Game Industry, Play

Free To Play: When It Works and When It Doesn’t

I play free to play games.

There's lots of reasons why, but here are the important bits.

First, and foremost, I’ve become a bit of a penny pincher in my middle age. Money doesn't exactly flow freely and I find it hard to justify paying $60 for a video game. When you add the quality issue that a lot of video games seem to have on release lately (looking at you Watchdogs and Destiny), it just becomes foolish to buy most new titles.

Don't get me wrong. I’m happy to support a game when I have the money and the game is really worth it.

This is why I’ve taken to Free to Play (F2P) games in the last year or two. I’m not saying I don't play anything else, but when I’m looking for something new, that's where I start. Because of this I’ve come to realize what makes a F2P game work.

It comes down to playability, respect, and value.


When it works, the game is a fully realized concept. From controls to design, the game functions as it was intended to. The controls are smooth and react as you would expect them to and the game has very few bugs and is playable “right out of the box.”

When it doesn't work, the game is full of holes. It can be any mix of terrible controls, half-realized game mechanics, story, and bugs. In my experience, some of the really bad F2P games hide these shortcomings behind a pay wall where they only become evident once a player gets beyond that wall. For an example of this check out Regina and Rhonda's review of Swordsman on GoG podcast episode 125 and Rhonda's companion piece.