Daily Archives: August 13, 2012

Free to Play and the Implied Social Contract

I am going to start sounding like I hate free to play if I am not careful.

I do not hate free to play.

Free to play can bring a lot to a subscription game that transitions to the model.

The primary benefit is more players.

Bringing more players to a declining MMO can be a wonderful thing.  When I was playing the short-lived EverQuest II Extended, one of the best things about it was that the world seemed quite alive relative to the subscription side of the house.

It is also very nice to not be tied to a monthly subscription plan when it comes to games that you no longer play regularly, but still like to drop into now and again.  For example, I doubt I would have resubscribed to EverQuest II just to be able to see… well… whatever it was they did to Qeynos.

These are clear benefits on which I think most people can agree.

But I am also mindful that there are costs as well.

There are the inconveniences, the nagging, the intrusion of crass commercialism into an alleged escapist fantasy world, and the inevitable realization that, unless you’re buying what they have on offer in the cash shop this month, you really aren’t important to the company any more.

But you can get used to that.  Or some people can.  Probably most people can.

The problem, as I see it, is that you may have to get used to the way things are over and over again.  Currently, “free to play” is a pretty empty phrase, since it can mean so many things.

A long and winding thread of “logic” follows after the cut in order to spare the front page a wall of text.

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