Time Is The Currency Of Free-To-Play Games

Jason Winter
By Jason Winter, News Editor


The game's free, so you might as well try it. What have you got to lose?

That's the mantra you'll often hear from people suggesting a new free-to-play game. It makes some sense. I mean, it's not going to cost you $60 to try it, so why not check it out? What have you got to lose?

The obvious answer is time, and you probably figured this out long ago. With non-F2P games, time can be an issue, but so can money, and you can more easily justify not picking up a $60 game because, if you don't like it, you're out 60 bucks. That's an easy excuse for not playing a game that looks interesting, but not quite interesting enough.

That “excuse” becomes tougher to justify with free-to-play games. Because money's not an issue – at first, at least – I think that we look for reasons to not play them, to not invest our precious time in them. Whether that's not being totally, 100% on board with the visuals, having a single game mechanic that doesn't appeal to you (when everything else does), being burned out on a genre (“not another fantasy MMO!”), or the feeling that something is pay-to-win, even when it's a stretch to count it as such, we find reasons to discard games before we've even given them a serious look. It's the only way to deal with the vast horde of games out there and to cross them off our lists. It's simpler than taking the time to figure them out or properly appreciate them.

I'm no different. I've been putting off getting back into Star Trek Online for years because, the last time I played, I had just hit a rank where I needed to upgrade my starship, which meant transferring equipment from my old ship over, upgrading some of it, oh, and upgrading my bridge crew's gear... blah, just not worth it. I don't have the time or inclination to figure all that out. I'll play another game of Hearthstone instead.


And there are a few F2P games, good games that have generally been held up as some of the best in the business, that I've dismissed out of hand or after one bad play session. Warframe and Path of Exile are perfect examples for me. Tried 'em, didn't immediately click with them, and moved on, probably never to return.

This doesn't meant that I think the above-mentioned games are out-and-out bad. Yes, STO could probably stand to simplify its itemization (if it hasn't in the three years I've been away from it) and, going by my limited experience, the Warframe community can be pretty hostile if you're not moving through an area as quickly as they'd like (“lrn 2 play noob.” “I've been in this game for an hour! That's what I'm doing!”). I just made a snap decision as to whether or not I'd want to spend a dozen-plus hours per week in them, to fully invest my time, and maybe my wallet, into them. I chose not to.

Of course, it's easier to say “this game sux lol total p2w” about a game you discard so soon. A breakup is always easier when you can denigrate your “partner” and call them all sorts of bad things so you can more easily justify moving on. “It's not me, it's – oh wait. It's totally you.” Many of the same reasons are given when people quit or don't try a non-F2P game, too, with the added barrier of “It's not worth the money.” Well, maybe until a Steam sale, at least...


But I think that does a disservice, not only to the games, but to yourself. If you're so ready to trash something you don't like, even when many, many others do, then there's an argument to be made that you don't really know what you want, and you won't know when you find it. Or that you're looking for something impossibly perfect for you, something that can never exist – and even if it did, other people would probably hate it. Neither conclusion is likely to bring you happiness, so maybe you could just accept that some things are meant for people other than you, hmm?

Is there a popular F2P game or two that you don't play, even though it seems like everyone else does? If so, do you “hate” that game, or do you just accept that it is what it is?

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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.

More Stories by Jason Winter

Discussion (11)

Wawasan2020 9 years ago
Stay away from POE, it's boring and repetitive game play. Their development progress is very slow and some of the "basic" features has not been implemented.

Kurisama 9 years ago
Sorry but why games even exist? to waste time and get rid of boredom, dude i feel like you just insulted every game creator and gamer out there.

View 1 reply
Terranova667 9 years ago
Nice article Jason, I dont play mobas It's not becasue I hate them its becasue I'm not a PVP guy and those games are all about PVP i just dont have the time to sink into them to get any good, that said i avoid any MMO that is PVP focused for the same reasons.

RenTheRose 9 years ago
LOL is one i cant seem to play most moba's are that way for me not that their bad games but they dont click for me but most of my friends play them.(smite is my only give because i feel better in 3rd person). i think the fact that you spend so much time to lvl then lose it kinda ticks me but that is all i can put to it.

View 1 reply
Cloak 9 years ago
Wtf is this article even trying to talk about? Its like reading a dairy of a confused teenage girl.

NeoS 9 years ago
Buy-to-play MMOs usually offer a free trial, so don't pretend that freemium games are doing us any favors. There are also many free-2-play games that don't purposefully slow down or gate your progress. Path of Exile is a actually a good example of this, as their online shop consists only of cosmetic items and trivial account enhancements.

The fact is, most free-2-play business models work by frustrating the player into paying to remove those irritants. If you pay to make the game more enjoyable, then it's no longer free. If you quit because the game was to frustrating, then the FREE part of the game isn't worth playing.

So stop trying to defend all these horrible business models, it just makes you look like a shill.

View 1 reply
Sarko Sagaris 9 years ago
The Truth is about all the developers - they want to get recognition on the project, game they create, manage if it's succesful they put on prices for exclusive items, makes you cash out on premium status, rewards you for paying. They can abandon the project and still get paid by the people that "swim too deep..." and don't stop.

NanbosButock 9 years ago
Wiggle my butt

Wiggle my butt

Wiggle my butt
Wiggle my butt

Wiggle my butt

Feel like im wastimg ur time?

Wiggle my butt

Wiggle my butt Wiggle my butt
Wiggle my butt

Lost time? Its your failt. No one forces your eyeys left to right. You programed yourself to be a sheep. And you think ur a king sheep when you read fast or get fat all day reading. Truth is I bathe in your wool.

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