Gaming companies are growing more and more aware of how popular MMORPGs have become over the last ten years. Ultima Online was the first game developer to take the RPG (role-playing game) genre and make it into something the entire world could enjoy together. Since then hundreds if not thousands of MMORPGs have been created, making this new genre of gaming fairly standard. Anyone who has heard of MMORPGs or online gaming knows the name World of Warcraft. This specific game requires a monthly subscription to play, and a subscription gives you free reign to all content within the game. Other games, such as those created by Gamers First or other companies, focus on free-to-play games that use other means to make a profit. The real question is: What are the advantages and disadvantages of games that are free to play versus those that require a monthly fee?
The following are some of the major reasons people play free MMORPGs and a few reasons to be cautious with these types of games.
Time & Cost
Any real gamer will tell you that the world of gaming costs a lot of money, and in most cases a lot of your free time. Some gamers find that playing free-to-play games allows them to avoid the issue of cost, and in most cases the issue of spending too much free time gaming. Since you are not required to pay a monthly fee, there is no stress of making sure you get your money's worth each month. Most free-to-play MMORPGs are also free to download, and you can usually play them online instead of separately downloading the game on each computer you use. The major drawback to these types of games is that if you're not willing to pay a little money to support the company, you're not going to be as powerful or have access to all the content of the game.
Micro Transactions are what make these free games possible. The idea behind this system is that companies or games will incorporate an in-game or online store where you can purchase items, EXP bonuses and other goodies with real money. Some games will even give you additional content or weapons you are unable to unlock within the game itself. Games like APB: Reloaded, Fiesta Online, Eden Eternal, League of Legends and many others all use this type of system to make profit.
One major problem most companies have is avoiding the pay-to-win scenario. With some games, if you are willing to spend the money, you can get better gear or items than anyone else, no matter how long they have played the game. However, not all free-to-play games are pay-to-win, and more and more game developers are avoiding this mind set.
Most free-to-play MMORPGs have a large number of hackers using programs that give them an advantage. Games like APB: Reloaded, Counter Strike and many others have this issue and not enough time or money to stop the hackers. Since these games are free to download and free to play, there is no real penalty for hacking the game.
As you can see, you'll need to consider a variety of things when looking into a free-to-play MMORPG. Over time, these types of games are becoming more and more polished, and in time we suspect they will be the only way to play online. However, in their current state, free-to-play games can be a bit frustrating or unfair unless you plan on spending some money for the extra goodies.
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