Free to Play Future

First it was Dungeons and Dragons Online. Then it was the Lord of the Rings Online. And now we know Everquest and Everquest 2 will be going down the path of free-to-play as well. It was a massive money maker for DDO and promises to be a huge money maker for both Lotro and EQ2. But how free is free to play? If you want to reach max-level, create a guild, or complete the main quests, you’re going to need to drop down some cash in these games. Both Lotro and EQ2 are putting hard maximums on the amount of gold a free player can acquire and both are restricting classes. In EQ2, if you win the roll for some rare armor, you best reach for your Visa card so that you can upgrade your account and be allowed to wear it. It seems to be part of the business model to create a game where you eventually feel forced to pay cash in order to participate in end-game.

DDO has set the stage with a potentially lucrative business model that encourages players to play free until they are hooked enough to spend massive amounts of money, but it’s only the beginning. All the MMORPG companies will be watching these two titles to gauge their success, including SOE. If both these titles are a financial success, expect to see all of SOE’s other titles, as well as the rest of the MMO market, follow the trend.

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Suzina is a 27 year old who usally plays the same MMOs as her husband. Games played: UO, EQ2, FFXI, SWG, LOTRO.

9 thoughts on “Free to Play Future”

  1. I’m a lotro fan and have just heard about the free to play plans. I wonder how it will affect the game. I didnt realise DDO had gone free. Might have to give that a go. It was my favourite Fantasy RPG.


  2. I don’t see it as “free to play”, but rather that they provide more options for how you want to pay for your gaming and that I think is an important step in the right direction.

  3. It’s important to note that DDO, LotRO, and EQ2 all retain their regular subscription model as well. The F2P stuff is on the side. In EQ2’s case, as it seems, the F2P players are segregated onto their own servers.

  4. I agree. “Free” is a misnomer. In the new EQ2 model, I can plunk down about $20 and get a decent experience over the free one, with no guilt about playing enough in a month to get my moneys worth. Same thing for LotRO. I already have the game purchased and expansions, so I’m set there for a while as well, also without having to worry about playing to justify the sub fees. Its a good model for me and my playstyle, and I’m sure there are a lot of people in the same boat.

  5. “It seems to be part of the business model to create a game where you eventually feel forced to pay cash in order to participate in end-game.”

    But how many people really ever get into playing the ‘end-game’? If you’re just looking to kick around in Norrath for a few hours a month, run some quests and experience the world, the mostly-free-to-play model might just be what you’re looking for.

  6. Gotta agree with Baredil.

    I have my “main” MMO that I’ll invest time in, but I like the idea of visiting the others… maybe just for a few hours a month, tops. EQ2’s limited “$5 for 3 days/month” plan was previously worth it– one weekend’s evenings’ play was worth $5– if I could plan it.

    This F2P model seems to give me even more flexibility… and would probably let me feel comfortable buying at least $5/mo activity their way.

  7. “Free to play” is indeed the wrong term to use for these payment models. Pay as you go would be better for DDO and LotRO. EQ2x is just messed up and could end up killing the regular sub EQ2. Guild Wars has the best payment model, although even they got greedy with their overpriced storage panels.

    I have no problem paying something for a game I enjoy. It might be just buying a box (GW), pay as you go like LotRO or a regular subscription (although I won’t pay for expansions on top of a monthly sub). But give me options, please. I’m not sure how things will work out in LotRO, but the changes have gotten me to buy the game and I’m having fun playing it. Will see how things go once they change to the new model. (I’m not in the LotRO beta)

    It is shame that SOE borked their attempt at this, as I would have liked to mess around in EQ2 (looks like it has some nice features) and Vanguard would have been fun to explore with a plan similar to LotRO.

  8. I really prefer the term “No Cover Charge” over “Free to Play”. I think its a more accurate metaphor all the way round.

    Just keep your hand on your wallet, and be careful that Dark Elf you’re chatting up doesn’t have an ogre boyfriend that’s just nipped off to the restroom. ;)

  9. Just to mention for DDO and LOTRO, you can earn points in game to remove caps and open content without needing to pay cash for them. They give you a lot of ways to manage things.

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