Is Free-to-Play Where Good Game Franchises Go To Die?

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor December 24, 2013
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In a recent interview with Edge Online, Dark Souls II Producer Takeshi Miyazoe made light of free-to-play games and their, shall we say, inconsistent quality:

Again, the notion [of going F2P] draws laughter from Miyazoe. “Yeah, right!” he snorts. “Not yet, and not for a while I think. It’s one of our bigger IPs right now, but it’s a new IP, so I think it’s too young to go free-to-play.”

What does that mean, exactly: “too young to go free-to-play?” Does Miyazoe infer that only old, washed-up, at-the-end-of-their-rope game franchises are suitable for free-to-play?

The article quotes Soul Calibur, Tekken, and Ridge Racer as three examples of three venerable IPs that have gone the F2P route, with significant – and, for the most part, understandable – pushback from players. Need For Speed World, Warhammer: Wrath of Heroes, and Evil Genius Online are more examples of F2P incarnations of popular franchises that have seen their share of dissatisfied players. Heck, EA's F2P Command & Conquer was so far off the mark for fans of the franchise; the reboot got the axe well before it even released!

No matter how good a F2P game is, it's going to be met with some resistance from players who are used to something else. This is the case whenever an MMO goes from a subscription to F2P, and is also true when a “paid” franchise releases a F2P version of its game. Players who are used to paying one fee to access the entire game are as put off by the new payment model as they are by a new control scheme or art direction.

This isn't to say that these F2P models are just fine and that it's the players' faults that they're perceived as exploitative. Sometimes, they actually are exploitative or just plain bad. To me, that's similar to movie sequels for a franchise that has stayed well past its prime and is just trying to capitalize on a name, rather than produce something of actual quality (Rocky, anyone?).

This is, I think, more than anything, where free-to-play gets a good share of its bad reputation – from games that wouldn't be very good regardless of their payment model. Again, using movies as an example, a bad sequel is a bad sequel, whether you pay $12 to see it, $5, or nothing. The same goes for a bad movie based on a well-know IP. I saw the Doom movie for free in a theater and feel like it wasn't worth what I paid for it. F2P model + beloved franchise + subpar gameplay = “F2P sux lol.”

So is Miyazoe right? Is Dark Souls “too new” to go the free-to-play route? Yes, if only because it's still plenty popular and ripe with good ideas that it doesn't need to. People will still gladly pay full price up front for Dark Souls II, just as they do for new MMOs with subscriptions that wind up going free-to-play a few months or years down the line. And he does bring up good points as to why it would be a major headache to go free-to-play with the franchise. “Pay per death? That would be terrible.”

But, five to 10 years down the line, when Miyazoe has moved on to his next project and nobody from the original Dark Souls team is left to serve as caretakers of their beloved “child,” and the latest installment gets a bad Metacritic score, will some executive or producer figure that the only way to revive the franchise is to lure players in with promises of “free” and an exploitative cash shop? I wouldn't bet against it.

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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 (43)

ASD 4 years ago
It certainly feels like it unless the company can support it without letting it die which so hasn't happened yet.

kestas27 5 years ago
So far reading trough all comments(yes i'm bored so i did check them all) i understand that you people are blind too the real problem well not all i seen some eye opening comments, but only few. Anyway problem is not the payment method its the way we see ourself as customers for example you turn on f2p game and you think well its free so quality can be bad story can be in text and graphics can be average, but when you turn on p2p you expect everything too be amazing new innovative because you spent cash and that makes sense up too a certain point. I seen many people mention f2p makes a lot of money, but how (their free). Well their not free and since developers expect you too spend money, they see you as potential customer so why are we treaded like trash when p2p or b2p players like customers(harsh word i know but its true) reason is simple cause we do not see ourself as customers more like passerby's (well its free so I will try it), but then you like it and spend cash on it but your mind set is still the same just for now and if problem occurs you just leave (it was free anyway) even though you spent like 10$ on cash shop items, o yes nearly forgot you will first go too forum and complain about how devs and company are trash and their game ain't worth time instead of making a well constructed post about the problem that makes other community members see that problem and request a fix like its done in p2p and b2p models making company see that these people spent money their customers we should listen or its the end of our game, instead they think o well the one crying will leave 5 more will take his place not a problem he spent cash anyway lets buy ourself's new cars. But imagine if f2p comes out and every one loves it the company makes big mistake in cash shop or game mechanics and everyone in community go EY!!! thats not good we spent cash were customers you have no right too treat us that way and stop playing game all together instead of bickering whos right and wrong i think you can see improvement done in pretty much days or even hours. Same thing with new games stop spending cash on a game that looks like another game instead make a post anywhere or everywhere about it being totally bland i mean once or twice they will ignore it but if enough people says it enough times we get games with combat like Tera story like Secret world or SWOTR graphics like division and game play like Witcher the wild hunt.

P.S sorry for long post and my English grammar i'm just plain bad at it :)

NextHazard 6 years ago
It's simple why these games die content and progression always reaches the point of no return unlike a stand alone game you can release new content for (expansions) the original game play is still there for People to play. all these MMOs and so on you leave them for 2 - 4 months and there is a drastic change, but that's not the bad part its when a level 60+ shows up in front of you or another player same level as you knows what he/she is doing so the beginner experience is blow out of the water. Something like Dark Souls/Demon souls would be great as a f2P title as it is a very limited Co-OP/MMO.

If it aint broke then dun fix it,

"Im saying that for such examples like GunZ the Duel this was a game that yes was well pass its time but people would always return to it When Ijji had it was awsome with the sligh tweeks but over night MAITE or w.e said the game wasn't how they wanted it as it was a mistake O,O the madness.

In 1928, Scottish Scientist Sir Alexander Fleming was studying Staphylococcus – the bacteria that causes food poisoning. He turned up at work one day and discovered a blue-green mould that seemed to be inhibiting growth of the bacteria. He grew a pure culture of the mould and discovered that it was a Penicillium mould. After further experiments, Fleming was convinced that penicillin could not last long enough in the human body to kill pathogenic bacteria, and stopped studying it after 1931, but restarted some clinical trials in 1934 and continued to try to get someone to purify it until 1940. The development of penicillin for use as a medicine is attributed to the Australian Nobel Laureate Howard Walter Florey – he shared the Nobel Prize with Fleming and Ernst Boris Chain."

(Source http://listverse.com/2008/02/24/top-10-accidental-discoveries/)

It is not everything that feels wrong is wrong.

Also the F2P market is inflated just like the P2P market used to be like but this is not due to games being bad or dev teams not planning games properly this is due to to much of the same crap getting a change in there covers.

I'm sorry For the rant

Its Just All Of these people not only in the gaming sector but bushiness and movie everyone is scared to take a risk. the only people that take risk is Indi developers and Normal developers that have there pockets lined with money SEO (EverQuest Next) and this shit needs to change :)

It's also one of the things i like about F2P well when it first started It was a major risk but if you have 100 different same versions of one thing its not unique anymore and lets face it people its not fucking hard to come up with a new concept or way to play a game O,O.

Mainstream developers will not listen to the public when it comes to them making money, but we are the ones buying the games and paying for the micro trans. Yes a lot of use talk shit and i will say i want a game where i have knifes as my feet but to totally not try and understand what i am saying is such failure to me the one out of millions that will spend money on the product you have made.

Look at project Cyber yes 70% of the time doing what they want but you can go on the chat and suggest things that you will see in the game sooner or later and i mean in the aspect of 1 - 10 days. I made a joke in the room about the game being some super football space thing and they were like we could have that as the name. lol [I was like nooooooo]

Anyway at the end of the day Doing something new is not always a bad thing Risk is not always a bad thing Falling down is not so bad as it is in human nature to get back the fuck up (Yes ik people lose there Jobs) but thats Management a whole different story !.

Fuck it i studied game Dev in uni (Halfway lool) its not easy and i cant make the games i wanna because i have to work nor do i have the time to try and fund my self cuz nothing fair lol but as im saying this i am young and i will struggle but i will get there one day be that my games suck or not i will reach that point.

Once again sorry for the Rant people >.< if you read all of this i feel sorry for u hahaha

1) Innovation
2) Risk
3)Unpredictability
4)Not Money hungry
5)And a good management team Loooool

These are the things we need. I say we cuz we all need a good fking game to play not a sad excuse we put up with. think old school and you will understand this whole Rant.

(music is always innovative its an art is gaming ? )

Pipurz 7 years ago
Sir You there, are so genius, totaly right!
Could not say any way better...

Valenzy 7 years ago
First WoW is not dying, it has 12 milion people, then tell me a free to play game that handles cross-realm and so many people on the server with a good and great ping, cool graphics, and an world where u have so much thing to do.

So why would i play a game(i love pvp) that is f2p, but if its f2p it has cash shop, ofc and theres always an asian,or a rich boy/girl that spends 5000$ bucks to be better then me in all stuff! No matter how i farm,grind and all and lose my time losing my head

That why i play WoW and it is still the big King, i pay monthly (15$) to play with my dedication, to be better than the others with my own effort? can you do thar with pay to win?sorry most f2p are pay to win, so f2p to me equals =p2w

That Like Aeria Games, Trion(this one gives f2p guys the chance but it stil sucks), PerfectWorldEntertainment,NCSoft,Nexon and etc....

So your argument is invalid! If anyone says

A theres WildStar Coming, Blade and Soul... Thats p2p=subscription based

So Biatch Please!

tjae 7 years ago
Maplestory hands down.

shad0wgun 7 years ago
Am i missing something about Dark Souls II. Last i checked it was a single player game that has an option to do coop for pvp. I wouldnt really put this game up with games like WOW or SWTOR because it isnt anything like them. Unless of course there is something i dont know about Dark Souls II in which case please tell me.

Dickwad the cold truth 7 years ago
lets face it the only reason we play free to play games is because we dont have jobs

View 1 reply
wuutupbroooo 7 years ago
I can't wait for dark souls 2. I still play the prepare to die edition and i can say without any doubt this is one of the best games of all time. It is good that this game got such strange and awesome devs behind it. And yes f2p destroys the most games. Because u get restrictions all the time. And if u want to play a f2p Titel without any restrictions u will end up pay way much than a normal subscription. And this is the main point why f2p models suxs. Look at guild wars 2 it got a nice buy to play without any game balance breaking restrictions. U can get all without spending any cash after u buy the game. This is the way to go for the future.

All should agree that restrictions are a no go for mmorpgs.

tolshortte 7 years ago
anyone who says x game is bad or good because of the payment model is bias. the payment model doesn't make a game good or bad. either it is good, or it is bad.

I prefer p2p because being nickel and dimed anytime I want a look or access to content pisses me off. I end up paying more to have the whole game than if I was to pay a sub. If the game gets old or I get busy I just don't pay that month. the idea that you have to pay every month to play is a myth and preconceived notion of those who need a reason to oppose it.

f2p games can be good. to date ive yet to play one more than a couple months though. the pay 5 dollars here, 10 dollars there bs inevitably irritates me and I move along. not to mention the bottom feeders that inhabit f2p games, which is probably the worst part about them. the whole entitlement crowd crying about what things cost in the item store non stop while playing a game for free get annoying and block lists are only so big. many f2p games just aren't that good either. they were made as cheap as possible to be put out for free. this mixed with the welfare gamers don't add up to success no matter how much you want it too.

just my opinion. but apparently im not the only who feels this way since p2p seems to be making a comeback in new larger more anticipated mmos.

SFFO 7 years ago
The F2P model is something that, idk if I'm the only one, but for people who are "poor" or don't feel like using money on games to play them for month "P2P", I mean, TOP or Tales of Pirates, its still alive its old has everything and still has a huge community, and its F2P has item mall of course yet the game goes on, now the main problem with F2P at the current moment it's just that every company trows out a shit game they probably wouldn't even want to play to the market, advertise it like everything, and hope that they can suck some money from that poorly invested money on the development, check Maple Story, F2P still goes on, lost a bit of community thought 2011 to 2013 but still goes pumping, depending on the quality of the game, it survives has a F2P model or not.

tarf 7 years ago
Its not true. The most f2p games are bad because they are either poorly made games or some old p2p. The poorly made games are jsutsome crap games no one would ever want to play. The other old p2p games which are now f2p are just some old games. No one wants to play some old ass game. They publisher already ruined it as p2p game and the players recognize this game as a bad game already when it becomes f2p. When it becomes f2p they add item shop and the pay2win starts. Nice it rather pay money every month than playing a f2p game which is pay2win.

The reason why the most f2p games are going to fail is because they already failed as p2p. They are bad games and they fail really fast. The publisher tries to farm some cash with item shops before the games dies and jsut turns it into a f2p game. When they farmed enough cash they shut it down and start talking bullshit "Blah blah its not our fault.. blah blah it failed because its f2p blah blah". There is a reason why no one wants to play your poor game. Pay2play or free2play it failed on both ways!

Omgwtf 7 years ago
stopped reading after "Dark Souls II Producer"
cus trash game producers have the right to speak

View 1 reply
Allwynd 7 years ago
i believe that f2p is better, because games like alliance of valiant arms, league of legends and path of exile prove me right

the three of them are games of skill

ive played leauge of legends just a little, because moba isnt the type of game i like
ive played path of exile a bit more, because i love diablo 2, but there are small issues with path of exile that turned me off, but i will still say its a great game and i would recommend it to anyone

as for alliance of valiant arms - ive been playing that thing since 2009 and i cant get enough of it, i remember when it was published by ijji, and then there was some outage and aeria games got it - ava is a game of skill and even if you buy the best weapons, it doesnt matter, ive never owned a made-up weapon with funny colors and stupid name and added stats and im still one of the best in the game room, i usually take 1st or 2nd place in public channels

Curst 7 years ago
The problem with free to play games is that sometimes developers seam to think "It's free so even if we make a sh***y game people will still play it and some might even like it enough to throw some bucks in our direction". On the other end of the spectrum there are alot of P2P and B2P game developers and publishers who apparently convert their games to F2P model according to the notion that F2P players are all inherently dumb. Both concepts lead to quick failure and brutal untimely death of another game.

But it has nothing to do with free to play model itself. To say that "Free-to-Play is where good game franchises go to die" is ridiculous. The whole article is provocative to the point of being insulting.

fromhell 7 years ago
The F2P format has always seemed to be in experimental stage to me, different games tried different approaches to it, some clearly had no idea WTF they were doing, some just tried to shamelessly squeeze as much money as possible before shutting down, which kinda sucks because in the long run is gonna end up hurting good games that actually tried to do things right.

Can't really blame anyone but the consumer, yes you can point the finger at the publishers and developers, but as long as You're willing to give your money away, there will always be someone willing to take it,

They can shit on they're hand and call it a cupcake, we all know it's a turd they're holding on their hand, but there's always gonna be that dumb ass percentage of people who are gonna eat it and say "that's the best cupcake i ever had". As long as people keep believing the same hype over and over, handing them money, buying founder packs before the game even starts Alpha testing, they're gonna keep making shitty games.

i kinda forgot what the point i trying to make was, so yea.

chefmadness 7 years ago
Are we really going to talk about this again & again? This is what I have to say. I think all online games should be buy to play! That is the best option for a company & gamers alike. The game company makes money & players are happy. GW2 & The Secret World are good examples. I would pay 100 bucks for an awesome game if all content was free for ever & never drop another dime to play all of it’s content! & yes F2P games should have a cash shop for players that want to enjoy a game a bit better & a subscription as well for the hard core gamers. But the cash shop should not put over powerful items & gear in the shop. Every player should be able to gain that stuff one way or another in game. DDO is a good example of this I love the game but I never feel I would enjoy the full effect of the game as a F2P player. As far as STO totally awesome game as a F2P player & a P2P player! One of the best games out to date as far as I am concerned. DCU you really need a script to get the full effects of the game but the F2P aspect can be fun up to a point. Same for DDO.

Merkadis 7 years ago
What does that Miyazoe know.. bah!
-
"To me, that’s similar to movie sequels for a franchise that has stayed well past its prime and is just trying to capitalize on a name, rather than produce something of actual quality (Rocky, anyone?)."
-
Exactly, Neverwinter mmo, Starwars mmo, two nice examples of that.

Playsgames 7 years ago
Well even with eve half the people are playing that completely free. You just have a few that acually pay for it just so they can get more money in the game. Alot of times a f2p game just never got the advertisement out or rep when it release p2p. Look at Tera I never knew it released until I heard it was f2p. Again with DCUO only I know about that cause I played on the ps3 alot. But if you look at some of the greatest titles in the MMO world apart from the EQ clone (WoW). You never saw their advertisement when it could have been a huge sucess.

sadfsadfsadfe 7 years ago
free to play is fine as long as its not pay to win. theres nothing wrong with it until devs get greedy and sell gear, weapons and buffs.

most mmos are garbage nowadays and shouldn't even have a monthly fee. i get they have to keep servers up but they offer nothing a dozen other mmos on the market don't have.

Blastburn94 7 years ago
This is in response to the post's title: "Is Free-to-Play Where Good Game Franchises Go To Die?"

There are countless examples of very successful free-to-play games. The most successful would be RuneScape - from 1999 and still going strong. It mostly depends on what the developers and publishers do to make it still achieve profit, yet having players that don't pay... still have just as much fun.

TL;DR: No.

View 1 reply
Golgo28 7 years ago
Well I've never seen a p2p that is doing well go f2p.Most p2p titles that go f2p are converted to f2p solely because the devs or publisher see f2p players tend to spend more then 15 bucks a month on cash shop purchases.game makers see this and think "ooo we could make more money if we go f2p."Take SW:TOR it had enough subscribers before it went f2p to cover cost and become profitable.

But EA saw how much certain successful f2p were making and in traditional EA fashion they decided to go f2p.Are there some decent f2p games?Yes,but there are tons of crap ones.Plus most f2p players are just casuals that will barely play often so f2p is good for them.But those that will spend 120+ hrs on a mmo a month get a better value with p2p.

Unmarked 7 years ago
Well I've never heard of a popular and successful b2p p2p game that alot of people play.

only one i've ever heard of was WoW and even thats dying

View 5 replies

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