Free To Play comes under fire by the OFT
There’s no such thing as a free lunch – so they say. Generally speaking, most games developers want to eventually make something for their hard work – and they are entitled too. There are a number of methods to this. Adverts in game, paying an upfront fee (as you would say with Crysis 3), Free-to-Play and finally, there’s the donation option.
F2P isn’t really free though, the games were created with the purpose of encouraging Micro-transactions so that the company / individual obtains some money from you. There can be a number of gimmicks to convince you to part with your cash. There’s the “we’re gonna make it real tough for you to get the gear you need” approach, a fair number of shooting games especially on mobile platforms go with this. Titles like Contract Killer purposefully limit ammo to the point it’s bloody hard without buying more. Other games like Temple Run allow you to buy unlocks / more tries with your cash, and other titles like Team Fortress 2 provide you with the chance to get all of the equipment a lot easier and not rely on random chance.
The thing is though, that recently this method of selling you a product is coming under fire – mostly from angry parents who’re upset that their son or daughter have accumulated huge bills because of these games. This has prompted the Office of Fair Trading (A UK body) to begin investigating into this further – more over – they are actively encouraging other countries to investigate too.
“In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children – a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them.” Says the OFT, they are certainly not one for mincing words.
They OFT clarified that they are “not seeking to ban in-game purchases”.
“We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.
“The games industry must ensure it is complying with the relevant regulations so that children are protected. We are speaking to the industry and will take enforcement action if necessary.”
Some games certainly are ‘nicer’ than others in the way they go about the Free To Play model. Perhaps the kindest among them being Valve’s Team Fortress 2. It’s F2P model allows you not have any disadvantage should you decide to not cough up your cash, but it does benefit you to do so if you want all of the items earlier. In other words, it doesn’t punish you for not doing so – but if you choose to, you’ll have more fun quicker. You’ll not be at the mercy of random chance of that item you crave to drop.
F2P done right? Sure – but think about it, this way – if you keep your customers happy, then surely they’ll buy more of your products in the future. It’s a matter of trust…