Director of the EverQuest franchise development David Georgeson has made a habit in the past of defending the free-to-play business model used by an increasing number of MMOs, demanding no asking price for players to dive in, and leaving the payments (in the form of extra content or items) up to them. So it’s no surprise that is the exact business model gamers can expect to see in the latest from the franchise, EverQuest Next.
Speaking with IGN, Georgeson states his belief that all gamers should want all MMOs to be free-to-play, as a means of encouraging developers to work their hardest in order to produce a truly entertaining game. That might sound like an opinion most likely to come from someone whose livelihood doesn’t depend on the finished product being profitable, but Georgeson offers more of an explanation:
“There’s nothing wrong with the subscription model. I have personal opinions, which I’ll go ahead and share because I’m just that cocksure of myself… I think that free-to-play is the way that gamers should want their MMOs to be, and the reason I think that is that if we don’t do a really good job and we don’t entertain the player, we don’t make a dime.”
The idea of free-to-play is sometimes looked down on, due to the impression that one must ‘pay-to-win’ rather than buy premium content for a reprieve from what some players might see as a chore (a.k.a. ‘the grind’). However, it is becoming quite popular among MMOs, with many converting from the subscription model to increased revenue – the exceptions being World of Warcraft and the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online.
Georgeson explains that in order for players to feel like they haven’t been cheated, MMOs need to be a thought out investment, rather than an initial $50-60 gamble:
“We’re effectively street performers: we go out there and sing and dance and if we do a good job, people throw coins into the hat. And I think that’s the way games should be, because paying $60 up front to take a gamble on whether the game is good or not? You don’t get that money back. So if you buy a turkey, you’ve just wasted your money. With free-to-play you get to go in, take a look at it and find out. It’s entirely our responsibility to make sure you’re entertained. That’s the way things should be in my opinion with free-to-play.”
This opinion is something that can either unite players, or separate them. With an example from Team Fortress 2, many gamers who had initially paid for the game felt cheated, and labelled those who entered the online arena once it had gone free-to-play ‘Freebies,’ treating them as a lower class of players. This rift tended to make the environments of MMOs hostile, and threatening to many newcomers.
While Georgeson and Sony Online Entertainment will first be releasing a precursor to their MMO entitled EverQuest Next: Landmark, which will be Minecraft-esque, they are still hard at work on the full fledged MMO (still without a confirmed release date). Georgeson has also expressed serious interest in Sony’s Project Morpheus, but has not stated any support for it within the previously mentioned games. However, Georgeson has implied in the past that Oculus Rift could be could be supported as well.
What do you think? Is the free-to-play model what the MMO genre needs to succeed and evolve? Let us know in the comments below!
EverQuest Next will be released on PC and PS4.