Nerd Wars! How Do You Pay to Play?


In case you didn’t hear, Dead Space 3 came out yesterday and it’s pretty dang sweet. What isn’t sweet though is the inclusion of DLC packs that sell resources as I’m sure you did hear. But that’s acceptable because according to EA, some gamers would rather pay cash than grind for resources. Which brings up the topic for this week’s Nerd Wars! How do you like to pay when you play?

Do you like the “Free-to-Play” (a.k.a. Freemium) model of gaming where the fun lasts until you run out of Stamina Points and then either wait real time or fork up some cash for more? Perhaps you’re more an “Episodic” kind of gamer and really enjoyed whatย The Walking Dead did with it’s periodic release of short episodes . Just like the show! Or maybe you’re more hardcore and like to pay “Full Price” for a game that you can crack open and experience from start to finish without interruption or needing to insert more quarters. Either way, we want to know!


  1. Your definition of free-to-play does not pertain to all ftp titles. However, going off of what you describe, those are the type of ftp games that I avoid like the plague.

    1. Free-to-Play is such a huge market with different titles, many good, and many frustratingly awful. I’ve had a lot of fun with free Action RPG titles such as Zenonia or Inoitia 4, but they still get under my skin eventually. Because even though I can play as long as I like, they throw in difficult boss battles that require lots of grinding if you can’t afford any more healing potions.

      I like the concept of Free-to-Play, but if it’s not actually free then I’d rather pay my dollar upfront than be tricked out my dollar later.

      1. I agree with Jon Amarelo here, not all Free To Play titles rely on making you pay to be any good. For every game like Microvolts that essentially make you pay to even stay competitive (which is not really MY definition of Free To Play) there are games like Hawken or Global Agenda (classic Global Agenda mind you, before aimbotting and teamstacking were common place) that rely on micro-transactions BUT don’t give the player such an outrageous leg up for buying equipment or resources. Planetside 2 was originally touted as being the same way, unfortunately from what I have seen of the launch that’s not really the case. Free To Play is, in my opinion, the best business model for the consumer and forces companies to make a better game. IF you make a good game, people will like it and then they will spend their money for a membership and all that jazz. Make a bad game and it fades in to obscurity. Many titles that were once pay to play have moved to this model Star Trek Online, DC Universe Online, and even the money hungry hounds at Lucasarts have gone free to play with Star Wars The Old Republic. I think Free To Play is the way of the future, it’s more of a try it before you buy it than anything else.

      2. Free to play can be a really good thing. There are some solid ftp titles that offer a ton of content with no need for additional purchases. That formula doesn’t necessarily work for all game types unfortunately. Think about some of your all-time favorite games and then try and apply the ftp formula to it, it just doesn’t work. I can respect this as a viable option for online only multiplayer games, but I fear what this model will do some of the franchises and developers we know and love.

      3. I definitely agree but really the Free To Play model and the others are kind of like comparing apples to oranges if you think about it. No game developer who makes traditional single player oriented games or straight campaign oriented games would ever make a free to play model game. Free To Play has always been targeted at more low budget MMO/FPS/3rd Person Shooter markets or in some cases ,as is recently, big name titles. Like I said in my stand alone comment, it really depends on the title I am looking at and what the title is supposed to offer. I think Free To Play opens up room for innovation and competition. Yeah so the games are mostly low budget but you have smaller developers with great ideas that are trying to implement them, it allows not only the developer BUT the consumer to take a bit of a risk. I think it’s a jolt in the arm tired old online titles like Modern Warfare need.
        Part of the reason I am iffy about full price is that I have always been a strong opponent of DLC and I think companies know that a lot of console gamers are locked in and can’t really do much about it. The problem is something needs to be done about it BUT consumers are too busy feeling trapped to stand up and say “I don’t think that’s a fair practice” I get the feeling plenty of people who gripe about DLC still turn around and buy it. It’s a vicious cycle that no one seems to want to really break. The only way to break it is to hit them where it hurts…the wallet.

  2. I like to pay full price and have the whole game available to me at the get go, however I do wish that developers and publishers would finish making the games before they release them!! #sickofpatching

  3. So when it comes down to it I would prefer to buy a game and just get the full experience, that being said it is becoming more and more a thing of the past. I used to view DLC as a fantastic thing, something to expand an already finished experience, but between day one DLC, On disc DLC and DLC that seems more like it was taken out to be sold later I’m just over being nickel and dimed to death. I am also sick of patches as well.

    1. I totally agree with you there. I use to love the idea of expansion packs. You got a great standalone game, as well as the option to add more to the experience. The trend nowadays is to release DLC almost immediately after the release as a way to inverse revenue. It’s not fair to the consumer, but unfortunately there are people buying into this trend, which will only perpetuate this time of thing.

      1. I can’t help but fear for the future of gaming. The gaming industry imploded before and Nintendo was the savior but if it happens again I just know Nintendo won’t be the one to save it again. The only time I buy DLC is if I really want it and if it’s on sale and only like way long after the game has been out and there is no more DLC coming out for said game.

    2. Patches REALLY tick me off. I don’t play Borderlands 2 for a few weeks next thing I know I log on to play and I have to wait about an hour for all the updates to go in. I understand they want to improve the gaming experience and fix all the bugs BUT you know they should probably do that kind of stuff BEFORE they release the finished product or at least give me the option to SKIP a patch or update and just let me play the game I spent $60.00 on.

  4. Honestly I think it just depends on the title. If it’s a game I REALLY want and feel as though a demo or some other form of media justifies the purchase then I absolutely go full price. I would much rather pay full price but getting burned by big companies who are out to clone and make money more than provide me a good gaming experience is not fun so if it’s at all possible I prefer a Free To Play model so I can see if the game is something I am interested in spending any kind of money on ESPECIALLY when it comes to an online game. There are so many different variables for gaming online. The community, the controls, the leveling and overall mechanics will ultimately define what kind of experience you will have. So if I spend half a day downloading a game that sounds interesting but it turns out I don’t really care much for the game there is no harm no foul. Where as if I had paid full price I would feel ripped off not to mention had the game been listed at full price I would DEFINITELY think twice about purchasing it.

  5. Free to Play sounds great until you actually start playing it. After a few hours into the game, you realize that you might have been better off forking over the cash for a full game. I used to play a MMORPG called Mabinogi, and when it started having major issues, people were really upset. Mostly because they had plugged thousands of dollars into the game with poor customer service in return. At this point, it’s almost unplayable with lag. I’m glad I managed to keep my in-game purchases down to maybe $50, but I still feel kind of ripped off. I can only imagine how people who hardcore spent on this game feel…I’d much rather know what I’m getting into when I first get the game.

  6. This was an interesting poll, I didn’t expect F2P to have so many supporters. As the bulk of my gaming is done in single player, I rather just buy the game outright and be done with having to spend money on it. I love the idea of episodic games and how well executed they were on The Walking Dead. If a dev/publisher stays honest, this could be a new model I could get behind, but then I look to EA, Ubisoft, Activision, etc. and cast my glance waiting for them to simply shit all over the it. A lot of indie devs of my beloved adventure games seem to be embracing the episodic model and I think that’s a great for them to make the overall game better, and possibly the only way they would be able to get a full game out there. But if not for wanting to support a certain episodic game, I’d probably just wait till the whole series is out before playing (I do have a couple sitting in my library waiting till some more episodes are out before I delve in).

    Annnd F2P. Great idea being shat upon by some crappy business ethics. But I regress. My first experience with F2P was watching my wife play those godforsaken Facebook games, needless to say, my opinion was initially skewed. But then I got a decent PC and found Team Fortress 2 and its hats. I had the game on my XBox from the Orange Box and was pretty amazed that Valve was just giving the game away for free given the tight quality of it and more amazed that they found so much support by selling hats. Competitive FPS really isn’t my bag so I didn’t play it that much, but still it proved to me that when in the right hands a good F2P can be done right. Then I got hooked on DOTA2. My main character, Lina the Fire Mage, now has some cool clothes and a nifty looking staff. I am the envy of the DOTA2 newbs now.

    So, in the end, F2P is a great model when done right and spending money doesn’t give another player an advantage (ex. Pay to Win). When that is done, it really discourages a player from wanting to learn the in and outs of the game and eventually spending some dough in the future. And F2P will not become the be all end all of gaming. Outside of competitive games, the F2P model just doesn’t work in any ethical manner. And trying to skew the model in would literally destroy any great narrative an awesome story driven game could potentially deliver.

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