On some level, we all know that free-to-play games — and the cash shops that support them — can be a little iffy, morality-wise. Do they offer choices for time-strapped gamers? Or are they exploitative and predatory to those with no impulse control?

Ask the makers of such games — while they’re still making them, at least — and 100% of them will give the first answer, while none of them will ever admit to the second. Until today, that is.

Clicker Heroes maker Playsaurus is working on Clicker Heroes 2. The original was a free-to-play game, but the second will not be, retailing instead for $29.99 (with a refund offer in place for a full year after purchase). The reason isn’t because free-to-play didn’t work; instead, it appeared to work too well, and that’s something Playsaurus is concerned about.

In a blog post titled “Why Clicker Heroes 2 is abandoning free-to-play,” developer Fragsworth offers rare frank talk about free-to-play. He starts by saying that games are “inherently addictive” and that CH1 “made a lot of money” from “whales.” Neither of those are inherently bad, he argues — “If you’re rich, please be my guest” — but he’s worried that too much money came from people who couldn’t afford it. His general thoughts are summarized thusly:

“We really don’t like making money off players who are in denial of their addiction. And that’s what a large part of free-to-play gaming is all about. Everyone in the industry seems to rationalize it by shifting the blame, assuming way too much cognizance on the part of their victims. People can make their own decisions, right? But it just doesn’t sit well with me. Despite very few of our players having complained, it felt wrong when we started doing it and it still feels wrong now.”

Fragsworth also acknowledges that game design can sometimes take a back seat to balancing out real-money items, such as “nerfing” an item that people paid cash for. As he puts it:

“Clicker Heroes 1 is kind of a frankenstein of a game, our hands always having been tied by the fact that we couldn’t easily change things that people paid for.”

So, out goes F2P for CH2, though no changes will be made to CH1. Kudos to Fragsworth and Playsaurus for making what had to be a difficult decision.

the author

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.

12 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Lerch2000 on November 21, 2017

    The biggest problem I have with companies that start off F2P and then go paid, is are they going to refund all the microtransactions that occurred in the game when it was F2P? The player base will no longer have access to the gear that they paid for anymore unless they buy a legitimate copy of the game or do the monthly pay to play.

    Companies really should think this stuff through more, it sounds like a lawsuit to me

    • Preciel on November 21, 2017

      why the hell would they refund microtransactions for chaning their mode lmao

      • Lerch2000 on November 22, 2017

        Would you pay for a paint job on some else’s house.

        If you cant see the wrong doing here there isn’t much I can say to ya

    • NameGoesHere on November 25, 2017

      Except this one is 2 separate Games.

      They’re keeping CH-1 as is (F2P), while the new CH-2 will be B2P. (so no refund required)

  2. hovsep smbatian on November 21, 2017

    this does not make sense one bit if you think they have no problems buying microtransactions what makes them stop from buying the game and then buying microtransactions you din’t fix anything you just made it worse infact

  3. Lerch2000 on November 21, 2017

    In other words they couldn’t make enough money from F2P so they are going to sell the drug (“WE REALLY DON’T LIKE MAKING MONEY OFF PLAYERS WHO ARE IN DENIAL OF THEIR ADDICTION.”) instead ….. yeah that’s morally acceptable. Funny stuff.

    Not sure they thought this statement thru.

  4. YOHO MOHO on November 21, 2017

    30$ for a clicker HAHAHAHA trying to outdo EA for clicks?

  5. Curst on November 21, 2017

    No payment model is inherently bad or exploitative. They are all what the devs / publishers make of them. I wish people made games with good F2P model instead of trying to score easy publicity points on the trendy “F2P is too sleazy for me” topic.

    P.S. I wonder if they’ll keep the microtransactions and also add lootboxes to their second game now now that it’s gonna be free from not having a price tag. Or I guess they could instead flop hard at launch and tell the press to F off. Some games are just too good and moral for this world…

    • Lerch2000 on November 21, 2017

      I agree, to me claiming this and doing otherwise is nothing more then being dishonest. Companies make money as F2P all the time. An old title I Love the F2P system is in STO (Star Trek Online), whether you had the money to invest into the game directly or would rather buy the in game currency thru the grinding process in order to buy any add-on or expansion the option is there.

  6. Andrew on November 21, 2017

    I’m willing to buy it, but people are going to expect more from CH2 at that price. I think the game will be met with some backlash if it isn’t better in every aspect compared to a F2P Clicker. Hopefully it turns out to be a great game and we get more games straying from the typical F2P business model.

  7. Hiun on November 21, 2017

    l who in their right mind would pay for a clicker game, at $30 there are many meany better games to buy.
    That dev state is full of bull, “we make too much money so we’re charging $30 for a clicker game”

    • Preciel on November 21, 2017

      someone who is retarded enough to fall for this bs or never heard of actual games that are worth the money.

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?