In the first of his new column, our man Matt Reynolds tells you why “Free to Play” might not be so free after all…
Why Free-To-Play Scares The Crap Out Of Me
There’s a model looking your way across the crowded room. Her eyes meet yours; a seductive smile plays on her ruby red lips. A batted eyelash here; a flash of leg there and you’re hooked. You meet at the bar. She doesn’t say a word; she doesn’t have to. Its all in her expression, ‘I’m all yours if you want me’. You abscond to a nearby hotel; the latest in a long line of whiskeys tipping your coherence over the edge. This is it; you are going to have the time of your life. Its something new and exciting, surely this is too good to be true?
Its morning. You wake up and blearily look around, not quite remembering where you are or how you got here. The side of the bed next to you is empty, apart from your open wallet lying forlornly on the sheets. That’s empty too. Cash, ID, credit cards, all gone. You’ve been had. Sadly, this particular model is a business model and its called Free-To-Play.
People within the industry have been stating for a while now how F2P is the ‘future of gaming’. This terrifies me. I’ve grown up with gaming and have spent an inordinate amount of money on the hobby, I’m at the point now where I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a connoisseur. I know a quality game when I play one and conversely I know when I’m being shafted. The format may be in its infancy but is already hugely popular with games like League of Legends and World of Tanks doing massive business. The problem I have is that the majority of F2P experiences are shallow, timewasting exercises that do nothing but rape your pockets harder than next door’s cat rapes my own moggy. A friend’s son managed to spend £60 on virtual fish for his iPhone fish tank. I know people who have spent upwards of £40 on The Simpsons: Tapped Out just to speed up the gameplay. These games hamstring your ability to play in order to force your hand into your pocket time and time again. Don’t even get me started on the insidious gambling apps slowly spreading their cancerous tendrils across Facebook.
I enjoy long, involved single player experiences in expertly crafted worlds that feed into my hunger for exploration and fuel my imagination. Where does F2P fit in for me? Apparently by gently encouraging me to spend real money on resources for weapon and suit upgrades if Dead Space 3 is anything to go by. No thanks, I’ll just slog through the game without the ‘help’ if you don’t mind. I’m not a huge multiplayer guy, I don’t really enjoy management games or tower defence either. I don’t believe that F2P applies at all to the type of gamer I am, and I’m greatly concerned as to the future of my hobby.
I don’t care if I can pick up a copy of, say, GTA V for completely free, but then have to buy cars, outfits, weapons etc. I am more than happy to pay my £40, even £50 for a complete, quality Triple A experience that I know has been lovingly crafted by passionate, talented development teams instead of some rent-a-studio hired by a faceless publisher in order to shaft us harder than Ron Jeremy in his heyday.
Say no to F2P, say yes to quality games made from the heart.