I know a few people who play Trials (and one who makes really awesome videos of it), so when I saw there was a F2P version of Trials, I cheered!
Then I saw it was for mobile devices, and I was sad.
Then I read about how it monetizes, and I was really sad.
We all know that “free-to-play” games aren’t really free. The companies that make them need to make money, after all. But some methods of monetization – I don’t know exactly how to put it – they just irk me more than others.
If you didn’t click on the link, Trials Frontier utilizes an “energy” system (called “fuel”) that lets you play tracks for free for a while, with each race costing you fuel. Run out of fuel and you have to wait for it to recharge or pay money for it.
Maybe that approach works for casual gamers who just want a quick fix every now and then. And maybe it’s ideal for mobile devices and social networks, where people often play games in shorter chunks of time.
But for people like me, used to hours-long gaming sessions, it just offends my sensibilities. I’d almost rather play a blatant pay-to-win game, for as long as I want, reveling in my frugal mediocrity, than be reminded every five minutes that I have to keep feeding the meter.
Everyone’s got their own F2P hang-up, and energy systems are mine. Fortunately, they’re much more prevalent in the mobile and social space and pretty much unheard of in MMOs or FPSes. In those cases, I’d say my least favorite mechanic is the hard pay wall, you can play a certain amount of the game for free and then need to pay to unlock the next area or piece of content. I don’t mind features being locked behind pay walls as much, but I’d like to at least be able to look at all the content I want and decide how much I need those extra bells and whistles.
But I think it’s only my least favorite by default; considering that many F2P games have abandoned the concept and are reasonably generous in terms of handing out their content, only asking for money for cosmetics and advancement speed. Oh, and lockboxes. Those damned lockboxes.
Of course, for some, shall we say, easily perturbed people, even those kinds of generous payment systems are defined as “pay-to-win.” If you try hard enough, you can define just about any F2P monetization model as P2W, and I’ve seen enough warped logic regarding the topic to make my head spin. “If I can spend money to level up faster, then I can get the best gear faster and pwn you in PvP on day one. Hence, pay-to-win.” Sure, we’ll go with that.
What do you think is the most grating F2P monetization model? Energy? Content or feature pay walls? Or are you OK with anything short of straight-up, blatant pay-to-win, i.e., being able to buy a better weapon that non-paying players can never get (or can’t without a massive grind)? Or are you even OK with that?