Cyclops - Savage Land

I read a piece today about a mobile developer trying to make his game less about F2P consumable purchases — like energy — and more about one-time purchases. Sounded like the kind of thing I might be able to write an article about, I thought.

I grew a little less optimistic the further I got through the article. The CEO of Glitchsoft, Andrew Fisher, talked about how he sees the industry veering away from free-to-play with loads of microtransactions and more toward free-to-play with paid expansions:

“Glitchsoft’s own Uncanny X-Men: Days of Future Past game launched earlier this year as a premium game with no in-app purchases, but an update next spring will see the core game made available for free, with additional expansion packs available for fans who want to pay to play through other storylines from the comic series.”

It doesn’t sound like Fisher plans to add microtransactions to the core game, so it’ll be more like his company’s giving away the base game for free and only charging for the expansion content. It’s a little like F2P meets DLC.

The article is still fresh, as of right now, with only two comments. And those comments pretty much strike at the heart of the free-to-play vs. pay-to-play debate:


To put it simply: “Man, F2P can be annoying, but man, it really sells!” Or at the very least, “F2P is annoying, but people pay for it anyway.”

It’s worth noting, too, that while both respondents are in the game industry, the first, “F2P is annoying,” comment comes from a Senior Programmer from Epic Games, while the second, “F2P sells,” comment comes from the CEO of Kakouri Mobile Entertainment. In other words, I’d guess the first commenter is a gamer first and businessperson second, while the second commenter might be the reverse.

Both have their place. You can’t make a company of just “gamers” without any executive oversight, but you also can’t have a company full of executives with no idea of what makes a game “fun.”

The other thing you might take from it? That core gamers like Mr. Martin — and probably like you and me — who don’t like the annoyance factor of F2P make up a tiny percentage of the number of people who actually consume those games and don’t think twice about forking over an extra $5 for another 25 energy or a cool hat. People like Martin can debate or rage all they want on forums and comment sections, but they’re probably greatly outnumbered by the masses who never visit those kinds of places and download F2P mobile games — and spend appropriately — by the millions. I mean, is there a subreddit devoted to that Kim Kardashian game? (If there is, please don’t tell me. Please. I’m begging you.)

Those silent millions are the ones that Kim Soares, as the CEO of a company, tries to appeal to, and it’s hard to blame her. Both commenters are espousing the virtues of what’s important to them — just like we all do whenever we debate the virtues of one payment model against another.

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.

18 Readers Commented

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  1. kestas24 on February 4, 2015

    This might sound bit harsh, but here is simple explanation why p2p is not a great idea. First of all your paying for your recreation like for a trip to Hawaii yet is it the same thing? No you got to pay every month and yet you can play it for about a week if you have a stable job like 90% of the world. I know i’m going over board but its just to point a harsh problem p2p requires you too pay for a month when you can’t play that long with no option for dailies or minutes purchases. But trip too Hawaii you enjoy all the time and when you return you feel like you really had a great rest. Second problem is most of p2p are made not too be fun but too be bought meaning its more of a addictive job then a game. Same with f2p, but there you can at least chose you want pay or not where in p2p you must pay if you want to play. The major problem i found so far with games that their made by people that see only one side of the board. I mean can you win a chess game when you can only see whats happening on your side of the board but are totally blind too the other one?Gamer is not your average consumer its a individual with changing need and if you keep trowing same damn crap you been for 3 years you will go bankrupt. The gaming industry must change daily if you want to reap the profit if you see it like normal consumer market your in the wrong business.
    So here is my final statement it matters not game is f2p, p2p or b2p what truly matters is it a game fun to play and if you can be relaxed after it. And if only thing we can talk is how they make their money, then trust me those game companies are bad and their management ain’t worth a shit so even if they host you favorite game its not going to be fun and should not be payed for till they fix their corrupted ways.

    • ultraninja on October 8, 2015

      Dam, you sayed what i was trying to say from the beginning!
      100% agree.

  2. Danilo on November 21, 2014

    I come here to sey the Cyclops is the best :DDD

  3. joe on November 21, 2014

    the two comments are:
    free-to-plays are shits.
    shits cost you money.

  4. no1curr on November 20, 2014


  5. bisacbicsibasbc on November 18, 2014

    The Whole F2P vs. P2P Argument Summed Up In Two Comments

    ^ not at all

    to begin
    Gareth in that discussion was probably only refering to mobile and browser game in-app monetization which are different from desktop mmorpg monetization, the former have much more hard paywalls and are not dinamic
    thus some of his assertions have to be considered in this dimension.
    the first comment is a thesis. the second comment is a fact, therefore I only comment the thesis. for what relate to mmorpgs.

    to begin, the quoted part:
    “without having to worry so much about monetization, designers can just focus on making the game fun”

    whitout having to worry about the monetization mean: everyone became a game designer
    is the fact that there are people able to make games fun while also find solutions to make them viable economically (plus a whole vagon of other obstacles) that make we be game designers.

    “corollary: pervasive monetization […] make the game less fun”

    point 1) pervasive is a subgective term, no defined criteria is given, for some people a 5% faster mount is already p2w,
    for some people is valid: -those who can spend more have the right to enjoy the game more- instead.
    unless a criteria for measurement is given, we can go on for years debating what is pervasive and what no. empty discussions
    in the case he intend that in-app purchase are at all pervasive see point 2
    Point 2) monetization doesn’t make a game less fun, not only is unrelated, but at the opposite, wise companies can and will perform changes in the cash shop to adjust if not fix games that are going in a dire situation for whatever reason (bad design choices, unexpected bugs uproar, etc) removing monetization remove an efficent tool. is not advised in 2014 to do it.
    point 3)*inspire* this will be hard. people don’t play game for the fun, nor atleast the customers that are the mmorpg target. sound crazy? fun is a collateral experience anyone can feel and is totally up to the mindset of player itself. the truth is: there is a place in the human brain called ventral striatum that is the responsable of handle amines like dopamine and adrenaline and is tied with the stimuly of reward. it was observed. that the striatum became really, really active during competitions and also during games. while the part of the brain that handle the fun didn’t activate. that explain that the reason why players play mmorpgs is the satisfation, not the fun. the satisfation to master game mechanics, the satisfation to beats your opponets, the satisfation to achieve your goals.
    satisfation =/= fun.
    the monetization is there as big obstacle betwen the player and his goals. this is the reason why is so hated.
    granted this, a game even into a “no-fun” state could still produce income.

    “It’s the same as the old price/sales curve […]you actually make less money that if you had lower price”
    improvvvised and rudimental knowledge economy and common fallacy
    this statement is false according to sociology, anthropology, psychology and economy. etc.
    would require a long discussion I won’t do here. there are conditions, also the point 3) above is involved too
    interesting arguments: discriminary price, perfect price in discrimination monopoly.

    to finish.
    I really like the idea of changing an handful amount of parameters then suddenly produce a magna game 100% no drawbacks for the users.
    but basically to beat monetization in game you have to change the entire nature of the mankind. you achive this only throught education with maybe 600-700 years of effort. complains is also a way will probably take 1500 years to work.

    …to think that a random guy on internet know more than veteran of the industry, I wonder if someone wanna hire eheheh 😀

  6. DeeH on November 18, 2014

    F2P is always a detriment to the general gaming population. In order for the F2P model to work, you have to make a game suck, literally on purpose. Cash shops exist almost entirely to bypass whatever problems the developers have placed in their game.

    The real question is; why are games being made like this? Well, the sad truth is that ‘free to play’ games are designed to land whales and addicts. Whales are people with excess money that like exclusivity and the idea of being ‘1st’. Addicts are attracted to the gambling aspects, which are always some kind of ‘slot machine’ mechanic tied into the cash shop.

    This results in huge monetary gains for developers like Trion, who recently released a popular F2P game called ArcheAge. AA is being heavily scrutinized for it’s cash shop items, many of which are being called ‘pay to win’. This kind of blatant cash-grabbing is slowly becoming the norm, as fewer and fewer online games are using the ‘buy to play’ model.

    Personally, I see nothing but bad times for online gamers in the near future. So long as people are willing to spend their hard earned cash on programs that barely qualify as entertainment, developers will continue to pump them out.

  7. NobleNerd on November 18, 2014

    There is no such thing as a free to play game, just as much as there is no such thing as a free lunch. Call it what is is…. free to pay. You may not pay for the game at start, but most will pay for something before you go too far in a game. In many cases you will pay for more than a $14.99 a month subscription is you get into the game.

  8. Fromhelll on November 18, 2014

    nothing new, there are so many F2P and freemium games and apps out there because it’s profitable, there’s a lot of games that have proven that F2P doesn’t have to be crap , but it seems to me that at of publishers and developers make games looking for quick buck, they don’t care if the game dies within a year, they’ll just move on to the next one, and the cycle starts all over again, some company farts out a name and a bunch of BS about a game, gaming media hypes it to get views/traffic, idiot gamers fall for it again.

    • Fromhelll on November 18, 2014

      As long as people continue to pay attention to those games they’re gonna keep making them.

  9. Some Guy on November 17, 2014


    Wildstar isn’t dying because it’s p2p, it’s dying because it’s a craptastic game.

    I would reverse your order: P2P and B2P are both wonderful things, and F2P is a horrible thing in except in a few rare cases where it’s actually done right (best examples: league of legends, smite)

    Very few f2p games are able to pull off a good quality experience without trying to nickel-and-dime their users- It can be done and when it is done well, it’s fine, but too many terrible games out there don’t. Too many people play any f2p game for not more than a day or two and quit while a small number of people give them foolish amounts of money. Final Fantasy XIV: ARR has been wildly successful even though it’s p2p. You can’t judge a game solely by its business model.

    The worst offended of free to play is mobile games. there’s 32846783246732 terrible mobile games out there that only exist in the hopes that someone will accidentally click on one and click an in app purchase button. It only takes a few suckers for them to be successful.

    • Some Other Guy on November 20, 2014

      FFXIV isn’t ‘successful’ because it’s a good game. The only thing is has going for it are the graphics. The PvP content is completely lackluster, updates are ridiculously slow, and the PvE content is literally impossible unless you’re sub-100 ping. Or, at-least, end-game, hardcore PvE.

      It’s successful because it’s in the Final Fantasy franchise. Fans would have bought the game, regardless. Very few people play FFXIV for more than a month or two after getting to max, because there’s just not that much content. Very few of the dungeons are even remotely challenging, and when they are challenging, it’s usually artificial difficulty (Ping 10ms too high? Get one-hit killed. Proceed to wipe.). Fans would have paid $60+ for a Final Fantasy game in general. It just so happens that playing this game for a couple of months results in paying the same, or a lower price.

  10. Razer on November 17, 2014

    It’s alarming that when you look at the market, the top grossing apps are a bunch of “free” games.

    Reminds of me why casual gamers are treated like cancer in the core gaming communities. Looking for a half-decent game to play on your mobile device is like bobbing for apples in a sea of molten shit. We have these vapid games, the unscrupulous companies that make them, and the sheep that mindlessly enable them to thank for that.

  11. Freshundead on November 17, 2014

    sounds a lot like one of my old favorites, DDO, you can play the main game AND reach cap w/o spending any money, there are even some unlocks for free, but to get most out of game and ANY and I mean ANY of the good gear ya need to buy the expansion/dungeon packs. I personaly don’t mind that metyhod tho because ya get the main game witch is enuff to know if ya like it enuff to buy the extra content(wich I did). and if ya don’t like it you can move on.

    • John Wayne on November 17, 2014

      Used to be called a Demo, till it got a arrow to the knee.

  12. WindShark on November 17, 2014

    Well i play and have played F2P games for years , but most of the time i only play constantly 2-3 games at a time due to time constraint and those 2-3 games are the ones i enjoy the most out of other F2P games that i tried and as a result they will most likely receive money from me for the hours of enjoyment they have given me.

    If a new F2P game comes out i’ll try it out and call it a Free2Try game and treat it as a DEMO to see if its fun and has lasting enjoyment to give past the first few levels , if its fun i’ll play it for an extended period of time and give it some of my money if the game is not fun then the account i made for it can rot till the end of time and the game has to have made major changes in the future to have hope of bringing me back .

    In the end Buy2play , Pay2play and Free2play are all equal in my mind , if its a fun game it will receive money from me and other costumers , this small sentence should be enough “Entertain your customers and they will fill your pockets ,make your customers unhappy and they will leave and spread news about you to others”.

  13. Richard on November 17, 2014

    f2p is better, b2p is good, and p2p is just bad. look at wildstar which is dying because it p2p. and eso isn’t that great of a mmo too. and it p2p. p2p mmos are pretty much end. and that is a good thing.

    • tolshortte on November 20, 2014

      the payment model isn’t what is killing WS. you should really gather all the facts before spouting off. all you are doing is spreading misinformation much like the govt. who wants to be like that?

      the biggest issue with WS is you cant suck and be successful still. you actually have to work as a team and be good at your selected class. that’s hard for today’s gamers, accepting they aren’t the special snowflake they were told they were isn’t easy.

      besides, buying up the CREDD in WS is super easy. if paying was the issue its easily avoided.