Age of Empires Doesn't Try to Nickel and Dime its Players, or Does it?
A common issue in the F2P games industry is the perception, perceived or real, that one can simply 'buy power'. As seasoned F2P players the OnRPG readers will know that games that give people with larger wallets a big advantage eventually always lose out to games in which free players can stand toe to toe with paying players.
Even though Age of Empires Online Producer Danan Davies keeps repeating "We're not doing microtransactions." and "We're not going to try to nickel-and-dime players. We're not going to allow a player to come in and buy the 'Epic Sword of Foo' to win the entire game." it seems that the game will not be entirely void of the ability for players to 'buy power'.
While there will be no monthly subscriptions there will be quite a significant restriction on what kind of gear free players can use."Free players can only use gear labeled uncommon. They'll still collect more powerful rare and epic items, but they won't be able to use them."
So rather than nickle-and-diming players by letting them buy overpowered items, the game will let people find overpowered items and then coax them into paying so they can use them. All they've really done is reverse the usual F2P model in that rather than paying for getting items, they will now get them by playing the game and then have to pay for the ability to use them.
While we have to respect Microsoft's creativity we sincerely doubt anyone will trully be fooled by this little reversal. It will still come down to paying players having quite significant advantages over free players. As if the item use wasn't bad enough yet, the following things will be restricted as well:
"Free players be limited to the free-version of player-versus-player combat. They'll be limited in the amount of resources they can collect and the goods they can craft. They won't be able to use Advisors, which are essentially powerful abilities personified."
We'll keep a close eye on Age of Empires and only time will tell how this will pan out.