To Free Or Not To Free: Are Pre-Launch Packages Worth It?
I have never bought a pre-launch package for a F2P game.
I'm not like some people, who think they're an evil on par with Rebecca Black's “Friday,” or that they're a cunning scheme by corporate bigwigs looking to separate overeager gamers from their money – OK, they are that, I suppose.
Some people think they go against the very nature of a free-to-play game, which has “free” right there in the description. Of course, it's optional; you don't have to pay to play the game... but that stuff is so shiny! And it's for a limited time only! JUST TAKE MY MONEY!
Most of the time, these packages consist of some cosmetic gear and other non-combat goodies, like a pet or mount, as well as some low-level “power” equipment, like a sword or armor that's better than what a beginning character can normally acquire. There might also be an XP boost, to help you speed through those first few levels, or early access to the game, letting you in a few days early.
Personally, I find it all rather valueless. The first time I play a game, I savor those first few levels and don't want them to go by too quickly. The game isn't much of a challenge, so an item that boosts my power isn't really needed. That leaves just the cosmetics as a potentially unique “bonus” – but weighed against the cost of the entire package, it seems like a poor value.
Developers do occasionally include treats that are significant and can't be obtained any other way. Neverwinter's Hero of the North package opens up the Menzobarranzen Renegade drow race, as well as giving players two million Astral Diamonds. Apart from those (and maybe three extra character slots), there's not much else in the package I'd deem “essential,” so are those perks, plus a bunch of cosmetic stuff worth $200?
While they do enrich the developers' bank accounts, I think these packages also create a much higher demand for perfection right out of the gate. If I'm not paying for a game, I might be a little more tolerant of bugs, crashes, and generally mediocre gameplay, or maybe I'll just set the game aside until those issues are solved.
If I've paid for a game, however, it's a different story. Now I'm financially invested and, like any financial investment, I expect a good return for my money from day one. Geek rage for substandard games is always going to be strong, but combine geek rage with money and it's a force that even a reconfigured deflector dish would have a tough time stopping – and, as Star Trek fans know, those suckers can do anything.
I think the only thing that would get me to buy a pre-launch package would be the absolute assurance that I would play the game for a very long time – years, probably. That's a rare feeling these days, with as many games as I've seen and tried that have, for one reason or another, failed to live up to expectations. I'd have to play a crapton out of it in beta to make sure I absolutely loved the gameplay, and even then, I'd want to be fairly certain I'd have a lot of friends committed to the game so I'm not left all alone after a few weeks.
Pre-launch packages are the definition of an “impulse buy,” in that they're usually marketed based on your feelings for a game before you've played it extensively and have yet to fully form an opinion. Again, I won't go as far to say they're an Evil Corporate Trick(TM), but they're made less to appeal to reason and more to passion. Let the buyer beware.
So, how about you? Have you ever purchased a pre-launch package for a F2P game? Did you regret it later? Are you going to do it again?
About 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.
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Worst game I have ever played.
They either cost too much, or the items you get sucks.
OR in instances like Ecol Tactics... Founders still haven't receive their items in 2 month, lol.
The kicker is that this is happening while the quality of games is dwindling. To put it in a nutshell, games used to be made by nerds and now they are made by suits. They expect X profit for Y amount of money from Z target audience instead of trying to come up with unique and interesting ideas. Korean f2p games are kind of an exception, but Korea's problem is they stick to the same formula every time. Come up with 1-3 unique elements > throw the usual stuff together > release > slowly release new 'content' over time > repeat.
Games in general are kind of sad right now as they are either all aiming for a casual audience that won't support them long term or they are so stupidly simple that only a casual audience would play it. By casual audience I mean people who don't generally play games and are the least likely to support them, so developers are pretty much shooting themselves in the foot.
When I first saw dragon's prophet I loved it. After weaseling my way into the beta test by being active on the forums I was sorely disappointed. The game was a joke. I personally sat down and reported about 4-6 bugs and watched my threat get deleted without some form of acknowledgement and to this day, now of the bugs have been fixed. That is what people paid 20$+ to get into. It should never be a feature of this business model but as person are so anxious their desire gets the best of them, and any company who preys on that is as bad as they come in my book.
I should really stop doing #2. Paying for something sight unseen is about the stupidest thing to do.
What I do regret not buying is way back when the World of Tanks beta pack. Had no idea I'd like the game as much as I do now (it came a loooooooooong way).
God, I swear people are stupid. They complain about how unoriginal mmo's are these days, yet pay for these kinds of crap packages without a single thought. If you want better mmo's to come out, than stop paying crap mmo's. It's that simple.
Other big companys such as perfect world are just out to rip people off, they take a developers game and publish it in a manor that ruins it for every one except them self.
Its going to get worse aswell with f2p models hitting the consoles.
If people are willing to pay for these things then there is obviously nothing wrong with it, but they normally always take advantage of the customer in some way or form. Just look at path of exile for example it started off all innocent with the aesthetics only stuff and yes they have i suppose stuck to those words but there price range is a freaking joke.
But apart from that, then no.