Free-To-Play-To-Win

This week’s topic focuses around the perks and costs┬áhaving your content made available for free online. I will be primarily using online gaming as an example by shedding light on the concept of Free-to-Play.

Free-to-Play (F2P) is a relatively new model adopted by the gaming industry where basically gamers are allowed to play the game without having to pay. How do the game creators make money? Through purchasable in-game perks. You may have seen this concept in Facebook games where you can buy in-game currencies such as coins. Traditionally games have been Pay-to-Play, which how most games are still nowadays such as console games XBOX, PS4 and Wii. However recently F2P games have dominated the gaming industry through games such as League of Legends and DOTA 2.

The Good:

High Exposure

The fact that you have nothing to lose but time spent by giving a free game a try gives F2P games the edge. The model creates an exponential chain of people giving the game a try which lets other people know about it. To put it simply:

People try the game -> they let other people know about it -> more people try the game -> even more people will know about it.

Higher Potential Revenue

This straw poll created by a curious League of Legends player asked other players how much they’ve spent on the game (RP is the in-game currency used in League of Legends).

How is this business model so successful? The video below gives some insight into this matter:

Less Likely To Be Pirated

Who would want to get a pirated version of a free game?

The Bad:

Pay To Win

F2P games that involve buyable in-game perks that give gamers significant advantages over other gamers can potentially ruin the experience. This issue is similar to a lot of major sports in the world today where the team that has the most money will eventually be more successful. However, gaming companies have recently recognised this issue and are beginning to rectify it.

Arguably Unethical

There will always be a small minority of people who would fall into the trap of not knowing when to stop spending money on anything period. Gamers are not an exception and as F2P allows gamers to ‘spend as much as they want’, it can easily turn out to be ‘spend as much as they have‘.

References:

Straw Poll: How much League of Legends players spend on the game

Riot Games’ League of Legends Becomes Most Played PC Game In The World

Why Spend Money on a Free Game? – GameSpot

World Of Tanks Pay-to-Win


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