You may be seeing fewer “free to play” games in future

misleading

Many people are convinced that micro-transaction riddled free-to-play games are the scourge of the gaming industry, and will result in the entire industry a crumbling mess. That may be a little extreme, but there’s certainly an inherent distrust of games bearing the “F2P” label. You may start seeing fewer games with that label.

Complaints about inadvertent in-game purchases are common enough that the European commission has looked in to it, and is taking action by meeting with developers and tech companies.

“Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases,” consumer policy commissioner Neven Mimica said in a statement. “National enforcement authorities and the European Commission are discussing with industry how to address this issue which not only causes financial harm to consumers but can also put at stake the credibility of this very promising market. Coming up with concrete solutions as soon as possible will be a win-win for all.”

The biggest issue they seem to have with the “free-to-play” moniker is that it amounts to false advertising.

“The use of the word ‘free’ (or similar unequivocal terms) as such, and without any appropriate qualifications, should only be allowed for games which are indeed free in their entirety, or in other words which contain no possibility of making in-app purchases, not even on an optional basis,” the group said.

Games, especially those mobile ones on your phone and tablet should cut out buttons and the like for purchasing in-game items like “Buy Now!” or “Upgrade now!” – especially if they’re targeted at children. Their aim is to make it so that any purchases within a game are done explicitly, without any ambiguity.

This won’t make free to play games go away, of course – they’ll just be called something else…like not-really-all-that-free-to-play.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.
  • Kensei Seraph

    I thought they were already called Pay to Win?

    • SheHulkNigri

      You know? What message does that send to the children of the world? Make your problems go away by throwing money at it? Nothing about hard work and diligence, blood sweat and tears and heaps of bullets to defeat the undead army?
      Our children will grow up to be pansies, and I blame the Free to Play Model.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Our kids know not the heartache of “Game over”

        • HvR

          Yes at least we got “lubed up” with Game Over and 30s countdown with a prompt for a token.

          • SheHulkNigri

            You know how many kids set a land speed record because of that? Feverishly scrounging in your pockets for a 20c, only to find a 50c. Then the mad dash to the cashier, begging for 20 cent pieces exchange and then steamrolling the old lady in the café only there to buy a bread and sigh… I miss the good old days of gaming…

      • RinceandGATHERTroops!

        Will? They already have!

    • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

      *freemium

  • SheHulkNigri

    At least this is a step in the right direction. And a tip of the hat to the Europeans for stepping up and addressing this… this… hogwash!

  • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

    Why do they call it a Wonder Bra?

    Because when she takes off her Bra, you Wonder were the boobies went :P

    • RinceandGATHERTroops!

      Ouch! Going to be one of those days eh? :)

    • Admiral Chief in Vegas

      Hehehehe

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Aren’t they detachable & therefore still in the bra? They’re like cup holders or something. I don’t know how these things work, I’m not a biologist.

      • General JJ the annihilator

        We don’t want to know about the robo action you aliens get.

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Oh the stories I could tell.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Just seeing the game name Rust probably gets you excited.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            It really oils my Gears of War, if you know what I’m saying.

    • SheHulkNigri

      Before she takes it off: “I wonder what her boobies look like with her bra off.”
      After she takes it off: “I wonder how I can subtly convince her to put it back on…”

      • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

        Maybe that is why they make it so difficult for men to take them off… They are trying to save them from the disappointment

        • Rainman

          You just need more practise.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Can’t say I’ve ever had that worry hey.

  • Corporal Stick

    Hallelujah! Screw free to play games. No more popups on every frowned upon sites!

  • RinceandGATHERTroops!

    Yes. We need more of this. Total bullshit this ‘FREE” to play thing.

  • Admiral Chief in Vegas
  • Brady miaau

    Free to start perhaps?

    Say in Star Trek Online, you can to level X and ship X and happily cruise around, but you cannot go further till you pay. At the moment (or was when I played) you could get very far in the game, it just took FOREVER to level up. Grind, grind, grind.

    Hey, sort of like a demo for new games. Wonder why no one has thought of that?

  • Umar Reborn

    Free to play until you hit a paywall

  • Admiral Chief in Vegas
    • Corporal Stick

      I can see a toddler getting stuck in that. Its like sticky flypaper for children.

      • Admiral Chief in Vegas

        XD hahahaahahaha

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

    Bravo. Good to see someone stepping up to tackle this issue.

    However this needs to be said:

    F2P games are great but to support the games one needs money. That revenue has to come from somewhere.

    So while we hate microtransactions in game, we also can’t expect the developers and publishers to take the financial knock just to give a free-2-play game with no income from it. They need staff and server space to maintain it all after all.

    We want bug-free games and cause a huge stir when it doesn’t work quite right and expect them to fix it. Is it fair to demand that if the game is given to us free?

    The solution is not to take away MT’s at all but rather to make it less of an impact. IE: Doesn’t need to be bought just to finish the game. It needs to be optional. That also means it mustn’t make it a grind if you refuse to use MT’s. That’s also a twisting of the arm.

    I will take GW2 as an example here. Once you purchase the game it becomes pretty much free-to-play. You can argue that you already paid but let’s face it. You still expect expansions, bug support, new content, etc etc etc and it’s online. Therefore needs permanent maintenance and bug fixing. That costs money and those costs don’t stop being incurred to the publishers just because you purchased the game previously. Anyway, to the actual point, GW2 doesn’t force you to purchase anything with real money and doesn’t require you to do so to fully enjoy the game or reach the end-game content. I find it’s one of the games that has achieved that delicate balance that works for all. Win-win.

    So while I am happy they are tackling the issue, it needs to be done very carefully or the F2P model will crash completely and could then set us right back to subscription based models that work out far more expensive in a year than most F2P games (if the MT’s are balanced right naturally)

    • General JJ the annihilator

      I wanted to say TL;DR, but then it got interesting.
      Bravo. :)

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Why thank you kind sir

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I was tempted to say that too, but it would have been a lie.

    • VampyreSquirrel

      Finally, a proper rant from you… it’s been a while lol

      Also, well said.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Heh. Thanx. It has been a while hasn’t it? I’ve been in a very narrow minded state of mind the last while lol. But today I feel good and logical. So hopefully more of these to come during the course of the day :)

        • VampyreSquirrel

          Glad to hear it… apparently smoking “da good stuff” and a couple beers helps clear the mind… according to my colleague.

          I just find a good nights rest helps :P

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            Alas the beer and alcohol I can’t has because… reasons.

            The other stuff I don’t do :P

            But yeah, I did sleep rather sound and well last night. First time in almost 2 months 0.o

      • RinceandGATHERTroops!

        Very true! Has been ages, now, where did I put OVG? He needs a go too!

        • Andrew vd Walt

          He got moved further away at work the other day… I miss his RL rants already :/

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            Shame bro, that’s what LG is for, you can experience him here, without the gagging order from higher management…

    • RinceandGATHERTroops!

      Would the world suffer if F2Ps crashed? :) I wouldn’t :P

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I’d be rather miffed if I couldn’t play Loadout.

        • Rainman

          I agree, been cursing whoever suggested downloading that game. Been spending way to much time on it.

        • General JJ the annihilator

          I’m still having a ton of fun on Garry’s mod, and that wasn’t F2P. So I wouldn’t actually be too affected if Loadout disappeared.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            *gasp* say what!? But… But… Loadout dude! It rocks!!!

          • General JJ the annihilator

            It does. It really does. And I’d gladly pay for it. So what I’ve done here now is made my first statement useless. I’m just saying that I really enjoy the absolute ridiculousness of Garry’s mod and the very unique game modes.
            So it would be what I’d fall back onto.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I didn’t buy Garry’s mod, so I wouldn’t be affected if IT disappeared :P

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Shuttup!
            It’s awesome. Nowhere else will you see so many armed men chasing after a can of beans.

      • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

        Some F2P models do work and very well, but then you get the publishers(EA) who abuse it

        • RinceandGATHERTroops!

          Agreed, some indeed do. But they need to regulate how it’s advertised.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        well probably no. I’d be a little upset as I can’t justify $14 odd a month for sub based games as I just don’t have the time.

        So while I wouldn’t dare shout and moan that it’s unfair that I can’t have my F2P games that suit my schedule and pocket (Because let’s face it, it’s not my right to have that model of game available to me), I would be rather devastated and sad to not have the option.

        • RinceandGATHERTroops!

          Nah, just kidding. I agree that it is better to have the option to say no than to have no option at all. That being said they need to state the facts so that when purchasing you know ‘oh, I need to spend $55 in order to actually be able to finish the game’. That is where I get irritated at the model.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            Couldn’t agree more.

            That pay wall is where I get agitated and then throw the game out

    • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

      I honestly don’t have a problem with sub based games… As long as the content you get is still worth playing and keeps up to the quality you expect… This is one of the main reasons I stopped playing WoW, because it became dull.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        Subscription based games still have their place.

        If i could afford the $14 each month I’d gladly still be playing Eve. But unfortunately I don’t have the time or the money to dedicate to it to make it worth my while.

        That’s where F2P comes in as my “pick up and enjoy anytime and for as long and short as I like”.

        So while I enjoy F2P that’s done right, I do agree that sub based is still one of the best models for superior quality and content.

        • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

          My older brother always complained and asked why I waste my money on “Game Time”… This while smoking his 40th cigarette for the day and a beer in the other hand.

          I don’t smoke or drink(that often) and gaming is my guilty pleasure, and that is why I am willing to pay sub/game time for TESO.

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            ESOL* Fixed for ya *RUNS

          • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

            Well you know what they say… You say potato, I say fuck you :P

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            BWAHAHAHAH!

          • General JJ the annihilator

            So what happens when someone says avo? Or shouldn’t I ask?

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            Don’t!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Avo. Sorry, it’s a compulsion.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            Oh dear

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            For sure. A better example there is not :)

            Subscription based games are still cool and still ok as long as you are getting your moneys worth. What that worth amounts to is up to each person.

            I’ve spent so much money on Eve online with subs but I don’t complain, even though I no longer play, because at the time I was getting my moneys worth. And that worth was determined by me and not anyone else.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Agreed. I just unfortunately don’t have the time. Even if it’s really good, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll play the money’s worth in hours each month. Except if I don’t play anything else but said game.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            And that is where my gripe with sub based games come in. Before I was married and all that jazz I had no issues getting home and spending a good 3 hours in game. That made the model sustainable and worth while for me.

            Now, I don’t get that time. I am not unhappy that I am married or that I can’t spend as much time gaming. But that’s where F2P comes in handy because I can pick it up any time and not have to pay each month for it regardless of if I am online or not.

            You know what could work?

            Time based pay. You have an upper limit (The current standard of $14)

            But depending on how little you play in a month, that amount comes down depending on your average game time. Therefore you pay for how much you play (But I need to stress that upper limit lol. EA would abuse the system otherwise)

          • General JJ the annihilator

            That could work and that would also justify the cost (with the upper limit of course). Because as things are standing now, I don’t care how great TESO is, I can’t justify spending that each month for something I might have 8 hours for each month (if I’m really lucky and I abandon all my friends)

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            That many hours? Wow

          • General JJ the annihilator

            That’s without friends. And I might have to let the lady go as well.

          • Admiral Chief in Vegas

            John with a lady????? IMPOSSIBRU

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Believe it.

          • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

            Yes, where do you think he gets all his makeup tips from?

          • Admiral Chief in Vegas

            Ahhhh, now I forstand

          • General JJ the annihilator

            I want to cry from all this teasing from you guys, but I’m afraid it might ruin my eyeliner.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Okay okay. Probably should’ve seen that one coming. Unavengedavo(aka Dildo)
            Come on! Bring it! *holds fists awkwardly in front of face*

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            lol

          • General JJ the annihilator

            I’m still not sold on TESO. Will give it a try the weekend with the Beta. But I can’t yet justify the monthly rate. TES is just such an SP game.

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            Will (my younger bro, you met him last time at River and will tomorrow) says he can’t see the point if we don’t have local servers.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            That’s true.

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            If you are pinging at 250ms you are not going to enjoy it…

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Ping to the World of Warcraft EU servers from SA is at BEST 120ms… most get 210-300ms… AND it’s still playable, well except for PVP.

            Ping to our MineCraft server is 210ms.

            I doubt we’ll EVER get local servers for any big game.

          • RinceandGATHERTroops!

            What like Dota? :P Cus we have those!

  • RinceandGATHERTroops!

    No more free-to-play lying makes me happy. http://sprudge.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Happy_gif.gif

  • El Capitan del Blade

    But What about F2P games where the purchases are purely cosmetic? like Hats in TF2? And Path Of Exile? Purchases are not required to progress at all in the game… So, i guess my question is this. where is the line? Because rebranding games like these could negatively impact on their downloads….

  • VampyreSquirrel

    I don’t have an issue with the F2P model that Loadout or TF2 have… everything that is purchasable is purely cosmetic (as @El Capitan del Blade:disqus has said)… but when it’s “Buy a better weapon”, “Buy an XP boost”, and things like that, they can shove it somewhere that hopefully won’t see the light of day.

    I like the grind, I like having to earn my items, mounts, pets, gear, etc… I will never pay to make my progress through a game easier.

    • Corporal Stick

      That said, EA can go screw themselves with what they did with Dungeon Keeper.

      • VampyreSquirrel

        That I totally agree with. And for PvZ2.

      • General JJ the annihilator

        They can go screw themselves for everything they’ve done and everything they’re planning on doing in the future.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with F2P games, the base game is a loss-leader & they make money from extras. There’s a ton of things that can go wrong & it all depends on how it’s balanced & what kinds of things they’re monetizing.

    For me the biggest thing is if spending money gives you a instant benefit over other players, because a lot of players will spend that money. That doesn’t just apply to F2P games either, paid ones have been flirting with P2W as well.

    That’s what I like about Loadout, the game is plain fun without spending any money. If you do spend money you can purchase customisations, which is their main revenue source, & get an XP & blute earning bonus. None of that really gives someone a massive advantage over a player who doesn’t spend a cent.

    • General JJ the annihilator

      What you said. The words there, I like them.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        In that particular order, or just randomly? ;)

        • General JJ the annihilator

          No. I like the order you have them in. (If I had the time I’d really write something strange now by rearranging them.)

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            lol, I’d be very impressed if you did, because I used quite a few.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            Okay. First chapter. Got messed up near the end though:

            There’s a monetizing game of things from extras. It all
            depends on a ton of money & they make F2P games with wrong kinds. Nothing that can go inherently balanced & the base loss-leader is how it’s wrong. They’re & what.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That’s MBA thesis material right there.

          • General JJ the annihilator

            I know right?!

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            DAFUQ I just read????

          • General JJ the annihilator

            LOL

    • Rainman

      Exactly – all you need to negate the bonus is play twice as many games as the guy who bought it.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        And it doesn’t help him at all if he just plain sucks lol

        • VampyreSquirrel

          Like me :(

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That’s what co-op is for, I got your back buddy!

          • General JJ the annihilator

            I think co-op was made for people like me.

    • Admiral Chief in Vegas

      Same with Planetside 2, sure some of the higher level weapons on vehicles make it a lot easier, but rolling as base infantry you won’t be dominated by the higher level opponents, since you can also one hit kill with enough skill

  • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    There is a difference between Free To Play and Pay To Win.

    DOTA2 does free to play extremely well. Only vanity items.

  • Galbedir

    How to make a great, profitable game these days, as done in the old : Step 1 – Do your research. Step 2 – Put effort into the story/multiplayer, and polish the game nicely (No terrible off putting bugs). Step 3 – Release the game at a set price with some advertising. Step 4 – Hope your effort sells copies, gaining followers for your company and your companies reputation, encouraging people to buy any future games/expansions you release. Step 5 – Repeat.
    I’m not against Monthly payments, if people want to play for an MMO, go ahead, I just cant stand games that you have to pay extra, to unlock stuff.
    Look at CDprojekt (Witcher series) I will buy anything those guys throw at me because of the quality I know ill get.

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