So today I was discussing with a friend how good of a game World of Tanks has turned out to be. This conversation carried over into how it was also free to play and that got me thinking a bit. Recently I decided to purchase some gold currency for the game, but the game is primarily centered on the F2P format (Excellently done I might add) and does not require any form of payment to enjoy almost all aspects of the game. I have always been curious about this game and have wanted to check it out for some time, so as soon as it was released I jumped right in and tried it out. I mean after all what’s there to lose right? The question is how excited would I have been to try the game if there was something to risk? Would my view differ if my real life money were on the line in purchasing an unknown quality game?
Without a doubt the fact World of Tanks is free played a major role on my decision to try the game. If I were forced to pay 50-60 dollars for the software and another 10-15 dollars for a subscription, I doubt I would have given it a try so soon. In fact the fact it was free to play was probably the only reason I tried it out when I did. So it goes without saying that although the game had my interest from the start, there wasn’t enough of it to garner me paying to play. I needed to try it before I bought it.
The next question is a little more complex and is not so easy to answer. I wanted to know if a games financial burden augments a person’s expectation and overall rating of a game. In other words let’s say you really enjoy a game and only had to pay 5 bucks for it. Then after playing it for a while you find it entertaining, but overall bug filled and that it doesn’t have much replay value. That 5 bucks would still seem like a good investment, now let’s say you paid 60 bucks for it; would you still be okay with bugs and lack luster game play? Probably not, my guess is you would be seething with rage at the wasted money and the only thing from keeping you from lighting the disk on fire would be that 60 buck investment.
So if you end up playing a game that is free, would it then be reasonable to assume that your expectations before playing the game would also be lower? Would this then garner a better impression of the game from you? When I first got World of Tanks I was impressed with the overall game play and balancing mechanics in place. I was also impressed with the graphics and overlooked some of the bugs like water and grass going through my tank. I was most impressed that this well designed game was free. If I had to pay for the title at the beginning I might not have been so impressed.
Think of all the games that have started out as a pay model with subscription and gone to the free to play system. Games that in the past had received bad reviews and have only been able to garner low player populations. Once they changed their format to free they often are revitalized and become money makers instead of losers. Did these games get any better? To some extent I’m sure they did, but it can’t be by that much.
I do believe our expectations and overall satisfaction with a title is definitely influenced by our monetary investment. World of Tanks does not suffer from poor game play or bad design concepts, however it is very light on content at the moment and unless you enjoy running match after match the game itself will quickly become boring to you. If I had to pay a large sum of money for it I might become angry at the lack of content to be played.
With several years of hype and anticipation behind it, Star Wars The Old Republic is certainly one of the most anticipated games of 2011. BioWare has stated the game will have an initial purchase price with a monthly subscription model. My expectations of the game are very high and believe it will be a high quality title.
I will be playing this game from day one and will be happy to pay whatever reasonable price BioWare requests, but what if it sucks? My disappointment will be huge as compared to a free game like W.O.T. and my desire to continue paying will be effected. If BioWare were to release SWTOR as a Free to Play game how much disappointment would I have then if the game were to suck?
I can guess that to some extent I would not be as disappointed and would be more forgiving of the overall product. I would like to believe that either way I could be objectionable in rating a game regardless of cost, but the truth of the matter is if you expect me to pay top dollar for a title you better make sure it is done when you release it.