Thought of the Day: How do you decide when to pay in a F2P game?

I think that the amount people decide to pay in a F2P game is highly dependent on what their friends are paying.

If you have friends in the game and they are mostly playing for free, you’ll feel like an idiot if you pay. If your friends are mostly buying a few things, you’ll be encouraged to do the same. If you don’t know anyone else who plays, or haven’t made any in game friends then chances are that you will only be playing until the next game catches your eye anyway. (Unless it offers a stellar single player experience which is not usually the case.)

So one goal for a F2P developer might be to nudge new players to engage socially with the more hardcore who are already paying.

The LOTRO F2P strategy of having both F2P and subscriber players on the same server might prove to be very smart indeed.

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9 thoughts on “Thought of the Day: How do you decide when to pay in a F2P game?

  1. Social pressure is certainly a big factor.

    Where social pressure isn’t involved it’s been fascination with the game system. In order to see more of the game I want to try things beyond the paywall.

    • Good point. I have certainly paid to see a bit more of the game or open up more functionality. But often those are one off payments because once I’d seen more of the game I knew I didn’t want to get deeper into it. This is kind of what I mean about being distracted by the next shiny.

      Most games don’t have the depth of play that Blizzard is known for, in truth. (I don’t mean just WoW, I mean SC and Diablo also – games that people wanted to play for years.)

  2. I think you are completely right – unless you are shown the benefits of what you can get by paying by those who are – then you won’t know what you are missing.

  3. Its a damn sight better than the server-segregation idea in EQ2X, which seemed like such a good idea (briefly) on paper. EQ2 live servers will almost certainly languish, as if they weren’t already.

    And tbh from what I saw of LOTRO F2P as a freebie tester in the beta (which I’m not anymore, I subbed up last week), it’s not *that* restrictive at least at the lower levels, and I strongly suspect that’s what the bulk of the F2P population will be.

  4. Ardwulf started an F2P guild on DDO in the spring. The original concept was that if anyone wasnted to buy extras they could, but the guild itself would only run F2P dungeons so that anyone who didn’t want to pay wouldn’t have to.

    I think that’s still the idea behind it all, but I know everyone in the guild has bought at least 2 dungeons, and many have bought the locked races and classes as well, and I am one of them. We didn’t do it “for the guild events” but to give ourselves more options for when we play on non-guild events.

    Speaking of DDO, I hear its siren call right now. . . .

  5. I buy content. The only reason I do that is if I’ve exhausted the content I have purchased already (or the free segment). If I need to buy content to play with friends, it’s a factor (and a smart one to leverage, to be sure), but the prime motivator is just my own play pace.

    • ‘Content’ is a fluid sort of term. It could include unlocking extra classes as well as zones, instances, quest chains, and the like.

      I think I get the distinction between fluff items and content which you’re talking about. But content is never really quite as optional as fluff.

  6. I generally try to play without paying anything first. If that isn’t fun I assume that the whole game isn’t worth it and leave. If the game is fun without paying for several month I would set myself a monthly money-limit that is about as high as a subscription in WoW. But I have to say, I never found a game that passed step 1 ;)
    If the game tries to lure me to surpass my money limit, I would try to access just how good it is. Any game that costs more money than WoW should be better than WoW (for me) too. If it isn’t better or the amount of money it tries to lure out of me surpasses a certain limit I assume they are trying to rip me off and leave.

    Having said that, I assume it wouldn’t be that easy because I am biased against F2P. Monthly subscription is a honest business model. I get a free trial to see what is offered and am told flat out how much I will have to pay for it. F2P is more sneaky and dishonest, they try to tell you that everything that matters is free to lure you in, then try to create a demand and cheat you out of as much money as they can. To me the subscription model looks like a normal business offer while F2P looks like a drug dealer trying to get me hooked just to take everything I have afterwords.

    • I’ve always seen sub models as sleazy, m’self. They cajole you in with notions of memberships and flat rates, hooking you with a flashy, fun starting area (on a time-limited trial, no less, which I detest), then set the hook with a grind in the middle levels, just when the sub needs to start. By the end game, the grind is just what you do, and you don’t even think of the cover fee any more, you just play (and pay) because it’s a habit.

      The design impetus is to keep you playing habitually to keep that sub money coming in. That naturally creates grind and treadmills like the raiding scene.

      Of course, the silly item shop games aren’t any better.

      That’s why I buy content that I can consume at my leisure. It’s clear and fair; they provide me with content they have made, I pay for it. Y’know, like every other video game.

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