Tuesday, November 3, 2009

DLC, F2P and microtransactions

Dungeons and Dragons Online didn't do too well when it was in subscription model, so Turbine released the core game as free to play. Within that package they introduced also DDO Store, from which you could purchase stuff with Turbine Points, which -in turn- you bought with real money. They transferred the core game into the micro transaction payment system, which is very well known in the Far Eastern MMO's.

Turbine has reported huge increase in the subscriptions in addition to the amount of players of the game.

In effect the game has now extended -free to play- core game up till a point, and people are free to try, test and find out if there is something in the game to keep them playing. And according to the figures there is.

Now Warhammer Online has released their free to play endless trial, in which you can play the tier one as long as you like. I think there is also some sort of store kind of service involved, but I'm not sure. Is Warhammer going for f2p, too? I wouldn't mind, haven't tried it yet even though I love the Warhammer setting and tabletop games.

But the other trend in the console side is the downloadable content (dlc) for single player games. You can download -for a fee, of course- more content to your game after a while. This additional content contains new areas, new gear, new opponents and/or new stories to go through. For us MMO people these are the normal content patches, which we wait with much anxiety. But the payment is included in our monthly subscriptions.

Except that in DDO it's possible to purchase this content separately, just like in dlc payment model.

So my question is, is dlc just another way to introduce microtransactions into single player/console games?

Of course it is. But why are the microtransactions so hated and shunned in MMO genre compared to the console games? In a sense they offer the same flexibility: you pay for what you enjoy doing. If the game sucks so far, you don't get the next dlc patch.

In WoW I could imagine the raid content being an example of potential dlc content. Majority of the player base still will not enter the raid content at all. I wouldn't have paid for Naxx nor Ulduar yet, if it had been an option. Then again, it might well be so that I wouldn't have paid for the ToC/ToGC at all, even though the instance is a loot piñata of the best (and worst) kind. So I would have been content with the instances, heroics and dailies for the time being. 

But as the content and challenge lies up ahead anyhow, I would have gotten to the point where I would have purchased the additional content. As all the accounts are now tied to Battle.Net, it would have been possible to purchase a raid instance as you enter the instance itself...

Scary thought. But most certainly something that has been calculated in Blizzard for some time already. How acceptable would you think this kind of situation? Or how possible do you think is the day when WoW turns into a micro transaction based game, considering the current trend of payable name, faction, server, race or class changes entering the game?

Will WoW stay strictly monthly subscription fee based, or will there be 'payable' content somewhere in the near future?