Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

24 March, 2011

A tale of two free to play games
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 2:00 PM

I’m an MMO developer, but I’m also an enthusiastic player. Not every MMO designer has the luxury of spending a lot of time in games, but I think it’s important to stay current with games given that I’ve spent a lot of my time running a rather “retro” game.

So, I like to think that I have a bit of insight on how the player side of things work as well as the designer. So, while I’m a big fan of microtransaction (or “free to play”) business models, I certainly do understand how players can be wary, even frightened by this type of system. So, let’s look at two games from the same company and see how they handle microtransactions.


My current MMO poison of choice is Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO). I’m playing with my better half and good friend, along with some people who read and work at Massively, so it’s a good way to spend time with friends. And, in the past, I played a lot of The Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO) with my better half. Both of these are games by Turbine, and both have gone “free to play”. (Or, others have put it, no cover charge.) Let’s take a look at how these two games have fared.

Dungeons & Dragons

DDO went free to play a little while before LotRO did, so let’s take a look at it first. I did start playing DDO later, and only after it had gone free-to-play. I have no context for what changed, so this likely colors my impressions.

I have to admit, originally I thought D&D was a terrible license for an MMO. I’m still not sure it’s really a great setting if you want more than a niche following, but the D&D geek in me enjoys it. (I met my better half playing 2nd edition AD&D at university, so it’s neat we’re playing again. My good friend who plays it was also in our university group.) But, let’s focus on the free to play aspects rather than digging into design (or artistic) issues this article.

In DDO, you pay for options. Character slots, races, quest packs, consumables, etc. You earn points either through buying them or by earning favor in the game, awarded per quest based on the highest difficulty you’ve run (meaning you can’t run the same quest again for more favor unless you do it on a higher difficulty). Some people will roll new characters just to earn the minimum amount of favor on a server to get a reward then roll the character again. (100 favor, quests on elite difficulty earn 9-15 favor each usually, the reward is 25 Turbine points, about 25-30 cents worth.)

DDO also allows you to subscribe. As a subscriber (or VIP in their terminology), you get access to almost all the content. You must still “earn” a few of the options (such as the Drow race or the ability to build characters with slightly more stat points) by earning enough favor gained from completing quests. But, for some of these options you should be ready to do a fair amount of grinding to unlock them on a per-server basis, whereas you can often buy an option and unlock it on every server. VIPs also get another important perk: the ability to open instances on any difficulty level, whereas the plebs need to defeat an quest on Normal to open Hard, and then Hard to open Elite. This is a big boon, as you can just run a quest once if for the maximum favor award, especially if you have an experienced and competent group. Finally, VIPs also get a small amount of points per month (500, roughly $5-$6 worth depending on how many you’d buy at once at normal prices).

I’m used to buying D&D stuff

Honestly, this business model makes a lot of sense to me as an old (A)D&D player; I have a bookshelf full of (A)D&D books from 1st through 4th edition. (I didn’t start buying the stuff in time to get the old colored D&D boxes. I do also have more shelves full of other RPG books; they’re a pain to move.) So, I’m used to having to throw down a bit of money to buy access to something I want, like a book of expanded class options, etc. Consumables is a bit more iffy, but they aren’t strictly necessary if you’re a decent player. But, I’m used to the idea that if I want that new module, I fork over a bit of cash.

Personally, I’ve put about $100 into the game. About as much as I would have paid by subscribing for as long as I’ve been playing. I’ve also gotten some free points through other ways, codes from conferences, etc. My better half and good friend both subscribe, though, so Turbine is making subscription money from them. Given the time value of money, Turbine has probably made more money from my purchases than if I had subscribed.

I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth. I tend to wait for sales before buying points or buying from the store. I avoid consumables and per-character items. I currently own all the adventure packs in the game and have all the account options I want. I’m sitting on a small amount of points for future releases (such as the anticipated Druid class and other packs.) It’s also nice since I don’t feel a pressing need to play as I don’t have have a subscription ticking away.

In all, I’m currently happy with the arrangement.

The Lord of the Rings

I started playing LotRO with the release of the “Mines of Moria” expansion; in other words, I bought the expansion and was paying a subscription long before LotRO went “free to play”. I noted in that article that the business model didn’t seem quite so generous in LotRO as in DDO.

Recently, LotRO released a massive update which Green Armadillo over at Player vs. Developer called F2P LOTRO Version 2. The patch revealed some pretty massive changes to some core mechanics of the game, particularly at the higher levels, with changes in now controversial mechanics like radiance (now removed from the game) and legendary items (significantly changed, similar to some proposed changes I posted a while ago.) They also revamped some of the UI elements, which is important and I’ll cover a bit later.

The business model works similar to DDO in that you can buy points or earn them. Earning points in LotRO is done by completing the numerous deeds in the game, although it doesn’t always feel so rewarding. Quests in an zone must be purchased, but you can wander around in a zone kill monsters for xp, etc. There are also consumables and character enhancements to purchase if you want. But, there’s a small snag with LotRO: the expansion sold in stores (plus the mini-expansion of Mirkwood) and lifetime subscribers. I think they dealt with these issues fairly (you keep access to that content even without a subscription, and lifetime subscribers get free VIP status), but it’s obvious that this meant some people could avoid paying more. So, it seems the “monetization” of LotRO has been more aggressive.

Cash shop aggro

So, I don’t think the business model transition has gone so well. I subscribed for just over 2 years, but I’ve dropped my subscription a few months ago. I hadn’t really logged on except to do a bit of crafting and to post some stuff up on the auction house. Part of the problem is that I played LotRO to be immersed in the world of Middle Earth, and the cash shop kept harming my suspension of disbelief, even as a VIP subscriber.

It also seemed that being a VIP wasn’t quite the “all access ticket” it’s reported to be. For example, I wanted to collect every recipe in the game on my tailor; tailors could make light and medium armor, often in Elven and Dwarven variations. Even ignoring the one-time use recipes, there were a lot out there. But, when I found out that there is a cosmetic recipe only available from the store, I think that really cemented my exasperation with the game. (Another source says you can get the recipe from a seasonal event, but I don’t remember seeing it.) In essence, even as a subscriber, I’d have to pay out cash to accomplish a goal I set for myself. (Ironically enough, the last patch also completed this task for me, as I didn’t need to actually acquire the last few in-game recipes I needed since they changed how tailor recipes work for output.)

I was also very disappointed when mounts suddenly go missing only to appear in the cash shop. Maybe you can chalk this up to the devs deciding that the mount should be phased out, but allowing for cash shop purchases for people who missed it the first time around. But, what’s the point of phasing out a cosmetic mount? To make the people who have it feel special, exclusive. But, if it’s just available in the cash shop then it feels less so. Without a valid design reason for this change, then we have to look at the business reasons.

Finally, the cash shop is absolutely obnoxious. With the latest update they changed a lot of the UI panels to be larger. While I’m not sure it’s better, exactly, there is an noticeable addition to the UI. See if you can notice it in this screenshot:

LotRO's charcter screen

Yeah, that “enhance character” button at the bottom right-hand corner takes up a noticeable chunk of space. click on it and it expands into a menu, larger than most other menus in the game. I think Turbine knows what they’re doing borders on obnoxious because they sent out some images with that button noticeably absent.

Sadly, this seems to be a trend for LotRO. Let’s compare the button that takes you to the store in both games:

DDO Store Icon LotRO Store Icon
The DDO Store button.
It fits in with the other buttons in the UI.
The LotRO Store button.
Notice the size and color saturation differences and how it “pops out” of the normal UI.

The problem is, as I said above, I have played LotRO for the immersion into Middle Earth. Those buttons don’t do it for me. Thus, I am no longer a subscriber.

Changing the terms of the agreement

The latest example of cognitive dissonance came in the most recent patch with the revamp of the legendary item system. Frankly, most of the changes are very welcome because it makes things less prone to randomness and gives the player more control, which is great! The fly in the ointment comes with the new policy on relics. Relics were items you put into a legendary item to get bonuses to stats. You could get the relics back every 10 item levels it earned, or if you deconstructed the item at max level.

But, they changed that. Let me quote the rationale from the developer diary I linked just above:

We’ve [...] removed the ability to remove relics safely from Legendary Items. We want relics to be things you gain and then spend (either by slotting or Refining), not things you keep around forever. However, the existence of the LOTRO store lets us offer Scrolls of Removal which will safely extract relics. We consider this to be a perfect kind of convenience for the store to sell; it is not required or needed for normal gameplay, but spending Turbine Points on it will give you a boost.

To me, that’s pretty much an admission that they’re intentionally taking something away from the players, particularly the VIP players, and adding it as a cash shop feature. Any justification about them “not [being] things you keep around forever” when you can pay to get around this restriction rings hollow. I’m reminded of the quote from the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales, “Don’t piss down my back and tell me it’s raining.”

Free to Play done right?

Let me introduce a third game to the discussion: Puzzle Pirates. I think Puzzle Pirates does the free to play model very well. There are three aspects that make it stand out:

1. You can do almost everything for free. The trick is, you can’t do them whenever you want. If you want to play a specific game in the bar, you have to wait for a specific day of the week to play it. The upside is that if you want to play against someone, you’re more likely to find an opponent on that day.

2. You pay for only what you want to do. Want unlimited access to the tavern games? You can buy a 30 day badge. Want to buy a much nicer weapon off the AH? Takes a few doubloons. Before you scream about them nickel and diming you to death…

3. A market for exchanging microcurrency and in-game currency. To me, this is the brilliant part. Love playing the game, but don’t have cash to fork out? You can go to the market and put an offer in to buy doubloons (the microcurrency) with your pieces o’ eight (Po8). Have some disposable income, but not a lot of time to go farm Po8? Go to the market and put in an offer to sell doubloons for a certain amount of Po8. The players set the market so this isn’t just about dumping currency into the game, and the doubloons still have to be bought from someone, so this is something more games should pick up on.

I fully intend to copy this model if I can in any game I help launch. Note that Puzzle Pirates implemented this model after already having been a subscription-based game. The free to play model was opened on new servers, separate from the existing subscription-based ones. So, the game was at the same disadvantage as DDO and LotRO were.

What have we learned?

Obviously, I’m a long time fan of the “free to play” business model. But, like any other aspect, it can be done well or done poorly. As I said in a comment to Green Armadillo’s post above, subscriptions aren’t inherently virtuous; witness many people’s disdain for their cell phone provider or the usage caps ISPs are trying to impose on their subscribers to get more money. So, it’s not the business model to blame here. I still think the “free to play” business model, when done properly as in the case of Puzzle Pirates, is the best for both developers and players. Players can choose how much to spend, and developers can see a direct connection between stuff they develop and items purchased by players.

I think the problems with LotRO are likely tied to the fact that it’s a licensed property. An IP holder wants to get paid for licensing their work to you, and expect you to do better than someone else who might have wanted a license. So, there’s an ever increasing pressure to provide better returns. Especially for a company that was recently acquired by a larger corporation, there’s going to be pressure to carry your weight. Squeezing LotRO, unfortunately, seems to be the way they accomplish this.

What do you think? Is the cash shop always bad? Does DDO do it better? Why do people ignore Puzzle Pirates? Or is this just the brave new future because many companies always seek to squeeze the maximum amount of money out of their customers?


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29 Comments »

  1. Kingdom of Loathing also allows trading of in-game currency (meat) for premium currency (Mr Accessories) (and, in fact, for almost anything which has been purchased with a Mr A previously). When I play Facebook games that don’t allow trading of premium for in-game currency I often wonder WHY they are limiting their income that way. In KoL and YPP, the people who have disposable income tend to buy not just for themselves, but buy more to sell. The people without disposable income aren’t buying either way. So from the Evil Suit perspective, this seems like a great way to squeeze more from the people who are squishy.

    On the other hand, most of said Facebook games give away free premium currency for things like leveling up – so they would have to stop doing that or else the market for premium currency would be flooded from alt accounts.

    Nevertheless, I think you have it backwards when you imply the DDOs and LotRs are squeezing harder than the KoLs and YPPs.

    Comment by silver — 28 March, 2011 @ 4:41 PM

  2. No, I need to revise.

    I think you’re right: DDO and LotR are trying to squeeze harder, they’re just “doin it rong”. They’re trying to squeeze everyone, rock and sponge alike. But the tighter they close their fist, the more systems slip through their fingers the more time they waste squeezing rocks and not squeezing sponges enough. KoL and YPP incentivize the the sponges to squeeze themselves harder by offering them the perk of being in-game-money rich, and keep the rocks around longer by letting them play with the toys (and, who knows? eventually they might become more squishy).

    The thing is, DDO and LotR are both examples of attempts to do AAA MMOs, so they’re only going to copy what other AAA MMOs are doing – you’re never going to convince them that KoL and YPP have a better business model because neither game is making near the kind of bucks DDO and LotR are. But that’s because the games are niche games appealing to small subsets of the population.

    Comment by silver — 28 March, 2011 @ 5:00 PM

  3. It sounds like us VIP’s weren’t spending enough money in the cash shop and they are trying to force us to use it. Maybe their thought process is that if we spend more points on items we will feel are necessary, we will have to buy more points. At that point my VIP status will cost more than the $10 it is now and the lower price was always part of the appeal to me. It felt like they weren’t just trying to get every penny out of me like I started to feel about WoW.

    Comment by Melissa — 28 March, 2011 @ 7:33 PM

  4. The dissonance you refer to re: lotro is something i believe would make it difficult for new players. My SO is a deep appreciator of the middle earth mythos, and I feel like a giant money button would make it even more difficult to start playing that particular game.

    I wonder if alienation is factored into The Squeeze strategy.

    (She really enjoys puzzle pirates though.)

    Comment by NordicNinja — 28 March, 2011 @ 8:00 PM

  5. silver wrote:
    They’re trying to squeeze everyone, rock and sponge alike.

    Interesting analogy. To be clear, though, I think DDO is applying the right amount of squeeze and LotRO is going overboard. As Melissa says above, it feels more like they want VIPs to fork over more money for points instead of VIP status being an alternative to buying everything with points. My GF and good friend both subscribe and while they’ve spent points on various things, they’re still playing most of the game for just the subscription. In LotRO, I felt like there was more to the core game than what my VIP status was allowing me. This latest patch reinforces that.

    NordicNinja wrote:
    The dissonance you refer to re: lotro is something i believe would make it difficult for new players.

    Exactly. I wonder if they saw growth taper off due to the business model transition, so now they’re just applying the squeeze and not caring about growing the userbase now. Seems like a terribly short-sighted strategy, particularly if it just ends up alienating existing subscribers like me.

    Comment by Psychochild — 28 March, 2011 @ 8:23 PM

  6. I used to play Lotro as a subscriber. My problem now with f2p is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand just what you should you pay $ for, and what you should try to accomplish in game. This includes cosmetics, deeds and the LI system which I never got to.

    As a consumer, when you are faced with that kind of confusion, you just shut down. No one wants to make a mistake with their $ or be taken advantage of. Part of the problem is the gaudy UI with the shining gongs everywhere. It’s like an annoying TV commercial. I’ve been shutting stuff like that out for years.

    Like you said too, I was playing Lotro for the immersion. I basically quit at the point when I realized how many deeds I would have to grind. Since I found the combat lacklustre, they seemed intolerable. I’ve since moved on to WoW for the first time, though this was largely for social reasons, and that will probably keep me there.

    Comment by Simon — 28 March, 2011 @ 9:41 PM

  7. @silver The KoL system also suits the cash-poor players .. they are often time-rich instead, and thus there arises a floating exchange of the two currencies. Habbo Hotel uses the same system, reportedly to good effect. Withe the rise of F2P I’m surprised more haven’t adopted a dual currency system.

    Comment by garumoo — 29 March, 2011 @ 12:17 AM

  8. I’ve played LoTr Beta but I found it boring , DDO never wants me to register (as I always get some cryptic registration error code – found posts complaining about this from 2009…) and I’ve heard of Puzzle Pirates, but I didn’t know they are ignored. In fact, I know they were doing really good so their F2P model is working. Probably they won’t get that many users as Lotr or DDO, part because those are known franchises and part because (AFAIK) they don’t have a big company to throw millions on marketing and exposure.

    This F2P issue interests me as well since I’ve yet to decide what business model I’ll adopt for my next game. Any advice would be welcome.

    Comment by Mike — 29 March, 2011 @ 1:30 AM

  9. To be honest, I don’t think any of the stuff they’re selling in LotRO is wrong, or that they promote the store UI so strongly is bad. It’s all optional… and it’s kind of like ads on the web. You learn to filter them out, for better or worse. I should add that I don’t think it’s necessarily *wise* to push quite so strongly, but I can’t get upset at them trying.

    What I think is wrong is taking away free stuff only to add it back as a for-pay element. That’s inexcusable. And unfortunately, as you have pointed out, there’s a pattern here. It’d be fine if they added a for-pay shortcut to stuff you get free… (well, fine as long as the stuff isn’t giving you an advantage; buying progress is a pet peeve of mine).

    Comment by unwesen — 29 March, 2011 @ 3:45 AM

  10. Puzzle Pirates is awesome. It’s my baseline for microtransactions as well, and I’ve written about it in the past. I’m not sure why so many ignore it, except to note that it’s a different sort of game. Many players just don’t fit into the PP niche (though I think they are missing out). Devs, on the other hand, have little excuse. They should definitely be paying attention to how the Three Rings crew handles things. (I’m curious how Spiral Knights and the upcoming Dr. Who games will work out.)

    I do also like Wizard 101′s microcontent purchases, almost a bite-sized Guild Wars sort of thing. I hate paying for time (though I do make an exception for PP’s badge system), but paying for content, well, that I’ll do.

    Comment by Tesh — 29 March, 2011 @ 9:57 AM

  11. Resolve and thou art free.

    [...] model has been proven as a successful revenue model under certain conditions, what will be interesting now is not seeing how many other companies follow this revenue model, but comparing how those that [...]

    Pingback by Killed in a Smiling Accident — 30 March, 2011 @ 1:22 AM

  12. I think the combination of a cash shop with a subscription option can give the best of both worlds, so for LotRO I’ve been playing once a week for a few months, bought most of the quest packs on sale, and it’s cost less than a sub would have. It really breaks down if VIPs are expected to buy more, though, the sub option ought to be a bulwark against the worry many have that F2P will nickel-and-dime them into paying more than a subscription game (Turbine’s method of a VIP having most content plus points-per-month for ‘extras’ doesn’t seem too bad, but only if there aren’t too many ‘extras’)

    Dev-sanctioned RMT is interesting; EVE has its PLEX, of course, and Pirates of the Burning Sea has Notes, bought with dollars, that can be traded in for cash-shop items, or sold on the auction house for in-game currency. I know Tobold, amongst others, feels a game is compromised if you can just buy currency, but I’m very much in favour of having alternatives for the cash-rich and time-rich.

    Comment by Zoso — 30 March, 2011 @ 2:16 AM

  13. Do check out the new Three Rings game Spiral Knights. Given the PP model seems well respected, I’m curious if they’ve tweaked and refined it with Spiral Knights.

    Spiral Knights uses a dual currency system of coins and energy. Coins are gotten in-game while adventuring and can be used to buy items. Energy is spent to perform different actions such as reviving after death, crafting, taking an elevator (go play it) to the next level in a dungeon, etc.

    Energy may be bought with real money, or will accumulate over time. There is also an in-game exchange where you can buy (or sell) energy for coins.

    Comment by Tim — 30 March, 2011 @ 8:49 AM

  14. I waffle back and forth on whether I think freemium is good for the consumer or not.

    I’d love to see your take on EQ2!

    Comment by Ferrel — 30 March, 2011 @ 12:38 PM

  15. Tesh wrote:
    I hate paying for time (though I do make an exception for PP’s badge system), but paying for content, well, that I’ll do.

    Yeah. I think that PP’s badges work fine because you can pick and choose what to play. It’s essentially $1 for 30 login days to play any parlor game, for example, which seems like a rather good deal.

    Zoso wrote:
    I know Tobold, amongst others, feels a game is compromised if you can just buy currency, but I’m very much in favour of having alternatives for the cash-rich and time-rich.

    I don’t see Puzzle Pirates‘ system as being able to “just buy currency”. Since trades happen between players on a market, the currency still has to be generated by the players. I think it’s a smart way to trade between time and money between players without unbalancing the economy.

    Tim wrote:
    Spiral Knights uses a dual currency system of coins and energy.

    That’s a pretty typical Facebook/web-based game system. Not really dual-currencies like in Puzzle Pirates. I suspect that business model was imposed by SEGA.

    Ferrel wrote:
    I’d love to see your take on EQ2!

    I haven’t played EQ2 “Extra”. From what I’ve read I don’t think it’s a very good example of free-to-play done well. Sounds like you almost always end up paying more for the same quality that subscribers get on the previous servers. It also sounds like it didn’t help the subscribers with a new influx of people like the free-to-play transitions of LotRO and DDO did.

    In general, I still think free-to-play, when done right, is better for the consumer. The problem is that it seems rather rare for a company to do it well. Subscriptions have been beneficial so far because people play follow the leader so much, it’s hard to break out and try to be too exploitative. Not that it stops things like the Sparklepony.

    Comment by Psychochild — 30 March, 2011 @ 1:58 PM

  16. I don’t see Puzzle Pirates’ system as being able to “just buy currency”

    Indeed, “just buy” is something of an oversimplification, PLEX in EVE and Burning Sea Notes in PotBS are both sold via the same in-game mechanisms as player-created resources and subject to supply/demand fluctuation, but as soon as there’s any (developer sanctioned) way to exchange real currency for virtual currency, no matter how indirect, some people don’t like it (e.g. Angry Internet Men talking about Station Cash, or Tobold’s lack of motivation in EVE)

    Comment by Zoso — 30 March, 2011 @ 4:13 PM

  17. I think what’s different about Spiral Knights and the coin/energy thing is that you can exchange coins for energy. If you want to go bust your butt in the game and make lots of coins, you can (maybe) be self sufficient and never have to spend real money on energy. The typical Facebook game gives you both, but doesn’t let you spend coins on energy — only real money.

    Comment by Tim — 31 March, 2011 @ 10:05 AM

  18. I have also played both LoTRO and DDO. I have a lifetime account (actually 2) in LoTRO so I can’t speak much about their version of “Freemium”, although I agree that taking items out of the game and making you pay for them is a cheap shot.

    But I play DDO Freemium and I love it. One thing you didn’t mention is that the main advantage to buying content instead of subscribing is that you own it forever. Its like buying your own lifetime membership. Subscribing is like renting the game. I’ve definitely spent more money than if I subscribed, but I’m ok with that since I can quit whenever I want and come back and still have access to everything I bought. Which is one thing I love about having my lifetime LoTRO accounts.

    Unfortunately I won’t be playing Puzzle Pirates. One of the things I dislike in a game is stopping that game to play yet another game. I played a couple Asian MMOs where every time you fought you would go to a new screen. Suddenly all your helpers were there and all the mob’s helpers also and you’d have a turn-based battle. It was kind of cute at first but I got sick of the distraction. I also didn’t like it in Vanguard. Talk about immersion – breaking.

    Comment by Djinn — 31 March, 2011 @ 1:38 PM

  19. Tim wrote:
    The typical Facebook game gives you both, but doesn’t let you spend coins on energy — only real money.

    Not sure if it’s a big trend, but I remember Ravenwood Fair let you buy energy units with in-game currency. It was just very expensive and easier to pay real money.

    Comment by Psychochild — 1 April, 2011 @ 12:30 AM

  20. /AFK: Ganked Edition

    [...] Psychochild — A tale of two free to play games “I still think the “free to play” business model, when done properly as in the case of Puzzle Pirates, is the best for both developers and players.” [...]

    Pingback by Bio Break — 3 April, 2011 @ 7:59 AM

  21. I am surprised you did not train your brain to ignore the LotRO Store button. I discussed the issue with a dozen so kinnies this morning and almost every subscriber said they don’t notice it.

    Comment by Hugmenot — 4 April, 2011 @ 11:26 AM

  22. Hugmenot wrote:
    I am surprised you did not train your brain to ignore the LotRO Store button.

    I think it’s something where I was already irritated enough from the other issues (the holiday horse becoming store only, a cosmetic tailor recipe being store only, etc.) that this was the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back. It’s one more irritation on top of all the others. I’m sure if I found the game to be super-engaging and didn’t have any other complaints, I’d be able to overlook it and even train myself to ignore it. But, as it is, it’s another glaring reminder of how this isn’t the same game I signed up for a few years ago. :/

    Comment by Psychochild — 5 April, 2011 @ 1:39 PM

  23. A study of economics usually reveals that the best time to buy anything is last year

    [...] course it’s now much more common in the West, but companies are still getting to grips with various implementations without even factoring in third-party RMT. It certainly seems like an area in which more research [...]

    Pingback by Killed in a Smiling Accident — 7 April, 2011 @ 5:33 PM

  24. On Microtransactions, Immersion

    [...] Brian Green, aka Psychochild has compared his experiences playing Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. There were two things that I really connected with and wanted to reiterate here. You can read his entire blog entry here. [...]

    Pingback by nick breslin . game developer — 11 April, 2011 @ 7:42 PM

  25. Trading Time for Money

    [...] Green posted an interesting comparison of the online stores of Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. He also posts [...]

    Pingback by Blessing of Kings — 18 April, 2011 @ 5:29 PM

  26. Honestly I have not played any free to play MMORPG but in my opinion I do not like this business module. Try to thinking, there is no actual free in the world. If players did not pay money on the game playing time, that means they need to pay on other ways like gaining a high quality gear or more powerful skill. Even through players can buy what they really need, on the other words some players cannot get what they need without paying extra money. This business module will increase the imbalance in the game world. Like somebody pays more money and gain more powerful gear, and he will not try to pay more effort on playing game, even more due to his high power he may kill the characters of who have not enough money to pay and enjoy this activity. Not as the games which are paid on playing time (like WOW), players may lose confidence because they do not have money or will not spend money in buying gears. In WOW, although players have to buy month card to continue playing game, if you wish to spend time and effort most of people can gain the feeling of achievement and enjoy the game content as well as other players.

    Comment by yufei — 5 May, 2011 @ 6:18 PM

  27. youfei: However, as often pointed out, the subscription model gives bigger rewards to people who can spend more time in the game, and as the clichĂ© goes “Time is money, friend.” Plus, you can mitigate the problems somewhat by having a dual currency system with the ability for players to trade one currency for another on an exchange like Puzzle Pirates.

    Neither business model is better or more virtuous than the other, in my opinion. It really does come down to how the company treats the players; a good company will treat people well no matter which business model is used.

    Comment by Psychochild — 7 May, 2011 @ 1:57 AM

  28. Free to pay to play to win

    [...] payment model works very well, but around the edges it’s perhaps a little pushy; Brian Green gives an interesting contrast between LotRO and Turbine’s other major offering, DDO. Critics of non-subscription models may say price tags, “BUY IT NOW!” buttons and [...]

    Pingback by Killed in a Smiling Accident. — 28 June, 2011 @ 4:18 AM

  29. The story of a high level character

    [...] I've said a few times before, I really like DDO's business model. I'm a premium player (non-subscriber who has paid for points), and I've bought pretty much [...]

    Pingback by Psychochild's Blog — 25 September, 2011 @ 11:51 AM

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