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Solving piracy through free-to-play

by Han Cilliers (Lola)  Posted Friday, March 01, 2013 8:51:44 AM

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by Joachim Duchenne

Over the last few years, the video games industry has been trying to solve the problem they’ve been having with piracy. We all know the age old axiom that “If it can run through a cable, it’s free.” But at some point someone has to be paid for the efforts that they go through to actually design the game. Eventually someone in the industry decided to compromise. After looking at the success of games that said F**K IT, WE DON’T WANT MONEY FOR ANY ADEQUATELY EXPLAINED REASON (Games like Runescape and the more recent Maple Story) they came upon the realisation that maybe people don’t necessarily want to fork out $60 dollars for every game they want to purchase.

So this led to a new business model that allowed people to access the majority of their content for free but they have an in-game store in which for a relatively small price you can access either extra content or in-game cosmetics. However, there’ve been companies that have handled this new model well and others who, well………for lack of a better way to describe it; have turned it into an almost Orwellian system of dictatorship (LOOK HOW SMART I AM)

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Ignoring the image above (If you can’t I don’t blame you :3) Valve’s use of the micro-transaction system while not only being a huge success has been mostly fair as in their games (Dota 2, Team Fortress 2) as they charge for items that are purely cosmetic in nature and have no effect on gameplay itself, even if in Team Fortress where some of the items have bonus stats it is more than possible to get them for free through random drops. Not only do players create items themselves with the Steam Workshop, but they can also submit it to Valve to be evaluated. If approved by the Valve staff, these items can then be sold through the game store and the creators receive money for their efforts.

But on the other end of the spectrum we have games like War-Z (No, not Day-Z. Why would you think it was Day-Z? THEY’RE TOTALLY DIFFERENT) which Valve removed from the game store soon after its release for generally just being completely broken. And it had the worst micro-transaction system to date, it was not possible get any of the really good weapons or other equipment without paying for it with store currency AND not to mention this would eventually mean nothing because if you were killed by another player ambushing you (Which is apparently the only interaction with other players you ever had) they could loot your corpse and you would lose your equipment permanently. This type of system actively encourages free play because you can just kill someone and then essentially steal $10 worth of equipment from them.

I understand this system is still relatively young and it still has some kinks it has to work out and hopefully developers will be able to learn from mistakes that other companies have made. But I believe that once the industry has learned how to strike a balance that benefits both the free players and paying customers a new golden age of gaming will arise. Now, I’m going to have a game of DOTA 2 and pray that I don’t receive another mother f**king chest again. :’D

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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