Free to Play, or is it?

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There are a lot of games out there that claim to be free to play except for little things here and there, but are they really free?

Many games out there bait play­ers in by claiming “free to play,” but to compete or have an edge you HAVE to pay. A lot of these games tend to be Korean. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with a cultural gap, or a different prominent busi­ness model. I’ve played games that have done it this way, and there are games that in my opinion have done it right.

Games that ensure you keep put­ting money in that come to mind are games like Rakion or S4. Just when you get to a point where you’re pow­erful and don’t need to spend any more items, a new item set would come out and you’d have to buy that to compete again. These types of games I have completely stopped supporting because it eliminates the fun of the game and turns it into an expensive time vacuum.

Recently, Western developers have been playing their hands at developing free to play content, and it has been quite successful for some of the companies that have done it, and in my opinion done it right.

Dungeons and Dragons Online went free to play, and there are al­ternate ways to get premium content besides buying it, so paying is NOT a necessity. Paying obviously speeds things up, which is what they have placed their business model on, and to much success. Dungeons and Dragons Online had massive profit increases after going free to play.

Lord of the Rings Online had similar results when it went free to play, using the same system as Dun­geons and Dragons online. People thought it was strange to do, as Lord of the Rings Online was much healthier in terms of subscription numbers. However, it paid off. Their revenue has skyrocketed as a result of their gamble.

One game that I feel has done excellently with its business model is League of Legends. The game has been gaining popularity this past year, which is no surprise. Real life money does not equal power in League of Legends, as the ob­jects that most directly affect your strength can only be bought with in-game currency.

I’m curious to see in the future how many games go the route of free to play. Many seem to be jump­ing on the bandwagon after seeing Turbine Entertainment’s immense success with Dungeons and Dragons Online. As an avid gamer, I have to admit that I’ve spent well over $100 on League of Legends, way more than I’d spend on a $60 game that I bought once and that’s it.

So, while there are a lot of crappy free games out there, there are winners that are out and more on the way. It’s always interesting to see how the entrepreneurial spirit persists in a chaotically changing market.