Video Games

What Free-to-Play Really Gets You

Every month or so, people get all up in arms because a new game is announced as free to play. Most recently, the Sims on Facebook. Most notably, Everquest II. As always, when things get cheaper, there’salwaysthequestionofwhethervalue is lost and if it’s even worth it for the player.

The Demo FTP:

Some games are designed to be a lead-in to the actual paid versions. Sims for Facebook is a perfect example. It does do a lot of the same things that the original game does, but the interface isn’t quite as smooth and obviously you can’t download any of the add-ons to it. It just lets you dip your toe into the water, and functions almost as a demo.

Another perk this type of FTP version has is that it’s often condensed, and able to be thrown into the social media sphere. A bunch of your friends playing a gameisoften a pretty good indicator that you’ll enjoy it too, and thus, the players take over the marketing on behalf of the game developers even more than they usually do.

The main benefit to gamers themselves is that they’re able to test drive a game’s features in its simplest terms. The downside, of course,isthey then have to decide whether or not they’re willing to invest some serious cash into getting even more of it.The Add Ons FTP:Casual Zynga games are the main culprits here. Yes, you can play them for free. However, they’re constantly pressuring you to add more to your gaming experience, and it often comes at a pretty penny. They disguise it at first under cutesy titles like Farm Cash and NeoCash from Neopets. Once you find out that the game is actually asking you for your real money, you balk a little, and swear you’re not going to succumb to temptation. But then, they come out with flamingo topiaries. Flamingoes! Topiaries! You simply have to do it.

From the developer side, most of the money is still coming from advertisements. From the user side, you’re constantly being barraged by the idea that you need to spend money on virtual items. If you break, you’ll end up secretly hating yourself and hiding the credit card statements from your parents or your spouse. If you stay strong, you’re facing constant pressure and temptation.

From a user end, these games just aren’t worth it. You’ll never be able to do the really cool stuff without forking over your money, and the tug of war can result in emotions ranging from annoyance to slight amounts of rage.

The hybrid FTP:

There’s a main, paid version that offers tons of benefits to switching over. There are also smaller things you can buy in the free game. This presents the biggest quandary of all: Do you risk playing free and spending some money on items you would get in the main game? Or do you pay from the beginning and hope the free version really isn’t that great?

Everquest II is the epitome of this. Yes, you can absolutely play for free. You can also pay, and be able to choose your server and have a myriad of options. However, even if you do pay, you still might be faced with an option of whether or not to fork over more money for something you’re already paying $20 a month for. If you want a flying mount (and who doesn’t?), you’ll be expected to fork over an additional $15. Many of the best household items require money as well.

In reality, you can still save money by playing the free version. However, it really is as much of a struggle as the Zynga games. If you’re an MMO faithful, Rift or World of Warcraft might save your sanity.

Free to play games are wonderful inventions in most cases. With a little willpower and a decent budget, they can offer a rich experience, especially in casual gaming. Always evaluate whether or not it may be worth it to find a paid version, though!