Four More Days!

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.

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2 Responses

  1. I thought I’d give a quick feedback as a f2p player. About 2-3weeks in so far, and curently the crafting limit is bugged, 8 hours offline crafting but can craft 24/7 if online, and I’m glad about it. I’m pushing to make a cargo bike/atv and with parts taking 4h+ and advanced instructions @ 8hours to craft, any of the advanced vehicles would take weeks to build @ 8hours per day.
    In all honesty, I might have given up and movedon by now if the 8hour limit wasn’t bugged and staying online to craft isn’t much of a substitute, I can’t exactly do much else with the pc during that time. As it is though, the current (bugged) limitation allows me to progress at an acceptable rate (with a bit of time/resource management) and the chip limit is not an issue for now. Those together mean that when I can afford it, I’ll be getting at least 1 months subscription to remove those limits (which is permanet even if you return to f2p after the subscription ends).
    Fallen Earth is a damn good game, as a f2p player it’s probably got the ideal payment model / f2p restrictions to keep me playing long enough to get invested in the game. Finances being what they are in this economy, games have to earn their place on my list of financial priorities and fallen earth is definitely doing that. I actually expect to subscribe regularly once money isn’t as tight, which is something most online games, whether f2p or p2p, fail to do within about a week.
    Still hoping I can get my cargo bike in before the crafting limit is fixed though… I’m not so sure I’d stick it out otherwise ;p

  2. This is and remains my major concern about the crafting limit, that it can slow down a player’s progress in the game so much that they’ll decide that the waiting time just isn’t worth it and move on. I don’t see how that helps the game or its bottom line.

    That’s an interesting point about the crafting bug. I have noticed that it’s seemed I’m getting more crafting done than I’d have expected to being limited to 8 hours in a 24 hour period, yet I also hadn’t attempted any major crafting projects since the game went f2p. Just a couple of days ago I started on the process of preparing to craft a dune buggy and I’ve been waiting to see how the crafting limit impacts that. So far everything I’ve set up to craft overnight has been done the following day when I’ve logged on, but it’s still a slow process, even with making sure to log out in a crafting facility, especially since when I do log on I’ve been spending my time actually playing rather than hanging out in a crafting facility.

    I love this game, and when the holidays come around I fully expect I’ll be buying some premium game time. How much I’m not yet certain, but probably as much as I can afford. The reality is that for me, as I expect it is for all gamers, it’s about having fun. If the f2p limits start getting in the way of that, then I’ll have to start considering the value of continuing to invest in this game going forward. Since I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to afford to keep up a premium account consistently, part of that consideration has to include whether or not FE is worth playing at the higher levels as an f2p player. Since I’ll probably crack level 30 sometime over the next several hours of play time, it has to be a key consideration.

    My hope is that G1 realizes that the reason why f2p games are currently doing as well as they are right now is directly linked to the current economy and the fact that jobs and therefore discretionary income are limited for many players. When finances get tight, hard choices will have to be made. If players find that the quality of the FE experience declines significantly for them when they are forced to downgrade to a free account, I think many will probably start looking for other games to play. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other options, after all.

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