Free-to-Play Faux Pas – Time Limited Gear

Recently I’ve popped back into All Points Bulletin since it’s gone F2P.  I like what GamersFirst has done with it.  Unfortunately they have hit what I think is the major Free-to-Play faux pas, time limited gear.

Now I get that they need to make money somehow.  I do.  But having gear which is limited in real-time which confers no bonus to be unless I am playing is the antithesis of a major reason why F2P games are so attractive.  Namely the ability to pick it up every now-and-again and not feel like you’re wasting money.

In APB I can unlock a gun for 10 days.  10 consecutive, real-world days.  Early on some players were having connection issues to the servers.  Dropping every 5-10 minutes kinds of issue.  As such I decided to just set the game aside for a week or two to let GamersFirst fix the problems.  I returned this week to glorious, hours long gangland warfare.  But my gun unlock had expired over a week ago.

APB is not unique in this.  This is a common model for other GamersFirst games, War Hawk being the example I tried a year ago.  Runes of Magic does the same thing on some of its items as well.  In APB it isn’t so bad since the unlock wasn’t for real-world money, just in-game currency.  The real-world money unlocks are thankfully permanent.  But, really, if the item I am unlocking can only be used when I am active then the time-limit should be for 10 real-world game-play days.  If it confers some benefit while I am offline then, fine, 10 consecutive real-world days is fine.

Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates does just this.  To play the parlor games you need a parlor badge.  The badge is good for 30 game-play days.  I log in during a 24-hour block, that uses up one game-play day whether I log in once for 5 minutes or a dozen times for 5 hours.  I’ve bought a parlor badge and had it last 9 months because I only logged into Y!PP a few times a month.  Meanwhile to get a steady job at a stall requires a worker badge.  That badge is also good for 30 days.  But since my toon works at the stall regardless of me logging in during any given day it lasts 30 consecutive real-world days.

Y!PP’s system makes perfect sense.  You’re not punishing your on-again-off-again customers for not playing.

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