Free to play is pretty much the model everyone who’s not making a unique indie title or the next sequel in an established franchise is doing. You go free to play, add some aesthetic upgrades for micro-transactions and voila, your MMO, MOBA, Shooter, thing will make a decent amount of money. Hell, even most of the companies that offered subscription services at one point have changed over to this model. Rift is apparently doing huge numbers now that it’s a free game and likewise when Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings online both did the same thing, they also saw their players numbers explode.
Despite all this though, the Elder Scrolls Online from Zenimax, is going to charge you every damn month.
Describing why and how in an interview with Gamestar, was Zenimax president Matt Firor, who seems to be under the impression that a lot of people don’t know how subscription MMOs work. “The choice is yours to play as much as you want; hundreds of hours of content, PvP, etc – is all there for you to experience with the base purchase of the game,” said Firor. “If you want to continue playing for hundreds of hours more after that first month you’ll pay a flat fee.”
We understand it Mr Firor, we do, it’s just we prefer free to play. Even World of Warcract has dropped several million players in the past year. That should tell you something.
He does have a reason for avoiding free to play however: paygates, he can’t stand them. According to Firor, micro-transactions for content breaks immersion and limit people from doing certain things. He would rather limit people from playing it in the first place or not at all.
“The Elder Scrolls games are all about allowing the player to go where they want, be who they want, and do what they want,” Firor explained. “We feel that putting pay gates between the player and content at any point in game ruins that feeling of freedom, and just having one small monthly fee for 100% access to the game fits the IP and the game much better than a system where you have to pay for features and access as you play.”
Several times, he suggests the Elder Scrolls Online will be a premium experience. You get what you pay for in his mind. With that up-front payment for the game + your monthly fee, you’re getting quality content. Despite this being pretty much what most MMOs try (and often succeed in people’s eyes) to do, he isn’t perturbed. Firor even respects other business models, but just believes that subscription is the one for his game.
“F2P, B2P, etc. are valid, proven business models – but subscription is the one that fits ESO the best, given our commitment to freedom of gameplay, quality and long-term content delivery.”
KitGuru Says: While I agree that the pay walls in free to play titles are annoying and don’t necessarily encourage me to play more, I really can’t see myself signing up to pay a monthly fee for a game at this point. It feels like we’re passed that as a gaming community. While Free to Play needs some creases ironed out, it’s quite clearly the business model gamers prefer over subscriptions, otherwise no one would be doing it.
So which do you guys prefer? A subscription system, or a free to play model that lets you choose where you spend your money?