Do Gamers REALLY Prefer Free To Play MMO’s?

Posted by on December 6, 2011 at 9:02 pm

In the recent past, there’s been a lot of talk about all of the players who are converting to “free to play” MMORPG games as opposed to their subscription based counterparts and now some sources are claiming that the majority of players prefer the F2P model over the subscription model.

Read on!

A number of news sources are making these claims and, I’ll be honest, I don’t know if it’s true. Cinemablend had the following to say, earlier today:

According to NewZoo, 36% of the near 40 million active MMO gamers in the United States like to play games with a sci-fi theme or overtones…14 million gamers to be exact. What’s more is that out of the 39 million MMO gamers in the United States less than 16% of those gamers actually pay-to-play MMOs online, which would explain the upsurge in former P2P MMOs being quickly converted over into F2P MMOs. Even more than that, 68% of all MMO gamers in the United States prefer free-to-play games, while the remaining 16% are undecided and will go either way.

It’s kind of the opposite in the Asian territories where 52% of the MMO gamers over there prefer pay-to-play games, but the rest are still quick to jump into free-to-play MMOs as well, showing a rapid growth in the F2P market just the same as the North American market.

Unsurprisingly enough 80% of all gamers in Russia, Brazil, Mexico and also prefer free-to-play games. That kind of ties into the whole market research suggesting that 75% of all Russian gamers get their games for free…or eh, illegally.

Newzoo, by the way, is a company which studies and analyzes market data in the gaming industry.

The CEO of Newzoo, Peter Warman, had this to say:

“You will not catch me making any predictions about StarWars: the Old Republic. But I am very curious to see how much F2P SciFi gamers EA will be able to convert to P2P gamers and what part will come from outside the current pool of SciFi gamers, being complete newcomers as well as the subscribers to EveOnline, WoW, Rift or any other triple A P2P MMO game. With big F2P SciFi titles also scheduled to launch pretty soon I expect to see significant differences in uptake of the various SciFi titles in US, Europe and Emerging markets.”

Now here’s my question, and please, feel free to make a thread in the forums and talk about this.

Question is – Do players really prefer the “free-to-play” model or are they simply resorting to that model because there’s nothing currently on the market which justifies paying $15.00 per month for a subscription?

Now, I’ve played a couple of free to play MMO’s and I’m here to tell you – for the most part, they’re crap. You’re either sucked in to spending a lot of money to buy your way in to new sections of the game or to buy currency within the game so you can afford to buy items on the auction block.

These companies also (at least some of them) clearly hold back on some of the items you’ll need, like healing potions and better weapons, and will push you toward their online store to spend money there for items. As it turns out, you’re spending far more than $15.00 a month by the time it’s all said and done.

I also can’t help but wonder if, when they’re counting players, they aren’t referring to people who play free-to-play web games like farmville and mafia wars. Those are technically mmo’s but they’re far from being anything like World Of Warcraft, Eve Online or Star Wars : The Old Republic.

I mean…the number’s they’re throwing around indicate that 1 out of 10 Americans plays MMO’s…they’re damned sure not talking about the live, MMORPG’s we gamers think of when we hear MMO. There’s just no way a full 10% of all Americans play those types of games. NO…WAY.

So I want to know what you all think. Is F2P the wave of the future or is it just reserved for games that aren’t good enough to command a $15.00 per month subscription fee?

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  • Ryonsteele

    No, if it becomes f2p then you get what you pay for, crap. I’d prefer a good game that has a sub than play a crap game that’s free. I hope T.O.R. is not going to be f2p. 

  • arrow2theknee

    Yea, i prefer a sub fee aswell. Theres always some OP cash shop items that expire in 1 day, and cost 10 dollars. More or less it ends up costing u like 50 bucks a month.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve only ever played WoW, WAR, and more recently DCUO. I didn’t play WoW or WAR beyond the 30 Days that came with the games. DCUO I played for free for almost two weeks solid (100+ hours) but eventually left that one behind too.

    I just find MMOs to be EPIC wastes of otherwise awesome settings and properties. The environments look convincing but they feel flat. Rapidly respawning enemies remind me of PONG gameplay. Beep – killed something – Beep – there it is again. Beep, boop, beep. And PvP power-gaming is a rapid half-grind for good gear, almost predictable character builds, and boring encounters with other players in fights.

    I can’t justify parting with £12 – 15 a month to play in these worlds. Playing WAR, and being a massive fan of the Warhammer setting (90+ novels, source, army books, and every video game ever to ship with it in the title [pretty much all of them bad]) I just found it to be a total waste of the setting. Like the things that made it Warhammer could have been anything. Stormtoopers in Orc outfits, it didn’t matter because the game would have been, played, and felt exactly the same.

    MMOs feel like broken single player games to me. I don’t get ’em. *shrug* But only FtP will attract me to ’em. I can get hundreds of hours of gameplay out of AAA single player titles like Fallout 3, Vegas, Skyrim, all for a one off, usually reasonable cost.