We haven’t heard much lately about Cliffhanger Productions’ Shadowrun Online MMO for a while, but hardcore deckers got a sweet bit of info earlier this week when the company clarified the differences (and similarities) between free-to-play and paid players.

First things first: Free and paid players will all play on the same servers. Which really seems like a no-brainer these days, but it’s good that it’s out there so there won’t be any confusion, which is understandable considering the image on their Kickstarter page (under Model and Reward Overview).

Being a free player is mostly what you’d expect. There’s a cash shop for microtransactions and you can also pay for a subscription to give you a boost in loot, as well as additional “weight” for your actions in plot development, a way in which the game plans to advance the overarching storyline for the game.

There’s also campaign mode, which requires a one-time “box” purchase, after which you can receive all the benefits of a subscription and can play the game forever with no additional fees, a la Guild Wars. Unlike Guild Wars, however, the promise is that every item in the game can be purchased with Shadowrun Online‘s in-game currency, Nuyen. No cash shop needed!

In a way, that gives you three different ways to play, and more is good, right? Well…

Under the chart comes a somewhat puzzling paragraph concerning the differences between loot acquisition for campaign and free players – “free” including people who spend in the cash shop or not pay a subscription.

You still with me? Good, because it’s about to get bumpy.

The paragraph seems to indicate that certain types of rare gear will be purchasable by free players but will drop in the game for campaigners, and that campaigners won’t be able to transfer that gear to free players. The latter makes sense as an anti-farming precaution.

As for the former… Cliffhanger admits that this could lead to some rancor between players in PvP, perhaps even to the point where they’ll need to tweak their matchmaking to account for different gear. They also seem to take the tack that it’ll be the free players complaining that they need to buy what the campaigners can earn for free.

I’m not so sure that won’t be the other way around – that the campaigners won’t gripe about free players being “pay to win” just as much, or more than, free players will complain about campaigners “getting everything for free.” I assume campaigners can still buy stuff off the cash shop, too, but since they can earn it in game, it probably won’t happen much.

(There’s also the assumption made that this won’t be an issue in PvE, to which I say: yeah, right.)

In my opinion, this method of “loot separation” is more trouble than it’s worth and is unnecessarily confusing – so much so that Spunkify and I (Jason) argued over what it said for several minutes before realizing we’d actually come to the same conclusion. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen this kind of model for separating paid and free players. There’s probably a reason for that.

If I had a suggestion, it would be to scrap the notion of paid loot and just offer cosmetic, non-stat-increasing loot for cash instead. Between that and the loot rate bonuses, as well as the additional weight on plot development, that should be plenty to get people to want to plop down their cash, while minimizing confusion and the inevitable grumbling that will likely come from both sides.

Michael Dunaway has been part of the MMOBomb team for years and has covered practically every major Free-to-Play title since 2009. In addition to contributing First Look videos and news articles, Michael also serves as the Community Manager for the upcoming MMORPG, Skyforge.


  1. It is really a great and useful piece of info. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Shadowrun mmo, I will for sure give it a try. Hope they do better than Neverwinter did…I am in,if it is good I would do sub or B2P route. Sounds like being f2p would not be fun .

    Having said that, after Neverwinter I will not spend anything until I am sure they didn’t butcher the franchise.

  3. MMOBOMB, could you show us the paragraph that states there is going to be loot differences?

    I just looked through the entire Kickstarter page and didn’t see any mention of it. All I’m seeing is the word “items” and this could easily be costume stuff.

    • “The most severe restriction is on moving items between characters to prevent campaigners ‘farming’ premium items and selling them off to free to play players. The answer here is simple: Premium items cannot not be given to characters if they belong to the ‘other’ business model. As we expect different cash levels (campaigners may be more affluent), cash will also not be traded, which incidentally also discourages professional cash farmers – though you can always sell your item to the fixer, of course. Professional cash farming (for those who don’t know it) is often done by involuntary labor (read modern-day-slaves) and we have no intention of supporting that.”

  4. Got excited when i read shadowrun thinking it would have something to do with the xbox360 version but it doesn’t. bye.

    • Sorry but I have to LOL@ that. The Xbox version was a flimsy fps knock off of one of the best pen and paper rpg’s ever.

  5. This model is actually used in quite a few games such as Swtor and even Rift to an extent. If you aren’t giving them cash you aren’t equiping epic items. Being able to buy the equipment outright is a bit different. But what does that really change? If I want to play without a sub and decide I like one of the premium items I can just buy it and be done with it.

    • Faust, you are a horrible troll. Seriously just chill out and learn how to compare games in an orderly fasion. Usually Gameplay is associated with comparisons. More luck to you on your next try.

    • Actually you can equip epic items in rift without buying or paying cash.In fact they already said they wont restrict gear for free players on rift after the conversion.Swtor yeah they make you have to either sub or buy an unlocker to equip epic gear.maybe instead of trying to troll you should go and check your facts and get them straight.All you managed to do is look incredibly stupid.And in the words of the dean in animal house fat,drunk and stupid is no way to go through life,son.


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