These days I'm wary of games that advertise free to play. As if that were something I, as a player, wanted. I see it less as a try-it-we're-sure-you'll-like-it and more of a we-won't-tell-you-what-it-costs and we-can-get-you-hooked-and-you-won't-care-it's-not-fun and maybe a little we'll-keep-changing-it-so-you-keep-needing-to-pay.
There's such strong pressure to have purchases affect gameplay, too. I've seen any number of nice games start out promising that would never happen, and then . . . it happened. I mean, remember when they introduced hats in TF2? Said they'd never, never, never affect gameplay? We know how that went.
So I don't know. For me as a player, that sort of game has an uphill battle to earn my trust. Even if it's awesome now, the pressures are just such that it probably won't be in six months. Not the sort of thing I want to build my cherished family entertainment memories around.
There's also the rather-disturbing phenomenon of a small percentage of people spending an outlandish amount of money on these games. Sure, some of them might be enthusiastic fans, but that seems unlikely to me. Free-to-play games are just . . . not that kind of game. It seems more likely that they're folks with poor judgement, or who are even mentally ill. I don't know, but it doesn't sit well with me.
I'm not a successful indie game publisher or anything, so I don't have a proposed alternative. But I do think I'm not the only one who feels this way, and I'd expect the view to become more prevalent as players gain experience with the model. Free-to-play might be dominant now, but I wouldn't bet on it staying that way.
Actually I don't know how that went. I play bit of Dota2 which has similar model and Valve has always contested that, in-game cosmetics will never affect game play and so far it hasn't. So I am very curious with TF2 hats affecting game play. Care to elaborate?
I am under the impression that some hats have particle effects. If you are playing a spy who is impersonating a character with that kind of hat, the particle effects aren't duplicated.
I would appreciate it if someone who plays TF2 more than me can say how much it affects the gameplay.
The other issue, which is one of the reasons I stopped playing (aside from me pretty much stopping playing video games in general) is aesthetic overload. I don't like the notion of things being called "purely cosmetic" because appearances have meanings. The 9 classes were designed to be recognizable from their silhouettes alone, which is pretty brilliant. But now you can pile an absurd number of things onto your character, completely changing that. Not only do you not know what your opponent is equipped with anymore, you also have an additional psychological blocker to identifying them. And it's just tacky. TF2 was originally a 60s spy movie parody, and I really felt that. Now it's just... everything. It's just a lot less compelling to me.
That's interesting and quite disappointing to hear. In Valve's in-game commentary, they specifically point out that they were trying hard to achieve exactly this (distinctive outlines). It sounds like there's been a complete change for the vision of the game, likely due to personnel changes.
However, TF2 was very much on the right track to have the perfect combination of revenue generating side-items with unchanging gameplay. Just because they've strayed a bit does not mean that it can't be effectively used for other games.
I have heard this about the gambling industry, from colleagues when I used to work at an online gaming company. I think it is true that a large amount of the profits from these type of things come from a small percentage, and often those people cannot really afford to loose such great amounts of money either.
Of Zynga's games, apparently "less than 1 percent [of players] are responsible for between a quarter and a half of the company’s revenue".
When I was a teenager playing video games all the time, I had a great desire to develop them. Who doesn't? I think that was at least partly responsible for my learning to program. But as an adult, I'm a lot more ambivalent about the industry. Sure, it's art, and some games are awesome, but some also scare me. I can't shake the feeling that some games have a genuine psychological addiction element, and some people might not be well-prepared to cope with that rationally, and the whole thing looks kind of . . . exploitative.
I'm not as sure as I was, when I was 13, that I want to be a part of that.
All but the greatest $60-up-front retail games suck six months later too. Most games just don't have that long of a shelf life - they just aren't designed for such replayability.
But I can name several free-to-play games I thought were awesome a few months ago that I've completely given up on. It's not because they lacked replayability, or because they were less awesome than I initially thought. It's because the games changed, not in ways that improved gameplay, but in ways that increased the pressure to acquire various consumables.
In the free-to-play games I initially enjoyed, I'd have happily spent money on expansion packs -- permanent add-ons that let me experience more of the same sort of fun as the original game. But instead, the games keep changing to be more of a joyless slog, and then they offer to let me skip the slog and get back to the fun for a few bucks. When the game mechanic becomes so dull that it makes sense to charge players to avoid playing, it's no longer a good game.
(Been playing LoL for 4 months and WoT and PoE for about 5 months now)