Free to play MMOs – what kind of stuff do you buy?

The title of this post is a question I’m mulling over at present, do you buy stuff with money in free to play games, and do you set any limits on what kind of items you’d buy? Each free to play MMO that I’ve tried has had a slightly different version of this concept. I’ve had a rather mixed bag of experiences so far:

I came back to DDO for a time as free to play having played as a subscriber way back in 2009. The free to play system didn’t seem particularly onerous (other than the silly ‘leveling sigil’ unlocks which they later removed). However once my group had made it past the first couple of zones I soon realised just how little content there was available without paying, which made the game a super-grindy experience. For whatever reason it didn’t encourage us to drop some cash unlocking content, rather we simply stopped playing.

I’ve mostly played this game as an occasional side game, something to play while my partner is raiding in WoW or if I’m home alone. Other than the original race and class restrictions I’ve not really seen much that would affect a free to play player, I do have the upgraded free account status (silver in SoE parlance) because it was a cheap upgrade with some nice benefits.

Legendary item unlock

Legendary item unlock

EQ2 is also the first free to play game where I’ve succumbed to some micro-transaction payments. The broker tokens (10 for 50 station cash) are a guilt-free purchase, I only put rarer items on the broker so I don’t get through tokens that quickly. I also bought my very first item unlock recently, I’d picked up a lovely looking legendary cloak from some random rare monster and finally succumbed to equipping it. I can’t see myself doing this that often but 35 station cash isn’t too bad either I suppose.

Guild Wars 2
My most recent dungeon experience left me annoyed over the impression that the dungeon content is designed to drive repair canister purchases. I haven’t been that tempted to buy anything from the GW2 in-game store although early on I did purchase some gems to unlock a larger shared storage.

So far my experience of free to play SWTOR has been a positive one, despite some of the restrictions seeming arbitrarily harsh. The simplest things, like the emote restrictions do actually seem so unnecessary. Still I have bought an account-wide 3rd profession unlock and on my knight I just bought the “Newcomer Bundle” to get the speeder skill and a basic speeder mount (60% discount at time of purchase!).

I’m more likely to spend on account unlocks than per character unlocks, and less likely again to go for the smaller stuff like consumables (XP potions or store-bought healing potions). Perhaps the thing I’d be most against buying is renting virtual stuff as highlighted by Tobold this week. That’s really beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned. It’s a big reason why I never really got into Runes of Magic years ago, there’s no way I’ll pay to ‘rent a horse’ for a month with real money.

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6 Responses to Free to play MMOs – what kind of stuff do you buy?

  1. Meznir says:

    Ditto for Tera. One of the big things to put me off the game was that all the baught for mounts etc were time limited. That’s rediculous and too money grabbing for my liking.

  2. skapusniak says:

    Generally will buy:

    Clothes that my character(s) can wear anywhere (your game does have a cosmetic clothing system, yes?), permanent content unlocks (mission packs, world areas), permanent quality of life unlocks (extra bags, extra bank space etc.), XP rate *reduction* items (alas, that I would need such things to make your game enjoyable), character slots. That initial $5-$10 flat fee you demand to move me from ‘complete freeloader’ rank to ‘mere cheapskate’ rank (Hello EQ2).

    Sometimes will buy:

    Classes, races.

    Will buy but will resent you all the way:

    One shot tickets to put something on the auction house, or let me equip a piece of gear I already have.

    Generally won’t buy:

    Clothes that I can only wear in specific limited places (GW2 I’m looking at you!), temporary or one shot access to anything, ‘chance to get one of ‘ boxes, XP rate increases, crafting speed increases (if I’m paying to skip playing the game, I should just quit already), in-game currency (that you’ve invented a complicated system with multiple different classes of coin where only one is bought in the cash shop, isn’t fooling anyone, Perfect World/Cryptic), transmog services (so your game doesn’t *really* have a cosmetic clothing system, then?).

    The more stuff on the last two lists that’s available, and the more it feels necessary, the more likely I am to question whether I should be playing at all.

  3. Jeromai says:

    I analyze the whole shop first. If it looks like the game is engineered to make life miserable -unless- you buy a minimum sum from the cash shop, or if it is generally understood you -must- buy such-and-such to be on a level playing field, I am very wary of even taking the first step. If the shop is more skewed towards optional items or bonus items for players who have already committed to the game over the long-term, then I am more inclined to give the game and shop a fair shake.

    If I decide I enjoy the game sufficiently, and the cash shop has stuff priced at reasonable levels ($5-$15 a month type spending similiar to an MMO sub), then I might purchase items that apply to one’s account. Additional content and expansion chapter unlocks, character slot unlocks, bank tabs, and so on. Convenience items are analyzed on a case by case basis – if it’s worth it to me personally, I might get it, if it looks to become a ‘requirement’ for everyone in game to get, I might drop the game entirely. I’m just very picky about slippery slope issues with cash shops.

    If I’m really enjoying the game and want to be in there long term, I might drop a small amount of money on a whim on cosmetic items that I like the look of, or an odd lockbox or two (like when you buy a lottery ticket knowing it’s probably going to be a worthless piece of paper, but just for fun.)

    I generally do not buy boosts of any kind. I’m playing the game to enjoy myself, not speed or power level through it. I take it as it is there for the impatient players who need/crave hitting max level asap. If the normal rate of xp gain is too slow, I classify it as a game designed to make life hell for F2P players and abandon it.

  4. João Carlos says:

    The new temporary dungeon in GW2 is good to have pickaxes for mine azurite. So,, maybe it be made for players buy that fiery pickaxes. With relation to damage to armor, everything will depend upon the grup you enter the dungeon. I had some very good experiences where we run the dugneon fast without any player going down to very bad runs where wipes were frequent.Just dpend upon your luck with pug.

  5. bhagpuss says:

    I’ve bought an awful lot more Station Cash than I’ve ever spent, thanks to the not-infrequent Triple SC days over the years. I do like to see it stacked up so I know I can buy things if I want, although I now have enough saved that I need to resist any further cheap SC days.

    Having played EQ2 extensively both before and after the F2P conversion, and having played the F2P version concurrently with both Silver and Gold accounts, I have to say that I feel the Silver version is better value, and more fun. I like buying unlockers for gear – it makes me think much harder about what to wear and I appreciate drops much more. I liked the restricted bag space (which sadly they recently got rid of) because again it forced me to make a considered decision over when to expand my storage space, not just constantly expand to the absolute maximum and then fill it with rubbish as I do on the Gold account.

    The Station Store is a model to me of a good cash shop. It has lots of things in it that I like and if I spend money in it I feel I’ve given myself a treat. Compare that to the GW2 cash shop, in which I have yet to buy a single item (for myself – I did buy Mrs Bhagpuss a something she wanted once) or the TSW shop, which was about the dullest I’ve ever seen. I’d actually like to spend some money on GW2. So far all ANet have had from me is the price of the box and I’ve played for thousands of hours. Unless they can think up something worth having however, I will just have to go on playing completely for free.

    • Telwyn says:

      Indeed, the GW2 cash shop just isn’t appealing for some reason. I bought the bank space upgrade because I felt like I should be supporting ArenaNet somehow, but I haven’t seen anything since that I’d want to buy.

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