It seems that the top mmorpgs today are all based off the hype of their previous installments to get people widely into it on launch.
ESO -> Elder scroll series
FFXIV -> Final fantasy series
WoW -> Warcraft series
Guildwars 2 -> Guildwars 1 was one of the mmo pioneers
Naturally, correlation does not equate causation but this led me to think about all the monetization schemes
1; Fully free: Quality is low and ends up pixel art open source games with little content upgrade, There is not much the teams can do since they lack the resources.
2; Sub based: It seems the only ones that did manage to remain alive were based off popular franchises. The strong exiting fanbase / circlejerk is far stronger than the "Game is dead" crowd. If I were an investor, I would be very afraid to dump a lot of resources when the possibility of return is very dangerous. As everything ranging from wildstar to rift or many other sub based games eventually went free to play before dying.
3; Buy to play: Can be even more dangerous than sub based because on top of relying on proliferated hype, they are required to keep selling the box to more and more people. Also the more people online, the better servers you need, so those games seem to be built on a quick experience around the release of an expansion to get everyone on board before letting them slip off to another game when the early content drought hits. The quality of those games is usually very good and the games are very hype to always have a high buzz.
4; Cosmetic Based F2P: This might seem like an ideal world to some people, a game with good graphics that you can play for free, however if they wish to sell cosmetic items, they need to make the FX of your spells or the gear of your characters very mundane in comparison for the player to really feel like spending money. It very often isn't enough to cover massive server fees that most AAA titles mmo cost.
(Here you might be thinking, yeah but path of exile does it. ) While this is true it's important to remember that path of exile is not a mmorpg, and is mainly played single player with a lot of the information being processed client-side with a server authentication. Meaning your packets are sent to the server, they process it and send it back to you. The difference between this and a mmorpg is that the server doesn't only have to send it back to you, but to the 60 other people around you (or 20 in your raids) and even more in populated cities which makes it exponential in comparison.
5; Convenience based or P2W, free to play: The games we all dread, where we feel all our work is invalidated by someone who swipes the credit card, with restrictive bag spaces and predatory monetization. Funny enough, those games are often very well made. If you look at archeage, vindictus or even the first maplestory. There is a lot of difficult and challenging content made for people to play in and keep them hooked onto the game. Because this incites people who pay to keep paying more. This often leaves a feeling that players feel "Cheated" because the great mmo that could have been was ruined..
However, this is far more complex of an issue. Since this monetary tactic is very effective, a lot of korean producers end up pushing out a large quantity of bad mmo's and riddle them with predatory monetization systems, this "pump and dump" style is so popular now that all p2w games now hold an even bigger negative stigma as we rarely see high quality p2w new releases.
I'm here sitting and thinking, no matter which monetization scheme a company uses, the gamble is far too great, and the highest chance that something becomes popular and great without piggybacking a previous title would be a convenience or p2w game. So if i look at it like I'm an investor, I might end up on the hunt for a p2w game instead. Maybe there is a hidden gem that went un-noticed or maybe a future title might be great, who knows.
When i think back at all the games I had most fun on were all games where i met so many friends (Flyff , Lucent hearts, Maplestory 1, Knight online) All those were very pay to win games with elements that made us all want to log back in and keep meeting each other and play together. We didn't use google to min-max as we didn't care. When someone paid to win we didn't feel cheated because we were not competing against them either. However I can't even play any of the games like this because they all feel like the gameplay restricts any form of interaction.
TLDR: Useless ramble about my sentiments for monetization schemes. I find them complicated and bound to fail in most cases. Also all the big games right now piggyback off their previous installments which is a funny correlation.
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