‘EverQuest Next’ Dev Explains Why MMOs Should Be Free-To-Play

EverQuest Next Developer Explains Why MMOs Should Be Free-To-Play

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.

Elder Scrolls Online Release Date

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.

Sources: IGN

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  1. well thats sad the game is going to suck then whatever though micro transactions should just go away

    Comment by gddrgbr on Apr 3, 2014 at 5:51 pm
  2. You have to admire his numble standpoint, though. All things considered, I think it’s a very decent approach, while many developers would just grab as much cash from consumers’ pockets as possible, as soon as possible.

    Comment by Rashano on Apr 4, 2014 at 3:44 am
  3. All the MMO’s have always been “pay to win”, nothing really changes. The advantage of free to play is anyone can dive in without paying a monthly fee and decide if and when to take the game to the next level. Playing Everquest for 10 years with 2 accounts cost over $3000 not including expansions. Now I can play for free and still have just as much fun and the choice of high level play is optional not required by a monthly fee.

    Comment by Nastun on Apr 4, 2014 at 5:09 am
  4. Not all MMO’s, you can’t pay to win in EVE.

    Comment by AlexMech on Apr 4, 2014 at 11:26 am
  5. Right now, I think the F2P model has become the norm, while games like World of Warcraft are the exception. Unless your MMO is truly exceptional, I don’t think you can really command a subscription model.

    As you’ve mentioned, only WoW and TESO are asking for a monthly premium. Other games like SWTOR have tried, but we all know how THAT turned out.

    WoW can certainly demand for a subscription. The game started during an era where subscription was the norm, but unlike its competitors–many of which have already died off–WoW was able to maintain its quality through the years.

    Thus, their persisting subscription model still makes a lot of sense even after 10 years.

    TESO, on the other hand, is a newcomer. Bethesda may be known for its open-world single-player RPGs, but ZeniMax Online is a complete newbie. It’s no Blizzard, Turbine, or even a Bioware.

    But even if you look beyond the pedigree, the game itself isn’t really remarkable either; not remarkable enough to demand a monthly premium, at least. Based on the previews so far, TESO isn’t really an outstanding MMO.

    It’s good enough, sure, but there are many better MMOs out there, like LOTRO or Guild Wars 2, which don’t require you to shell out $15 per month.

    Because of this, I think Georgeson’s views on F2P are spot on. I particularly liked the analogy about street performers; if people don’t like what you do, you don’t get paid. So unless a developer can guarantee an outstanding experience, F2P is the way to go.

    The situation may change in the future, but this is how it’s going to stay right now, because this is what the market demands.

    Comment by Mike on Apr 6, 2014 at 7:34 am
  6. Free to play is a devious business model because instead of showing a price up front that people can evaluate, it drip feeds small charges in the knowledge that tracking how much is being racked up is difficult. People end up spending more than they would choose because they cannot easily evaluate the costs, so they end up paying more than something is worth. It’s all about lack of transparency.

    I avoid free to play like the plague and never buy micro transactions. If everyone did the same the business model would fail. Free to play is taking gaming back to the seedy days of arcades when overpriced arcade machines creamed money off addiction like one armed bandits in a casino. If free to play isn’t ditched, the game industry will crash as people loose interest. The game industry needs to remain legit and transparent if it wants to stay in the mainstream of consumer entertainment.

    Sony have hit on an interesting business model with PSN Plus where you get free games each month. I would like to see that expanded where you never buy games at all, you just pay a large annual subscription and can play any game you like for free. Devs get paid by how many hours users clock into their game. That system would allow you to try games you normally would not risk buying. I’ve discovered some great games free on PSN that I that I did not know I would like. It would also prevent you from buying something that turns out to be crap.

    Comment by justerthought on Apr 7, 2014 at 4:53 am
  7. I personally prefer free to play due to the fact that it adds “flexibility” to the pricing model of games. In free to play, the option fall to the consumer if you are going to take it to the next level or not which is what i like. it is very true that most of MMOs these days let you jump into the action without knowing if the game is really entertaining or not. People mostly get trapped in those kind of games and eventually realize that the money they spent is wasted. F2P gives you the “free taste” then its up to you if you will buy it or not, which is good imo. One more thing, free to play entices players ALL around the world which in my opinion is healthy for the MMO. The higher the MMO population, the better. i think Everquest Next is not targeting the short run(1-5 yrs mmo life) profit like B2P and P2P, its main target is the potential revenues the happy and satisfied consumers might bring. Well its more risky but i think the more the risk the higher the returns.

    Comment by Asianmonk on Apr 22, 2014 at 6:09 am
  8. he’s obviously a newcomer to the genre. You guys are doing so many things to help hold downa genre which has already been ruined beginning with blizzard.

    Has anyone at the company even PLAYED a real mmorpg? (something pre wow) Or heck – the game you guys are using as your namesake? (a pity) EQ1 I played for 7 years, only stopped for EQ2, eq2 I played for 4-5. I was ready to be lined up waiting for EQN until I found out a few things….

    Number one being F2P lol. MMO’s should be F2P? wut?! LOL. Oh so you can have a non loyal sub base? Or a revolving door? Perhaps you like having no community or a bunch of immature kids? No those aren’t for you? What about pay2win?

    Blegh, how disappointing. Thank god for brad mcquaid. The guy is the only one in touch w/ what an mmorpg is and should be anymore. Its too bad he’s pitiful businessman. Heres to PRAYING pantheon sees the light of day. That will be my EQN.

    Oh.. wait.. but smed says he plans on going back to EQ-like gameplay!! (he then commences to tell us how their are no classes, no trinity, no raiding, no leveling) bwhaha. not sure what frigging EQ he played but it certainly wasn’t the one I spent mesmerizing years in.

    How far you’ve fallen. You thought EQ2 longevity and current state is bad? Wait until the initial rush of people looking for something for nothing get bored… (attention span on todays mmo kiddies is like nil) This leaves you with a few options, one is dumb the game down even further to bring them back, all the while alienating your true loyalists .. or Bring the game up to snuff with what It means to be an mmorpg (unlikely – I know)

    The mmorpg genre is a perfect example of what too much greed with do to something special. Atleast blizzard has the dignity to admit they destroyed the genre on record, you guys just keep on attempting to milk it dry. It truly is sad. I made so many very very close genuine friends and many many late night memories that were SO exciting in EQ. Nowadays with the people that play these games and the mechanics put in place to pacify their ignorance.. I literally avoid people as often as possible.

    The bell curve…The bell curve..

    Comment by klepp0906 on Jun 23, 2014 at 8:34 am
  9. “..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.”

    ..Wat? That’s, if anything, the exact opposite of what occurs. In virtually every F2P I’ve ever played (and I’ve played dozens of them) the updates get sparser and sparser the longer the game is out and the focus shifts more and more to the cash shop rather than content updates.

    “Georgeson” sounds like he has no real idea how these things play out. These F2P games (including P2P ones that go hybrid) end up with longer droughts between content and the quality of the content often slips as well. To say this encourges devs to work their hardest–I think he’s on the pipe, really. Does this guy even play the F2P games he claims work so well?

    Comment by R.W.D. on Sep 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm