F2P Games Suck? Dealing With The Haters

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor

Free-to-play games suck.

I know this because, around five years ago, most free-to-play games did. They were poorly translated, pay-to-win grindfests. And some things never change, even after several years. I mean, Bethesda will never do an Elder Scrolls MMO, they'll never figure out a way to film Game of Thrones, and Peter Jackson will never direct The Hobbit.

Nope, never. Nothing's changed.

I like to think of free-to-play games as a kind of microcosm for the Internet as a whole. Ten years ago, you probably didn't even know what a “blog” was. Now, there are 600 billion of them (give or take), and many of them are, admittedly, crap.

But to dismiss the entirety of the blogosphere (I hate that word, but there it is) because the majority are garbage does a disservice to the few out there that are worthwhile. The same could be said of comments sections on those blogs or other sites, most of which are a horrifying spectacle of human debris, but from which an occasional beacon of reason shines through.

(I know you're going to be the one person to produce that lovely, inspirational comment on this article. Go on, do it!)

There are a lot of bad F2P games out there. That's a judgment call, obviously, because even the most graphics-poor, grindy, unfun games have their devoted followers. But there are some that the vast community of gamers have all but unanimously declared gamora non grata.

You've probably heard it yourself from friends whenever you profess your love for a F2P game. “Free-to-play? lol, those games suck.” And sometimes they're right.

But to paint all F2P games with such a broad stroke diminishes the “good” ones, or at least the ones that are pretty well-regarded by the gaming community as a whole. Games like League of Legends and Team Fortress 2 have huge followings. You may or may not care for them (personally, I like TF2 but am not a big fan of LoL), but your feelings have nothing to do with the pay model. New and upcoming games, like Firefall, Neverwinter, and Loadout, might also make it big someday.

To be certain, we need to be wary of what a F2P game offers. Some are more aggressive with their cash shops than others and some simply lack quality, whether in terms of graphics or gameplay.

But just having a price tag doesn't absolve a game of those potential issues. One needs only look as far as SimCity to see how that went. That game was a disaster, for a number of reasons, but I bet that if it had been free-to-play, people would be saying it sucked because it was F2P: EA/Maxis didn't have the resources, weren't committed to making it work, needed to bleed players dry with microtransactions – all the same tired excuses we hear when a F2P game fails to meet expectations.

The next time someone tries to tell you you shouldn't try a game, or that it outright sucks, because it's F2P, just ignore them and move on. You like what you like, and that's all that matters.

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About the Author

Jason Winter
Jason Winter, News Editor
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.

Discussion (69)

bobby 6 years ago
i tend to buy most of my games about 2 years after they came out, so far the only f2p game ive played continuously is lord of the rings online ive paid maybe 20 dollars into it for the "lifetime v.i.p" (which apparently they consider 2 years a lifetime) second life isnt necessarily a game but is ftp and beats sims and simcity by a long stretch two ftp games that really dissapointed me were were the marvel mmorpg and the DC one the marvel one is just spinning your wheels its a total grind fest nightmare with sub-par graphics yet takes a huge amount of the computers resources dc has a bit more story to it and some decent quests but is by no means ftp (i'm a total marvel fanboy btw so admitting dcuo is better is a kick in the jewels) but i'd still say the original golden axe was less of a grindfest

broken_bazooka 7 years ago
You are wrong, F2P and blogs are both horrible wastes of oxygen.
They promise the world, and you think *this* one might be the exception to the rule but in the end it drains your time, your soul and your wallet.

F2P SUX DIK 7 years ago


Blair 8 years ago
You can claim haters! You can try to make all the claims you want, about it just being a problem with people! But the truth still remains perfectly intact as always! If a game sucks then it just sucks! Deal with it!

Barf 8 years ago
Games that enable P2W suck donkey balls. P2W is so prevalent in real life that I don't fucking want it in my GAME. Rich fuckwits buy themselves all sorts of advantages in real life. I'm thinking that in my game, they should have to WORK for it like everyone else!

bleh 9 years ago
Some f2p are well made, some are pretty bad. But to microtransactions are pay to win. And it just makes these games terrible. If they strictly pve, I think the penalties for not cash shopping would be less harsh. But when f2p game forces you play against another opponent who happens to be a cash shopper. Then you know the game is broken.

Mike Blais 10 years ago
A lot of F2P sucks because they to be away online to play them, they all bug you to buy things, some games forces you to wait to play a games because that all they allow to do without paying, not all item are available to the people who doesn't pay for it, item are over priced, most games are baddy writing and crash when your world get too big, etc.

effintrash 10 years ago
This is so funny, you pointed League of Legend as a good F2P game and in a fact it's the worst piece of shit ever made.

Hypnotic 10 years ago
There several games who deserve to say for hem day are best because they are created almost perfect and if day are f2p you can not complain you decide to play or not but at the end-You like what you like, and that’s all that matters.

anx24 10 years ago
OMG this help me really good right now i don`t know what to play so i ask a friend what game we play and i say maple story from nexon and he say that is not a good game thanks a lot.

dagudman 10 years ago
Good job Jason, straight to the point!

Muphet 10 years ago
I won't read all of comments (too much lol) and it could be mentioned already, but F2P games don't suck at all untill it's well produced game or was P2P before, like TERA for example. This games which became F2P sucks. Too many haters, too many kids who are rude at all times, pretending to be pro gamers who know much more then some1 who played game for 1 year (like me lol).
For me, if EVE Online became f2p, i would kick ccp in da ass and make 'em regret this decission. more p2p awesome games please!

anip 10 years ago
not to be rude...
But all F2P still contain P2W aspects, no matter which game it is, there will always be one.

Yes, even "league of legends" contains some "crappy" things... mostly on the "Pay 2 Play Character" aspect.

In most MMO, the main P2W aspect is "Enchanting and Upgrading"
If it have "weapon destroyed at certain rank/level" or "upgrading pass certain rank/level is not possible without Cash Shop" it is P2W.

Than there are those ultra P2W aspects...
The "VIP", where cash shoppers can obtain benefits that's way too superior to non-cash shoppers, IE: 2~3x more EXP, Drop Rate, 10~30% more HP, MP, increasing Stats by 5~100% (yes, some games have up to 100% stat increase, but you have to pay up to 100 USD for that, but yes, it is P2W literally)

And the other ones... "costumes" and "Gachapon"
Where costumes offers stat bonuses that can let the cash shopper win against another player of same level, class, race, using the exact same skill moves/ set. (some game even offer ways to increase costume's stat, making cash shopepr even stronger)

Gachapon as we all know it.. are just "internet legalized gambling for kids" (why, it's illegal to gamble in the real world, let throw out money into digital products and gamble online)... sure... LOL (and no one or the law can do shit about it)

Eviil 10 years ago
Why are people disagreeing on cash shops and premium packages? How the hell are they going to continue development and pay for their extremely high light bill while running those servers?
If you don't want to pay, then don't LOL.

Frantz 10 years ago
Most of F2P games really suck,such LoL,Aion,R2 Online-that is really crap like many games with target system,I REALLY HATE THEM and i can say:Who playing games like r2online YOU ARE CRAP!
But not all F2P game a crap,such games like Warframe,APB RELOADED,Rusty Hearts,i can this games might no all like but if somebody dont try it really idiots so ignore them

Idiot 10 years ago
(I know you’re going to be the one person to produce that lovely, inspirational comment on this article. Go on, do it!) - Jason Winter.
You my friend have told the future. Look at all those aspiring comments above me, brings a tear to my eye. Jason's post did make a lot of sense and in brief. F2P is Fun 2 Play if only companies strive to make more of them.

Cyberpunk 10 years ago
Some of the best games i have ever played have been FREE TO PLAY,sooooo ya.Been playing video games for 15+ years so i know a thing or 2.

clockwerkninka 10 years ago
This is a good write up, and I agree with the point it makes. However , to me it feels slightly dated. Today F2p games feel more like the dominate force in online gaming, rather than the 'red head step kid" they used to feel like. I have been around and watched this market go from a shady "fly by night" buiz model, into what now is the go to model for making money with online games.

Some still do it better than others, but F2p is here to stay.. Gamers rejoice .

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stelth24 10 years ago
I agree with this article because my family (and yes I am a kid) hasn't been so wealthy so I have always played f2p games and I have some let's say more wealthier friends then me and they mostly play p2p games and I just hate when I wanna tell them what I did in let's say ghost recon online or loadout and they don't wanna listen they are like uhh f2p games are crap don't play those but then I got nothing to play I just want someone to understand because not all of us can play p2p games andif u ask me I'm happy playing F2P games :-)

Anonymous 10 years ago
98% of f2p MMO are either pay to win or hack to get somewhere at least, exceptions are just a handful. In my opinion the best picks of f2p MMO out there are:

1) Phantasy Star Online 2 - Action RPG
2) Team Fortress 2 - FPS
3) League of Legends - MOBA

Upcoming possible goodies for f2p:

1) Firefall - FPS/TPS
2) D&D Neverwinter - Action RPG
3) Tiara Concerto - Action RPG

Closers Online perhaps but Koreans mostly release grindfest games and/or once they get a good paying playerbase they start only releasing mall stuff and no relevant content :/ (everyone does that but meh, im gonna hog the blame on north korea)

Krisnick 10 years ago
LOL and TF2 have huge huge communitys. But it is the community is what makes these games stay alive as well as make them great. Valve always takes imput from the TF2 community, they allow players to make items and maps and gear for the game and have the community vote on player made ideas and then add them to the game. When there is an issue with the game the players speak their mind and valve listens and fixes the issue asap and does their best to make the community happy.

If you treat your players right, you listen to them and take their ideas and suggestions and add it to the game. Then you will make the players happy and they will continue to support your game and throw money at it. Happy customers are paying customers. It is such a simple thing yet thousands of companies do not understand such a simple concept that it is the player/customer who dictates alot when it comes to if a game will stay alive and be successfull.

justsaying 10 years ago
F2P itself lends its future to the ideal that some people will like it, and some wont. The real drawback i have seen from a ton of Korean imports (RF Online) is that they don't move forward enough in the US to keep up to spec with over seas. This ends up delaying any real fun to be had for those who spent the time to max level a character.

I do have to agree with a previous poster about the other gamers generally being hit or miss in the way of being useful/helpful/fun to play with. With the rise of more anon-go-lucky gamers and almost no way to get away from them in game via reporting griefers and so on, it tends to become a time struggle. Not a "i'm gonna wait out these guys" but "what time does this server start to get heavy?". So you end up playing at times that would more or less be not worth your continued effort.

There is also the F2P mentality of Pay to Win, which in most PvP oriented games has become a bit of an issue. If people don't really understand the idea of P2W here is a little example; If at some point you MUST use items from the cash shop that are not easily accessable otherwise, say stamina boosts or some crafting helper, then in general i call it pay to win. A game that has tried very hard to curb this is Allods, still to no avail.

Finally there is the gigantic problem of finding that right game for you, you can only spend so many days trying out so many different games when you get the chance that eventually the entire F2P experience becomes daunting and unreachable.

It is wonderful that websites such as this exist so that it helps keep our searching via google or forums to a minimum. I've used the search feature many times when my gaming appetite has grown.

Rareloot 10 years ago
I'm actually a bit anti-F2P not because I assume the quality of the games are bad, but the quality of the COMMUNITY. You have to admit that F2P games will usually have a larger quantity of trolls and botters/gold spammers. Of course we have examples of P2P games having gold sellers ( WoW ) but compare the times you see WoW gold being advertised to the amount of people doing it in WoW's F2P competitor Runescape. Or take the Heroes of Newerth community - that game wasn't always F2P, but you can ask anyone who played it before they made the change and they will tell you there are TONS more trolls running rampant in that game now. This is because it's easier to fool around with something that didn't cost you anything. More often than not, after someone has had to spend money on a game, they'll behave themselves a bit better than if they were in a free to play MMO, because no one wants to spend $60 on a game and then get banned from it shortly after.

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X-Berserker-X 10 years ago
There will always be F2P games because some people cannot go out & buy $60.00 games every year because they got a family to take care of, bills or college to worry about.
Idc about the graphics of a game I play Combat Arms alot enjoy the game with friends the F2P games was made to have fun & relax.
I enjoy F2P games better then most pay to play games because most of the players are more nicer & more cool to hang out with.

Razer 10 years ago
The F2P business model is frowned upon so much is because the bad games are so horrifically terrible and numerous that they easily overshadow the few good ones. The fact that the bad games are so homogenized makes it even easier to dismiss them all as pure sh*t.

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Ero-Shinigami 10 years ago
I love and will keep loving TF2, shame on all the f2p haters, I got the game before it was free (not trying to be hipster here) and for me nothing changed much with the f2p, I am glad the major concern is about hats, that never did bother me, and normally only one hat-maniac popped on a team fight but wasn't enough to ruin anything. Since the paid contect does no offer any advantage to players, and weapons just have different ways to work, but not better than defaults, its why I like TF2.

Bushinji 10 years ago
Nice article Mr. Winter.

It's sad to see that the f2p market is full of bs games and I think it's so easy today to make a game look well from the outside with the proper trailer and gameplay introductions. I've tried tons of free-to-play games and I have to say that 95% of them I uninstalled after 30 minutes already just because they are so bad, it's nearly insulting. On the other hand it's easy for other devs to stand out from those grindy/pay-to-win/buggy games.

Yeah it's very easy to say that some f2p game straight-up sucks but next time someone says that, just ask that person why that game sucks. Most of the time those people haven't even played a single minute of the game and can't argue properly. Or because they're some braindead fanboys and don't want to feel bad after paying for a game while you can enjoy your games for free.
Everyone has his own opinion of a certain game and you should've at least committed some time to a game if you want to give a proper review on it. Sure, it often turns out to be some grindy crap or that you don't stand a chance against other players unless you pay a shitload of money but at least your arguments have some reason other than just mindlessly taking arguments from other people.

Sladik 10 years ago
The problem is, F2P is considered a genre, when it's really a business model. Some games do it right, but most fail.

Obamu 10 years ago
Not all Free to play games suck, pay-to-win are(except on private servers thou pretty cheap to get best gear)

I like single pay-play forever games too (except diablo 3 watta waste of money),

KindaOfATrueStory 10 years ago
I agree!!90% of the Free-to-Play MMOs SUCK hard... too many stupid restrictions, to many pay-to-win etc. ...but there are a few Free-to-Play MMOs out there that are UNIQUE and EPIC like, League of Legends, Marvel Heroes, Blacklight Retribution and Need For Speed World!!Believe me I've played almost every Free-to-Play MMO in searching for the best games... like I said 90% of those games sucked... and that's why I chose these 4 games they are the best Free-to-Play MMOs out there for me.. :)

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Akshansh 10 years ago
All those who say that the f2p model should not have any premium transsction I totally disagree with you. Becacause if a person makes a game unfortunately he will always want to earn from it. He can not giv his years of hardwork completely free. So an f2p model has to have p2p options.

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Tednikea 10 years ago
Actually there are a lot of f2p games that suck and vise versa
I am a big fan of league of legends,team fortress 2 and firewall
I like the concept of D&D but I don't have the time at the moment
And except some features I was not impressed by loadout
Worth to be mentioned are some games that you buy only the game to play like guild wars 2 starcraft they are a good solution if you like the concept of those games

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iluvgamez 10 years ago
I wont call a game F2P as long as there are Cash Shops in there.
For example, League of Legends is a real F2P game. U can unlock every champ without paying once. U cant buy runes with real money but thats the reason why i did spend money on that game. To say: Great work, ill grab some skins and thank you for this game.
With Path of Exile (even if i dont like it) its the same.

But then there are games out like...Aeria Games, Neverwinter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and so on. Thats not F2P for me if u cant enjoy the whole game without spending real money. Even if u have full access, u wont have a chance at PvP unless u buy some gear in the Cash Shop to even up with the others.

I tried so many "F2P" games and the only one which did really hook me up was Aion. I also played alot A.V.A bevor they changed the publisher. It made things just worse.

Actually, i always enjoyd the games i had to buy much much more and i dont think, that this will change anytime soon.

(sry for my crappy english)

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Geoff59 10 years ago
I like F2P games but when they get pay to win, I simply just hate them...if it's pay to win at least have some decent graphics/gameplay and some content, it's like the game says "oh look im giving you the most badass gear you have ever had for some money but my graphics are poor" those items are more like cheats to me.Team Fortress 2 it's fine becouse it gives the players a small chance for some good gear,also League of Legends it's awesome without paying to win.

MataOCD 10 years ago
I agree with the article, just because being F2P game, doesn't mean it's a bad game. There are a lot of great F2P games.
If there wasn't F2P games, I probably wouldn't even play online games.

Reamox 10 years ago
I didn't get the part with Bethesda not making an MMO? NOT FILMING THE GAME OF THRONES? Peter Jackson not directing The Hobbit? Dafuq?

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ExHuman 10 years ago
This discussion has no real point for me: game may rule or suck regardless of its paying model.
Game quality is all about design and pay model is all about marketing
But all pay to win games really do suck.
And reason is that there's no less satisfying experience than beating handicapped opponent.

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Acehunter 10 years ago
Now you notice...

Gamer X 10 years ago
I agree the problems is in thhe game it self in general but not because its f2p I like f2p games and its all about the game in general

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Mixed 10 years ago
I'd have to say im mixed with this.. I love playing F2P games, But its really 2 pass the time as a game im looking forward 2 Paying for comes out. It just seems 2 me games that I pay $60 for an 12-$15 every month are just higher quality an I enjoy them more.

Akshansh 10 years ago
Well I have a mixed opinion . You may say I am a fool but I support the idea of f2p and premium shop . I agree that most games are no fun but you see they are free so unless you like the game you dont pay . So till you hate the game you didnt lose any money {except download limit} . The thing I like about F2P games are they have no end. Though I have to agree that out of 100 , 90 f2p games are crap. I love only a handful of f2p games like PlanetSide2 , RuneScape , APBReloaded , and GothamCityImpostors . See but you can't expect F2P games to be better than P2P games . If a person makes an excellent game he/she will not launch it for free . So who will make a F2P game . Either someone who is new to the field of games will make a crappy f2p game or A well known well financed company will make a nice f2p game only if it has time to put on an f2p. Again a well known company prefers to make pay to plays . So you can say only 1 in 500 games you would find good . But again they are free so you can say something is better than nothing.

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zakena 10 years ago
no Warframe =)? i agree with the above games but warframe is a good game and isnt pay to win?

a example of pay to win f2p is Aeria games and perfect world well for me so far... =)

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Extasist 10 years ago
so whats the reson of this article, just to say F2P dont suck or something? most of the games that was mentioned in here are bad at least for me, only firefall seems have some potential to be something intresting, i like dota more over LoL because i didn't feel any competition out of it. so what, that some games have those followers if they won't attract new players they will die and the ones that they have will be bored eventually, nothing last forever.

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F2P gamer 10 years ago
Agree on most parts and like the post in general. But I must say that games that cost are superior in F2Ps in the way that if some1 can create unlimited accounts for free SOME will troll. For example: HoN was a one time pay game before and after it went F2P the game just crashed in the "low competative zone" (Un-professional competative players) since every1 could just create an account -> Destroy some games -> Receive a ban -> Create new acc -> .....

I never take F2Ps serious, they are my casual "in between" games.

Freshundead 10 years ago
So true, was a good read and I agree on all point, one should never judge anything based on someone elses opinion give it a try for your self and you never know ya just might love it. Hope to see more articals like this.

fromm__hell 10 years ago
Very well said, most games do suck but not because they're F2P, just because it's the way things are in general, the rule applies to everything man-made, whether it's movies, music, cars, clothes, electronics or whatever other crap we manage to pull out of our assholes, some of it is really good, but most of it it's just made to try to make some profit off of something that is already popular,

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