Well, as of midnight tonight anyway.
While the new “crippled crafting” F2P scheme GamersFirst is planning to impose on free players still annoys me just in general, I’ve been doing some more reading on the topic and my annoyance has increased. From what I’m reading, it appears that they’re also doing away with being able to buy many craftable things from merchants. What this is likely to mean in the practical sense is that you won’t be able to get around the crafting limit by grinding for chips, you’ll have no choice but to craft most items yourself and therefore suffer the ridiculous 8-hour crafting limit regardless, unless you want to set something big up to craft and then just take a three-day (or more) vacation from the game.
Um, this is supposed to encourage more people to play the game? Really? Manoman, do I smell disaster in the wind.
Here’s what I now expect to happen once GamersFirst opens the F2P gates on Wednesday:
New free players trying the game for the first time will be fine for a while as their low-level weapons will require only short crafting sessions to keep themselves supplied with ammo. Once they get to a certain level, however, and want to upgrade their weapons they’ll begin to discover how the 8-hour crafting limit is going to slow down their ability to advance in the game and even just keep themselves supplied with ammo. Some will be willing to put up with it, some will buy a paid subscription, but many will just get fed up and move on to other games.
Returning players using their old accounts on the F2P level will reach that frustration point much faster. They’ll find themselves unable to craft enough ammo for more than just a few hours play per day at most, and upgrading their existing weapons and other equipment will often take multiple 8-hour crafting sessions, perhaps even weeks. Those with the money and the desire will shell out for paid accounts, but many others will decide it’s just not worth the the time and effort and they too will move on to other games which don’t involve long waiting periods in order to simply provide themselves with the tools they need to play the game and remain competitive.
Free players will avoid PvP as it will expend too much ammo too quickly and replacing it will now be far too time-consuming and/or expensive to make it worthwhile.
Over time, a schism between free and paid players will develop as free players will be much more reluctant to participate in multi-player combat due to the time expense of creating ammo and new weapons. Paid players will find themselves playing a very different game than that which free players are playing and so there will prove to be little mixing of the two socially or in clans. PvP-focused clans will start refusing membership to free players because they won’t be able to stay competitive with paid members.
The market for ammo and other equipment will crash as free players find themselves unable to afford the asking prices and so those who do stay with the game will simply set up as many crafting projects as they can and then disappear from the game for days or even weeks while they wait for their crafting to finish.
Eventually Fallen Earth will devolve into a game where the free players spend all of their in-game time soloing lower-level missions and a small hardcore base of paid players will be the only ones who participate in PvP and the higher-level content areas of the game. New players will end up leaving the game before they get to the point of wanting to invest in a paid subscription because getting to that point will simply take too long and they will feel too disadvantaged by the crafting limit to really enjoy themselves getting there, while returning players will quickly become disillusioned as they find themselves playing a very different, lesser game than the one they left behind the first time.
In short, free players will not feel they’re able to stay competitive with the paid players while the paid players aren’t going to want to play with gimped free players and after a while, they’ll just stop trying. What Fallen Earth will be left with are two very different player experiences, one for free players and a very different one for those who pay. The paid players won’t have enough numbers for decent PvP and the free players will find themselves playing what is at best a pale shade of what Fallen Earth always has been and should be, essentially a low-level solo mission-based game. The incentive to move deeper into more dangerous areas of the game will be countered by the steep rise in the time and effort to keep oneself supplied and equipped. The higher level areas will become sparsely populated with just about all of the action taking place in the non-PvP areas of Sector 1 and tending to stay there.
What bothers me most is that this is going to change the very nature of the game itself, that which makes Fallen Earth a game worth playing in the first place.
In the short-term, I expect we’ll see a massive increase in the numbers of players playing the game when the F2P gates open but that will be short-lived as the game population rapidly drops once these new players advance far enough that they must begin doing a lot of crafting in order to advance and compete. Over the long-term, the population of Fallen Earth will continue to decline as free players decide they’d rather be spending their time playing instead of waiting to play, and paid players decide that there just aren’t enough other players playing anymore to make the game worthwhile.
That’s what I expect. I hope I’m wrong, truly I do, but I don’t think I am. I’ve been playing MMO’s for far too long to reasonably anticipate any other outcome. In the end, gaming is about having fun, not waiting to have fun.
The folks at Fallen Earth have said that they want to take the game from a theme park model to more of a sandbox model. If that’s truly the case then you really have to wonder why they’re intentionally making the waiting lines to get to the attractions so much longer than they have to be.
Filed under: Notes From The Wasteland