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?