[Question of the Day] Do people who pay to play get more invested in their game?

I do increasingly get a sense that players are less likely to become invested in F2P games. Not all of them, for sure, the F2P ethos depends on there being a small number of players who get very invested in their game of choice and spend lots of money on it. Yet there is a continuum between cheap games, single player games with huge longevity, F2P and full subscription gaming. I try to get my head around the idea that there is some kind of connection between how you pay and how much you pay and how you feel about the game, but there are as many exceptions as rules. Or maybe it is just the time you spend in the game that shows how invested you actually are, and money spent is largely independent of this. I’m not sure that is true though, because having spent money on a subscription probably does mean you are more likely to want to get your money’s worth.

On the other hand, some of my perennial favourite games have been quite cheap ones.

I was thinking about this since reading arguments that GW2 beta players will be more invested than players in previous MMO betas because they have had to pay more up front for the privilege of being in beta. I don’t really buy this, because my experience is that beta communities are usually pretty good and have a good proportion of players who genuinely care about the game and want to improve the game experience.

If player investment is measured in money spent, then sub games should have the strongest communities. And some of them do. I suspect that the LOTRO community has weakened since it went F2P, for example. But how would you even measure the ‘strength’ of a community?

These questions probably seem rambling, but if we care about our in game communities then the answers may be quite important in steering us as players towards games and payment types that are best going to suit our needs. If I’m a social player who enjoys strong communities, maybe I do want to look for games where a higher proportion of players are invested. It just isn’t clear to me how cash plays into that, because some of the strongest communities I’ve found in games were in non commercial MU* type setups.

Do you feel more invested in games where you have had to pay for them, either for the box or as a subscription?

Walking in a linking wonderland

Here are some of the posts and threads that caught my eye over the last couple of weeks.

  1. Kurt Vonnegut explains why people become drama queens
  2. tankspot dares to ask, “Has tanking made you mean?” Obviously not in my case, and I’ll boot anyone who disagrees.
  3. Tobold has an interesting theory about the different players who are attracted to different payment models. If all the players who really want games to be free go with free to play then how can that model make money? Similarly, if all the hardcore 40 hours a week guys flock to subscription models which depend on having lots of casual players, can those thrive too?
  4. Cassandri at HoTs and DoTs wants to know how much you’d pay for a battered hilt (leads to a quest which results in the best non raiding weapon in WoW). Does knowing that it has a high value affect whether you’d roll need on it?
  5. We get a lot of gaming genre blending in CRPGs. Some puzzle solving, squad based combat, exploring, maybe even FPS segments. Rampant Coypte wonders if players enjoy the mix of genres. For me, only if I like BOTH genres. I never forgave Prince of Persia for including stupid fighty bits when I just wanted a platform game.
  6. Mike Schramm has an intriguing post on wow.com asking whether Facebook might count as an MMO. After all, ‘players’ have avatars, homes, and can interact with others virtually. This is also his last week on wow.com so good luck to him in the future, I know I’ve enjoyed his writing.
  7. Larisa has some thoughts on how to take command over the random PUG. I’m hoping she will later address the question of whether or not anyone should be taking command.
  8. Hawley loves healers and says we’ll all miss them when they’re gone. He also wonders about Blizzard’s decision not to have a crowd control class; funnily enough I remember at the time thinking that it was inspired to spread the crowd control between different classes, but it’s true that in practice they weren’t all treated as equal.
  9. Jason Henniger writes the ultimate dear john letter, “Nyarlahotep, I’m breaking up with you.”
  10. Megan at Forbearance and the Drama Mammas (sorry but that column name makes me want to spit nails) at wow.com both think that everyone should chill and welcome the poorly performing players into PUGs.