Author Topic: A Free to Play model  (Read 2956 times)

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Syle

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A Free to Play model
« on: September 20, 2015, 08:11:42 PM »
This is my first post on the forum. So, hello!

I've been playing Armello for a little while now. I probably played a dozen or so match (online). I'd say I am still learning. I've taken notice of one thing that prevails when playing online; queue time. I've read the forum enough to know that this issue has been brought forward but I am not here to rehash this point but more to expose my thought.

Most match I've played online, about 2 times out of 3 I would be facing against opponent named such as "Codex" and "Lumaemu". It does not take a lot to conclude that those people are using pirated version of the game and still getting access to the multiplayer component of the game. In some way, its good and bad. Without those 2/3, queue time would probably be forever and I would have stick to play vs AI.

Now, Armello is a fairly new game as in it has been recently released. Though a lot of people have been playing long before that, thanks to backers privilege (and pirate privilege as well I guess). Given the quality of the game, its potential and how positive the review are, Armello will garner more popularity for sure but will that be enough to sustain a healthy Multiplayer mode?

I feel that Armello is a game that would have benefit a lot from using a F2P model. F2P would help exposing the game to even more people which would further enhance the Multiplayer experience (specially queue time).

Some component which would help sustain the game and the developer would be:

(i) Selling Heroes. We currently have 8 heroes. In a F2P world, we'd have, say, 4 Heroes to begin with and then the other 4 purchasable with either in-game credit (earned through playing the game) or real money.

(ii) Cosmetics. Hero costume? Alternate hero? Those would be real money exclusive.

(iii) Hero Bundle. Those who already bought the game would indefinitely get all current heroes unlocked for them. Newcomers could purchase the hero bundle for, say, $20. The price tag would cover the selling price of the game, just like how its currently priced.

I come from a MOBA game, Heroes of Newerth (HoN). Some of you probably heard of it, a lot probably did not. I was with their GM team for one year and their test team for about 1.5 year (basically QA/testing new content before they go live), I was a "senior" in the QA team. HoN should have been what LoL/Dota is today but the game fell into a pit after LoL launched as F2P while HoN was being sold for a full price. Dota was the coup de grace. The game is not dead, it does have a strong following but it did not shine as it should have been.

Originally, as stated above, HoN had a one-time price tag but they had to make the move to F2P and change their model to sustain itself. Having the initial price tag is a barrier, specially for smaller game, to see play specially in those days where the market is plagued with bad games which are F2P with ridiculous micromanagement transaction.

I feel Armello is an outstanding game that could grow into something huge in the long run but it would be possible if the marketing strategy is proactive rather than reactive (waiting for the game popularity to decline before taking action).

For everyone who read so far, please don't take this post as a message to f*** over people who already bought the game. I just want to see this game shine as much as most people who plays and enjoy this game. I've written this post based on my past experience and my reflection about the potential of Armello.

The lack of Single Player ("story mode") in this game prompts the nature of this game is for online play mostly. So, refining the online component of the game and improving the player base should be definitely the longer term vision for Armello.

Please discuss!

Peace.

Echo

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2015, 11:21:20 PM »
Too soon...

Game just launched and already want F2P? I'm against that idea for many reasons.

-The game isn't even a month old from launch.
-The game didn't even go on sale yet.
-The game is too good to be F2P.
-NO COSMETICS!!! I saw enough of that in TF2 in my near 5k play time.


However I'm all for having a free weekend promotion at one point.

PS: Game has 12 heroes, but the bandits are not available yet for purchase, it's early kickstarter exclusive for now.

PSS: On top of that F2P opens the gate way for hacking the game without consequences and abusing it, using it for trolling.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2015, 11:27:48 PM by Echo »

Kletian999

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2015, 11:42:22 PM »
I've had plenty of fast queues without pirates.  Even the relative slowness of this weekend was from NMA bugs interrupting multiplayer games.

This kind of game was only be harmed by FtP elements.

The Observer

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2015, 12:13:33 AM »
Will agree: NO FTP, especially with heroes. Balance is critical with this kind of game.

FTP creates perverse incentives for both players and developers to indulge in game-destroying bad behaviour. I'd rather keep the community smaller and have cosmetics restricted to backers and such rather than turn it into another TF2 with "stout shako for 2 refined" clogging up every message board and game.

Syle

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2015, 12:45:50 AM »
Game just launched and already want F2P? I'm against that idea for many reasons.

I understand your point and by no means I am "for" pushing the F2P agenda. I am just making this post to get a feel of the discussion that will come out from it. I am also looking at it from the long term perspective.

PS: Game has 12 heroes, but the bandits are not available yet for purchase, it's early kickstarter exclusive for now.

I am aware of the 12 heroes thus why I make mention of "Those who already bought the game would indefinitely get all current heroes unlocked for them" in OP. I did not know that it would be available for purchase though, I read in their Kickstarter page (iirc) that those heroes is time-exclusive and will be unlocked (freely?) to buyers as from the beginning of next year.

This kind of game was only be harmed by FtP elements.

I respect your opinion, would you care to elaborate though? What kind of harm do you see coming from making Armello F2P?

Will agree: NO FTP, especially with heroes. Balance is critical with this kind of game.

Locking the hero pool could pose some balance issue, I agree with that. Its not an idea I am personally thrilled of but its just an example of how to monetize through F2P. Some games works great through the unlocking-hero method while other less. I don't know how Armello would feel with a locked hero pool but its something that I will definitely learn in due time as I play the game.

FTP creates perverse incentives for both players and developers to indulge in game-destroying bad behaviour.

What kind of game destroying behavior do you foresee?

I'd rather keep the community smaller and have cosmetics restricted to backers and such rather than turn it into another TF2 with "stout shako for 2 refined" clogging up every message board and game.

I understand the point you're making here (beside the TF2 one since I have never played TF2) but how do you see cosmetics being put to use in the future? Do you prefer to have cosmetic content available freely to backers throughout the lifespan of the game or would you rather have the developer work on those content, polish it and set a price tag on it to keep the game running through that kind of funding?

Echo

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2015, 03:18:51 AM »
My reason being against cosmetics is mostly because I look at Valve's example. They were so busy flooding TF2 with hats and other cosmetics they completely ignored glitches, bugs and any other errors the game had, let alone balance. I rather the game devs of Armello concentrate on improving the game performance and gradually bring in small amounts of new practical content.

F2P brings destruction because of the reason I stated in my first post.
On top of that F2P opens the gate way for hacking the game without consequences and abusing it, using it for trolling.
Nothing stops trolls and hackers from creating alt accounts to mess with the game. I can just imagine somebody making 3 accounts to log onto a server with all 3 and ruin it for the 4th player by teaming up on him/her.

Syle

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2015, 03:50:57 AM »
My reason being against cosmetics is mostly because I look at Valve's example. They were so busy flooding TF2 with hats and other cosmetics they completely ignored glitches, bugs and any other errors the game had, let alone balance. I rather the game devs of Armello concentrate on improving the game performance and gradually bring in small amounts of new practical content.

I do know a few games ends up being something like that. I get it, one of your worries is whether League of Geeks would pump content into the game responsibly or be greedy and try to find all kind of scheme to squeeze money out of the player through cosmetics without taking care of issues at hand.

I made my post assuming that a F2P model done in a responsible way where the developer takes care for the game to stay healthy while sustaining the company through the earnings from the content injected in the game.

Nothing stops trolls and hackers from creating alt accounts to mess with the game. I can just imagine somebody making 3 accounts to log onto a server with all 3 and ruin it for the 4th player by teaming up on him/her.

Such thing is already possible. Pirated version of the game does not even requires you to have any account to play Multiplayer.

This issue can be easily resolved and/or making it harder for potential griefers to do such thing:
- IP Check. One IP per game. That would screw up friends/family who plays on one network though. Which leads to the next point.
- Reporting and banning griefers. LoG most likely have IPs of people connecting to their server and it won't be hard for them to find, connect and ban griefers.
- Ranked mode. I see that this is planned for the future. I don't think one person can keep 3 accounts at the same rank at the same time for the purpose of griefing unless its to grief newcomers at the bottom of the ladder.

I feel the issues you mentioned are not F2P exclusive.

Echo

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2015, 04:15:58 AM »
I dont necessarily think the players you played with were using a pirated version. Maybe it's more to do with matchmaking being region specific and those guys you played with joined you twice because you all finished a game together and went for another game right at the same time.

Kletian999

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2015, 04:25:30 AM »
LoG is a small team, FtP element development takes from the primary mission.  I've seen the difficulties of FtP on another kickstarter indie project: the Banner saga.

They released a FTP "battle demo" that was amusing, and most importantly avoided ANY pay to win element.  Because it was so unobtrusive, it cost just as much to maintain as it earned.  The main game came out and the team had to break it's promise to keep factions "updated" because the main code had gone divergent from the FtP build. 

LoG will likely run into similiar problems, to keep their FtP elements fair, they won't make money.  FtP only makes money when it has a Pain Threshold and requires a big enough team to support new stuff and FtP stuff.

LoG is taking steps to keep pirates out of games; every monthly update helps and they'll likely find better measures as they get more experience. 

Syle

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2015, 05:34:41 AM »
I dont necessarily think the players you played with were using a pirated version. Maybe it's more to do with matchmaking being region specific and those guys you played with joined you twice because you all finished a game together and went for another game right at the same time.

I don't usually play two match one after the other in one sitting. I'd play a match or two in my morning and then in the evening.

As for the pirates, I've noticed they are around mostly during the midday (EU) while they're more diluted in the player pool in the midday/afternoon (US).

My concern is not really pirate in my game, it was related to your point about multiple account and how pirates can already do such thing.

...stuff...

I get the point you're making and I thank you for sharing that experience about Banner Saga. I agree that the F2P route is a challenging one and LoG would definitely need to thread carefully if they choose that path in the long run.

Even though I am pro-F2P for Armello, I definitely prefer for LoG to iron the game out and launch/polish the rank mode in the first place.

I just want to reiterate the point that the F2P idea is just me speculating its influence on Armello in the medium/longer term after the game is established with solid foundation.

Andi1066

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2015, 05:20:18 PM »
F2P is hard to handle...but i see your points and im sure both players and LoG could benefit from it !

And yeh..im so looking forward to the rank mode on ps4...hope it will get one soon!!
« Last Edit: September 21, 2015, 05:32:34 PM by Andi1066 »

Phlox

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2015, 08:56:03 PM »
I think Armello has a good potential for selling DLCs in form of "Hero-Packages" as well as cosmetic items (Dice sets, Maps e.g.), but I don't think we need a F2P-Model to keep the game going smooth. At least it has been an Indie-Title, developed by a small group of people who still do their best to let it grow to the best experience it can be...and re-constructing it into something F2P would rip them off their earnings as well as bind them constantly designing new Heroes and/or Items to sell in an ingame-shop.
I like the Idea of getting something "complete" when I buy it...something I never had when going into one of the F2P-Mobas.
I've been manipulated by a pychotic rabbit!

Howzany

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2015, 01:50:29 PM »
I definitely think the F2P route has merit based on the successes of existing games such as League of Legends. In a way, selling cosmetics/skins are potentially more lucrative than selling the game at a box price of 20 dollars, since I think I've probably spent more than a thousand dollars on League of Legends skins by now over the years... and it's a "free to play" game.

That said, I also agree that as of right now, this current box price model is best. Why? While F2P model helps a game company scale up massively and gain a large player following, switching to F2P now will deprive the game company much needed "immediate revenue"... they are still very much in the early phases of this game and since I'm guessing LoG is a small studio, the cash they make off of selling the game up front is keeping the company alive and helping them to make more content/characters, etc.

I think if they decide to make it into a F2P model, it needs to first hit a certain "critical mass" of players where it's like a ceiling or threshold... there are more and more players in Armello each passing day... the time I have to wait to play Multiplayer is becoming shorter and shorter recently... this tells me that there are more and more people playing this game ... Once the growth of players has declined or plateaued... that's the time to change to F2P and scale up the game player base even more.  I think these players who told you "NO!!" are mostly afraid that they have paid their 20 bucks for nothing... that might be the main reason... but I dunno, since their arguments don't make much logical sense, since many of their arguments are more coming from personal preference...

I did like that someone brought up the DLC route. I think that's also a good path to take with this game. With each new "faction" or 4 new characters... they can make it into a DLC or Bundle pack... I wouldn't mind paying for a DLC bundle pack to be able to unlock the bandits for example... and the backers would get the bandits unlocked for free without having to pay, so it works out.

I do think the general consensus right now is that we are not ready to move to a F2P model with this game... but I think later down the road, F2P is definitely something to look into...

Falkner

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2015, 08:23:59 AM »
f2p is a desperation move. Game is not dead yet.

The Observer

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Re: A Free to Play model
« Reply #14 on: September 26, 2015, 12:34:35 PM »
f2p is a desperation move. Game is not dead yet.

Exactly. FTP has a bad reputation for a reason. Allow me to refer to my previous example, Team Fortress 2, as well as some of the previous points people have brought up.

-As a very small team, LoG does not have the manpower to maintain the FTP element.
-Griefing, which needs time and effort to be dealt with. IP bans are largely ineffective B/C of dynamic IPs/tunnelling, and even assuming they were, extra manpower needs to be dedicated to this problem which could be usefully spent elsewhere.
-Piracy, which in recent days has more or less dwindled.

I'm also assuming LoG wants to avoid another rehash of the Bandit Backer issue; anyone unfamiliar with this little saga in the game's development should read through the various steam forum threads which are open for all to see, even if they don't have access to the backer-only forums here.

Now, moving back to Team Fortress 2. Previously solid game by Valve, still is in a good number of respects. Cost $15 or thereabouts (my memory may be off, it's been a while since I bought the Orange Box) but introduced cosmetics first, then went FTP later on. It's not hard to see why: in addition to monetisation, it also introduces players to Steam, where they'll spend even more money on other games, earning Valve more from their cut of the sales.

Previously on Team Fortress 2:

-Largely balanced gameplay between nine classes.
-Distinct artstyle with easily identifiable characters, silhouettes and colour palettes.
-Fun and friendly community focused on achieving the goals of each game session.
-Filesize and game requirements suited to the year in which it was released.

After FTP monetisation, from the devs:

- A slew of weapons with each update. These started out with at least some attempt at careful design (Medic update) but soon devolved into a distinct pattern - like Kletian pointed out, FTP only makes money when it has a pain threshold, be it in-game mechanics or social (I'll get to that later.) Anyways, the pattern:

1. Release weapon in grossly overpowered form, which provides a distinct gameplay advantage. During this period, the pain threshold is high - people with it will cause people who don't have it to want it.
2. After the inevitable outcry and once sales of the weapon begin to taper off, nerf the weapon into either something more reasonable, or outright oblivion.
3. Repeat.

This little saga has played out across many weapons since the store went online - the degreaser, tomislav, pholognisator, liberty launcher, black box, red tape recorder, spycicle, so on and so forth. To make things worse, instead of the carefully thought out initial items with special effects like the kritzkrieg, more and more weapons are just becoming obviously rushed to meet the next great update to milk players.

-As Echo pointed out, abandonment of resolving glitches, bugs and issues to work on monetisation content. Little more needs to be said about this. While crashes and balance issues go unresolved, we get more taunts, more performance-degrading particle effects, more kill counters. Endless amounts of time and money creating different tiers of items, from normal to vintage to genuine and strange and whatnot.

-Suffer a heavy hit to their reputation, especially since Robin Walker was once quoted verbatim as "not wanting to nickel-and-dime the player" - yet it's exactly what happened. It's true that not many can leave Steam altogether, since it does have a huge monopoly of the online distribution market, yet in many's eyes at the time it made Valve no longer the golden boy of the industry.

-Completely destroyed the art style and game performance with cosmetics. Team Fortress 2 was a game that drew much of its charm from the 1950's style of its environments and characters, all nine of whom had their unique personality.  Players rely on the characters' distinct silhouettes and colours to quickly identify another player's class and team; this was discussed in the dev commentary. The 1950s environments and backdrop added flavour and feel to the maps on which games were played.

The first set of hats weren't too bad. They were in keeping with the characters' backstories, and more or less fit the colour palette of each team. Unfortunately, this spiralled madly out of control, with completely unfitting cosmetics having only the most tenuous connections to the characters who bore them. The demoman sporting a pimp hat. The soldier with a viking helmet. More and more tie-in promotions with other games. Particle effects that made no sense at all and bogged down performance on the older computers which were supposed to support the game.

And these are only a few of the perverse incentives for the developers which I mentioned upthread. But what about on the players' side? I'll be brief.

Rapid and massive appearance of bad behaviour on the part of players related to cosmetics. Pride on the part of the haves, envy on the part of the have-nots, and greed for all. Players no longer actually playing the game and achieving objectives, but instead hopping from server to server peddling their items and taking up spots that would actually have been filled by people who want to play, spamming "selling X for Y" and filling up the chatlog when people need to get useful information across. Forums filling up with trading and "why I should get a hat with a particle effect" posts instead of actual gameplay discussion.

Massive appearance of account and item-related shenanigans, including account hijacking, scamming, and swindling. The creation of huge numbers of accounts to not play the game, but instead idle on servers to receive item drops. Appearance of phishing sites specifically targeted at TF2 backpacks. Souring of the community as a mass influx of FTP "traders" with no actual interest in the game enter, with all their attendant bad behaviour.

Armello does not need this. "Personal preference" and "no logical sense", yeah, right. But hey, we're just afraid of losing our $20, right?

"I made my post assuming that a F2P model done in a responsible way where the developer takes care for the game to stay healthy while sustaining the company through the earnings from the content injected in the game."

This is not possible. People will only pay money for some kind of advantage, again, back to Kletain's "pain threshold". If monetisation is to be actually effective, some kind of advantage has to be given; if no benefit is to be had, no one will buy it. Would you pay for something that's useless? It can be in time saved (don't want to grind for gold? Pay us $5 for 500 cash!), actual in-game advantages (here, have this sword of imbalance!) or vanity (I have this big hat and you don't, ha! Watch as I lord it over you!). While cosmetics might be the least mechanically damaging of the options, they still do immeasurable damage to the community.

You don't have to be Zynga. If Valve, an industry giant that was known for creating finely polished "it's done when it'll be done" games, succumbs to the call of filthy lucre, what more can you expect of others? Invariably, this is what you end up with:



The fact that people are dragging out MOBAs to support their argument only makes things worse - MOBAs are notorious for their terrible communities - full of whinging, raging, and bad behaviour in general. The day Armello's community clearly begins its slide into a MOBA-level cesspit is the day I leave the community.