Extra Credits – Free to Play Is Currently Broken – How High Costs Drive Players Away

Written by Feldon on . Posted in EQ2, Free-to-Play (EQ2X)

If you’ve never heard of Extra Credits, it’s a semi-weekly show by game designer James Portnow and animator/narrator Daniel Floyd, with various guest artists providing the sometimes comical artwork. The series of videos discuss issues pertinent to video games and game studies, particularly discussing issues concerning video game development, addressing the legitimacy of video games as art, and creating intellectual discourse on important issues in gaming culture. We try to watch it every week, and we have a sneaking suspicion the EQNext and Landmark teams do as well, as a lot of the concepts they talk about are raised on the show.

We’ve been meaning to mention this show for a long time now. This week’s episode just happens to cover the topic “Free to Play Is Currently Broken – How High Costs Drive Players Away From Free-to-Play Games“. Most of the sins mentioned in this episode are not applicable to EQ2 — at least not anymore. Probably the biggest current examples were the $50 Bristlebane mount last year, and the $40 2-hour Group XP items.

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Comments (16)

  • Zzzz'z

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    Interesting, especially considering the sudden station cash increase to buy any of the most sought after items in EQ2 (spell upgrades and unattuners) in the wake of the new expansion release.

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  • Weslin

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    *cough* $40 shared 2 hr xp pot *cough**cough*

    Reply

  • Malade

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    Doesn’t this describe dating and virtually every other human activity?

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  • Loredena

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    I’ve been thinking about the spell research, and how much the cost was raised. I’m wondering if this might have been, not a cash grab, but discouragement. For example, I often will place items on the broker at silly high prices when it is something I don’t really want to sell, but if someone is willing to pay me that much, well ok.

    I’m wondering if they feel they have to make the purchase research option available, but want to slow it down, and so raised prices to a pain point.

    Reply

    • Benj

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      You make a good point. You hear all the time that content is centered on Expert-level spells. If everyone has Master spells, then the content is too easy. They can’t center content on Master spells though, because that would push away the players who won’t spend StationCash and aren’t active in heroics and raids. The price increase could very well be discouragement to keep Master and higher rare.

      You can see the same pattern with Walt Disney World. A recent price increase drove a one-day ticket to Magic Kingdom over $100 (with tax). Many complained about the high price, and yet the park is still packed. Several times a year, this park hits capacity and locks down. Imagine what the crowd would be like if they hadn’t raised the price all these years.

      Personally, I’m probably going to craft all of my Expert spells and save Master drops for the Grandmaster craft.

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    • milliebii

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      That us pretty much a conspiracy theory. I always go with stuff up over conspiracy. In this case Feldon has said the decision was made outside of the EQ2 team and you are trying to ascribe a motive to the action that would have to have come from inside the team.

      However a consequence of the decision, an unintended consequence, will be a change in behavior with less spells being upgraded to master using station cash.

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    • Zzzz'z

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      I don’t think discouragement is the reason behind the price increase. Let’s be honest here…there are players who have very deep pockets and willing to buy these types of perks no matter the pricing and you can bet SOE is banking on it.

      Reply

  • Ergos

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    I would venture to say EQ2 is not a free to play game at all for any person who plays endagame. I actually don’t think it’s possible to have a top level character and spend less money on all the required station cash upgrades you need to play at top level than the price of a subscription. I mean, you might as well subscribe it would be cheaper and you get more xp.
    It’s either a F2P demo or it’s you selling gold like a farmer to someone to buy kronos.
    I think honestly it’s just a marketing technique. I’m not even saying the game should be free to play for anyone. Just honestly F2P is not what this is.

    Reply

    • Benj

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      I would argue that this game could easily be played for free. Personally, I only pay for the double-etyma. I know it’s a shortcut, but I’m willing to pay so I can have current tier items. I still have to work for it, but it doesn’t take quite as long.

      On the other hand, many of my guild mates are F2P accounts, and they have more etyma and better gear than I do. The only feature they really miss out on is the early-access for new zones, though I will admit it feels more like a time-delay for free accounts.

      Reply

    • GriffonLady

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      You can log in without paying a subscription. Being one of the people who had hard times and couldn’t log in for a year or so back when it was not free to play, people saying it’s not really free to play just sound whiny and entitled. :\ No offence.

      That being said, you get all but the last 2 expansions without coughing up a dime. IIRC you also get the adventure packs, which used to be a separate purchase. Now, I don’t know if there is information out there on how much money it took to set up to make the game, actually make the game, pay the electricity, pay the employees, or so much as simply have a space for said employees or servers…. but… hell…. It’s an ass load of money and someone who can simply farm plat for a krono is calling SOE out on trying to be able to afford keeping the game running and making new things…. XD

      I pay for a year long sub. I buy a bit o SC when I can. I enjoy the game. I consciously realise that things a person enjoys need upkeep of some kind. I tip well for good waiters and waitresses too. XD

      (Admittedly, the pink meatbeast was a low blow, even if it was after the last of the triple SC days, making it around the same price as a flying mount… even though it was ground mount only. /..\)

      Reply

  • Dano

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    With the GM & Ancient spells restricted to subs it won’t be f2p at all for High end players.

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    • Thait

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      I believe only the ancient spells are restricted, the GM spells are open to all.

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      • milliebii

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        Nope they have said that if you stop being gold your Grandmasters/Ancients drop back to Masters (except for the ones chosen in the Training tab of Character Development). So no F2P does not get access to Grandmasters.

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        • Sisca

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          And they explicitly said at SoE Live that the content would not be balanced around Grandmasters. Though they did admit that they had not control over what your guild would require you to do.

          Personally, I feel that any guild that takes down current level raid content with members mostly geared with experts are better raiders than those that rely on masters – or grandmasters – to do the same content. I realize there probably aren’t very many of those out there now but I expect that to be changing over the next expansion.

          Maybe Feldon & crew should come up with a leaderboard that ranks guilds based on what level of content they’ve taken down with weighting for doing so with experts or lower on most of the members. ;)

          Reply

  • Hoot

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    I’m not a big fan of EC due to their political mindset on many issues. That said, I hate the F2P Model. I hate what it did to Team Fortress 2 and I hate how people make excuses that it didn’t harm the integrity of TF2.

    Reply

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