SOE announced today that Everquest II will go “Free to Play. Your Way”. I don’t think they are talking about me. I like the DDO FTP model much better than what SOE is offering. All servers will convert to a FTP model wherein aspects of gameplay are restricted except for those accounts paying the monthly fee.
Because of the strenuous objections of the current playerbase to anything that smells of “pay to win”, SOE is not going to offer the following items in the RMT store which had been in the FTP-dedicated servers:
- Power potion
- Health potion
- Self-rez scroll
- Wand of Obliteration
- Rune of Devastation
- Mastercrafted Equipment (all)
- Tradeskill Components
Some of the items on this list are standards in DDO. Rez tokens, power and health potions, for example. Mastercrafted equipment seems kind of a problem for those hoping to make ingame currency from selling these items. So I can see dropping that. Tradeskill components? As in raw materials? That’s kind of crazy that they sold that, but sure, spend your money if you don’t want to go gathering.
I just don’t care about this stuff the way I used to. But lots of the EQ2 players seemed to still. At a guess, they are operating out of a sense of competition (in a PVE game). It’s not like EVE where every aspect of it is PVP. If someone else has success by spending more money, so what? How does that impact you? Prestige I’d guess. But we’ve had people cheating – remember the ghosting scandal? – in EQ2 for a long time for nothing but the prestige of being the first or the “uber” guild on the server.
The thing that really kills the FTP plan for me is the restrictions on Silver accounts. See below:
[I'm stealing bandwitdth from The Ancient Gaming Noob for that chart. Wilhelm, let me know if my meager traffic is a problem and I'll self-host. I'm mostly feeling lazy.]
With a Silver (never mind Free) account, I can pay extra if the package doesn’t include the race or class I want. (But the fabulous red hair comes for free!). However: I can’t have Master-level abilities. I can’t get Legendary and Fabled drops. I can’t have more ingame coin than 20 gold (!) per character level. I can’t have more than 40 quests in my journal. My access to the broker would be “Restricted”. And I can’t send in-game mail.
In short, Toldain would very hamstrung as a Silver toon. Most of his gear and abilities would downgrade. Most of his fabulous wealth (which came from manufacturing and playing the jewelry/spells market) would be gone, or maybe just inaccessible.
So, for him, my choice would be: go back to the old subscription, at what appears to be a slightly higher price, or go home.
Ok, I kind of get that they are worried about spam from gold-sellers. But wow. You can’t send mail on a Silver account? Can’t you just charge a few coppers for an ingame mail?
Back to that competition thing. Today the news also broke that Zynga executed a “take-back” of stock options from some of its early employees. There’s this story, which says that the executives were motivated to avoid a “Google Chef” moment. [If you didn't know, Charlie Ayers, the first chef Google hired, left the company after its IPO with $20 million. I say, good for you, Charlie!]
But this story says that the motivation was to make Zynga a “meritocracy”. [Hat tip to Psychochild for pointing it out.] I’m doubtful. The story isn’t sourced, but it reads like it came straight from the keyboard of Zynga’s president, Marc Pincus. According to it, Pincus was deciding to demote people rather than fire them. What a great guy! Let’s just say that he has a track record of being psychologically manipulative, given how their games work.
In Silicon Valley, early employees get bigger stock grants. That’s just how it works, and when a company IPO’s some people will get more money than other folks think they “deserve”. And that bothers some people. Let’s set aside whether Marc Pincus is one of those people who is bothered.
It has been my impression that game companies have sort of a license to abuse their workers, based on the fact that the workers often think that working as a gamedev is the greatest job in the world, and something they would do for free. But the particulars of this case, only the employees at Zynga know.
I play DDO now (and I’ve started back with Vanguard, but that’s another post). The idea that someone is buying RMT hirelings and rez potions and buffs doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It doesn’t take away from my accomplishments at all. That’s what’s at the core of the “Free to Play. Your Way”. Current players don’t want to see their accomplishments cheapened. But that’s inevitable, it happens even without rez potions, as people level up.
I once was on their side, but I don’t see the point any more, not in a PVE game. Your game is not my game. Live and let live.