I remember when the only MMO I knew about was Everquest (EQ) and then years later Everquest 2 (EQ2) and World of Warcraft (WOW). All of which were subscription based (pay). Now there are a lot of different MMOs to choose from. My Steam account alone has 15 and the majority of them are free-to-play (f2p). Not only are many of the new MMOs coming out f2p, but some of the MMOs that started as pay are now f2p. Granted many f2p do have the option to pay a monthly subscription.
What’s the point of a f2p if they still have the option of a subscription like the pay ones do? Simple, it’s your choice to pay the subscription. You also get benefits from paying to be a part of the VIP or Loyalty or whatever they wish to title there subscription users. Some of the benefits are (in most cases): Monthly amount of currency such as Turbine points or Zen credits, access to all the expansions, access to all classes and races. Alright so it sounds like you don’t get a complete game with f2p without the subscription. In some cases I do agree with that, in others not so much.
Let’s start with the monthly amount of currency. Normally you would have to buy that. It’s not required that you buy it but it is used to be expansions, classes, races, cosmetics, items, boosts, and various such items for the game. Truthfully you don’t need any of that to play the game.
Ok so the monthly allowance is nice to get and really is a bonus. Let’s talk about not having access to expansions without it. Well you just don’t have free access to the expansions without it. You can buy the expansion with either the game’s currency or with actual money. If you do that, then the expansion is yours no matter if you are a VIP.
Let’s move on to the different races and classes. Honestly most f2ps that I have played have all the classes and races unlocked unless it pertains to an expansion. Again I said ‘most’. Off the top of my head, there are two f2ps with some locked classes and three (the previous two included) with some races locked. Yes it is annoying when I play those games, but in all of those cases you can unlock those classes and races without spending any money if you are patient enough.
How can you do that? Isn’t the whole reason of f2ps is that they make their money through the micro transactions? Yes that’s how they make their money, but there are some that give you their currency by achieving things in game as you play. Granted it’s in increments of 5 and 10 for the most part, but they do add up. Also the things for the most part are things you would be doing normally through playing the game. Sometimes it’s items or races that can unlock instead of getting currency. Not many do this, but I find that I tend to play these more than the other ones.
I know I’ve been talking more about the f2ps than the pays, but that’s just because there are more things to take into consideration with the f2ps. The pays are pretty straight forward: you pay $/month and get to play the game. There may or may not be micro transactions with the pay and they tend towards cosmetics and status items.
So what’s the deal? Is f2p better than pay? Well it truly depends. The good thing with the pay is that the entire game, excluding any expansion you haven’t bought, is unlocked. Normally they are about $15/month and if you aren’t playing it, just cancel the subscription until you start playing again. The f2p don’t require a subscription, so if you quit playing you don’t have to worry about canceling a subscription.
Normally I lean towards f2p games. I already bought the game once, I don’t want to have to keep paying just to play. There are some frustrating f2ps out there though that are basically just part of a game. They are bigger than a demo and technically you can play it, but it is set up in a way that for you to get the full experience of the game, you will be doing micro transactions and in some cases constantly. I’ve been lucky in that that is the minority in the ones that I have played.
On a side note, there are sometimes offers of Lifetime Subscription. You pay a lump sum, usually around $200, and never have to pay a monthly subscription again. You are considered subscribed. There have been very few games that have offered that. I paid the subscription fee with Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO). I did it back when it was a pay before it became a f2p. I loved that option. The reason I haven’t done it with any other MMO is because when the offer was there, I didn’t have the extra money to take advantage of it.
What about you? Do you prefer the f2ps or pays? Would you do a Lifetime Subscription if it was offered?