Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Going Back

It's no secret that I've been visiting a few older games lately.  Everquest 2 was the first, but Champions Online, the Original Everquest, Guild Wars 2 (yes, it's still mostly new) and now The Secret World are all installed on my hard drive and eagerly hoping I launch them next.

While I've more or less given up on the majority of titles above, I can't help the overwhelming feeling that things are going in a good direction for games lately; especially in the MMORPG genre.  And that's mostly thanks to Funcom's announcement from early this morning that The Secret World would shift into a Buy to Play (B2P) model instead of the archaic subscription-model of yesteryear.  Sure, they still offer the subscription model to players, with some very nice perks - but it's totally optional. 

So, why does this give me hope?  It's pretty simple actually.  They removed the single biggest barrier of entry for players to return to their game - I don't need to dish out another $15 for a month subscription just to try the game again and see if I like the newest changes.  I can jump right in and check it out, maybe I'll even spend a few bucks on that purple pimp hat I've had my eye on. 

A lot of games don't do this - instead they offer a veterans weekend (or some-such titled nonsense) where players who bought the game and were subscribed at one point can come back and play for free for a few days.  Or something similar to Blizzard's Scroll of Resurrection system for World of Warcraft - which I think is INCREDIBLY fair and a great opportunity for players to return to the game. 

ArenaNet's Guild Wars (1 & 2) both have this buy-to-play model, never charging a subscription fee for players to access their game at any point after they make the initial purchase.  Things like expansions, cosmetic upgrades and convenience items are a few bucks extra if you want them - but they're by no means necessary.  Expansions usually being a little heavier on the wallet, they can often run players anywhere from $10-$30 (or even $60 if you're insane enough to buy collector's editions), but for games that you can always access and never have to pay another dime for, they're a great deal. 

Perhaps we're ready to see the industry shift to this model.  ArenaNet's had a great deal of success with the Guild Wars series, and a few other publishers are taking note.  If anything, maybe we'll see a few more games come out with an initial price tag and no subscription then the zero price tag, pay-to-win (P2W) models we've been flooded with lately.

In a final thought just for all you World of Warcraft players out there; you bought _____ expansion, but need to fork over $15 a month to play it.  That's right, you bought something, and now need to pay (again!) in order to use it.  Re-reading that, I'm so incredibly glad I didn't purchase the latest WoW expansion.


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