No one likes free-to-play games, that’s just a fact of life. They’re mostly designed to be addictive cash cows, trying to make more and more money from the player by either offering them premium content or by making you pay to play at all (or both). Sure, there are some exceptions to the rule, like Supercell’s Clash of Clans or Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm, but they’re few and far between. Why Overwatch 2’s Free-To-Play Model Is A Nightmare
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The Pros and Cons of F2P
1. Packed servers. With an F2P system, it’s hard to maintain a healthy player population and with solo games often times feeling empty, players flock to the most popular games.
2. DLC that isn’t downloadable content. This way the company can charge players for new characters rather than the game itself while not allowing any other people access those characters if they choose not to pay up.
3. Unethical microtransactions. Paying real money for in-game cosmetics like loot boxes is just unethical on so many levels, but there are also worries of pay to win scenarios where paying players get an unfair advantage over nonpaying ones by being able to purchase better weapons or armor.
4. Slow matchmaking queues.
The Benefits of F2P
Free-to-play games are often criticized for their paywall strategy, but the benefits of this business model outweigh the cons. In a free-to-play game, players can download and play the game for free with some limitations. These limitations could be as simple as restricting access to a specific map or more complex like limiting player customization options.
How F2P Can Help a Brand/Game Succeed
The F2P model is a double-edged sword that can help a brand or game succeed, but it also has its drawbacks. Sometimes, the benefits outweigh the negatives, and sometimes they don’t. The success of the F2P model really depends on whether or not the game is designed in such a way that is conducive to this type of payment model.
How F2P Can Backfire
There are many reasons that F2P can backfire and I will try to explain some of them in this blog post. The first reason is the pricing model. When you buy an upfront game, you pay a one-time fee for the full game with no strings attached. With F2P, there is a constant reminder of how much money you have spent on the game and how much more it would cost to get all the new characters or maps available for sale.
Overwatch is one of the most popular multiplayer games in the world. Its free-to-play model has been praised by gamers, but also condemned for its lack of content and reliance on microtransactions. But if a sequel launches as a free-to-play game, it will be an even bigger nightmare than the first title. We’ve seen this happen before with Team Fortress 2. The classic shooter was originally released as a paid-for title in 2007, then relaunched as a free game five years later. TF2 became a ghost town after that decision, with less than 10% of its peak concurrent players remaining active in recent years.
The free to play model relies on microtransactions and in-game purchases in order to make a profit. This is nothing new, as many games have used this model, but the problem with Overwatch is that it relies heavily on playing a competitive game. If you’re not at the skill level of the other players, then you’ll be matched against people who are better than you. And if they don’t feel like playing fair and just want to beat you up instead?
Blizzard is already dipping their toes in the free-to-play pond with Hearthstone, so there might be a chance that they’ll do the same with Overwatch 2. The thing about free-to-play games is that they’re built around microtransactions. And what are microtransactions? They’re little purchases for minor upgrades to your characters and such, which are typically overpriced at $1 apiece. This means you can’t get everything without paying a ridiculous amount of money.