Quake Live has been nicely ticking over since its release almost two years ago, but it’s never managed to reach the stratospheric popularity of some other Free to Play games like League of Legends or World of Tanks. id Software reckon that this is perhaps because they haven’t got the payment model quite right, and haven’t incentivised purchasing to the degree that really pushes it forwards.
And so, with that in mind, they’re restricting the amount of maps available to free players at any one time. Which sounds like a drastic thing to do, and sounds like it might upset a lot of players. It’s both those things, but it might just work to bolster an ailing game, if it is ailing.
Going forward, maps will be placed on a rotation for each month, with 21 being available to everyone for the entire duration. At the end of each match, players will select from three available choices to vote on for the next location, and then they’ll play on that. It operates in a very similar way to League of Legend’s champion rotation, where each week you get eight new champions to play for free, except with one crucial difference.
And that’s that instead of being shown something new and exciting that you can take out for a testdrive, then buy if you’d like to, (with in game currency you accumulate for free, it’s worth noting), the only way you can play all the maps you want to play in Quake Live is to become a ‘Pro’ player, and create your own match, so that you can pick whichever map you want. So instead of lots of little purchases driven by something new and fun, it’s decentivising free play, forcing you into a situation you don’t really want to be in.
Fans of the game are annoyed on two fronts, with the free players getting annoyed that all their fun toys are getting taken away, which is perhaps a bit of an overreaction; they were playing for free, after all. But Pro players, too, the ones that have paid, are frustrated because the new system could well mean that they’ll have less people to play with, not just because some people might leave in frustration, but also because with the new restrictions, there will be less people to play with on the maps they want to play on.
The changes hit with the next patch, and it’s going to be very interesting to see whether they remain in their current form, change, or are scrapped all together. Which is part of the beauty of free to play; it turns games into an ongoing experiment, where developers can try things out and see what sticks.