Is free-to-play really the ultimate solution for MMO’s?

Hello everyone,

here’s something I’ve been wondering about for a while. The other day, I pointed to Vallter’s new blog, specifically this post and it made me think. We all know Wargaming is a big promoter of the free-to-play game model. But is F2P really the ultimate future of all MMO games? Or are there instances, where subscription model (such as there is in World of Warcraft for example) is better?

If you are interested in this issue, go check the arguments Vallter proposes. They are valid, but they are not in my opinion complete. Let me tell you why.

F2P has seen some stunning successes over the last year, World of Tanks possibly being the greatest one. Here, we have a game with millions of players (even if we count out the various multiaccounts, people who play once per year and such) running on F2P principles. However, there were also cases (many cases) where F2P went bad. Really bad. The most obvious “mutation” of F2P games is pay to win (P2W), where games sometimes unintentionally, sometimes completely intentionally lure players into playing for success. Some of these games are pretty straightforward (War Thunder has some pay to win elements), some do it hiddenly and are really insidious. But the effect is the same: “free” to play sounds nice, but in real life, there is no such thing as free lunch.

The other category of F2P failures are subscription washouts: both Star Trek Online and The Old Republic (both decent MMO’s) started as subscription based and later moved to F2P model. This was a “virtue of necessity”. STO – at some point – had atrocious ground combat and was always kinda small, felt really like a game made by an independent studio. TOR on the other hand had HUGE plans. Hours of spoken dialogues and such. I played both of them shortly (just to try it out), didn’t like it too much, moved on, but whatever I might think of it, the hype around it was enormous and the game was very expensive to produce. Months after the game going live, subscription numbers dropped significantly and it too adopted basically a F2P model.

Both of those games have one thing in common: F2P was not their first choice and they adopted it only after they got in trouble of not fulfilling (producer) expectations. One might wonder, whether it really is a “better” model (since both games moved to it), or a last-ditch attempt to get many more players into the game (which in fact happened in TOR case and is NOT a positive thing for older players, I’ll talk about it a bit later).

The peculiarities of F2P

It’s actually really simple. Free to play is based on the principle that a small portion of players carries the costs of the entire gime, while the majority (estimated 70-80 percent in WoT case) pays nothing and plays for free. On the other hand, subscription model spreads the costs amongst everyone. Thus, F2P relies on huge numbers of players. In order to at least pay for itself, you can’t have a “very small” F2P game (relatively speaking), whereas subscription MMO can survive and linger on with very low numbers (Age of Conan).

With that being said, F2P is very bad for MMORPG and other “hardcore” type games. This is what I was writing about with TOR. Compare World of Warcraft and WoT. In WoT, you have 7-10 minute (on average) gaming sessions and (however frustrating 15:0 losses might be), there are practically no consequences for such a loss. You lose some credits and that’s it. If the team is especially bad, such fail battle can last only a few minutes. And you can die early on, returning to garage and going out with some other vehicle. No problem. Under such conditions, you can afford situations, where 10 out of 15 people on your team are complete idiots. That’s the real price for playing for free: everyone can play, which mean everyone does play, even people, who would normally not touch a computer game with a 10 ft. pole. Thus, idiots in the game are not a F2P system error: they are its feature (and disadvantage). That by the way makes all the “teach players to play better” initiatives from forum players completely pointless – even if he wanted to learn, you can’t teach a person who plays two battles per month when there’s nothing on TV anything. Perhaps I called them unfairly “idiots”, when in fact, those people aren’t stupid. They just don’t care – which is completely legitimate in F2P concept. A 40-year old man, who has a tiring job won’t be interested in reading up on penetration tables and such.

However, what is a flaw in MMO’s like World of Tanks with short battles is completely fatal in MMORPG games, unless they are ridiculously casual, making them action games and not RPG’s. In the “old days”, World of Warcraft (vanilla and then first expansion) was not a game for everyone. Sure, it became insanely popular, but that was because by the time it was introduced, there was no Facebook or Twitter and it served as a first sort-of social connection web between people (and it served very well). Some players were casual of course, just roaming the vast WoW landscape, “looking for adventure”. Some turned hardcore PvP (not unlike WoT’s unicums, those too had their “elite” unique attitudes). But the majority of progress (obtaining better gear) was done by crawling dungeons (or, in WoW slang, “instances”). Now comes the really different part.

However idiotic team you have in WoT, there is always a chance that something will happena and you will “turn the tide”: for example the bigger team having even worse morons, just lining up in front of your guns. I think we all had such a battle, where enemies kept appearing before your hulldown tank destroyer and you keep telling yourself “how can they be so stupid?” – and you win, for example by single-handedly killing 7-8 such “tomatoes”.

On the other hand, having an idiot in a level 60 or 70 instance was completely fatal. The entire event (instance) for 5 people sometimes took hours to complete and ONE moron could screw it up completely for four others. Pretty much all the bosses at that point required some sort of special tactics (you had to read up on, otherwise, you had no idea what to expect, unless you did that fight before), took sometimes multiple attempts (each attempt costing not only time, but shitload of money too in equipment repair (equipment got damaged every time you died), making even some victorious runs unprofitable) – if you had a bad healer for example, you would die. A tank (as in, meathshield) that can’t tie enemies to itself by creating so called “aggro”? You die, because enemies will kill your DPS and healer. And so on.

And it got even worse. MMORPG’s are based on continuous and forced progress. Unless you played in one area all the time (which goes against all the principles of having fun, exploration etc.), you simply progressed. In World of Tanks, a player can voluntarily stop on (or even return to) tier 5, but in WOW, everyone progressed – whatever you did, however bad you got, given enough time you not only had the option to play on higher levels, you were forced to by the game.

To level up a character to level 60 took some considerable time, so – in combination with the subscription model – very few real idiots made it to the top level and out of those, even fewer ran instances, creating a player “ecosystem” that worked, because low-level instances were sort of forgiving, teaching you slowly the principles of cooperation by making bosses more and more difficult. If you couldn’t cooperate, you eventually had to give up, because dying over and over was not fun. It was a barrier: either you learn, or you won’t get ANYTHING: in a 5 man group, everyone had to pull its weight. DPS that does 0 DPS? Kicked. Tank not tanking? Kicked. Healer not healing? Kicked from group. Or everyone else leaving.

Needless to say, there is no such barrier in WoT, or F2P inherently. Where subscription based game gives you a choice to do or die, WoT needs you even if you are a really bad player: the matchmaker has to fill every tier with SOME players. That’s why there is no “skill barrier” anywhere (“learn or die”) of course, the game simply needs everyone (unlike World of Warcraft, where the game technically didn’t care whether 10 or 10 thousand people were running the instance). If I was to return to TOR, what I’ve read happened was that when the game went F2P, a huge influx of casuals caused some of the high-tier group instances unplayable without a guild. Same thing would happen to World of Warcraft definitely.

This is why subscription system is better for games, that require dedication and understanding, such as MMORPG’s. This is probably the reason why (despite general F2P success) the upcoming Elder Scrolls MMORPG will be subscription-based.

Pay to Win

Just shortly about P2W. It’s easy to fall into the P2W trap – after all, even Wargaming – who normally yells F2P everywhere – implemented gold ammo. Yes, sure, we know it’s available for credits now too, but let’s face it: paying for premium account and running gold ammo for converted gold will allow you to shoot gold ammo indefinitely and everywhere, while a non-paying player doesn’t have that chance. There is no way around it. Gold ammo is pay to win, however you look at it, because with enough money, you can buy a significant advantage, especially on mid-to-high tiers.

It’s a trap easily fallen into in F2P model. A game, based on subscription doesn’t have to solve this issue: it gets money from players directly. But a F2P game has to offer something for real money. But what? Here, the boundary is kinda blurred. Each developer must decide, what to offer and whether it really is pay to win or not. And if it is – is it too much? Is a LITTLE better sword enough to give someone an edge? Is it economically interesting? Is there an incentive to buy it? And so on and so forth. Overall, setting up a F2P economy model is quite complicated and Wargaming has done a good job so far. There is very little pay to win in WoT (while technically possible to constantly run gold ammo, it’s so expensive very few players choose that option, contrary to popular belief).

Personally, I prefer paying for subscription to F2P. That way, I pay and I don’t have to worry about anything else. Which brings us to the third issue with F2P

You’re a customer!

Now, I don’t want to bring up any legal stuff and whatnot here, it’s boring. But simply put: subscription MMO is paying for the game as a service (product). F2P is paying for services WITHIN a game, not the game itself.

It’s quite a common argument in some forum sections to see stuff like “Wargaming, why don’t you give us old players some advantages? I already paid XXXX Euro for this game!”

No. You haven’t paid for the game. You paid for something within the game. Premium account? You got it. Gold? Sure. Tanks in giftshop? Here you are. But you do NOT pay for the game, which – if Wargaming screws something up badly – puts you in no position to argue. You can’t unsubscribe and they already have your money. You have nothing to leverage them with, unlike a subscription payer, who can simply unsubscribe and there goes the main income for the producers.

MMORPG games are based on long-term character development, unlike WoT. Yes, you can grind new tanks, but you can just as well stick to tier 5. In order to develop something for months and months, you need a sense of security. Not security itself (the position of a subscriber is not exactly strong either), but the sense of it and that is something F2P can (from its very definition) NEVER offer you, because technically, you are not paying anything, whereas in subscription MMO, you are a customer and your position is stronger, even on legal grounds (this is more complicated than this, maybe I’ll get to this topic in the future).


As written above, the three major flaws of F2P are:

- a “horde of noobs” playerbase
- pay to win always ready to pounce
- less security

The first flaw makes F2P unviable for hardcore MMORPG’s, second can create potential problems everywhere and the third is also tied more like to hardcore games. As I wrote above, I prefer subscription games. I guess I am oldschool that way. Maybe F2P is really the future, but in general, I’d like to have more classic MMORPG like WoW was/is. Let’s see how the Elder Scrolls MMO turns out.

115 thoughts on “Is free-to-play really the ultimate solution for MMO’s?

  1. F2P works mostly on “arena” type games, wherever you get more depth and the need for collaboration it turns to be frustrating.
    - Burnt MWO legendary founder

        • hehe; i bought the phoenix guardian pack. would you probably think about starting over if they would implement the UI etc. or what was the point that fucked you up the most?

      • Ah, I wondered what happened to that, I remember how everyone was going to leave WoT and play MWO, pretty much like everyone is going to leave when WT brings it’s tanks out.

    • This is one way to look at it. MOBAs, arena shooters (WoT) and the like have an easier time being F2P.

      SS has a rather rosy view of WoW classic though. Trash players still got to the top. Even clearing Molten Core with some awful people on board happened.

      Personally I think sub games are dead after all of the high price flops. Its just such a danting task to get people away from WoW when you’re asking for a sub. Especially now that Blizz has started releasing more inclusive endgame content. Any idiot can do raid finder, that means casuals and trash don’t have to jump ship when they finish all the 5 man content.

      MMORPGs are at the end of their life anyway IMO. Nothing substantial has changed since early WoW really, just polishing. DIKU clones just have nowhere else to go so I expect the next big thing to be fundamentally different anyway.

      • Some pretty new stuff are coming. Wildstar, Elder Scrolls Online, Everquest online, etc.. Star Citizen too, but i dont know if it counts.

      • Well yeah…sort of, the reason trash players war able to finish Molten Bore was because it was 1) real easy – every boss kinda had only 1 gimmick working for them and 2) because you rarely needed 40 players to do it anyway. You kinda only needed 20 guys to know wth they were doing, about 5 people with the quintessence and the rest could be gray/white dressed windowlickers with no use other than cannon fodder when Garr got really pissed.

        Things got dicey in ZG and BWL where you either needed everyone on top of their game as either you didn’t have enough of’em(ZG) or the strategies were more complex

  2. I expect subscription games to survive. The only difference is, they’ll be facing some competition from F2P games.

    • Not really. You can have a subscription in a game and still play free to play games, cause they are free. But the chance of someone getting subscribed to two sub based games is very low.

      Take for example WoW. Blizzard know that making annother sub-based MMO would be a dumb move.
      So they focus on F2P games like Hearthstone (wich is awesome IMO) and Heroes of the Storm (wich is nice too)

      The main competition of sub based games is other sub based games.

      • That is only true if you don’t work. Then *time* becomes the most relevant factor (frankly, if you can afford 15€ monthly, you can afford 30€. If you can’t afford even the first 15, that’s another matter entirely), and in that case Sub games do compete with F2P games, and are on the losing side of the battle cause one can always jump in an f2p game, even playing one day per month. If you do play only one day per month, however, you will be less interested in paying the 15€ for a sub game, EVEN if you could technically afford them.

      • Only if you’re not working or not in school. In a world of limited disposable income, a F2P game can’t survive off just players who’re playing a sub game like WoW and a F2P game like WoT. Nope. Not with server maintenance and developer costs leaning over them. You need a dedicated player base that’ll subsidize it.

    • I dunno, I’m playing GW2 too and I’d rather have to pay a subscription to Blizz for actual good and thought of content+customer support than not pay for anything(except the game) and wait one week for those assholes at arenanet to notice a support ticket and remove a “feature” from my account(namely the email authentication thingy that never worked as I’ve never received the emails and got locked out of the account).

      Subscription games are kinda here to stay as they do provide better services for the money spent(they kinda have to lol)

  3. Diffrent payment models are good for diffrent kinds of games.
    Subscription wont work on WoT, and F2P wont work on World of Warcraft.

    Each game must have a payment model that is specifically tailored to it.

    Take for example SWTOR, it was supposed to be Sub based MMO, but it failed hard, because trying to fight WoW is suicide. It turned F2P, and at the start that was a disaster, because it was not made to be a F2P game.

    Specifically I am fond of models that let you start for free and pay for diffrent features if you want them, like DDO.

      • Even if now im a student and can play a hr a day? Why should I pay to drive my good old hard earned tenks? F2P FTW

        • Even If you are a student and can play a 1hr a day you can still play for free and buy a piece of content once you need it.

          • and the diffrence between this and F2P is that you dont need to grind like a moron like you do in F2P titles, wich are made to make you grind.

            • And you say subscription-based mmo’s, especially the mmorpg’es, aren’t implying the “hard-grind” gameplay to finish them/reaching the end-game content?

              And since when F2P games forced “hard-grind” methods in order to be played?

              It’s more the other way around.
              On F2p games you can stop that “hard-grind” and take a break.On Sub. based games you risk losing some money in an useless manner if you take that break.

              As several guys stated above, maybe X person is an hard working employee which can’t afford to play a game on a regular basis, he won’t be able to play a Sub. based game without making holes in his wallet.
              But he’ll have no problem playing a F2P.

              • Maybe that hard working employee wont care about 15 bucks a month providing hard working employee works hard and earns money.

                • When that 15 bucks per month could be going to something else, he would put it towards something else. Not saying he would be poor, but if he decides the subscription game is not worth his money anymore, he cancels the subscription. However much money he poured into the game prior to that is lost, be it just one month or 2 years of payments.

                  If he decides to quit an F2P game, perhaps because it got a heavier P2W bent to it, the only cost lost into it is however much he decided to put into it, which is frequently just time.

    • Where’s the subscription option for WoT to get rid of all casuals? I’d pay anytime for WoT without the large red horde… there’d be less of them…

      But it still won’t get rid of the problem WG is giving WoT. … Powercreeping, long balance times, almost non-existant player hearing in serious matters. You have to deal with the junk among the pearls, but you have to be able to deal with it, it is your goddamn duty as game maker to be ready to take actions if there is problem in your game by its terms.

  4. F2P games are the way to go, but only those with WG’s concept of Free to Win or those on the pay for cosmetics line like DotA2 or LoL.

    Always hated F2P games that are on P2W, Dragon Nest is a good example of some shit ass game where skill-less wallet warriors have the edge just cause they have nearly inexhaustible supply of $$ or cause they have no life to spend those $.

      • Heroes used to be fun, actually. Back during Closed and Open Beta, up until December of ’09 it was the shit.

        I occassionally boot up my 5-year-old account from back in the Beta Test to see how far it’s fallen. On the plus side – we finally got our world conquest mode we were promised back in ’08!

  5. Well when it comes to subscriptions, I have actually a good example. Guild wars 1- you had to buy the game physicaly, and there were no subscriptions necessary for it. The game had a huge playerbase, and it was nice to play. For one thing, the graphics seemed(to me) a whole lot better made and more detailes than WoW. The playerbase was extremely good and the story is just epic. WoW can be a bit hard for really casual players, like me for instance, who simply cannot afford to monthly pay for a game if he will just go online for an hour a month. So F2P is a good think for players like me. Ye, it attracts horrible players too, but from a player/s view point, it is good. For a company, they need to make it appealing enough to attract alot of costumers. The Old Republic, honestly saying here, had a huge problem. People thought that it will be as good as Galaxies. I was rly interested for it, and when I heard it will have a monthly sub. fee, i said fuck it. And look what happened? The game HAD to go F2P otherwise it would lose players fast. And when it becamse F2P, i tried it, and to be honest? I would never pay 15€a month for that product… as much as it looks good, the graphics are nowhere near fantastic for a “new” game, the combat system seems clumsy at times….. I think that games who CHOOSE to START as F2P need to take a huge risk, since they don’t know how many players they will get from the start. The best idea is actually not F2P OR monthly fees, but the same as Guild Wars: you buy the game one time and basically everything is free for you to do in the game. (At least that is how Guild Wars 1 started, they later added some additions which aren’t a big deal actually)

    • However a subscription ensures good customer support. GW is sadly extremely lacking on that end.

      As for the shiny graphix…I said the same thing regarding GW2 vs WoW. Now looking back, WoW was better off not using those shiny new grapix zomg.

      I ask you: how many times did you have to kill a random Champion in GW2 with the local zerg when the target area becomes saturated with sparkly effects and all kinds of crap flying and blowing up allover the place and you becoming unable to 1) see your character and 2) to see the target character.
      In my case? Every damn time! What’s worse, say I’m a class that can’t take a hit or two and needs to know the orientation of the target(and say I’d like to know if he’s using an ability so I don’t get horribly murdered). In this case, all the shiny graphix works against the game and the player. Yeah the computer can take it no problem, however I’m usually trying to sift through to find those 3 pixels belonging to my character not covered by explosions and hope I won’t get killed till my dodge bar replenishes.

  6. I remember a F2P gone horribly wrong: Planetside 2. I was in the closed beta and it was insane fun, the game released and it was insanely fun, but I stopped playing for a while. When I came backm everything went to shit. First, the ammount of resources you got was cut in half. The cost of weapons and vehicles went up by 100%. And gues what? If you payed just *insert ammount in €* per month, everything went back to normal. Also, they had “station cash” (equivalent of wot gold) – needless to say stuff available for station cash eas cheaper.
    I stopped playing because of a flood of instakill weapon spamming level 9000 rich fucks. Fuck Sony Online Entertainment and it’s shit. They ruined an amazing game.

    • I’m a casual PS2 player, and I’m able to get 50 certs per hour when I play with a good squad, which is a decent amount. And apart from few shotguns and SMGs that are OP, the guns are well balanced, and generally I don’t think that the game is pay to win. It’s very similar to WoT in that aspect: you can get boosters (premium account) for real money or you can spend more time on standard account for the same results. Majority of the guns are available for both certs and real money.

      But PS2 is not a solo shooter game, like Battlefield or CoD or WoT, where you can just drop on server and expect to get great score. Just like the platoons in WoT, it’s much easier to win if you have more people working towards the same goal in an organized maner.

      • Depends on when you started playing it. I was a casual, a play-in-the-weekend casual. It took me a day to progress somewhere, and I was slowly upgrading my sniper and all that, but it was okay, as everyone else progressed slowly too. And you were able to spam the vehicles, especially flash. But one day I log in, and something isn’t right. It now costs twice as much resources and takes twice as long to respawn! Okay, whatever, I deploy to a base, only to be oneshotted with a shotgun costing like 1000 certs. Nevermind one such guy, bot EVERYONE had high level weaponry and camos and all that shit, I quit immediately knowing I didn’t atand a chance against the “premium” players. At least in WoT premium and non-premium users are evenly matched.

    • You are wrong about Planetside. The majority of weapons in the game are balanced and in many cases, starter weapons reign supreme over upgrades (see Orion LMG for example). Furthermore, the things that really have an impact on the battlefield, class upgrades (NW, Flak etc) can only be purchased with certs.

      All in all I’d say PS2 (that I’ve been playing a lot again recently), together with WoT, are among the most balanced F2P games.

    • I have played PlanetSide 2, but not as early as you did.

      I stopped playing for some time because of all the imbalance issues – MANY stuff that can be purchased with SC (which almost always also cost loads of Certs), especially the latest ones, tend to be the most OP weapons.

      don’t get me wrong, the game “model” (or whatever term fits best) is great, however the balancing was terrible.

      I came back after a few months to see how the implementation of the stuff in the Roadmap go, and I was surprised to see how much better the game become.
      not long after, I was no longer able to play PlanetSide 2 again (our bandwidth can’t keep up with the updates that accumulated in time) so I read about the patch notes and was glad to see that most of the issues has been given a “work-around”.

      I am definitely looking forward to playing PlanetSide 2 again.

  7. Well defining WoT etc as an MMO is incorrect. It’s a MOG, see the Guiness Book of Records award to WG.

    Comparing a MOG to an MMO is like chalk and cheese. WoT isn’t an MMO because its biggest battles have only 30 players, if we used WGs standard then BF (any version) is more than twice as big because they are 64 player. WoT is a MOG because of 30 player battles with a pretty chat room called Garage.

    WWIIOnline or Battlefield Europe is an MMOFPS because everyone on the server is playing and chatting from the same UI in battle.

    Just to be absolutely clear WOT is NOT an MMO.

  8. Having played lots of MMOs, both F2P and SUB, and MMOs that went from one model to the other, I can honestly say that it’s *not* the model that makes the game, but the developers.

    Example, Planetside 2: without going straight for arena type games ( a la DOTA, LoL, etc), this is the closest you get to a “drop in and play” MMO. It’s Free to play, with subscription just giving you bonus “gold” currency and xp bonuses.
    While it may not be for everybody’s taste, the game is great, continuosly added on, polished and developed. The “skilless” masses in the game are no different than what you would find in a similar FPS (even those you have to pay for, at least for the initial purchase), while there being also the space for the “elite” to shine.

    SWTOR went through a terrible phase, however the F2P certainly revived it. Even though it was a hard transition, the game ultimately benefitted from it and the flaws I find now are more due to the shortcomings of the development team rather than the model.

    LOTRO is another game that went from SUB to F2P, however it’s often cited as *THE* way to do F2P right. It’s a difficult game so the playerbase is not large, however it’s STILL going on strong (and infact just released another expansion) years after launch as a F2P. You don’t find “skilless masses” nor pay2win.

    In the end the choice of the model is more something for the publishers than anything else, however I think most new games developed nowadays have a plan for the switch ready (if nothing else, SWTOR should have taught them something).

    All said, there is one thing F2P is VERY useful for MMO developers: incredibly lowers the reentry barrier for people who leave the game. Players CONSUME content way faster than developers can make it. F2P allows players to check the content, play a bit, maybe do a purchase or two, and leave next month, without any pressure on the developers while still allowing players to enjoy the new stuff, without feeling entitled to it.

  9. Well another problem with f2p is by design high tier grind “need” to be too long/frustrating to incentivise people to pay for premium accounts/ credit printers . There can be no linear progression.

    • Frustratingly long high tier grinds are a staple of every game based on progression of any kind, f2p or not. I’ve yet to find one where the progression is linear instead of exponential.

      • It’s hardly limited to PC games. An obscure little game called Naval Ops: Warship Gunner 2 was VERY grindy and had increadibly exponential growth for the research costs on top of “Beat Mission EUR-02-99″ or some shit like that. 10cm to 12cm guns (and new ammo types, caliber lengths and 2/3/4 barrels) starts cheap enough, but when you get to 50.8cm guns THEN you have to commit to new craft.

        Oh, and Warship Gunner 2 didn’t even have a multiplayer component. Not even twin controllers.

  10. F2P will win. Not because of players, but developers. Making a game is an investment which should generate a lot of money to developers. In F2P model players pays more than in sub so income for developers is bigger. So its easy choice. As samone above has written, even Blizzard is switching to f2p becouse it’s generates more money.
    SS, you written, that hordes of noobs are main weakpoints of f2p. Yes, it is. But it is also main strong point. becouse there are hordes of them. Sub model games were dying becouse to small player base. Just in few years after WoW appreared alot of MMOs. Playerbase was not expandanig fast enogug, so must be shared. And then, when you must wit hours to complete group, after few months you cancel your subscription and move to another game. In f2p you always has “hordes” of players, so it’s always something to do.
    In few weeks servers of Warhammer Online will be switched off. When they statrted, it was best rated MMO, and real WoW counterpart. Even f2p nod saved them. RIP

    PS. As 40 year old man with tiring job, I’m deeply offended by your sugestion ;) I,ve read penetrations tables. And most of “veterans” like me read them, as anything we read that is connected to games that we play at the moment. But I must admit that our kids in most cases don’t read them – becouse it’s boring. In most cases it ens like” Dad! How to kill KV-5?”

  11. I very well know what it means to progress in an MMORPG… I played Lineage 2 for good 5 years before WoT and anyone that is complaing in WoT grinding produces a facepalm on my face…

    It took me about TWO years of insane grinding to achieve something in L2. Killing thousands of same monsters on one spawn spot taking a month, yes a whole MONTH to gain ONE level. In one month a decent player can get a T10 tank from T1 with reasonable activity of 3-4 hours a day. I achieved “END GAME” where I had a competitive PVP gear in two years of grinding, spending thousands of hours, sleepless nights camping raid boss spawns and killing them, hundreds hours of trading and diplomacy and staying on top in the clan lists simply needed good players. Teamplay over everything.

    I remember one memorable day when my clan together with other 4 clans took down the strongest raid boss in the game to that date for the first time in the server history. We had to defend the spawn (it had a 6 to 8 hour random spawn that had to be defended… Yes… it took up to 8 hours in a spawn window till it spawned and you could enter the instance, which closed after 15 minutes the first player entered). So after hours of constant pvp and the need to be ready with no afking and the fact when even one healer wasnt ready by the time the pvp started it could screw up not only the pvp groupd of 9 ppl, but also endanger the whole alliance of more then 400ppl participating in the raid boss pvp… ONE person that could screw up everything for other 400ppls 6 hours of time…

    The funny part and also the insanity in all that was that the raid boss event was on the 23th of december. We started around 8PM on the 22th and ended on the 23th decemeber around 5 AM and I had to go to work at 6 AM… It took us another 6 hours to take down the raid boss… Yes thats how you grinded back in the days kids.

      • Nope, its just Lineage 2.

        I used to play l2 but on few private (nice smooth word for illegal, pirate) servers and as much as retail players can laugh about my x3-7 xp/cash etc rates, this game was epic in its scale.

        I remember fights between two alliances in front of Antharas Lair (the only high level grinding spot back in the day). Both groups of 100 or more people just standing in front of each other doing some harrasment for an hour to gain small advantage just because then and there the ones to just frontally attack were the ones to lose – and when you lost such a fight, you might aswell log off for the day because AL would be swarmed with enemies, and it really was the only place to grind end game. Back then having a two-sided war declared between two clans was a couragious act, stronger clan was growing even stronger, weaker was often collapsing. Good times.

        • Good times yeah. I still remember those Antharas/Valakas fights like they were yesterday. Also how my clan always managed a full 30 clan warlist :)

          • I started playing late prelude/c1 (which was actualy prolly like c2 or even c3 on retail), but dont remember much from that time. In c3/early c4 I rarely had alot of two-sided wars because of the consequences I mentioned, but it was my favourite >fun< time – much fun, dedicated people but still alot of randomness.
            From c5/interlude was my most pr0/dedication time propably, pvp was awesome and game was still pretty straightforward, not so much farming except the levels. I remember I was one of the top pvpers for some time with my 76/77 lvl gladiator sub, fighting even fights with people stacked with epic jews etc.; I slowly stopped playing.
            I came back for Gracia Final with new berserker, but it was a shit game in comparison, all the attributes, augments and skill enchants made such a huge gap between players that there was no skill involved at all. I was in the "high end" group because I knew my clan leader for like 5 years at this point and he, as a CL of prolly top clan on the server, gave me so much stuff I became one of the top zerkers in a matter of a month or two lol. But it was shit anyway, there was no point in fighting since it all came down to gear.
            Both competetive sides (because lack of gear excluded like 70% of people out of mass pvp) were like "WE ARE THE BEST", and not to be proven otherwise – they avoided any fighting at all.

   heres a video I made back than in interlude (I think) ^^ ph34r fo life!

            Reminiscing of those events is always strangely pleasurable.

      • It screams dedication to a game. Might call it “no-life”, but in L2 it was normal. Thus anyone that did play WoW, L2 or similar grinding MMORPGS can only laugh at anyone that calls someone a no-lifer in WoT bcoz of his 20k+ games :)

    • I honestly think this is the best universal way for everyone. If somebody likes it, he buys the game, and he has it all :) If devs who do that wish to get more money than just the game, they can still make expansions or ingame extra visual content, just like Guild Wars did. :) Thats why GW is still my fav MMORPG :)

      • How do I know if I like it without playing it? Sure, there are ~14 day trials and such, but on a MMO the end content is what really matters. Imo, B2P is an inferior model for MMOs.

    • Yes indeed I think that model works relatively good. Buy the game for 40 Euro and dont pay anything extra except some decorative items perhaps.

      • It isn’t entirely proven to be sustainable yet, but the Diablo-clone Path of Exile uses F2P with no P2W. All payments are cosmetic, AFAIK. PoE isn’t a huge game either in terms of popularity, in fact it is somewhat hardcore focused.

        • Eternal Crusade has floated that idea as the model it will use. But I to am curious to see if it sustainable.

  12. The difference between subscription &free2play?

    subscription : steady quality and support
    free 2 play: the developers dont care about quality, they just want your money.. nothing else.

    i havent seen many free2play games which were not free 2 pay or pay2win.

    Two of fair free 2 play games: forsaken world, dota 2

  13. ‘- a “horde of noobs” playerbase’

    This ‘flaw’ can be compensated with skill MM (playerbase stratification) and related techniques, although it is more difficult in an open ‘single world’ scenario where everyone plays together.

    • Or PvE with small or no party requirements.

      Obviously you mightn’t get enough players for a match in WoT specifically if the MM is too strict, but it could improve games, especially in the busy hours.

  14. There needs to be a careful balance between $ and time. For example i can buy tens of thousands of gold everyday if it allowed me to be uber imba as i have to work and dont have time to grind for hours on end. Sorry if i can work 1 day and pay for 1 month worth of grind … why not do it. Why waste my little time? But f2p can be good as long as it is not pay to win. Even sub games as WOW must allow players like me to advance for $, as we just dont have the time to compete with the rest that invest all the damn time in the world!

  15. Also SilentS. you should check out Star Citizen. Iam sure You heard about it. It looks very promising imo.

    • Right now the business model for sc is shut up and take my money. They are raking in about 2million a week without even having a product out. Let the release before we comment on its “economy”

    • As far as i know Star Citizen is not yet released. You have to pay for access. But maybe i am wrong. Tell me if i can try it for free!

      • No its only in an early development phase and the king of all kickstarter projects (project entirely funded by the ppl without any corporations behind them). Alpha phase will start somewhere in late 2014 and game release in 2015.

        Atm you can just “throw” money at them without getting anything. But even now you can download a hangar module with the ships you pre-purchased. All the ships can be entered and have interior. It looks awesome imho. Check it out on youtube.

  16. ‘- a “horde of noobs” playerbase’

    only depends on the goals of the company that is making the game, like wargaming, that only interest is to farm money. there are no missions or goals in side a mission that will make you play better, if you lose, you dont care, because you will get a part of team damage, so you can behave like a bot for all you care.

    but from the other side you have companies like gaijin (of cores they farm money to, but ) where if you do nothing, you get nothing. you have mission in side a mission that makes you think, you dont think you stay on the same level as you started the battle.

    difference between world of tanks community and war thunder is HUGE.
    this is not by a strike of luck, but a direct influence of goals of those two company. and there goals different a lot.

    how is war thunder p2w if you can get everything in side a game just by playing the game. what exactly can be bought in the game that will get me advantage in battle that I as not paying player will not be able to get simple by playing the game?

    • You can buy “second copy” of a certain plane. Thus allowing you to play a battle with more vehicles.
      This is not available for credits or lions or whatever they call it.

  17. Atm i don’t like WoT anymore that i just quit, which more people should do atm because far from everyone is enjoying the game to the fullest, yet they play it. Then WG wouldn’t be so dam arrogant saying F2P is the future and the only one solution (sounds like a dicator to me), which is clearly been proven NOT so, in so many games already.

    That its F2P is one big reason that i quit:
    Issues like powercreep and pay2win, are marketing ‘tricks’ that are only good for WG wallet but bad for the gameplay.

    Besides F2P: 15-2 or 2-15 games over and over again means its boring! The massive amount of donkeyteams with bad teamplay and the huge RNG factor makes it boring.

    It counts for every tier but where you spend the most time to get tanks for, for example: T10, that is one massive camp-powercreep/unbalanced-RNG-noob fest.

    Goodday everyone :)

  18. “Yes, sure, we know it’s available for credits now too, but let’s face it: paying for premium account and running gold ammo for converted gold will allow you to shoot gold ammo indefinitely and everywhere, while a non-paying player doesn’t have that chance. There is no way around it. Gold ammo is pay to win, however you look at it, because with enough money, you can buy a significant advantage, especially on mid-to-high tiers.”

    Yea, I can’t possibly agree with this one, that’s what just bad players say. I basicly play most of my games shiting with gold amo and premium consumables mounted on and I’ve never spent a penny on any of the Wargaming’s products. And that’s something you have to do, due to horrible game balance (Teams most of the time are somehow balanced, but there is no 1v1 balance at all, and don’t fool yourself WoT is not a team game, it’s 1 vs 29). Why would I let some tomato rape me only cuz he was lucky to be a top tier in battle and I have no way of penetrating him with regular amo? You don’t need premium account or premium tank for that, all you need to do is play good and make every shoot count. Not to mention the amount of discounts for amo/consumables and infinite ways of winning massive amounts of free gold.

    • Pay2win is having an advantage in pvp gameplay by paying money. Many meanings exist but lets say it means this for my argument.
      So if you want to never shoot a normal round you just need money and even with a prem account its hard to keep up shooting only gold shells on all tanks at all tiers. If you EVER fire a normal round its an opportunity missed to have a better alternative. Same goes for premium consumables and cammopaint, ever use the normal alternatives is a missed opportunity.
      Technically its possible to not ever use a stock tank without money. But if you EVER use a (semi-)stock tank its a missed opportunity, just calculate the time you need to farm free xp for all your tanks not being (semi-)stock. Could take years and years playing 10 hours a week depending on how many tanks you want to play.
      Is it bad that this game is p2w? Imo a little but not so much. But it gets in the way of peoples judgement, things i hear like its pay2progress, normal ammo is just as good (its not) etc. So they say its not pay2win while it technically is because its impossible to NEVER fire a normal round and keep it going on a free account al the way up to tier 10.
      But the pay2win part is no that big of an issue because the game can be fun with normal ammo as a decent alternative with weakspots and flanking, and to fire an occasional prem shell is very doable. But it still is technically pay to win.
      A good players WN7/8 or other stats between: –If always shooting gold ammo using full prem consumables and cammopaint never using (semi-)stock tanks– vs –not using it or ocassionally using them and occasionally use stock tanks–
      would be very notable because if your any good you fully exploit your equipment.

      • I must confess, I never bought that long 90mm on ARL, I simply got trough by having the second 90mm with 170pen AP and just carried around 20APCR, which allowed me to shoot APCR all the time in battle if necessary and the same goes for AMX M4. I am still at M4 and similar way I play Mle. 1946. This is new concept for me, but I grinded so, so many tanks that I am tired of playing them stock for so long and I am not willing to pay € for converting XP. Those premium ammo is bought with credits. But on the other side, using APCR in them does not give me too much of an advantage since APCR lose pen on distance, so in the end, I got more expensive (maintenance-wise) long 90mm. On the other hand, I always preferred mediums so I never really relied on armor. I play Leo PTA and I enjoy it, it does not bother me if my opponent has 150pen or 450pen. But I also got E100 and in it, when I meet T10 with gold, it is almost always rendered obsolete. But E100 is too specific to put into equation with other tanks. And funny thing, E100 is still one of the most enjoyable tanks I have ever played and I played a lot of them. One day I will go for Maus too, despite what other people say about it vs gold or high tier guns, I am just not feeling like playing another german heavy branch right now.

  19. subscription games still can be played with noobs who have money. and suppose your computer is broken today, but the repair costs so much you cant get it fixed in a month. when you finally get it back, the subscription game needs to be paid, whether you played or not.

    i had 3 weeks of free premium time in september (missions), and whenever i was not playing, i felt like im wasting time that i could use to grind money and xp – especially at x2, x3…
    now as having no premium, it feels better… i dont play wot for a day? big problem, i didnt miss anything.
    so in f2p i can choose when i want to invest money, unlike btp or stp.
    ive already played wot for 10 months, but if i had a bank account, i would have already bought gold after 3-4 weeks.

    i never paid fot most of the games, cause when i bought any it sucked hard cocks, so i felt like i just lost my bucks for b.s.
    but in f2p, you get the chance to try it out before paying, i think its completely correct attitude.

  20. My opinion:
    -F2P gives access to those who CAN’T pay to play.
    -F2P seems to work best for shooters (WoT, WoWp, TF2) and RPG (RO2)
    -F2P makes a less hardcore community. Not so good for WoT, good for TF2′s wacky environment.
    -F2P’s P2W model gives incentive for ppl who can pay to PAY for more stuff (guilty)
    -All in all the pros and cons weight out even against each other. It’s a keeper I say

  21. I think there’s a place for all these types of systems depending on the particularities of the games. As some games could never exist as MMOs or be a very good online game and would excel in single player, so some games would be better suited for F2P, subscription or other methods.
    There is no perfect system that works for all MMOs. I wouldn’t subscribe to any games as i feel I would waste money when I couldn’t play it and some other reasons, but I do give my money to games I enjoy and feel passionate about. So if WOT for example was subscriber only, I would have never played it, I wouldn’t have paid for anything in the game and I wouldn’t have promoted it. If many people are like me, then such a system would make WOT a failure, as fewer players would be in the games for the matches increasing waiting times and the subscription would probably feel too expensive
    I’m curious to see how the Star Citizen model will work out with a Pay once to play model + in game purchase elements as F2P. I think that would alleviate some of the concerns about your right as a consumer, you paid for it.

  22. Most of F2p is flawed because the objective seems to be to make a customer ultimately pay up to 1000% , yes that much more than for AAA title + subscription by locking every bit of content away or making the game unplayable without purchases. Like in WoT you have poor gameplay before tank is elited but you can pay to make the game easier by shortcuts via buying trained crews or transferring/ converting Xp.
    I hate f2p 15£ a month is nothing for someone with a job and in return you at least get some entitlement from the developers . Ultimately f2p will remain a con and bad value for money till the devs stop trying to bleed customers dry for absurd amounts of money f2p ATM costs way more than just paying subs or buying the game and that’s wrong or you get an incomplete experience / play at a disadvantage. The only things that spould only be in the cash shop are cosmetic items and maybe cash Xp boosts and that’s it.

    • I’ve been playing this game for almost 3 years and haven’t spent a cent on converting free xp. It baffles me when people say WG forces them to convert free xp. Your life doesn’t depend on having the new tier 10 tank on day 2 of release. Luxury costs.

  23. Excellent post as always, SilentStalker.
    I’d like to bring to your attention the F2P model that Valve is using on it’s most famous MMO game: Team Fortress 2. That game is actually a pure F2P: everything related to the gameplay is obtainable by random drops or by trading (which doesn’t involve money

    • -damned touchscreen-
      [...]) the only income that game generate is from cosmetic gear: hats. Virtual hats. The trading market move thousands of dollars every day, but all this doesn’t affect the gameplay.

      This in my opinion is the best economic model for F2P games, because it generates a fuckton of earnings and cannot be accused of being a P2W system.

      On the other hand you have to deal with an amount of bad players even worse of the one you find in WoT, but you can actually decide what server to join, so if you’re in a clan that owns a server this problem is somewhat reduced.

      • But with TF2 they don’t have the cost of running the servers, just designing ever more stupid weapons and hats, and distributing the software.

  24. Most of the arguments you make are derived from the fact you compare PvP with PvE gameplay which is like comparing games to movies. But you have a point: subscription based games will filter some of the garbage level players, because once someone payed for playing a game, it’s more likely they will try to be good at it.

    But do we really want the WoT players to be more involved? In a game where the fun is derived from overcoming your enemies, raising their skill level can only make you win less, do less damage, less frags, etc. Overall less fun.

  25. matching the right business model to the right game model is an arty form.

    remember, All these noob are what makes you “spacial”.

  26. You say it brings hordes of noobs like that is a bad thing.

    Some of us like noobs.

    IMO WG have got the F2P just right, you don’t have to pay but there is just enough encouragement to make you want to. And come on, big advantage from Gold ammo? A bit of an exaggeration. OK, on the rare occasions you need to use it yes, but most of the time a regular shell and not being trolled by RNG will get you through anyway.

  27. The only thing I gave to any F2P games was this “_)_”, the middle finger. You don’t kiss my money!

  28. Even in subscription based WoW 90% of playerbase never entred an HC raid. And you can level to top level without ever set a foot into a dungeon. You have lot of noobs in WoW and its not possible to raid HC without a guild. Blizzard added lot of easy content since vanilla in order to keep casuals in game. So no, you don’t have more noobs in WoT than in WoW.
    F2P in WoT has some more important element. You have enough players to play on lower tiers. This is a problem in WoW style games. When you enter the server on low level you are alone. The starting zones are almost empty because everybody is playing on top level. And why should you pay a subscription when you can play the same in single player game for free. Classical MMORPGs did not solve this yet.
    I think the current discussion is influenced by the epic fail of several games which stated they will be as succesfull as WoW – AoC, Warhammer, Aion, STWOR – and because of these failes everybody now says the subscription is bad model. Nobody knows why WoW got so popular. And nobody actually analyzed why the other clones failed.

    • Hi, this is Activision and this disc contains Call of Duty Ghosts “Special Soldier” DLC, now give me the 50$…

  29. great article, helps me to understand some more :)
    EA is a great example for p2w. look at nfs world or battlefield “play4free”, it’s just s***

  30. One reason I quit playing WoW – too much time consuming to feel rewarding.
    And LoL? Rarely but battles last 20min to 1 hour.

    WoT? 7 mins on avg – suits me perfectly.

  31. WG can always make things worse for noobs in high tiers, for example removing the “fixed income” for joining a battle (and the exp too). And changing the profitability of tanks, for example, if you do your tank’s HP in damage, you get more or less the same credits as you get now, if you do 0 dmg, then you get nothing.
    Using this from tier 7 to 10, (getting worse the higher you go).

    With this we could still have hordes of noobs in low to mid tiers but a least the high tiers would be cleaner.

  32. ” but let’s face it: paying for premium account and running gold ammo for converted gold will allow you to shoot gold ammo indefinitely and everywhere, while a non-paying player doesn’t have that chance. There is no way around it. Gold ammo is pay to win, however you look at it,”

    I absolutely disagree with this.
    I buy gold some times. But I’ve never spent a single coin on gold ammo. Usually I buy camo, scription or whatever, sometimes prem.account.

    And I am using gold ammo sometimes – I always buy it for credits.
    If you are lazy to play 3-4 battles on tier 5 to afford one “gold” battle on tier10 its your fault. Yu are lazy its not pay to win.

    You dont have to use gold ammo. Every tank can be destroyed using normal ammo. Sure its more fun with gold, but at the cost of non-profit. Its a game.

    The fact that I spent rel money doesnt mean I dont value the money. By buying gold ammo its wasting forever. If I buy camo, I can have it forever. And I would be furious to miss if I paid real money for a shot.

    As I said, If Im in a good mood, I usually play 3-4 low tier games to earn some credits, buy gold ammo for those credits and then I will have fun in one game using gold. If Im not in a mood to waste 40minutes on low tier to play one gold game, Im using standard ammo.

    • Premium gives you 50% more ingame currency. Which means in comparison you get more than 50% more credits because you don’t pay extra for repairs or ammo just get extra.

      No need to play lower tiers… or you can play and still shoot extra gold in each and everymatch from T1 to T10. This is pay to win. It is not purely pay to win, but it is. Locking the amount of gold ammo would get rid of the full gold users.

      You can’t win an argument where you simply deny your own picture of the situation. With premium you get ALL THE TIME MORE credits which can either… make you buy bigger tanks faster OR give you more exp and wins due to more penetrations and damage… There are some who get meagre penetrations buffs from silver ammo, but there are some getting outrageous amounts ( 2xPershing come to my mind… we just spammed gold while being the last tanks alive not caring to hit the weakspots… we just penned the enemy almost regardless where we hit them, difference was 180 – 268…. go figure how it affects the game balance when we had roughly 66-33 ammo loadout… and credits to spam them freely due to long time premium.

  33. -”horde of noobs playerbase”

    I reallly dont care about this, yes sometimes its frustrating to have 10 idiots in team. But in general, it makes 15 people in opposite team quite happy.

    Im glad “noobs” can play. Its a videogame. The fact that they are not so skilled doesnt mean thy dont have right to have some fun.

    Every one of us was a noob once. Even you.

    And if this game was subscription based – I would never even try it. Ive tried, I was horrible, but I was having fun.. in some time I got better, and so on. Then I spent some money to support devs. and thats it.
    Subscription based is kinda frustrating for some people. Why should I pay for 1 month of playtime? What if I pay for it and then I wont have enough time to play. This way I can play whenever I want how much I want. And if I take a few days off work, then yes, I can pay for 3 days of premium. But I dont have to worry what if something happend and I wont be able to play whole month I paid for.

  34. Could the instances be compared to something like cw or a tourney? You get to pick who is in your battles so you don’t have to worry about having a scout not knowing what to do. Also, because of the limited nature of the clan wars map, only the good clans will be able to stay on the map. These cw matches are usually with tier10s, except when the campaign is going on, so there is a a need to reach level 60/70 kinda like wow.

    so cw allows you to
    -pick your team and kick those that don’t do their role, or do it poorly
    -filled with pro players by having limited land
    -uses high tier tanks like levels in wow

    • In WoW instances are PVE. Actually WoW has PvP battlegrounds and arenas. Battlegrounds are like battles in WoT. You can enter them via queue alone and you will be thrown into “Random battleground” like random battle in WoT. Or you can register a team and enter “Rated battlegrounds” where you are matched against other team according to your rating. But even PVE 5man instances can be entered via queue and you will be matched with random people or you can form a group and enter the dungeon with them.
      The word “instance” is used because thats what they actually are in programmers language. If you enter a dungeon and server creates an “instance” just for you with a fresh boss. If another group enters the same dungeon the server creates a new instance for this group so they have the same boss just for themselves and they can’t see you or other players in the same dungeon.

  35. I hate how they still use the term “microtransactions”

    There is fuck all micro about buying a Tier 8 premium in WoT for €40.