Runewaker, Frogster and all the powers that be strip away any semblance of forcing players to dig out their wallets while playing Runes of Magic. I haven't played as many free-to-play MMOs as Massively's Beau Hindman, but I have played a good many of them. I'm sure, by now, many players have experienced at least one. If you haven't, then you really should read Beau's columns... or Rubi's or Justin's. Heck, I think everyone here at Massively has experience with F2P MMOs and provides valuable input. Go read up on terms like hybrid, pay-to-play, pay-to-win and the many discussions that have come and gone covering the different F2P business models. I'll wait. Back? Good. Let's get crackin'.
RoM uses a traditional cash shop. It's not a hybrid like Lord of the Rings Online or Dungeons and Dragons Online. It's entirely run on a cash shop, like Perfect World International, Allods Online, or Zentia. But one difference I see with RoM's traditional cash shop is that it encourages players to exchange real cash for in-game gold. Other MMOs have allowed this, but usually it's not integrated. Exchanges are often terribly lopsided and see players charging other players ridiculous amounts of in-game currency for a cash-shop item that cost a few bucks. Cold, hard cash has become a seamless part of RoM's in-game economy. Real cash has taken on a balanced pricing-scale for items because money can be injected into the MMO. It can then be changed into gold to buy anything. A player's real money has not only been integrated into the game but become balanced in the same way any game-item is.
This is only one unique aspect of RoM that could allow for the removal of any perceived pressure to spend in the cash shop to fully enjoy the entire game. RoM already has a great system in which you can experience everything by sacrificing more time, but I think Runewaker and Frogster could do more. I say blow the doors wide open. Give players every little bit that RoM has to offer. It would be like dropping the monthly fee on a subscription-based MMO. I'll tell you how and why after the break.