Is there success in the Free-to-Play market?


Do people spend money on the “Free to Play” market? That’s an interesting question. The notion that the game is “free”, but players can invest into it if they enjoy it does not force players to put money down, but it is definitely an incentive for a player to drop cash on a game. That is, if they really are having fun [or want to progress faster]. Now, I play a lot of F2P games, and some of them I throw money at. Some of them like Smite, some of them like League has way more of my money than I’m ever going to admit to here. But there’s a real fear, a terror here.  Most “hot” free to play games fizzle out and that money is gone forever. Some games might offer a refund or something, but many, hell, most don’t!  What about Infinite Crisis? Anybody remember the DC MOBA? Probably not. It collapsed in on itself. It’s not the only F2P game that had a little cash shop that perished, but it’s a great example.

Red Fox Insights put together a pretty interesting read, using the MMOHuts audience as their basis of research. While I think that’s terrific, since they sign my paychecks, I think it would have been better to get a larger base for this. Maybe they could expand onto Reddit, or a variety of other forums to really make this research stick. Now, what this research concluded was that from our audience, that 14.64% of our audience admitted to spending real money on the MMO Skyforge. Now personally, I only technically have money vested in it, since a friend bought me into the early beta. They go on record saying that “This number is roughly 10% less than games like World of Tanks, which describes itself as a “global-scale MMO action game.” Why is this? What do we take away? Why does ESO’s cash shop still succeed, the same with League of Legends, SMITE, or hell, World of Warcraft and The Old Republic? These games are established.


The big fear is that, as I said above, that a game that is new will not last, it will fizzle like so many games before them, and that money will have been wasted. I for one, hate wasting money. I won’t spend money on a game I think won’t last, unless I really really have fun with it.  Another thing: I’m from a generation of gamer that we could unlock everything in game through hard work or time spent. Not by spending money. There are lots of people that hate the notion of DLC, or spending money on a game after they acquire it already. But these are FREE games. You aren’t spending 60 bucks to buy it. What’s the harm in spending a little something on it?  The real takeaway? These upcoming Free-to-Play titles need to find a way to establish themselves, or make players appreciate them for their own merits. Maybe don’t start off pay-to-win or pay-to-go-faster. Maybe just start off with cute crap in the shop. Red Fox also noted that “Players who participated in Skyforge’s beta made purchases 5.8% more often than the sample audience. While not earth-shattering, it proves that a group of beta players have committed themselves to the world and characters of Aelion“. I can agree with this reasoning. Having access to a beta really helps. If you’re in a beta, you get to see the game grow, develop, and you find out if the devs really care about where their game is going. That can influence whether I spend money or not!


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