The imminent release of The Elder Scrolls Online - not to mention Wildstar, that other, underdog hope for the post-WoW MMO - has dredged up that argument for the ages (and ages, and ages): will free-to-play really replace the subscription?
EverQuest development director David Georgeson has helped shift his series over to the former, but won’t speak ill of the subscription model. Instead, he’ll tell us why he thinks free-to-play is better for players.
“There’s nothing wrong with the subscription model,” began Georgeson in a chat with IGN. “I have personal opinions, which I’ll go ahead and share because I’m just that cocksure of myself.”
Georgeson believes in the principle of try-before-you-buy. If SOE don’t do a “really good job” on EverQuest Next, they won’t “make a dime” - and the dev director thinks that’s only right.
“We’re effectively street performers,” he explained. “We go out there and sing and dance and if we do a good job, people throw coins into the hat. And I think that’s the way games should be, because paying $60 up front to take a gamble on whether the game is good or not? You don't get that money back.”
If the game you’ve bought upfront is a “turkey”, Georgeson points out, your money is wasted.
“With free-to-play you get to go in, take a look at it and find out,” he said. It’s entirely our responsibility to make sure you’re entertained. That’s the way things should be in my opinion with free-to-play.”
I’ve often thought that free-to-play might have been the best thing to happen to MMOs - the vast majority of which most PC gamers never used to dip a toe in. There’s no denying that much of the potential good (and bad) lies in the implementation, though. What do you lot reckon?