When I say free-to-play, I mean no upfront purchase of the title. There can be stuff to pay for in the game, but the game itself, and a full version, must be free.
First: Do you truly believe that this game model is something that is, or can be used effectively, to create a good balanced game?
Second: What are instances where it is (if you agree), and/or where it is not, in your opinion? And why if you care to mention.
My best friend and I got into an intense discussion the other day about whether or not the free to play video game model physically works, especially with consideration to the players who pay nothing monetarily. Really our discussion boiled down to whether or not free games are balanced when NON-COSMETICS are allowed to be purchased in game. Personally I think it does. However I think that there are some serious ways that revenue can be haphazardly pulled from a game created with the F2P model, and I find that THAT issue is usually what leads to most peoples’ issues with FTP games.
His argument was that the users’ ability to purchase content before other players, or skip straight to the high end equipment and such, naturally put all players that are still climbing to that point for free at a disadvantage. Thus the game can’t be considered balanced.
And that he wasn’t the only person that thought that way, and that I’m one of the few people (that I know who give a damn) that disagree.
I agree, but to an extent, I personally believe that F2P can be balanced, and that each game contains a semi-unique situation, that requires its own series of mechanics to make it feel that way. No one wants to play a game where they feel like it is not fair. It simply is not enjoyable, and to shell out obscene amounts of money to dumpster people who don’t doesn’t seem all that fun either.
For example I’m a huge fan of Warframe, all of the World of ___ games, clash royale, Planetside 2, to an extent League of Legends, and a few others.
F2P games definitely catch the eye of kids, especially if they don’t have any cash of their own to sling around. That’s why I used to dig through F2P games when I was younger on the Xbox or PlayStation markets, and frankly a lot of them I found were not fun, seemingly lacking content, or hiding a majority behind paywalls, which is not a bad thing, it’s a way to monetize the game and that’s the devs’ decision. I ended up coming to the conclusion that it’s impossible for me to have a fun experience in one of these games without having to put in money that I don’t have (which again, the experience is free, so I couldn’t exactly complain). But then my two of my buddies talked me into downloading Planetside 2 my freshman year, and I was absolutely enthralled.
It was my first instance of a pvp F2P game, and for it being free, it gave me the experience I always dreamed of when my older brothers described Battlefield to me when I was younger. Large scale battles, lots of vehicles, massive team cohesion (if you chose to take part), physically controlling larger sectors of the map and being able to make large scale changes over the course of one long sitting (4-7 hours). It was awesome, and while the accumulation rate of in game currency was infuriatingly slow, the classes and vehicles you gained while leveling up offset your desire to buy new weapons or add big modifications to vehicles you already had. Other than vehicle modifications, which me and my friends spent houuuuurs grinding for the missile pods for the strike craft, weapons were not necessarily superior to one another. Every gun had its strengths and weaknesses. When it came to fire rate, damage drop off, accuracy, controllability, etc. all the guns you could buy basically fit into semi-niche categories. On top of that, the default weapons were actually the jack of all trades weapons, that were the most well rounded of all of them. And sure one guy could keep spending money to spawn in a tank, when you and 3 other people are trying to cap a point alone, but when it’s a large battle with 50+ on both sides, the numbers just kind of level out. Teamwork ends up being the factor that truly wins you the battle.
But that experience opened me up to games like warframe and World of Tanks. Both games that have pvp (warframe not so much though), that I sank tons of time into, with little to no money at all. And when I did spend money, I was extremely satisfied with how much I got for the prices I payed.
Later though I ran into Clash Royale and my thoughts changed a little.
You can buy cards on clash using currency that can be purchased with in game money. While you cannot buy cards exclusively you can purchase certain chests with guaranteed card rarities and such. This allows players to power level their cards at an extremely disproportionate rate to their player level. It became especially noticeable and IRRITATING, when I was climbing the ladder to the legendary arena (the end game tiers), when the cards I would have could do little to nothing against the cards my opponents had, unless they were genuinely bad at the game which was rare. Once in a while wouldn’t be a big deal seeing that you don’t lost a whole lot from losing, but once it was every fourth game or so, on top of a roughly 52% win rate without them being over leveled, it felt like progress was at a standstill. I am also someone who doesn’t quit a match they’ve started, even if I’m obviously going to lose. So playing matches where it feels like you have no chance of winning, and your set back another 5 minutes to reaching the high tier arenas just feels bad. Like really bad. I dropped the game twice before I decided I genuinely enjoyed 2v2’s enough to keep the game on my phone and only play the ladder on my car ride home or somethin.
That, while it is fun, is a poor way to go about pvp. One player has an obvious advantage against the other, and when they face off, is enjoyable to one or maybe neither of the players.
Going back to my initial question: “Do you think that pvp F2P games can be balanced?” It is completely possible that my genuine enjoyment for some of the games I think are balanced, is just bias towards them.
But I genuinely would like to know, what are your thoughts on the free to play pvp gaming model? Do you think that it works? Where does it or does it not? Why? How can it be fixed?
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