Archive for the ‘free-to-play’ Tag

Pointless offers   Leave a comment

Last week, the recently F2P MMO Crimecraft: Bleedout had a special offer on that was typical of special offers on the F2P sections of Steam: join, try it now and you’ll get in-game advances and items for which you normally pay. These offers work because it gives an incentive to try a F2P game out of the bunch that you wouldn’t normally pick up.

I play a few F2P games, I generally aim to be cost-effective when it comes to gaming, a hangover from bygone unemployed days and F2P games give a lot of room to try before cash changes hands. This is good and I generally find the games that I pay into are not ones I feel I need to pay into to get ahead, they are games like League of Legends that end up making pay cash almost as a ‘thank you’ to the developers. That’s the attitude I’ve stuck by, games that feel like they are wrangling cash from me fall by the wayside.

Now, this sort of offer on Steam is great because I can’t download and try every F2P, nor would I want to. My games catalogue is massive on PC alone, not adding in the catalogues of my retro home computer and console gaming or the tabletop gaming I do. I will never run out of what I already have to play unless I moved into my dad’s attic and quit my job and all social contact. Further, I would need to wade through as much rubbish as my current catalogues to find the League of Legendses or Lord of the Rings Onlines. These offers are a great way to tapping the flow, as it were, and offering up the F2P buffet in manageable plate-loads.

The problem is when a game company seems to want more players than it is willing to reasonably support. So this offer on Crimecraft was up until the 29th and I made several attempts to get in there, create a character and play. I download the game via Steam, create my account, login. There are two servers. The first (Exeter) is full and the other has a population of high (Euricho). So I try Euricho first and I’m put in a queue of nearly 700 people. I estimated by the drop rate that it would take me about half an hour to forty-five minutes to get in, so I try later.

Later does not work. The same problem in both servers. They are stretched beyond what they can reasonably support. I don’t mind the game supporting such a limited userbase, it’s ultimately up to the game publishers, but why have a special offer trying to draw more players in when the special offer will only be accessible to a remote portion of those players?

Sure, it will potentially increase the player base and, therefore, income for the game. I tried logging in today and neither server was a problem this time, so it was short-term, but it doesn’t say much for the game’s attitude to its players. Imagine logging on to the game as a loyal player who’d been playing that game before the offer. Suddenly, you cannot play or are forced to wait up to an hour because they want to cram their servers full with potential cash-giving players.

Vogster (the developers) have a more than healthy sized community playing their game for the resources they allot it, unless their servers report false stats about player numbers. If they want to increase their base beyond what they currently have, they need an extra server.

The bigger problem is that this is indicative of some of the bad thinking behind F2P models. Players aren’t there to sell a set product to or build relationships with, they are cash pumps and you fit as many of them as you can in your game. Crimecraft isn’t necessarily advocating this outlook, but it would seem it given they made a drive to get more players than they can support comfortably. People need to be very sceptical of F2P games and I think they really need to know the sorts of business models being used before they feel comfortable investing.


Team Fortress 2 “Meet the Medic” trailer (PC trailer)   Leave a comment

I saw it coming that they would go free to play a long while ago. They’ve been gearing up to it with the in-game store and the earlier F2P burst on Steam was a precursor. I feel ambivalent about it for the moment, but we’ll see what happens.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

The quick cap news

* Introversion say that it’s unlikely they’ll work with Microsoft again after porting Darwinia and Multiwinia to XBLA.

* Microsoft admits that the mimicry of the console model in Games For Windows was flawed, but promises future improvement.

* A new GTA game is in the works under the codename of “RUSH.”

* Blizzard’s next MMO is already playable; at least, according to the company’s co-founder, Frank Pearce.

* Bungie is now claiming that its MMO reveal at GDC was a joke in response to rumours. Of course, it could simply be damage control.

* Valve’s new security technology, Steam Guard, is showcased with Gabe Newell revealing his Steam password as a show of confidence. The consensus is that this will turn out to be a silly move.

* On the Valve note, PC gamers may have to endure the pain of playing co-op Portal 2 with someone who doesn’t use a keyboard and mouse in FPS games.

* EA announce that they may focus more on the PC gaming market as increased PC revenue via digital distribution and the free-to-play model makes the platform more and more attractive.

* Call of Duty: Black Ops has become the best-selling game in US history, selling over 13.7 million units according to retail tracking firm NPD.

* A huge dichotomy has occurred between reviewer and user scores on Metacritic for Dragon Age II. Users have been complaining about a dumbing down of the game and the game has, at the time of writing, 278 negative reviews to 18 neutral and 84 positive.

Main news

So, great news for indie gaming fans. Serious Sam is being outsourced to create a series of indie titles set around the character. While I am no huge fan of the Serious Sam games, it’s always interesting to see what indie developers and fresh minds can make of larger IP. Warner Bros. is picking up action-RPG Bastion, the first game from indie studio Supergiant and one that features a dynamic narrative. Finally, there’s Hawken, a mech-based FPS indie title with extremely impressive graphics that will surely help ease the pain of Mechwarrior 5’s slip into vapourware. It will most likely be a downloadable title, according to developers.

Besides that, it seems indie smash hit, Angry Birds might be coming to Facebook in a “Collaborative” form, according to developers. This comes alongside news that the game made a profit in excess of $70m from a small budget of $140k. The move to Facebook is not unusual given other news that Rebellion have started a new social games division after the success of Facebook-based Evil Genius.