Free Isn’t Without Cost

I mentioned previously that I was horribad at Planetside 2.  My death to kill ratio was atrocious and I put it up to lack of skill/understanding.  Truth be told, I’ve never played a game that offered zero hand holding and simply dropped you in the middle of a death match.  I am certain that someone has botted a new account creation scheme just to farm new arrivals.  And that brings me to this post’s topic, F2P and bots.

When SWTOR went F2P and decided to have zero entry to the door, they basically said to the botters “come on in”. Without restrictions, they could potentially farm entire zones, flood the market and all sorts of economic destruction without any real repercussions.  BioWare was smart enough to realize this and essentially paralyzed the non-payers with a huge wall.  Though, if they buy but a single item, they still get a lot of access – enough to cause serious damage.

Diablo 3 is rife with botters and this is due to the low cost of entry.  You can get D3 for 20$ or less.  Gold has an absolute floor of 1.25$ per million, meaning you need to sell 25 million gold to break even on the RMAH.  I can assure you that this is no challenge as most bots can make > 1 million per hour with little effort.  So let’s say you’re a botter and you want to make money.  Buy 50 accounts.  Farm for 2 weeks (14 days), 12 hours a day.  You’ve made 7000$.  I could go on about this particular point, but suffice to say that the RMAH is the cause of massive inflation in D3 and an overall failure from a gaming perspective.  From a business perspective, Blizz makes a cut on every gold sold… so you know.

Planetside 2 has zero barriers to entry and zero barriers to play.  Every purchase is a convenience purchase (to level faster) and there’s no actual trade in-game, so the economy can’t break.  What does happen however is that players can cheat the system with hacking tools: aimbots, speed boosters, etc…  SOE can ban the players but the players can just as easily come back for the same experience.  Blocking IPs doesn’t work, proxies fix that.  Blocking hacking techniques doesn’t work either, they just build better tools.  SOE has a massive problem here, where the concept of “equal footing” is a key marker for the value of the game.  If a player doesn’t feel they have a fair chance at winning, why play?  With no barrier to access, anyone can hack their way to the top.  Even if they get banned, they can do it again with no cost but time.

F2P with no barrier is a risk.  An open-world persistent PvP game with next to no penalty for cheating is a disaster waiting to happen.

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