My Thoughts on Free to Play

The Free to play model has picked up quite a bit of steam over recent years.  They’ve been around on PC for a while now, and there’s more than of few of them out there. Now  we’re even seeing many Free to play games, which I’ll simply refer to as “F2P” games now, pop up on consoles.  That’s right, F2P games are becoming a big part of the console market now.  War Face, Deep Down, Planetside 2, HIZ1, Everquest Next, these are all F2P games confirmed to arrive to consoles in the next few years.  And Warframe, DC Universe, World of Tanks, and Black Light Retribution are just a few examples of games already out that you can play now on consoles!

Screen shot from Warframe, an upcoming F2P game. That cry engine huh?

There’s no question the market is expanding, the question is, what do gamers think of it?  Well F2P games are often met with mixed opinions.  However I think it’d be fair to say there’s a sizable group of gamers who are very, very opposed to the model.  Their argument is that they would much rather pay $60 upfront and have everything available to them, rather than pay in little chunks over time for little bits of equipment here and there.  I can understand this argument for sure, I even agree with it a little bit. But as someone who’s played quite a few F2P games in his time, I think some people are judging a bit too quickly.

Pictured is a screenshot from Warframe, a F2P game I’m currently in love with.

Now I love a balanced F2P game.  A game where, if I wanted, I could never spend a single dime and still be able to ride up there with the big boys and enjoy the fullest experience the game has to offer.  Games like that are really great, and there’s a few games like that out there (TF2 and Warframe come to mind) however, it’s not always something you can expect.  A lot a people simply translate “Free to Play” to just “Free.”  They’re fully expecting that just because they can play the game for free, they should never have to pay anything.  I think it’d almost be more appropriate to call some F2P games “Free to Try.”  Games that you are free to try out first, and put money into later.  But for some reason many people are very hesitant about actually dropping money for F2P games…..why is this?

TF2 is a very fair and balanced F2P game, only charging players for cosmetic and non gameplay altering items.

I have a little theory.  I think people don’t like shelling out the green stuff for F2P games because they feel like F2P games are lower in quality than “real” games.  After all, it’s free, it’s probably not as good right? Well, not always.  F2P games actually seem to be steadily getting higher and higher in terms of quality.  Heck, there’s a couple “triple A” quality F2P games out there already.  Like Warframe or Planetside 2 for example.  These games are honestly very close, if not better, than many of the games we’re already paying $60 for.  The gap between $60 AAA games and F2P is closing at a surprisingly quick rate.  It’s not so crazy to spend $30 to $50 on content for a game that’s on par with other $60 games is it?

This is a screenshot from EverQuest Next, an extremely high quality upcoming F2P game.

In my personal opinion, I just see it as two different ways of getting the same thing.  A F2P game isn’t any less of a game than a $60 game, it’s just a different way of paying for it.  If I can put in roughly the same amount of money in exchange for roughly the same amount of game time, then I don’t see the big issue!   So what do you think?  Let me know in the comments!  Do you agree or not?  Thanks for reading!

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