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Parallels between free-to-play MMOs and the iTunes Store

James Egan

Have you ever looked at your favorite subscription MMOs and thought about how much of the content available there you actually play through, use, or experience? Do you ever feel you're paying for more than you're actually using? Beau from the Spouse Aggro podcast points out an interesting parallel between how free-to-play MMOs vs. subscription titles relates to the iTunes Store vs. buying CDs.

Even though many people embrace the piecemeal approach to buying music through services like the iTunes Store, there are still plenty of consumers out there who still prefer to buy their music on CDs. After all, that's just how it's been done for years and some people really like to own a CD. They might not listen to every track frequently, but the music's always there for them in case they choose to enjoy it at some point. But how many times have you bought a CD after having heard a certain track you like, only to find out that only a few tracks on that CD are actually good? Maybe your friends like the whole album but for you, there are only a few you'll ever listen to. Did this make you look at the entrenched idea of having to buy the whole CD differently?

If so, that's exactly Beau's point with free-to-play games. He's not paying a subscription for a game where he only plays certain aspects of it, he can pay for the specific content he wants to play or have. Free-to-play games give him choice in what he pays for, a key strength of F2P titles he asserts. He also comments that the CD paradigm (applied to MMOs) brings limitations to gameplay. He writes, "If you were forced to pay the 18 dollar price tag for a CD, you would find yourself listening to less and less music, and more and more music from the same, fewer artists."

Beau isn't saying that the F2P business model is necessarily better than the subscription model, but it creates more choices for some types of gamers, and that having these expanded options in gameplay is a good thing.

Do you agree with Beau? Check out his post, "F2P MMOs and iTunes: A Simple Comparison" which goes into much greater detail than what we've mentioned here, and be sure to let him know what you think.

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