Free To Play. Wow... a lot of times people get a bit nervous about those 3 words. And that's completely understandable.
While Free To Play games are a nice way to get some cheap gaming, a lot of people are still somewhat terrified of it. And I understand. I'll give an example of what made me stay off Free To Play Games.
Ever heard of a game called S4 League? It was pretty nice. It was essentially an anime style third person shooter with SOME sports elements. And it was free to play. So why not? Well I installed it, got some in game cash just from signing up. So I bought my first couple of weapons aside from the free ones you get for starting as well as some costume pieces. And hey it was fun!
Fast Forward a month later, and my Laptop crashed... kaput. I put in alot of work into my S4 League but when I logged in... all my shit was gone. All I had left were the free things I got for STARTING the game. So... of course I was mad pissed. And cursed at even the acronym 'F2P'. Until a little game called League of Legends came around... which I'll explain later.
But lately... I see it somehow working for Fighting Games.
Now let me say again SOMEHOW. These are companies we're talking about. There's both a good way and the bad way to do F2P.
So here's ways to ensure it can work if properly done.
The Full Shebang: Even if it is Free to Play, make the basics available. A free Character to Start with, Story Mode, Arcade, Practice, Tutorial, unlockable costumes and such. What I believe is great about the resurgence of Fighting Games this past generation is that we can attract in a new crowd of people. So let's say ol' Joey whose never played a fighting game decides to give... let's say a Free to Play Street Fighter a shot. Thinking he's just getting a demo, he gets all the modes and a character for free to test it out. So he gets a full feel of the game. But maybe after mastering let's say Ryu, he decides to try out another free character but doesn't want to pay JUST yet... but wait.
Rotate that Roster: I'll be using League of Legends as an example as I feel this bit is the best idea to appeal to a consumer. Okay so Joey plays as Ryu for week and says 'Hey I like Ryu'. However next week Ken is available to play for free. So Joey plays Ken and says 'Man Ken Rules!'. However next week Zangief is free but Joey says 'Eeeh... not feeling it.' So he goes in and buys Ken KNOWING this is a character he can play and enjoy. League of Legends has the same philosophy in my mind with it's free character rotation. And it's smart as a business decision to allow customer's a chance to try out a character before playing them.
So what of Extras?: By this I mean Extra Costumes or Costume pieces/etc. I personally would like to see that when you buy a new character, you get a costume and/or pieces along with the character as well as their story mode. All for once price. Don't charge for extra bullshit like single costume pieces or color palettes. If you want to release extra purchasable costumes and piece sets (head items, torso items, bottom items, accessories, etc) that's fine. But don't make us pay a Buck for single pieces of costume or just to unlock a few extra colors to use. As for Stages. Don't g other PS All Stars route and make them purchase only. Add them in new patches.
Continually evolve it: Add more characters, Add in fixes buffs and nerfs to existing characters. Maybe add in a new game mode here and there or a new story mode. This fixes some of the problem people have with Ultimate Editions and such and allows you to keep improving on a game without needing to build a sequel or such for awhile.
Offer Bundles: 'Wha?! Paying for a Free to Play game? Psh, fuck that'. Well... then it's optional... Offer a variety of bundles. Like maybe one that has a few characters. A themed extra costume bundle or hell allow players to buy the whole damn thing for a low price. And if people don't want to pay a lot, don't force it on them.
When I was a kid playing the original PS1 and Dreamcast, I didn't have a care in the world. We all were like that at one point right? We didn't care what others thought, we just wanted to play our games. Even if everyone else hated it, there was still that one or two game you loved.
For some reason I feel that's changed now.
As of recent I find myself struggling to enjoy games I love due to other people. Let me clarify, I have a spectrum of autism which makes social situations pretty tough for me. It's a little different for everyone but for me I can get easily swayed. Not internally I still have my main opinions inside but I find I tend to crack under certain situations such as 'One friends hates this guy and you agree with him and yet you're still best friends with that person whose hated'. Generally it doesn't take much to sway me.
But of course to get away from this I played a crap ton of games. A crap ton. Way too many.
...Unfortunately that's changed a bit.
With the advent of several game companies going under fire, I still struggle with 'Do I love their games, or hate them.'
I'll give you a recent example.
I.Fucking.Love.Borderlands2. Currently I have a very stressful job at the place of walls that shalt not be spoken and I still live with my parents under the pressure of 'Getting my life together'. On the times I get the chance, Borderlands among other games are very therapeutic for me. I've only been able to get through three playthroughs but I still want more. But lately it's been tough for me to want to get back in whenever I see messages like 'FUCK GEARBOX! FUCK THEIR GAMES FUCK ALL OF 'EM!'
Now I understand the distaste of DLC over the years. But I still tend to like them if I deem them worth it. Like when I saw 'Hey we're releasing a level cap increase for borderlands 2 for $5.00'. I thought to myself, bit pricey but I just got paid so why not? I wanted to post that but when I saw the comments of 'FUCKING RIPOFF! FUCK YOU' and such I withheld.
I don't know why but despite my love and enjoyment of these kinds of games, whenever I see comments and people talking like that on forums and such... it makes me not want to play them. Not because I hate them, but because I cave easily to peer pressure.
God dammit I just want to enjoy my games and not care what people think...
I love my Vita. I take it with me wherever I go. I bring it with me to play during my breaks at work, take it during the trips to the mall to play while waiting to meet someone, car rides, etc.. I love this device and already own a bunch of games and some downloaded PSP games for it. I even have over 300 songs for custom soundtrack awesomeness. I don't regret my investment on it. Unfortunately I'm afraid this handy device is on borrowed time.
Though I do comfort myself by reminding myself that... well... Sony is a persistent Mofo. Look at the PSP. When it first came out, it did shit. But they stuck with it and soon that little handheld went through several models and had loads of classic and awesome games. So for the Vita I think history will repeat itself. While Sony is fickle on changing certain things, this is how I believe we can fix up things to clear a path for the Vita's success.
Now i'm gonna say something controversial. I personally think the price for the base system is fair. But I'll get on that more later.
I also believe the price for games is fair... aside from the ones that cost $50. Seriously what the hell is that about?
The main biggie is... Memory Cards. Now while you can fit up to 3 Vita games on the 4gig memory card (not that hard people), most will feel safer buying the bigger size memory cards. It's kind of a psychological deal. When something has memory space and different verions of said something exist, more than likely people will go for whichever one has the most space available.
Let's do some math for a second to drive this point home.
Let's say... Bob wants to buy a Vita. He goes for the 3G/WiFi version and buys a $40 game. So that brings him to $340 in total. But wait... now he needs a memory card. He could get a 4gig but is afraid of memory space so he gets the 32 gig. Now his total is $440. Well... he also needs to get cases, screen protectors, game cas- you see my point here?
Now while I'm a sony fanboy, I feel their needs to be a comparison to the 3DS. It's a fair price and it's more accessible because of it's price. It's memory is decently priced along with the system itself.
Here's how I believe the prices should be.
See? Now that's affordable. So let's go back to Bob... How ya doin' Bob? Okay. Well let's see his total now.
32gb memory $40
His total is $380. And Bob has some to spare for the extra stuff to. Way to go Bob!
Games is of course a big part of any game system... well no shit. But if Sony really wants people interested, let's set some guidelines
1. Stop focusing on so many ports: While I love the idea of console quality gaming on the go, it seems rather cheap to just do ports. Now don't get me wrong most of these are awesome but save ports for the Cross-Buy program.
2. Build new IPs: I know this is tough. But try to build brand new original games for the system. Look at Soul Sacrifice for example. We need more of that. Brand new original IPs built from the ground up for the system. Make damn sure the devs get to explore every possible bit of the Vita's potential.
3. Bring in the old to something new: Now Sony seems to be on the ball with this one. By this I mean create brand new games of existing Sony franchises for the Vita. While a few may be less than great (Looking at you Burning Skies... you damn hellspawn sonuva-) this shouldn't discourage the idea completely. Bring in a new God of War Game. Hell Twisted Metal was sort of a system seller for PSP, bring that back. Let's just hope Killzone Mercenaries is good.
4. 3rd Party support like a mofo: This will be hard, I understand but send out Dev Kits like they were religious pamphlets.... Pssst... *whispers* and some bribe money... for a... you know... handheld Dead Rising
5. Bring in some more PSP downloadable games: Remember when people were pissed they couldn't get Birth by Sleep on their Vita? Here's a chance to fix that. And make all the games available on the PS Vita PSN store.
To me, the Bundle is the PERFECT way to entice new buyers. Think about it. You're getting the system, the memory card AND a game for the price of the system alone. Who wouldn't want something like that?! Well...
1. Make sure the games are worth it: Assassin's Creed was alright and Call of Duty was Dog-Shit. Save this for 1st party games and sure... bring in new colors.
2. Playstation Plus: YES YES AND HELL YES! Not only make Playstation plus available for the bundles but make it available for standalone systems as well. And like I said, it's not hard to fit more than one game on the 4 gig memory card. And it'll work out if the customer has a PS3 as well.
3. Add in more goodies: Nooot necessarily a must be. But why not add in other neato stuff like cool cases and such. Remember those bitching Persona 4 Golden skins you got for pre-ordering the game? Stuff like that.
Like I said earlier, I believe history will repeat itself for the Vita and in a few years we'll have the ultimate handheld gaming system and Dev's will be able to unlock the full potential of the Vita's capabilities. But small changes like the ones I listed will help make that journey easier.
Long Live Play Mofos.