I’m a ravenous consumer of video games. I buy a handful of games every month, there’s no slow month or off-peak period for me. As long as games are being released, there is a good chance that at least one of them will interest me. Thanks to the recent surge in quality F2P titles, like Runes of Magic or Dungeon & Dragons Online, I have a few other avenues of digital deliciousness to investigate. My rampant consumerism hasn’t been influenced by the rise of quality free titles, at least not yet, but they are affecting each other.
The bloated nature of today’s games means that there is a constant struggle for harddrive space. Simple titles can take up hundreds of megabytes of space, while the complex MMORPGs can devour 10 gigs easily. I don’t know about you, but when I purchase a title I have this inherent need to complete it. By doing so I feel that the spent discretionary funds serve their purpose, to entertain. This is why I never could beat a game that I pirated (I was very poor once). My heart just wasn’t in it, and many other pirates are the same way, collecting rather than playing. F2P games avoid the stigma by offering constant growth. If it isn’t my character leveling in Runes of Magic, then it’s my statistics in Combat Arms, or my summoner level in League of Legends. This aspect keeps me invested in the game and its associated community. But whenever a new game comes along, F2P or otherwise, I always look at the F2P list first to see which will go.
Again, it comes down to a perception of entertainment value per dollar spent. Unless I wrote off a paid for game (ie beating Batman Arkham Asylum), then there’s no way I’ll uninstall it over one of the many F2P titles floating around on my harddrive. That may not sound like a big deal, I know I could always reinstall the title if I enjoyed it, but I’ve never done that. I have never had my relationship with a F2P game re-kindled after its 1s and 0s were removed from my magnetic disk, and that’s a shame.
The developers of the various titles are partially to blame for not releasing material to reclaim our interest, but the initial damage is done by a gamer’s perception of worth. Why is it that we can write off a F2P game that has given us hours of entertainment so easily? Is it because it isn’t going anywhere, easily re-downloaded if needed, or because we aren’t monetarily invested? What can developers do to solve this genre pervasive conundrum?
I know that I could purchase new harddrives to circumvent the problem, but that will only delay the issue.