Torchlight Frontiers is going to be free-to-play, and Echtra Games wants you to know all about “our free-to-play philosophy.” That’s the title of a blog post written up today on the Frontiers site, and it reveals the broad points of the upcoming game’s monetization.
Echtra and publisher Perfect World Entertainment get off on the right foot by understanding that talk of monetization is a “sensitive topic,” so they’ve at least got the most important part of communication covered. They’re “painfully aware of the abusive payment schemes some have tried” and are “willing and able to change if whatever we are doing isn’t working.” That covers all the necessary kowtowing to the community, but what are the team’s actual plans?
There are seven bullet points laid out in the post, and rather than summarize them and misinterpret something that could come back to haunt the game later, we’ll reproduce them in full below:
We believe that the Free-to-Play model gives the widest possible audience access to Torchlight Frontiers. We will be building the game with this approach to start, with the hope that it provides the ability to grow and expand our game for years to come. If it doesn’t, we will change course.
We believe item sales should enhance your enjoyment of the game. We believe the best items to sell are ones that you want to buy, but do not need to buy.
We believe that you should earn your game play rewards through adventuring and killing monsters! However, we understand that some people’s time is constrained by real-life responsibilities, so within reason we will allow for limited acceleration of various metrics, like gold, luck, etc. Whenever possible, we think these powers should be shareable with your friends, and will still require that you earn your loot through adventuring.
We believe that normal gear, like your armor and primary weapons should be attainable only by adventuring and finding them. That said, we may sell some special items, like specific Relic Weapons. If we do, we will always strive for there to be a reasonable way to attain or craft them through normal gameplay.
We seek to have fun with cosmetic items, like decor for your fort. These will span the spectrum from things you can buy, to things that drop from monsters, to things you can craft. These items have no gameplay impact, so they are entirely optional for you. But they are fun!
We reject “pay-to-win”. For one thing, there is no specific “winning” in Torchlight Frontiers. We want you to be who and what you want to be in our world. We know that killing a boss and finding that cool rare item is immensely satisfying, but buying that same item from a store or auction house is less so.
We have no plans to gate content from you. There will be no “premium” areas where paying players can play but non-payers cannot. The world of Torchlight Frontiers is open and fair, and we value our non-paying players and paying players alike. You are all valued members of our community.
They certainly say all the right things, though the exact implementation will still need to be analyzed. The third and fourth points, in particular, stand out. The third has a whiff of “pay to save time” that’s been used to push less-than-stellar monetization in the past, and the fourth — selling Relic Weapons, which are described as “superpowered” — could also rub some people the wrong way. That especially seems to contradict the sixth point, which expressly states that it’s better to get an item through gameplay than it is to buy it in a shop.
It all depends on the cost — money or time — required to get Relic Weapons and whatever else is in the cash shop. If the balance is wrong, then Echtra Games and Perfect World Entertainment will hear it from fans. Then we’ll see how committed they are to the mantra that they’re “willing and able to change.”