Your experiences with F2P?

Inspired by my experience with War Thunder and by the Genshin Impact discussion in the 2020 Community GOTY thread, I was curious what other people's experiences are with F2P games. What have you spent money on? And which models do you consider best -- fairest to the player or least abusive?

In my case, I thought seriously about picking up a premium subscription to War Thunder or a premium aircraft; in the end I shelved it and spent my money on other games. Love to hear your thoughts.

I've spent money, I've not spent money. I usually only spend money when I like what the devs are doing and it doesn't feel exploitative.

I almost never spend on gacha games as that completely ruins it for me.

So... I've played quite a few F2P games over the years. This will probably ramble a bit. I used to hop through a lot of them back when I was fairly broke and my wife absolutely despised me spending money on games, and I still like trying new games out here and there when they look interesting.

They can be great for a while, but tend to fall apart (IMO) once you start putting progress or competitive items behind paywalls. While WarThunder doesn't technically do this, the game is so unbelievably grindy that getting to higher tiers without paying for premium is an absolute slog. I've been playing off and on since before they even added tanks, and I don't have any jets, and only a few high-ish teir tanks (like the German Tiger II). Granted, the main reason I don't really play anymore is down to a bug that causes me to drop to <15 FPS for over 20 seconds at a time, and I haven't figured it out yet, but even when I do log on I typically just stick to the low tiers.

I spent a good amount of time in World of Warships which is about the same, though probably a little less grindy. World of Tanks was OK but I hate how arcade-y it feels, I prefer the realism of WarThunder for ground forces. World of Tanks also becomes very pay to be competitive at the higher tiers where you barely earn any credits even for wins, and everyone is using premium ammo. I've seen enough Jingles videos showing this that I have absolutely no real desire to put that much time into a game I barely like at the lower tiers.

Jumping out of the WWII era simulators, I used to play a fair bit of Dreadnought which is a very good looking game with good mechanics, but they got taken over by another company and became super grindy to push premium unlocks and a subscription. This basically killed the player base and it's hard to get into matches anymore. I actually still use their benchmark cinematic as an encoder test at work on one of my install stations.

Before these games I would hop through different F2P MMOs and just try them out. I loved the feel of The Old Republic but felt they restricted the F2P accounts far too much. I've heard this has gotten better and I should probably go do all the story arcs for the classes, but I rarely stick with it. Dauntless is kind of nice, in that it's a cartoonish clone of Monster Hunter, but it's fairly repetitive. Dragon Nest was OK for a while, but I lost interest. WildStar going F2P was exciting, but overall didn't keep me playing for long. Runes of Magic held me for a bit, but I eventually dropped out of that. I really liked their class system. I grouped these together to a degree because I know I could stick with them longer if I had a solid group or guild to play with, but as a solo player there's not enough to keep me engaged. They were obviously all built for grouping, and I have anxiety issues that make that a bit difficult.

Planetside 2 has a very dedicated community, but unfortunately that hurts it more than it helps it. Most of the time you'll load into a fight and just die repeatedly because most fights will be people with hundreds of levels to their name picking off all the newbies. You can load in and either heal/revive people or repair stuff, but you'll find it insanely difficult to hurt people with the BB guns you get equipped with and all the armor upgrades everyone in the game already has. Couple that with the fact that getting certifications in that game to get better gear is an absolute pain in the ass... Well... you can't do much and it's really hard to get better.

Star Trek Online is probably the one F2P I've actually put money into, and that ultimately led to me quitting. I bought some of the keys for crates and managed to get one of those rare ships that drop from them. Instead of using the ship, I decided to sell it on the marketplace. Once it sold for 1M credits, I accepted the payment and only got 10K. That's when I realized my F2P account was capped at 10K credits, so I immediately bought the upgrade and contacted customer support who basically told me tough sh*t. So they won't get another dime from me, and I completely quit, even though I enjoyed playing that one.

Overall I like hopping into F2P games as a break from other things I'm playing, but I never go into one thinking I'll stick with it long term.

100% of the time I lose interest shortly after convincing myself that I'm having enough fun to spend a few bucks.

To minimize buyer's remorse I've signed up for the Google rewards stuff on my phone and answering a few short surveys usually means that I have a few bucks for whatever free game is currently holding my attention.

Most of the time I take perverse pleasure in ignoring the pay to do things quicker stuff and just stubbornly treading water. My favorite state is when the internal economy breaks. Like, sitting on a pile of several million of the premium currency collected through gameplay and then seeing a 'sale' of a few hundred units for $99.99.

I might toss a few bucks at a developer if I think the game is particularly special. For Genshin and Apex Legends I happily tossed $10 at a months battle pass like that by way of a tip jar.

Similarly, I've paid the "turn ads off" fee on a couple of mobile titles I really liked for the price of a latte. Funny story about that though, I've started playing Words with Friends 2 with a friend and holy sh*t is that the zenith of exploitative mobile design. The ads are after every move, so i went to pay the $3 to turn them off, and nope, Zynga wants $10. EVERY MONTH. I'm honestly gobsmacked that's a realistic way to make a profit. Hard no.

I never pay for gacha pulls/card packs. It's deceptive and sh*tty to charge for a sight unseen thing, afaic. That said, I've enjoyed several of those games and just coasted for free.

I've only done a few F2P games, ever. Quite a few MMORPGs, for one. A few mobile games.

The MMORPGs, I didn't stick with for reasons other than they were F2P. I don't think I ever ran up against a serious barrier with the F2P model in any of them because I stopped playing them before I got there. That's more about fatigue with that type of game. With LOTRO I did actually spend some money, mostly just to buy their temporary buffs just to see more of the game. But MMORPG fatigue got in the way anyway.

I did give Genshin Impact a try too but I stopped playing because everyone was calling it a BotW-like, and it really didn't scratch the same itch. I kept thinking that I could just be playing BotW, and I uninstalled.

The mobile games... Every single one felt slimy to me. You'd create an account with a FREE BONUS OF 50,000 COPPER or whatever the in-game currency was (which pretty much always means like $0.50 worth), start your new game, and then... you come up against a level that is obviously impossible to solve without buying some booster or doubler or other thing that makes it obviously pay-to-win. Every single one of those games ended up uninstalled without a cent spent on them. It's just obscene. I'll give you $10 to play your game forever. I will not spend $10 every week when I come up against the next wall you arbitrarily put in my way.

The only F2P game I've spent money on is MechWarrior Online, and it was a lot of money over many years. I had a good time, even if it was frustrating to watch the developer run headfirst into a wall over and over before finally abandoning it for MW5.

Will I ever pay into an F2P again? With the industry-wide shift toward online slot machines, I rather doubt it. I prefer to pay for X and get X, but I don't see a lot of new games launching with that model.

I like battle pass mechanics. I really prefer earning things to buying them with real money from outside the game. I like how buying a battle pass both lets you support the game and feel like you're earning stuff too as you move down the track.

Second favorite way to spend money is when they just offer packs of stuff for an up-front price.

Last, like many others have said, is gambling. I've bought a couple loot boxes in the past and nothing kills my interest in a game like paying five or ten dollars and receiving literally nothing. ESO I'm lookin at you, I don't care if the crates only contain cosmetics, it still counts as gambling.

BuzzW wrote:

I like battle pass mechanics. I really prefer earning things to buying them with real money from outside the game. I like how buying a battle pass both lets you support the game and feel like you're earning stuff too as you move down the track.

Second favorite way to spend money is when they just offer packs of stuff for an up-front price.

Last, like many others have said, is gambling. I've bought a couple loot boxes in the past and nothing kills my interest in a game like paying five or ten dollars and receiving literally nothing. ESO I'm lookin at you, I don't care if the crates only contain cosmetics, it still counts as gambling.

SO much this! Very frustrating! If I am going to spend the cash, at least get me the option to buy what I want. Not where I am looking to buy a new cosmetic only to get a random offer of food or something else. Big turn off.

I've always thought League of Legends had the best F2P model. Everything can be purchased with in game currency except cosmetic skins.

Really depends on the game, but the true F2P games I've loved the most and did not think twice about supporting (through either a "battle pass" or specific things designed to do a specific thing in-game were: Fortnite, Apex Legends, Path of Exile, and Warframe.

I put a lot of time into Asphalt 9 on Switch. It was pretty great. I probably spent $60 over the course of 120+ hours. Eventually like most F2P games there comes a point where you can’t reasonably win or buy meaningful progress. This particular game also has a pretty high skill ceiling and I was probably in the top 5000-10000 in the world, but you needed to be top-1000 to progress that way. Plus making the 45 minutes every day became a chore, so I quit.

The key to me really enjoying the game is that the minute to minute gameplay was so fun.

Other less fun F2P games I’ve played are the MyNBA 2k games, where you play a CCG to get points in the real NBA game. I only ever played those for the points so I never spent any money. I did occasionally find myself competing in special events for cards but stopped playing once I realized I was putting real time in for no real-game reward.

One game I’d recommend to JRPG fans is Another Eden.

I played Hearthstone for a while, but I never spent any money on cards. I mostly just played Arena mode which doesn't require real money. Other than that, nothing much. When I see F2P, I run for the hills. The best F2P model is one where you can't get any gameplay advantages by spending money, but you can spend money on cosmetics.

MOBA's have given me the most enjoyment when it comes to F2P games. That said, Heroes of the Storm cost me quite a lot of money in the long run, so it certainly wasn't 'free' to me. Hearthstone, same thing. Free game that cost me a fortune. Elsewhere I've tried the likes of Path of Exile, Warframe, Elder Scrolls Online... none of them held my attention for very long. As someone with a fairly large pile I would often rationalise that I had a premium version of this 'free' game in my library so I should prioritise that.

I've played and had a great time with Apex Legends, Warframe and Heroes of the Storm.

They are however time consuming to play well and regularly. After this season in Apex I'm going to step back because I don't have time to play regularly enough to really take advantage of the Battle Pass. But I've been playing it solidly for 9 months, the Battle Pass isn't essential to buy, but you do get some fun stuff and it's a good value tip to the devs.

I played Warframe for a good long time too, playing on PC discounts come regularly for the real money currency so I spent a bit to get slots for frames and weapons. But the game also becomes very time consuming if you're trying to get other stuff done.

I basically just don't have the time to dedicate an hour or two daily to any game and FTP games really require it. It's not a burden if the games are fun, which the ones I've resonated with are.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

I've played and had a great time with Apex Legends.....

Ah yes, I forgot about Apex. That's an excellent F2P game. My problem with Apex, as I've said in that games thread, is nothing to do with its F2P model, just that I'm extremely bad at the game.

The same goes for Fortnite too in my opinion. It's a great F2P game, and a way of life for many among the younger generation. My son practically lives and breathes it, to the point where it's getting a bit much tbh.