Free To Play My Ass!!!
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist*
Free-To-Play refers to any game that provides players with a full gaming experience without the need to pay for subscription. The system has been exercised by various game developers to allow gamers to try their games without the fear of paying for something they may or may not like. Some games give players free trials while others give them the full game at no extra cost. It’s a good way of attracting more players to the game, especially since having a free gaming experience is pretty hard to resist. There are thousands of FTP games online (mostly Korean MMOs), some of them being former Pay-To-Play games who wish to keep the game running after being dubbed outdated or passe. It’s a good way to dominate the market if you ask me, even for games that carry old content.
The Age Of Free-To-Play Gaming
Ah the age of Free-To-Play gaming. I can’t say that I’m not abusing the ability to play games for free but then again, who isn’t? Remember when Ragnarok was still pay-to-play? Back then, I would practically cut school to get my money’s worth, especially since a month’s game time wasn’t that cheap to begin with (at least for my country). The thing is, we don’t really have to worry about that anymore, thanks to the awesome system that is “Free-To-Play”. Not only do most games let you create an account for free; people can now play awesome games without worrying about topping up or renewing their subscription. An awesome way of promoting games, but are these games really free? Or is it just another way to trick gamers into renewing their subscriptions?
Free-To-Start-Paying (Yes… PAYING)
I remember when RF Online became free. I literally jumped for joy the moment they announced it. My favorite MMO game was finally going to be free to play! I’m telling you, I wasted no time and shortly after the new system was announced; I started a new character, raided bases like crazy and even left my character mining for 48 hours straight. Why? Why not? The whole game is free to play anyway so why shouldn’t we exploit the privilege? A few days later, the game announced the presence of an item mall, and a premium subscription for players who want to level faster. I didn’t mind it at first… well, until I saw +7 newbies all over the place…
It’s A Trick I Tell You!
Much like your average MMO, RF Online requires some hefty farming, especially when you’re on the verge of upgrading your armor pieces. After killing Calliana Princesses for over an hour, I realized that I was only getting half of my usual in game salary. It turns out that they had to lessen the looting ratio to promote the premium subscription option. So what exactly is the point of playing for free if you can just pay the same top up amount to get x2-3 experience and mass looting? Not only will you be leveling up faster, you can even upgrade your weapons with a higher success rate (around 70%, I think). Well, you can still play the game for free and take your chances with the traditional grind and upgrade method, but don’t come crying after you’ve wasted 20m on failed attempts.
It’s a trick!
Perhaps the most common feature among MMO games is the item mall, which provides players with a nice array of in game items that are exclusive to cash users. These items can really boost your performance and can even (I won’t lie) give you an advantage over the other players. Yes, purely playing the game for free may have its cons, but at least you don’t have to worry about getting your money’s worth (that’s a good way of looking at it).
What We Have Deduced
Hmmm… Let’s start with X-Machines. First of all, the game is good and is quite fun for most gamers. The system is good, the graphics are decent, and the best part of all is that it’s free to play. I’ve been playing X-machines for quite some time now, enjoying its Megaman-ish gameplay from CBT to OBT. As I have stated earlier, most FTP MMOs have their own item mall. In this case, not only does the game let players buy items online, players must also pay in order to gain access to various characters who are both cooler and stronger than the rest.
Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the game, it’s just that I’m pretty confident that pay to play users must be enjoying it twice as much. Better items, better gear, more characters, what’s the point? It’s like we’re playing an eternal demo or something.
Yes, playing a game for free is awesome, but if you’re just going to drown in infidelity by doing so then I would probably suggest paying for subscription. In my opinion, the FTP option acts more like a demo of the game’s premium features. It’s the same thing for every FTP game. You’re not really enjoying the game, but rather a shard of it.
Pay to win
Competitive Level? Pay For It!
If you want to play at a competitive level, you’re wasting your time if you think your FTP character can keep up with the premium subscribers. Let’s see… Pox Nora would probably be the best example for this form of subscription whoring. The thing is, you’ll be stuck with the same deck or at least a specific level of power until you decide to flash out that credit card. Much like a real CCG (Collectible Card Game), starter decks can only take you so far and will have to be upgraded for you to win against some serious competitors. It would be better if these premium items can be acquired through hard work (other than by paying) since the whole subscription advantage ruins the game for people who refuse to pay. This was probably why I loathe playing for free and why I praise games that don’t hold back content just cause’ you don’t want to dish out some cash. It’s the same as giving us a 10-day trial really, because once you reach a specific level, you’ll be given a thousand reasons why your character needs a premium makeover. Free-To-Play goodness? FREE TO PLAY MY ASS!
*The contents of this article do not necessarily represent the views of OnRPG and should be taken in an entertaining blog-like fashion.