I gave up on the title after a while and became too busy with other games to return. Then, the free-to-play version of the title came out. I still ignored it because of scheduling, but recently I have been returning to it. I am finding a lot of bugs and an overall lack of polish that I had forgotten about, but it's still a really cool game.
So how does the free version stack up to the subscription model? How free is it? Let's take a look. GamersFirst took over the game, it had already re-published APB: Reloaded. Players were familiar with the company, but could such an old-school, immersive experience like Fallen Earth translate to the freemium model? Players of Fallen Earth seemed to come from the school of thought that essentially rejected "those free-to-play games." Would they stick around after the shift?
I can't say for sure, but the game appears to have about the same population as I remembered from before. The way a player accesses the game has changed, including his ability to pay or not pay for game time. Basically, player have a few choices when they go to sign up.
"While I can understand the need to prevent new accounts from having access to the world chat channel, the fact that players need to pay for better customer service is off-putting."
When a player decides to pay, things return pretty much to how they were before the free-to-play shift. The survivalist level ($9.99) is the standard, with rates at 100 percent most of the way. At the common rate of $14.99, it appears as though there are bonuses that bring former subscribers above what they had before. It gets confusing, but essentially the publishers are banking on the fact that a lot of players will see the higher Commander level access (normally $29.99 a month but only $19.99 at the time of this writing), accept it as the norm, and be more than happy to pay $10 or $15. I personally see no real benefit in the higher levels of access, except for those players who might be glued to the game. Don't get me wrong; even $30 a month is a great deal for access to a virtual world. I'm just not a fan of tiered services. It should be noted that there are discounts applied to subscriptions when larger chunks of time are paid for.
For example, to unlock all wardrobe slots, players will need to shell out 1600 G1credits ($20). I have not paid for the item yet, but charging players just to have access to a costume slot is a bit on the expensive side. A name change will cost the same $20, while an extra mount slot is $10. From what I can tell, the extra slot allows players to own more than one cash-shop mount, with all four mounts priced at $10 each. It's a bit ironic to me that the pricing on the mounts is standard for the industry while the prices for appearance items and clothing are off the mark much of the time. A single hockey mask is $5, for example. In one of the worst examples of the cash shop imbalance, an extra character slot is $30. Even if a player decided to go with the maximum level of service, he can unlock only a measly four such slots in total.
"In the timeline of popular MMOs, free-to-play used to apply to foreign titles that sported small clients and accessible cash shops."
These newer tiered freemium models have been popularized by games like EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Wizard101, and now Fallen Earth. While I see absolutely nothing wrong with charging players any price for any item, the blame for "nickel and diming" still needs to be laid on the proper source. Don't get me wrong; I am enjoying my time in Fallen Earth. The payment model has not interfered with my enjoyment of my return to the world, and I'm not sure it ever will. The fact is that the model is great at giving those players who still want a subscription something to pay for, while players like yours truly can come and go and occasionally plunk down $5 or $10 for an item.
On one hand, it's a silly and bloated system. On the other, it's genius.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!