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Blizzard Announces F2P MMORPG!
by Simon Ludgate on 08/02/11 12:17:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


So Blizzard just announced some more details about its upcoming F2P MMORPG, Diablo 3, but left out one big detail: It's an F2P MMORPG.

See, that's a big detail, because the previous Diablo games have been single-player action games with a multiplayer component. So it's no wonder players expected Diablo 3 to be the same.

But it's an F2P MMORPG, don't be tricked into thinking otherwise.

  • Do you have to play online connected to their servers? YES.
  • Is the game largely multiplayer with plenty of instanced solo content, though your friends can come join you any time? YES.
  • Is the game supported by in-game microtransactions though auction house purchases and the sale of cosmetic items? YES.
  • Do you pay a monthly subscription fee? NOPE!
  • Mods? Pfft. Who's ever heard of modding an MMORPG? Of Course NOT!

So where's the confusion? Well, maybe the fact that you have to pay for the initial download and account registration. It's kind of painful, but Guild Wars did that and it was still successful, so Blizzard probably figures it can double-dip too.

I'm actually kind of amazed they aren't triple-dipping with the subscription fee, but no doubt some premium VIP service for subscribers will be added as soon as they can figure out how.

So now that we've cleared up this confusion, people can safely accept that the game has no special DRM, the online only thing is just a part of doing business with F2P MMORPGs. All F2P MMORPGs have this "internet connection required" business but no one accuses them of evil DRM, so why should Blizzard's F2P MMORPG get such a bad rep?

If there's any reason to protest, it should be because Blizzard changed the kind of game it was making; that they're making the kind of game that players might not want. Maybe you didn't actually want a F2P MMORPG from Blizzard.

Maybe you actually wanted a single-player offline game with optional multiplayer component. Well, not that Blizzard gives a shit what you want, you'll buy whatever they sell you, be it an MMORPG or a sparkling pony. But if you're going to complain about anything at all, that's where your complaints should be directed.

Me? Well, I'm interested in seeing where this new forray into F2P space takes Blizzard. Plus, I'm very interested in seeing how the in-game economy develops with their new auction house. I tend to write a lot about virtual economies, after all. If nothing else it will set a major precedent in real currency transactions in-game. Something to keep an eye on, to be sure.

What about you? Are you eager to play Blizzard's upcoming F2P MMORPG?

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Harry Fields
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E Zachary Knight
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I am assuming by F2P you mean "Free to Play" If so, you are incorrect because it will cost $50-60 to even begin playing. Free to Play means that there is no cost to start playing or to keep playing.

Simon Ludgate
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The $50-60 you refer to is merely a "premium early-start promotional offer" that will allow premium users access to the servers before they are opened free to all. Thus the game is still free to play, but only if you're willing to wait out the early-start promotional period.

Patrick Miller
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No. You still need to buy the game. It's going to be around $50 - You cannot Download the game for free, unless you pirate it. Which in lieu of the conversation makes it a "Buy to Play" game. (not to be confused with "pay to play", which requires a subscription)

Tejas Oza
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After all the hectic reading of different opinions from various sites while trying to think enough to form and write about my own... I find this and laugh. Thank you. Things don't seem so dire or important anymore.

Mr. Ludgate, this post is pure, unadulterated win.

Wylie Garvin
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MMORPGs are supposed to have actual content. I won't buy Diablo 3 unless I can play it solo without an internet connection (the exact way I was playing Diablo 2 a week ago on my laptop).

Mike Weldon
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I could have sworn that I read somewhere that Blizzard would not be selling merchandise on their auction house. So I'm not so sure that it will have microtransactions per se. But whether or not they do, I think the comparison to F2P MMORPG's is appropriate.

Simon Ludgate
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My understanding is that Blizzard said they would not sell GEAR directly, but would sell cosmetic items; the same way they sell vanity pets and sparkling ponies in WoW.

Benny Raymond
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cosmetic items and raking from the top of the auction house would count.

Raymond Ortgiesen
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How DARE they make design changes to their decade year old game?

Keith Patch
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I find the auction to be an interesting change... but the DRM and lack of modding is just disappointing.

However, if you look at it as an F2P MMO then it seems dated. I've played the F2P hack-and-slash MMO before and it wasn't all that appealing... and it didn't even have an initial fee. Will it have free content updates like MMOs generally offer? Probably not, we'll just get patches.

Simon Ludgate
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Oh no, even better, you'll get PAID DLC!

Keith Patch
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Aw... This is turning out to be one of the worst MMOs I've ever heard of. :'(

Martain Chandler
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Not my genre.

Nick Quackenbush
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Advancing game design to try new methods of revenue generation. HOW DARE A COMPANY DO THAT!

Nice article!

Guy Costantini
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I like what they did. They are trying an approach that cuts fraud/offshore-farming on the supply AND demand side. Genius move. The only gap left is pertaining to items in high demand never being available for Gold on non-hardcore servers. It's a tough nut to crack from the economy design standpoint. I guess they are going at it with the idea that since they charge a fee, only people who KNOW that an item will sell will bet their $$ on it.

I wonder if this is going to be seen as gambling by the authorities and undergo the same sort of scrutiny.

Patrick Miller
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Simon I cant help but point out the blatant sarcasm of your article. D3 is an action/adventure dungeon crawler just like the other two Diablo games. The only difference is the characters are stored remotly (on blizzards servers) and there is an "always on" requirement. I believe that you created this post in defiance of the "always on" requirement.

I also believe that your title is a bit confusing for the less experienced gamer because a F2P MMO is totally different than what Blizzard has presented D3 to be. Here are 2 simple Reasons D3 is NOT an MMORPG:

D3 - Games are based on limited "co-op" of a max of 8 players per game.

MMO - Servers have thousands of players present simultaneously

D3 - You can theoretically solo the WHOLE Game.

MMO - No way can you solo the whole game. As a matter of fact most boss encounters require 3-5 players if not a whole raid.

Furthermore, I would like to point out your utterly incorrect (almost yellow) statements.

•Is the game supported by in-game micro-transactions though auction house purchases and the sale of cosmetic items?

--FALSE - The game is free and stable whether people use the cash AH or not, also there are NO blizzard sanctioned "cosmetic items" - where on earth did you read that? What you forget to mention is that people can opt to not use this system at all.

•Mods? Pfft. Who's ever heard of modding an MMORPG? Of Course NOT!

--You have obviously never played an MMO - I can think of at least 100 different mods for WoW alone. Not to mention the thousands of UI tweeks, texture packs, and sound packs that can be altered for at least half of the MMOs out there.

•Do you pay a monthly subscription fee? NOPE!

--Hmm I don’t pay a monthly subscription for alot of my games that have online multiplayer functionality, I guess they are all MMOs.

•Is the game largely multiplayer with plenty of instanced solo content, though your friends can come join you any time? YES.

--This is the EXACT OPPOSITE of an MMO. One game comes to mind when I read this statement. Guild Wars. There are literally millions of people that will tell you that Guild Wars is NOT an MMO, and in my opinion and by definition they are right.

In closing I feel either your article was an angry outlash with purposely bias statements or you don’t know what an MMORPG really is.

Matt McComb
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I'm fairly certain the article was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. :)

Patrick Miller
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After writing my huge wall of text I realized that this was meant as sarcasam. However, it could still be potentially confusing for many novice gamers.