The Monthly Question: March 2017


Every year the PlayStation Nation writers nominate and debate what games should make the final lists that everyone votes on for the Golden Minecart Awards. One particularly heated debate was arguing over which of two games deserved the last spot in a category.

During this discussion, the question arose, should a $60 game take priority over a Free to Play game? While it was quickly settled that paying for a game does not automatically make it better than FTP, some arguments were made about how the FTP business model can affect games.

None of the responses for this month came out and said that Free to Play games are an automatic turn off, but that is not an uncommon thing to read on the Internet. While there are some games designed only to take money from players, there are some FTP games that are worth playing.

To shine a light on our thoughts on Free to Play games and how long we have continued to play them, I asked the PS Nation writers:

What Free to Play games have you played?
Chazz Harrington (PSN ID: ChazzH69)
I check out most Free to Play games but most quickly feel desperate for me to open my wallet, apart from GUNS UP! I’ve played that one almost daily since December 2015. Since its release, the game has evolved and grown while still keeping everything that made it great. I usually aim to play for just five or so minutes each day but have been known to let that drag out to an hour or two.

There have been a few others that I enjoyed playing like The Tomorrow Children, Jetpack Joyride, Let it Die, War Thunder, and more, but I always come back to GUNS UP!

Make sure you sign up for the GUNS UP! PS Nation Alliance

Andy Richardson (PSN ID: andyscout)
I’ve tried a bunch but the only really stuck with two. For several years I played a lot of League of Legends with friends. We played nearly every night for at least a few matches, and I spent some money here and there on skins for my favorite heroes. I never felt too pressured to pay for the game, as we played pretty casually, but I did feel okay with dropping a few bucks here and there given how much time we spent playing.

I’ve picked up a few random phone games that are FTP as well but usually stop playing after a week or two, once I start hitting the pay walls. However, one game based on the anime Love Live has been on my phone for a couple of years now. I don’t play as much now, but I’ll log in on occasion when I see there’s an event going on. I’ve spent more than I’d care to admit on that game though these days I make due with the handouts I get for free.

Ben Palmer (PSN ID: CNPalmer)
My Free to Play experiences have been somewhat limited. Even though there is no shortage of options for FTP games on the PS4, such as Warframe, GUNS UP!, World of Tanks, Kill Strain, Smite, Let It Die, Seriously, the list is exhaustive, you really need to be a bit picky when it comes to where you want to invest your game play time.

I never really got into the larger FTP games like I mentioned above. Mostly because the game style didn’t appeal to me as much or I was more interested in a title that I paid for that I felt should probably get more of my attention.

However, I was fairly invested in Treasures of Montezuma Blitz on the Vita. It was an easy match-three type game that you could pick up and play for thirty minutes here or there without needing to keep track of story elements, manage inventory, etc.

However, the servers were recently shut down so my progress is pretty much halted now and I can never really complete the game. I never did pay any more for it so I was only there to enjoy the game itself.

And that last point brings me to one of my main concerns with the FTP model. If you do not have a paying audience that is somehow invested in the game through the initial purchase or through continuous micro-transactions, the game can close up shop at any point leaving players stranded. That means all my loyalty to a game I devoted hours, days, or even months to has no loyalty back to me as player.

John Payant (PSN ID: johnnyp70)
I think Free to Play games have a place in gaming, even in the console space. I play a few on a regular basis, especially GUNS UP! and Gems of War, both of which reward daily logins with bonuses. In addition, those two examples, among others, do not put pressure on you to spend money.

Due to that, I have spent a little real world money to thank the developers/publishers for making a game that I really like. I don’t get into the larger scale FTP games that others swear by, but that reflects more on my gaming habits rather than the quality or business model of those games. Overall, when done right, I absolutely think Free to Play games should be supported.

Michael Cwick (PSN ID: The1stMJC)
Depending on the file size, I am always willing to try a FTP title at least once. I still haven’t found one that has been able to capture my attention for too long. DCUO and Let It Die got really close, but after a dozen or so hours I dropped them.

So Free to Play games are rarely a no unless the file size is too large to bother since I have a data cap on my internet.

Matt Engelbart (PSN ID: WithSwordAndGun)
I usually try most FTP games when I am in between games. Between the gameplay and mechanics designed around the FTP business model, I usually don’t stick with any of them very long.

I played Neverwinter on PC for a while a few years ago. I did pony up some real money but was not happy about it. The developers deserved some money for how much I was playing it, yet I kind of felt like their hand was reaching into my pocket to take it. I still think it’s a good game but I believe it would be so much better as a full $60 purchase without all the FTP currencies and time gates.

The best FTP game that I have ever played is the action RPG Path of Exile. Not only is it an amazing game, in my opinion much better than Diablo III, but the only things players can spend real money on are cosmetic items and more inventory slots.

Since launch the game has had lock boxes too but they tell you the chances of winning a rare item versus a common item. They even tell you the value of the items. I just wish that more developers took a similar approach to making FTP games instead of designing them around ways to take money from people.

Your Turn
These are our thoughts on free to play games and the games we have played. How about yours? Tell us in the PS Nation Forums.

Thanks as always to John Payant for editing.

Written by Matt Engelbart

Matt Engelbart

I love all things video games. When I am not gaming I am watching the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, BBQing, and reading.

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