Why Free-to-Play Games Like ‘DC Universe Online’ are Ruining Gaming

by Reads (19,861)

The moment I joined up with other players to go on missions, I was immediately scorned and considered useless (and rightfully so) because I couldn?t take on our powerful enemies; I wasn?t equipped with all the decked-out power-ups and boosts that my teammates had paid cash for. I was just using basic items that I had earned for free within the game, and they were so weak that they didn?t hold a candle to those that my teammates were packing. The way these missions usually played out was that I would end up cowering in the corner while my teammates jollystomped all of the bad guys that were way too powerful for me to handle. It was pointless and I only served to drag down those who had shelled out cash for respectable items.

Not only that, in Neo Steam you can actually just cut to the chase and pay money to have a more powerful character! If you buy their ?Premium Packages,? you can enjoy benefits like XP bonuses, higher money drop rates, decreased death penalties, etc. With shortcuts like that, of course my character is going to be inferior if I don?t spend any real-life money.

The same went for trading. Who in their right mind wanted to trade their premium items for my free piles of crap (for which I had spent hours upon hours grinding)? No one, that?s who. They wanted to trade for other premium items and that left me out in the cold. So, like a true loner, I was forced to just grind my way towards amassing enough in-game currency to buy the next piece of free garbage to add to my inventory.

Between being completely out of my league with the team missions and raids and my inability to get any attention whatsoever at trading posts, the free-to-play format ultimately drove me more towards solo play. It minimized my interactions with others and that?s pointless, especially for a game where the whole idea is that you play in a world populated by other players. This isn?t how an MMO is meant to be experienced.

You Can Buy a Full Free-to-Play Game?if You?re a Millionaire
Of course, I?m sure there are some people who would counter with, ?Just shut up and spend the money if you want to keep up or have the competitive edge.? But that?s not the point here. The point is that with free-to-play, we as consumers are always getting a piecemeal experience; even if you look past the issues of unfair advantages and segregated gaming demographics, there?s still the problem of not having access to all of the content of a particular game, even if you pay. The amount of money that you would spend on a normal, complete game (say, $60) could get you some content in a free-to-play game, but not all of it. No, you?ll have to spend much, much more if you want the whole game.

See, this is obviously a business model designed to line developers? and publishers? coffers, so in most cases, if you ever want to purchase a complete experience (i.e. all of the content including levels, characters, weapons, items, etc. in a particular game), you?re going to have to spend astronomical sums of money. With the way free-to-play is designed, most of these games have an ever-expanding selection of content to purchase. And until you spend every last one of your hard-earned dollars on all of it, you?ll never be getting a complete game.

Heck, with a lot of free-to-play games like Maple Story or Combat Arms, cash purchases often aren?t even permanent, they?re temporary! You can spend money on a part of the game and literally have nothing to show for it a matter of days later.

In essence, as free-to-play proliferates, it?s becoming harder and harder to buy a full game anymore. Even if you are willing to spend some money on a free-to-play game, you won?t be able to enjoy it to the fullest and you may end up having a different experience than another person who is willing to spend more. People shouldn?t have different gameplay experiences simply based on how much they?re willing to spend.

Rather, if you?re willing to pay for a game, then you should get to enjoy it just like everyone else. And that?s the traditional business model: at the risk of making this sound like a rant, what ever happened to those days? The days where I could just spend a single, fixed sum of money on a game?the same amount as everyone else?and that was it; it was mine in its entirety. Put simply, that was a better time for gaming and we need to go back to it.

And even if you do spend some money on a free-to-play game, it?s not like you?re ever left alone.  You?re constantly heckled by in-game characters or reminders to spend more money for content, which, besides being annoying, is an excellent way to shatter any immersion or suspension of disbelief that the game may bring to the table. It?s like having the worst, most intrusive kind of in-game ads you can imagine.

Free-to-play is ruining gaming. Yet, somehow, it?s gaining traction and spreading to games and franchises that would have been much better off under the traditional business model. Gamers should be able to pay their one-time fee, enjoy the game that they purchased (in its entirety!) without constantly being asked for more money, and be on an equal playing field as all of the other players. But that?s becoming an increasingly rare scenario and as a gamer, I can personally say that the free-to-play business model has completely turned me off to a number of upcoming titles that I would have otherwise been quite excited for. Hey, I love the Tribes franchise and, as an especially huge fan of Tribes 2, I was beyond pumped when Tribes: Ascend was announced?but then I heard that it was going to be free-to-play. I guess I won?t be playing it, and that?s a shame because I was really looking forward to it.

Such is the price of ?free.?

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