My MMO Predictions for 2012
By Michael Sagoe (Mikedot), OnRPG Journalist
What are my predictions for 2012? Well it has nothing to do with any big name titles like TERA or Guild Wars 2. My prediction leans toward the future of the free-to-play gaming market. I predict that new online game titles will come and follow down the F2P route in the RIGHT way. Most free-to-play games these days always promote themselves free, but they always include some sort of catch or crippling factor on free players that force them to cough up some real money in order for them to enjoy the game properly. You know… the whole “Free-to-play = Pay-to-win” thing. This has become less of a mockery against particular games and more of a philosophy shared by publishers throughout the free-to-play MMO world.
Well a few game companies have created a way of monetizing games in the F2P format that doesn’t involve nickel and diming their players by force. The way they’re structured is that everything in the game (including cash shop items) can be earned by simply playing the game or by trading with other players. While this method of free-to-play is usually limited to earning cash items at a snail’s pace, it makes purchasing items with real money more of a convenience rather than a necessity.
Nothing says I Owned you with my Credit Card like a Solid Gold Machine Gun
Also: instead of cash shops that sell power items such as “The golden machinegun of noob slaying” or the “Thunder horse mount of expensive-ness”, cash shops will focus on selling vanity items and convenience items/services such as extra storage space. This way the playing field is fair for all, no one will complain about others buying their way to victory, and the game devs & publishers make bank. Win-freaking-win.
There are only a couple of games that I can literally count on my fingers as true Free-to-play games, including League of Legends, Team Fortress 2 and Tribes Ascend. Publishers and developers alike will look at the popularity and success of these games while seeing the proper way to monetize their games in the F2P format without trying to rob their players. Hopefully, more publishers and developers will follow their example. With countless games free-to-play games closing their doors in 2011, learning this lesson of proper game monetization fast may be the only saving grace the F2P market has against the impending juggernauts of 2012.