for money on a continuous basis". At least some of the games that have adopted F2P models have worked very, very, hard to avoid exploiting players.

    Agreed, but the underlying problem with the f2p model is the financial pressure on its developers/publisher to milk their players, as follows :-
    1. A large majority of players play f2p games for free.
    2. A small minority of players spend money on the game.
    3. Games cost money to produce, and have ongoing expenses to maintain.
    4. When their quota/sales target is not met, developers/publishers are under pressure to make up the difference.
    5. One of the easiest ways to boost sales is to introduce items which will confer a greatly desired benefit on its purchasers. OTOH, non-buyers who cannot enjoy the greatly desired benefit will endure a comparatively degraded playing experience.

    Developers/publisher will continually be tempted to intentionally degrade the players' playing experience so as to create demand for new items that will remove the obstruction. One example is EA's infamous lawnmower tax [] where a previously free feature, lawnmowers was made a purchase item.

    In summary, players who play f2p games have to live perpetually with the fear that the developers/publisher may at any time modify their game in any number of ways to try to gouge more cash from them. Not all f2p games gouge their players, but the risk that they may do so in the next patch is always there.

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?