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Biggest Worries/Concerns about a "Free to Play" UO

Discussion in 'UO Spiels N Rants' started by Woodsman, Aug 13, 2012.

  1. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Many people desperately want more players in UO and so are looking for all kinds of ways to bring in new players to UO, and "Free to play" gets tossed around a lot. There are other threads in this very subforum that discuss whether or not "Free to play" is actually free, how it could be accomplished, etc., but this about the concerns that many have and why many resist it, just so that F2P advocates understand where they are coming from.

    #1 It's EA, there is a very real chance they could botch it in any number of ways. Once it's converted, there isn't much of a chance of backing out of it, and if EA botches it and the revenue drops, UO will be canceled. Not that things are going well right now - most of us outside of Atlantic and one or two of the Asian shards know that things are not going well, otherwise people wouldn't be pushing so hard for things like f2p to get more players in, but the decline is gradual. A botched conversion could drop revenue in short order, just as many got fed up with/screwed over by the account migration. Regardless of which side of the f2p debate you fall upon, all of us know that EA is not a charity, and a botched conversion that pisses off or confuses players would push UO that much closer to cancellation.

    #2 Many current UO players are afraid EA will end up charging them more by breaking everything up. This is a really major issue - what if EA decides that if you have a castle or keep or whatever, that you are going to be charged a hefty premium, even if you subscribe? It is EA after all. You think somebody who pays attention to revenue and spreadsheets is going to care or understand somebody who has had a castle or keep or whatever for 10 years?

    #3 The UO team is not big enough to doing an F2P conversion outside of lifting the time limit on trial accounts. This is a major issue, given all of the layoffs and key personnel changes over the past year. It's what has kept Asheron's Call on a subscription model as well - Turbine has even said this.

    #4 EA will do it half-assed. This kind of ties into #1. Right now, UO is a subscription game with a cash shop, and EA does the cash shop really half-assed. We all know they could be making much more money off of UO players if they would have some designers and artist cranking out new things in the cash shop, but they don't do it.

    #5 EA doesn't support UO properly now, while it's profitable, and they don't even try to make it more profitable (See #4), why would they support it more under F2P or why would UO see more resources? This is another big concern. What if EA bumped up UO revenue, but UO players didn't see it (in the form of larger UO team, more content, more fixes/upgrades). Yes, if it brought more players, that would be nice, but how much good does it do if EA increases revenue by $2 million or something, and all of that just went to pay for more non-UO stuff? People already feel ripped off that we are paying what we were a year or two ago, yet we have fewer developers and less content being added (and gone are the days of expansions, boosters, and now theme packs).

    #6 Most opponents to F2P don't realize that F2P MMORPGs under EA really just means a stripped down trial account. Both Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic have F2P options that are just trial account (Warhammer even calls their F2P system a trial account) and the system is made to force you into subscribing if you want to seriously play. If you would take the time to show F2P opponents that EA doesn't do F2P like other companies, that it's just basically the trial account without a time limit, you might win more support.

    #7 Some F2P games focus their content/F2P options on the small amount that pays most of the money or for things that are above and beyond subscribers. What happens if the dev team focuses on the cash shop and cranking out $5 or $10 vanity items instead of content for all/most players (or at least those who pay a monthly subscription). It's a very real possibility given how small the dev team is these days.

    These are just some of the concerns that opponents to F2P have, and it's good to at least talk about these concerns and see them in one place, rather than mixed in with debates over whether or not it's just marketing taking advantage of people, etc.
  2. Uriah Heep

    Uriah Heep Grand Poobah
    Stratics Veteran Alumni Stratics Legend

    May 26, 2008
    Likes Received:
    This may or may not apply to your thread Woodsman, but here goes.

    I don't think UO needs to go F2P to survive. Looking around at the complaints over the last few months, I really don't see many people complaining about paying to play. We expect to pay. Paying, I don't think, is a problem for anyone who wants to play a game for a long period of time. I mean, seriously, look at the people who pay to buy their football or NBA games, every year!, and the only thing changed in them from the year before is a name or number, or someone got moved to another team. Now I am gonna go into some very unpopular territory here, a few thing some friends and I have discussed, and just lay it out there for you. Probably get me in trouble, but whatever.

    This is not an attack on any particular individual, it's a look from a different point of view.

    If you had a chain of stores you had just purchased, and they were losing customers, and the customers still doing business with you were, for the most part, unhappy, you would make some serious changes to build your business back up. You had stores full of friendly clerks, who went unnoticed because the store managers and district supervisors were incommunicative, and gave the appearance of (note the wording) not caring. YOu would not be able to retain your customers by simply giving them a cup of coffee free every morning, and expect them to come back into the same bad atmosphere. And to me, that's the problem with F2P, it's just a cup of coffee thrown out there, like fishing, hoping to hook someone.

    So how would you fix this problem? Logic says, you take everyone from store managers up, and replace them. With new people, not the lower level clerks who have watched this attitude be accepted for years, and will probably be the same way.

    New blood, someone on fire for the job, someone proud as hell to be in that job, who wants to crow at every opportunity about their new job and what they are doing for their stores, and what they hope (notice the word) to accomplish in the near future. UO is a game, sure. But the *business* of UO is RL. It needs a firm, strong, optimistic and forward looking hand on the wheel. Not just business as usual.

    Again, no personal attack, as such, just business observations. Lots were overjoyed when Mesanna became producer. But, is that really a good thing? A bit more food for thought...

    Remember, she is the famous "Cal shusher" who wouldnt let even her boss talk to us about anything with meat on it.
    She also (as the clerks above) has been there to see that anything can be tossed out, done to the fans, whatever, and the paychecks keep coming...She has seen all of our history such as:

    AoS and that load, you couldn't even log in, it completely changed the fundamentals of the game, it was loaded with bugs...yet we kept coming.
    The famous subscription increase, for "more support" which never showed up and seems to have even gotten worse.
    The tossing in of a bunch of artwork laying around, machines and such (central ilsh) that had nothing to do with anything ingame at that point other than they had to use the artwork, and calling it new material and a story arc.
    And since Im in a hurry to get to the gunsmith's, Im gonna stop here.,
    But there are lots more instances.
    I'm sorry, I have always been a great believer in promoting from within, but it can only work in an atmosphere of success and hope, and UO for a few years now has had neither...
  3. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    I agree with this. Between the purchase of a game and DLC, you could get into $100+ a year easily for just one game, and that's into UO territory, and more importantly, out of the dozens of people I know who have left over the past year, most left for reasons that are not financial. A serious UO player who leaves isn't going to come back to a F2P UO and play for free, they would plop down the monthly subscription to get access to a house. F2P means nothing to them.

    F2P advocates need to understand that what UO needs to survive has nothing to do with the payment model. All of the current F2P games cited as examples of F2P success (with the exception of Warhammer) are all well supported. UO is not well supported and based on Warhammer, would still not be well supported under F2P. It's a huge concern for UO players and F2P advocates need to understand that. More players would be great, nobody denies that, but if the game does not improve, those players will not stick around.

    I agree with your other comments (and the above ties into what you said). If UO were to go F2P, it would need to be better supported than it is now.

    LOTRO and DDO are the biggest examples for F2P advocates, but those games, even though they had serious problems, had people in place with serious plans for the future of those games, expansions/upgrades planned, etc. UO on the other hand, over the past year, has had major things announced and then pulled back.

    Things like the new player experience, which would be vital under an F2P model, was canceled. LOTRO and DDO both had clear plans for bringing in new players. UO on the other hand, Jeff and Mesanna have decided that their focus is on former players. Most of those former players did not leave because the didn't want to spend $10 - $13 a month, they left for many reasons (AOS, KR getting yanked, boredom with the content, and many other reaosns) And UO's cash shop, which would be the foundation for F2P success, is very hap-hazard and infrequently updated.

    I would be all for F2P if it could help UO in the long run, but the things needed to make UO a success under the F2P model are not being done, and based on Warhammer, would not be done under F2P. F2P advocates need to understand that.

    I also think the F2P advocates should get together and focus on getting the time limit lifted on the trial. That's how EA operates F2P MMORPG options, it's how Warhammer Online works, it's how SWTOR is going to work. Trying to come up with fancy schemes doesn't help their cause, because the manpower isn't there to implement them.

    I'm all for a trial without time limits.
    #3 Woodsman, Aug 15, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2012
  4. Setanta

    Setanta Adventurer
    Stratics Veteran

    May 15, 2008
    Likes Received:
    The problem with "play for free" is that the operating costs go on. Who is going to pay to keep things going? Sponsors maybe? So, maybe you set out to make some armour and, when you pick up your hammer, you are beset with an ad for Acme forging presses. :)
  5. Woodsman

    Woodsman Guest

    Actually it's very simple, they do what UO used to do, and what most other "free" games do - offer expansions. If UO is in any kind of financial trouble, it's because EA kept getting rid of UO team members to the point where they couldn't make much to additionally charge for. Starting in 2010, they did away with expansions for UO, but introduced what was going to be twice-a-year boosters. That went away, so they introduced 3-4 times a year theme packs. Had they stuck to the boosters or theme packs, they could have been bringing in quite a bit of money.

    That actually tells me UO can't be in that much of a financial bind, because EA is making no moves to increase the number of players or increase the items in the existing cash shop.