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South Korea's Free Computer Game Business Model Hits the US

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the nickel-and-dime dept.

The Almighty Buck 159

Anti-Globalism writes with this excerpt from AFP via Yahoo! News: "Seoul-based 'free-to-play' computer game titan Nexon on Wednesday blasted into the US videogame arena with a 'Combat Arms' online first-person shooter title that makes its cash from optional 'micro-transactions' by players. The game makes its money from players that buy animated helmets, outfits, emblems or other virtual items to customize in-game characters. To keep the battlefield even, players earn experience or advanced weaponry by skill so people essentially can't pay for power. ... Startups and established game makers including Japanese goliath Sony are venturing into the free computer game market, according to DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole. 'It looks like it could be very big,' Cole told AFP. 'It's one of the things everybody seems to be looking at. The challenge is it is a very new model and it remains to be seen whether customers used to a free model will be tight when it comes to actually spending money on it.'"

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lol (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25241897)

frist psot

Front page is all screwey (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242249)

Tags are overlapping other text. FYI.

Re:Front page is all screwey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242463)

I know he is marked off topic, but he is right, the tags are overlapping. Well, for me at least. Another AC

Re:Front page is all screwey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242791)

Get a standards compliant browser, tags are fine here.

Re:Front page is all screwey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242999)


Re:Front page is all screwey (0, Offtopic)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243329)

It has been okay in Firefox off and on all night as I've gone through the site. I haven't loaded it up in IE or Opera yet though. If anything I'd expect it to render best in Opera and worst in Internet Explorer.

Nice article... (0, Offtopic)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241899)

Fails to mention EA's Battlefield Heroes no? I haven't played yet, but I've heard it has potential. Just a fun game to mess around with for half an hour or something.

Re:Nice article... (3, Interesting)

dolphino (166844) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241955)

Probably because they have only "talked" about implementing micropayments in BF Heroes, just as the idea of micropayments is in the "what if" stages with titles like Spore.

OT: submitter links to neo-nazi website (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242159)

this comment [] does a good job explaining

Re:Nice article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242433)

Yes, it fails to mention Battlefield Heroes. Except for about half of the article where it does mention Battlefield Heroes.

Absolutely Rife with 'Hackers' (1)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242943)

I like Combat Arms alot... much more than my
wife thinks I should, at least to the point
that when I'm on my computer, "You're playing
that damn game again". Usually... I am.

But... the 'hacker' problem is TERRIBLE.

[Please no diatribes or otherwise about how
using a cheat is not hacking, I'm just using
the word that gets shouted in-game all the time]

The thing is, Nexon could care less about the
hackers. And that's fine... as long as you do
something about equalizing the playfield.

I mean, it's so bad that I've seen THIS NICK

I'll be fair on one point, although not verified
first hand (that means hearsay), I heard that
Nexon sent Ghoster of
a cease and desist. But that doesn't take care of
the free hacks out there. And probably at best
will increase the downloading of non-pay hacks.

I don't think it's going to be possible to get
rid of the hackers... so, integrate them.

Give the cheats away for free, let everyone
have them if they want... then segregate the
cheaters from those that want to play a legit

How to segregate? It's not my failing business
model, I don't have to come up with solutions
for them. Be happy I don't have a car analogy.

Oh wait, as I was typing this I did come up with
a way to segregate. Let the cheats be part of the
server you play on. Thus if you play on Delta
server, it has chams and aimbot. Alpha, legit,

However... if Nexon DOES want to do something
about the cheaters... such as figuring out who
is, that's easy. And if anyone at Nexon wants
a SIMPLE solution... email me, alienintelligence
at gmail dot com. I'm not free... but I am cheap.

aka -WarHawK-

Hrmm (5, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241903)

So essentially, people will be paying for pieces of flair on their characters?

How many pieces of flair should you wear to express yourself?

Re:Hrmm (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25241943)

Stan wears 37.

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242859)

Stan wears 37.

I hate to break it to Stan but anything past 12 means you're gay.

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243033)

And a terrific smile!

Re:Hrmm (2, Insightful)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242183)

Especially in an FPS. Wouldn't an animated helmet scream 'Shoot here!'

Re:Hrmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242399)

yah, but it usually also adds +15 AP over anything available in the games item shop. or is the case with Gunz online anyways.

Re:Hrmm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243393)

actually to animate it and have it scream, it's extra.

Re:Hrmm (1, Interesting)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242723)

Right, 20 pieces of flair is pretty stupid IMHO... i think it's a lot more interesting if you're paying for items that actually make a difference. The summary was very specific to point out that this isn't what you're doing, but why not? All you have to do is make the items that you can buy also items you can skill up to.

Think about it this way... there are kids out there who have all the time in the world, either on summer break, or they just have free time, etc. And there are adults who want to play but they have jobs with families but for them, time is more valuable than money. Allowing players to buy weapons or exp or gold Its a good way to level the playing field a bit.


Re:Hrmm (2)

redscare2k4 (1178243) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243197)

Which is what those games do. I played eXteel [] for some time.

See, you've got a set of "entry level" items, which you get via experience. Then you've got a set of "medium-level" items you buy with cash. And then you've got the "top of the line" items you get with experience too.

This way, lazy/casual gamers can skip the crappy starting items by spending $10, but they still don't become über powerful cos experienced players still win with a combination of playing experience and high level items.

Ultimately I quit playing cos I found it boring that matches are only 8 vs 8, all maps are almost symmetrical and there are no vehicles. Guess I'm too used to BF2 and it's 32vs32 players with commander, squad system, tanks, planes and copters :P

Re:Hrmm (4, Insightful)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243327)

So you're arguing that we should bring the class distinction into the gaming world as well? The rich get the most powerful items / weapons because they can be afforded, and the poor are left with either purchasing beyond their means, or being hindered? and, yes I do understand this is probably minimal amounts of money, but the more resources controlled in this manner, the more the cumulative costs will be.

This would also means that the gaming companies will most likely incrementally increase the power of items to keep people purchasing new thing (and to perhaps keep people interested in this type of system). Most MMORPG's do this with their incremental additions of more powerful equipment, levels and stats with game expansions. The only difference is that they encourage equal opportunity, in that they ban external trading.

I don't know about you... but I prefer to play in a system that encourages equal opportunity.

- John

Re:Hrmm (1)

angryphase (766302) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243567)

Well, the minimum is 15, but it's up to you how much you want to express yourself.

A new age of micro-transactions? (3, Interesting)

compumike (454538) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241919)

We've heard about micropayments for years, mostly for web content. But clearly this kind of market for virtual goods emerged in WoW -- without the explicit support of the company. It looks like the vendors are catching up! Still, there are lots of games that aren't based on continuous user profiles, and where the imbalance created might be significant and disruptive.

The other concern I have is about how to manage this between kids and parents. It's one thing to have a fixed up-front payment to buy a game, but to have kids (teens) linking credit cards (or even pre-paying) to a game seems like it might not go over well with the parents...

Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. []

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

bushing (20804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241959)

Hell, this kind of market for virtual goods exists explicitly for Second Life. They even have a list of suggested businesses [] and a real-time currency exchange [] .

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (4, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241983)

So far as teenagers linking credit cards to the games.

We've had pre-paid charge cards for online transactions for a while, with the explicit purpose of allowing minors access online "credit" transactions without involving the related credit approvals required with "real" credit lines.

This sounds like an excellent place to apply it.

You get X dollars a month to spend on this game, when you run out you run out.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242167)

But clearly this kind of market for virtual goods emerged in WoW -- without the explicit support of the company.

The big difference here is that with WoW, the virtual goods must first be farmed by a player or a bot. While this might not sound so bad, having a bot farm herbs 24 hours a day denies them from other players and can affect realm economy since the gold farmers will generally flood the auction house with stupid prices. While you could theoretically get a person to play for that long, or even in shifts, it's very uncommon.

The main legal issue here is that you're trying to sell a virtual property that is not yours to sell.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (2, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242179)

i think MapleStory and Second Life both came out before WoW, so WoW certainly wasn't the first game to create a market for virtual goods.

and no one is saying that all games will become free and supported by micropayments, just that this model is gaining a lot of attention as there have been several successful releases.

if you RTFA, the author talks about keeping the playing field even by not allowing players to pay for power. in Maple Story the micropayments were used for buying cosmetic items to customize your character's appearance. so you could purchase sun glasses, designer shoes, hats, etc. but they have no effect on gameplay.

the whole point of this model, which the article discusses, is to exploit computers as gaming forums. the micropayment system is driven by the social aspect of multiplayer online games. players want to express themselves through the game, and this system allows players to do that through virtual apparel. people who don't want to pay for these superficial add-ons do not need to, and it won't change their gaming experience.

and other posters have pointed out, pre-paid cards are an easy way for players, or parents, to control in-game spending. these are even mentioned in TFA:

Kim says people prefer prepaid cards to tying credit cards to ongoing subscriptions to online role-playing games as is the case with popular "World of Warcraft."

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (2, Informative)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242301)

in Maple Story the micropayments were used for buying cosmetic items to customize your character's appearance. so you could purchase sun glasses, designer shoes, hats, etc. but they have no effect on gameplay.

Which is complete nonsense now, as they do have numerous items that "affect gameplay" to a significant degree, such as experience rate boosters, drop rate boosters, an item for penalty-free resurrection (death usually results in the loss of 3-10% of that levels EXP, which can be huge (double-digit hours of training) at higher levels), pets that allow automatic looting and automatic healing (if your HP or mana drops below a set point, it will automatically use a potion if you have the item to do so), among others.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242397)

that is pretty lame. i stopped play MapleStory a long time ago (when they came out of beta and everyone lost their stats/items or whatever). i guess they sacrificed gameplay/fairness for profitability. i hope that this will hurt them in the long wrong as players realize it's complete BS to be able to buy power, as TFA warned against.

otherwise it just becomes another ZT Online [] , which is an thinly veiled attempt to disguise a virtual auction as an online video game.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242609)

Yeah, I stopped about a year ago. Played their Mabinogi game for awhile, though I'm into WoW now. I still work as staff at one of the major maplestory forums (, though i pretty much don't do anything in the maplestory sections.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (2, Interesting)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243367) []

Way too much time invested. You can buy an IOTM or the likes but you can also work to earn them via earning meat.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

Starmengau (1367783) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242617)

One might note that Nexon, the company in question, also published MapleStory.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

Slotty (562298) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242375)

This pay for customisation has been around in online games for a very long time with vendor support before WoW even existed. Imbalance is part of life in all things if someone spends 18 hours a day 7 days a week developing any skill set it's most probable they will have superior abilities to a person who dedicates 1 hour a month to that same skill set. If a child has an allowance and wants to spend it on pre-pay game cards what's the issue?

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242533)

The other concern I have is about how to manage this between kids and parents. It's one thing to have a fixed up-front payment to buy a game but to have kids (teens) linking credit cards (or even pre-paying) to a game seems like it might not go over well with the parents...

You know you can buy the Nexon-cash-card here [] with cash. or at other retail locations. i even saw one at speedway. I don't think it is that hard for a kid to buy that $10 cash card. kids buy dozens of brand new games priced at $60 or above.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243045)

Second Life has been doing it for ages to, it's built into it's design

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243093)

Hey fuckface, I turned sigs off so I didn't have to read your ads

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243391)

Can cowards actually disable sigs?

Maybe it is my ethics or morals or what have you but I figure if I'm going to insult someone then I should do it with my username (easily traced actually) attached instead of hiding behind cowardice and using that as an excuse to resort to vulgarity and/or aggression. Hell, I even say some of the most incendiary posts on /. other than the goatse and racist stuff. All with my real nick, my only nick, and with a tiny bit of accountability.

Re:A new age of micro-transactions? (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243499)

A point well made.

However OP is still a fuckface - I'm sick of his bullshit as well.

An interesting market experiment... (5, Interesting)

creature124 (1148937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25241931)

I have played several Korean MMO's (with engrish interfaces, of course) based off the business model (Maple Story, Flyff and the like), and from my experience, most people can't/won't spend money on them, but those that do tend to spend big, customizing every piece of equipment they possible can. The fact that these games are still running several years on is proof of profitability.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. It might be quite nice to play a free game with decent english ingame.

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242275)

Problem with them was they were a mindless grind. I think this would mesh with an FPS much better. Instant action, always action, and the pro people can differentiate themselves with crazy looking gear.

Re:An interesting market experiment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242385)

It's not the first free-to-play FPS either.
Check out GunZ [] .

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

No Eye Deer (1377323) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242899)

One of the issues with a free to play MMO is it attracts a lot of juvenile minds. They can easily create multiple accounts using multiple free e-mail services, and will do their best to troll everywhere.

At least on Slashdot, moderation can bury the trolls, but on a free MMO? Most will probably enjoy conversation in a relatively more civilized pay to play MMO than a free one--at least, this seem to be a trend here in Japan where I live.

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243399)

I am not sure if this is entirely off topic or if it is potentially funny but, well, concerning your nickname...

What do you call a buck with no nuts and blind in one eye?

(Give you a hint... It is pretty close to your username.)

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243053)

From what I've seen, a significant portion of MapleStory players buy those stupid accessories. Many have dozens of outfits, marriage licenses, etc.

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

ishark (245915) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243205)

Another Korean MMO player here (I play rappelz).
The business model is interesting: basically there is nothing ingame which forces you to buy anything, but buy-only items help in leveling or make you more powerful for a short time, or provide decoration to personalize your character. From what I've seen it works well. There's a large part of population which is ready to spend a lot of money (I've heard people hitting the cap, which is something like $500/month) either for powerleveling or just to have the cool gear. Another approach is to use this as a money-making approach: want to buy some nice item? Go buy stuff with real money and then sell/trade it to get the nice item you want. This happens a lot, and makes game maker hate RMT ("gold farmers") because they cut into their profits.
What is not clear is the long-term effect. I mean: as the server population increases in level, they have access to a lot of in-game money, allowing them to buy basically anything, and lowering their need to spend real money. Unless there's a fresh arrival of new players who will spend money for the buy-only items the profits will go down. Also, there's a "saturation effect": the decorative items are often buy-once-use-forever: when everyone has one then it's over, forcing the company to keep putting up other (usually more powerful) items.

Re:An interesting market experiment... (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243411)

I posted earlier in the thread but I think you might want to check out Kingdom Of Loathing. The methods used there could easily be applied to a real game. Not that KoL isn't a real game but, c'mon... They've got stick figures. (Yes, yes I play and have for a LONG time now.)

Side note: I actually found KoL through a signature here on /. long before I actually posted here at /. but rather just read the articles. (I never had time or interest in posting back then.)

Codemasters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25241975)

Has been doing this for a while with different games. I don't see the what's new.

Guild Wars has always been free of subs (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25241977)

You can play Guild Wars [] forever for just the $20 cost of a campaign game pack, since there are no subscriptions to pay.

Each extra campaign (and there are only 3 total) costs you another $20 or less if you want them, but they're optional. And there's also the Eye of the North expansion for a similar amount, but again it's optional. And no subs anywhere.

So the free-of-monthly-subs gaming model has been here for years.

War of Conquest (2, Informative)

owlman17 (871857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242021)

War of Conquest [] has a similar model. Its free, but you can buy upgrades, items, tech, etc. They even give out points that you convert to either cash or buy more items, tech, etc.

Not nearly the first (4, Informative)

neostorm (462848) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242023)

Nice. This article forgets that there are tons of free-to-play MMO's already available in the US.
Knight Online
Fly For Fun
Granado Espada

And lets not forget our own domestic free-to-plays, such as Guild Wars, Minions of Mirth, Graal Online and the like.

Here's a great resource for all of these- []

Re:Not nearly the first (2, Interesting)

Lueseiseki (1189513) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242185)

You're missing the point of the article. The article was detailing how American developers are getting in to the 'free-to-play' system that is traditionally used by most Korean developers. The first three games you mentioned are all made by foreign devs. Guild Wars costs money to play, MoM has two clients (one paid and one free, balance issues much?), and Graal Online is not cool enough to have a wiki article. In the 'free-to-play' games being speculated about, the entire client and entire experience is FREE, but you can also opt to pay for small player cosmetic differences and et cetera. This is my personal favorite method of paying for games (in most cases), because you can have the full experience of the game, and decide to pay if you've enjoyed it as much as to want to customize your experience.

Re:Not nearly the first (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242393)

Except that this is from Nexon, a Seol-based company. The same company that made Maple Story according to their website. I don't think the fact that they happen to have a US office matters much.

Also, I don't see how a game which is freely downloadable from their website can "hit the US" more than any other freely downloadable game with an English client.

As for the business model it's an interesting one, but one that can easily get out of hand. Rakion was a lot of fun but the stuff they put in which required money made the game incredibly unfun regardless of the business model (note that I haven't played the game in years so it may have changed, but they would have had to pretty much remove most of the summoned creatures to balance it which I doubt has been done.) Being too quick to add new revenue generating items can create balance problems and then people get even angrier when something they paid 20 bucks for gets nerfed.

Re:Not nearly the first (1)

TheSambassador (1134253) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242699)

Not to mention the immensely popular Gunbound and Rakion. Why is this news?

Re:Not nearly the first (1)

Soberstoner (1247526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242761)

It's definitely not a new business model to hit the U.S.
WarRock is a great free-to-play FPS thats been around since 2006 and uses the same business model.

Has no one else every played WarRock??? I'm sure I've dished out some headshots to some slashdotters at some time or another. :)

Re:Not nearly the first (1)

david.given (6740) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243757)

Don't forget Project Entropia [] (now Entropia Universe), one of the oldest, which explicitly allows conversion of currency from game money to real money, and encourages people to set up money-making activities there. They seem to be doing well; they're apparently profitable and the Wikipedia page claims a turnover of about 360M USD...

AAPL at 55 by Friday Next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242025)

AAPL dropping to under 90 Friday. It is expected to rebound Monday but that only marks the start of the sell-off. By the end of next week AAPL will be at 55.

two words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242053)

puzzle pirates

Question: (2, Insightful)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242055)

Why would I care what my character looks like in a first person shooter? Looking at the combat arms website, it suggests that the stuff that you buy is cosmetic, which makes sense in an MMO or even a third-person stylized action game like GunZ, but in a military style shooter? You won't be able to see your character in game, so the extra stuff is only a display of wealth. Plus (and this may be simple personal preference), customized military gear doesn't seem as exciting as shining armor or flashy action anti-hero clothes.

That said I hope it works out for them, but I'll take my $50 games with everything included.

Re:Question: (2, Interesting)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242325)

you don't have to customize your character. that's the whole point. you can play it completely for free if you want to, and many people do. most people who play MapleStory do not spend any money on it, but it's still profitable enough to be a huge success.

and the whole point of customizing how your character looks is for it to be seen by others, not you. do you buy expensive clothes just to look at yourself in the mirror all day? it's just like how people wear fancy clothes in real life to impress others. you want to express yourself aesthetically and distinguish yourself from others. they're just applying this social dynamic to online games.

RTFA. this model has already proven to be very successful in several free Korean MMOs. that's why the big gaming publishers are showing interest in it. it's not hard to understand why character customizations is appealing to some people, and therefore a potential revenue stream. if enough people download a free game, at least a small percentage of them will want to accessorize their avatar and will be willing to pay for it--especially if your game attracts female players.

the more co-ed and lively or interactive of a social environment you foster in the game, the more invested people will be in their avatars, and thus spend more on cosmetic add-ons and customizations. MMOs are naturally immersive because of their combined social and role-playing element. people willing to spend 20+ hours a week playing an MMO, then what's a few dollars on virtual apparel/accessories?

Re:Question: (2, Interesting)

WDot (1286728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242783)

(I did RTFA). That's what I said--it makes sense in an MMO, especially since a. You can see yourself and b. MMO's are more social in general. It's great to show off your gear in a city or to whichever shmuck happens to walk by. But this is an FPS, which as far as I can see from the site doesn't have MMO trappings like cities or general social areas. It seems to be very much a deathmatch FPS, which means that you're less likely to be standing around enjoying the eye candy and more likely to be running, finding cover, and shooting.

Plus there's the vanity aspect of admiring yourself all clad in epic gear. ;) I'm not trying to get into an argument, I'm just asking if this will work as well in something that's less social and more action-oriented. I suppose if Combat Arms designs the game such that people see some of the same players over and over, it might work though.

Re:Question: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242885)

while noobs generally opt for the camouflage, old pros like yours truly will rock the tie dye.

Kingdom of Loathing (3, Interesting)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242141) []

Different type of game entirely, but same basic business model. And they've been doing things that way for 4 years now. Free to play, but $10 gets you a nifty trinket.

Yes, the business model works in principle and in practice. And it's about time that more genres of games that use that model become available.

Re:Kingdom of Loathing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243017)

The major difference is that in Kingdom of Loathing, you can pay for power. Your $10 can get you a nifty skill, or it can get you a familiar or skill that is 100% necessary for competitive play.

(And yes, you can argue that you can farm for the items, but if you spend half your time farming, your not playing competitively).

Re:Kingdom of Loathing (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243075)

If you want to play on a level competitive playing field, play hardcore.

Re:Kingdom of Loathing (1)

fraggleyid (134125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243303)

Or if you want to make the playing field uneven you can play the Bad Moon Hardcore runs and make yourself less equal than others. And if you really want to feel the pain, you can play the Black Cat Bad Moon Hardcore runs

Re:Kingdom of Loathing (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243397)

That stuffs over my head, I mainly played before ascensions.

Re:Kingdom of Loathing (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243453)

Why am I surprised to find KoLers here at /. in this number? (I actually found the link to KoL from someone's sig at /. btw.)

I now wish I'd spent more time reading down through all the posts (who has time and memory for that really) as I posted a couple of KoL links further up on the page. Yes, yes... I *do* have the classy "KOL" bumper sticker that looks like a country sticker on my truck. Yes, yes I do have the My Other Car Is Made Of Meat on the car.

I haven't played since NS13 much really (fucking MMG, beer, and about 200 mil meat made me only go to socialize) but, wow...

I think I might go ascend SC and see what it looks like now. I could go HC I suppose but my rate of logging in every three or four months would make that last a VERY long time. (For those curious, I'm UnknownUser.)

The Bottom Line (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242201)

The Bottom Line is that the game has to be enjoyable enough to keep players interested for them to continue spending on items.

This appears to be the same model that the Korean game PANGYA [] uses. You play the game for free, but you can buy (or earn) items that improve your play or just make you look unique. It just so happens that it is much easier to pay money for the items than it is to earn them.

PANGYA was released to US Americans a while ago as Albatross18 []

Kart Rider (1)

ogre2112 (134836) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242207)

They had an open beta a while back for Kart-Rider, which was basically a Mario Kart clone. It was excellent, dare I say even better than Nintendo.

Just some background on the company.. as for buying anything for my 'character' I don't see myself doing it.

This is old news. (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242209)

See Maplestory [] , Gunbound [] , and Gunz [] .

Re:This is old news. (1)

jagdish (981925) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242551)

even combat arms itself is not exactly new. I've been playing it for 2 months now.

Re:This is old news. (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243109)

News is that Combat Arms actually has pretty fun gameplay, unlike any of those games.

Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242217)

The game makes its money from players that buy animated helmets, outfits, emblems or other virtual items to customize in-game characters

I'd play for free then. I'm the kind of person who refuses to pay a cell phone provider to grant me the right to add a custom ring tone to my cell phone.

Been there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242223)

Albatross 18/Pangya
Project Powder
and so on. Most were localized from Korean, but...

Also, they often suffer problems with myriad hacks and little (comparatively) effort to fight them. Usually it amounts to banning someone, and then they create another free account. Updates to anti-hack monitors can never keep up with the hack tool community. I guess this post could be modded redundant, though.

Generic review of CombatArms (1)

winphreak (915766) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242311)

I've been playing Combat Arms off and on, and have to say for free it's definitely not a bad game. Granted, it takes a while to push through the ranks, and the weapons "buying" is really renting, but that's not the only challenge. It seems the recoil and accuracy are more realistic, prompting a dire need for 3-shot bursts, unlike Counterstrike. Runs smoothly, even on old(er) hardware, and is constantly updating.

Granted, my review may be useless in slashdot comments, but the game itself is (very) enjoyable, and worth the download.

This is old news .. (4, Informative)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242329)

Every MMO to appear in Korea for several years now have been based on the Free-To-Play model.
Even those who were launched on a subscription one migrated to it, forcing their western licencees to do the same.

Example :
_RF Online (CodeMasters dragged their feet but had to accept the free to play model)
_Granado Espada aka Sword of the New World (K2 Networks wanted a hybrid system, but had to change to a pure free to play one)

Even legacy power house Lineage 2 from NCsoft is heading towards a cash shop item addition to its subscription based model.

More recent ones like Perfect World are free to play from the start.
To sum up :
Free-to-Play IS the de facto business model in asia, and has been for years. The western licencees also are bound to use free to play.

Played it. More to come! (1)

NoName6272 (1376401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242491)

As others have said, the game industry has been doing this for awhile. I actually quit playing combat arms a few months ago, its a decent FPS and the money you make in the game (from winning or losing based off of a Kill/Death ratio * win||lose )

Maple story has been around for awhile, its fun and free. the way they make money is selling flair items, and they have made ALOT of money. *to lazy to search and paste urls*.

Other games coming out are BattleField Heros (think battlefield and team fortress 2s art style combined) and quake live ( browser based quake arena or quake 3 [I forget which]).

I cant wait for quake live to come out, they have been beta testing for some time.

Ways of making money for these two, battlefield is going to sell accessories for your characters (yea more flair), but they are also going to sell power ups like double exp from battles so you can catch up (or get ahead, they might put level limits on buying these power ups though) to your friends when you were too busy to play, this is a nice aspect and should sell well.

My favorite way, is quake lives aproach, they are going to have InGame Advertisement. Not pop ups or anything. But during loading screens they are going to have advertisment instead of some sort of screen shot. This means the game is free, fun, makes money, besides, who really cares about the loading screen?

Market specific (1)

stpk4 (906462) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242501)

The problem with this I see outside of South Korea is the infrastructure, the reason why this works in Korea (from what I understand) started way back with the ubiquity of mobile phones they developed the technology to make payments through their mobile bill, and as an evolution of that they can make micro payements through their phonebills.

That infrastructure does not really exist in the west so it will make it hard for people to adopt this system, how many kids do you know that have access to a credit/debit card, and how many do you know with a mobile phones.

The convenience in micropayments makes this system work maybe gaming will spearhead the release of this system in the west...

Nothing new under the sun.... (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242515)

Some American-based MUDs have had a similar payment model for at least 10 and probably more like 15 years.

Why pay for a game that doesn't police it's users? (1)

Kaashar (738775) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242527)

I don't see western audiences paying for that particular game. It's so rife with cheating there's no point to upgrading your character.

Re:Why pay for a game that doesn't police it's use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242825)

Well, if you look at their other game, Maplestory, I'd say you might want to take that back.
The whole setup of these games is easy:
1. Make a free game
2. Get a large userbase
3. Make special 'NX' clothing items available for a small price
4. ?????
5. Profit!

The price of many of those items will be cheap (well, 50 cents to 4 dollars... not cheap IMO), so the threshold is really low.
But then with only one item, you'd have to buy more to complete your 'look', for yourself and for your ingame friends, and that's when the 60$ charges comes kicking in.
Knowing Nexon, they will put a timer on those items, like 90 days.
So if there are any regular players, that's a steady cashflow every 90 days from each player.

As for cheating, some people want to distinct themselves from noobs, so cash items are standard gear for them.
If one sees that someone is better than him, and he gets a small advantage from a cash item he bought, he'll think it's only fair if he gets those items too.
Monkey see, monkey do.

With clanplay and such, there will only be cashitem players at the top.
With people spend 270 dollars on a videocard for 25 fps more, it's not so hard to imagine that they'll add some cash items to their arsenal.

F2P is a good some ways. (2, Informative)

jbsooter (1222994) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242547)

The people with money will pay for the extras and the people without money will play because its free (not really free just being paid for by people willing to do so). All the free players stay because its free fun and the pay players stay because there is always something interesting going on when the server is full. Cash shops are usually addictive as hell too. I've had to set some pretty strict rules on myself about using them or else I'll go nuts and spend spend spend.

The International (U.S) Ragnarok Online just opened a free server with a few gameplay tweaks to make it harder and the population is already consistently higher than the two smaller premium servers. The Korean RO opened a free server a while back and its population is substantially larger than all the pay servers combined and I expect it will be that way in IRO too. In fact a lot of people from premium servers are probably going to want to transfer their chars to the free server since the guild wars are probably going to be much better with such a huge server population.

My biggest problem with free to play servers is the fact that the population is a lot younger and not as english speaking as pay to play games/servers. I like having a reasonable expectation that I can communicate with anyone I come across in the game. I also like not having to assume everyone is 12. I'm a young adult with some disposable income and I want to play my video games with people like me. A monthly fee does an ok job at insuring I get what I want.

Re:F2P is a good some ways. (1)

NoName6272 (1376401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242703)

I agree to a lot of your statements, but... I want to remind you of Lil poison whom is a amazing video game player and a nice person in general, who also is about 10 now I belive. Its not the age group that matters, but the mental and maturity of said group. I've been gaming since I was two, online since I was 8, one thing that I have trouble with the pay to play, is that you still find the kids and people who say they are better just because. I'll still ptp, and I'll still ftp as well, the biggest thing is gameplay and finding the right people to play with and try and make a network.

Re:F2P is a good some ways. (1)

jbsooter (1222994) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243029)

My preference for a generally older group of people to play with has very little to do with the maturity or skill level of the younger players. Its like if you're playing basketball or hanging out at a bar with a bunch of adult friends, you don't have to be overly careful about what you say and can just relax and play, or get drunk, or whatever. Then someone brings their 10 year old out and it would be irresponsible as an adult not to censor yourself a bit regardless of the maturity level of the young person.

So I prefer my gaming to lack 10 year olds so I don't have to worry that they're hearing something inappropriate from me or my friends when we're hanging out and killing stuff. Since p2p tends to result in a group of people old enough to pay for their own account, its a little safer.

Re:F2P is a good some ways. (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243549)

Thank you for your honesty and expressing your age.

I am posting this NON-AC meaning this is my real account etc...

I am not normally a grammar Nazi or anything but seeing as you stated your age I want to share something with you.

You *probably* meant "ensure" meaning that it prevents. To "insure" means to protect after the loss.

"I wear shoes to ensure that my feet aren't cut up by hazards on the sidewalk."

"I insure myself to be able to cover any problems should my shoes fail and injury occurs."

I could be wrong but I'm pretty sure I'm right on this one. I'm both drunk and American. I'm also old and whilst I have a private education in a well heeled school that doesn't mean my English instruction was without flaw.

Either way, I post this not to belittle nor to patronize.

Hell, you can flip through my old posts and see that I am not generally concerned about grammar, typographical errors, or anything like that (just so you know). But you described your age and I figured I'd make it a point to not be the usual, "You're doing it wrong idiot." It is a trivial thing that means little in the real world until you're sitting in an interview or submitting your CV/resumé and the person reading it actually cares about such things.

So, before you're tl;dr -1 flamebait/troll please read the above. I am not normally interested in fixing people's grammar but your age and the large amount of guff I got for it means I want to share it with you. (I used to spell it alot too and would always fail then/than and if it wasn't for spell checking I'd fail entirely.)

Lost in currency exchange (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25242613)

The reason why these games are successful in the Asian markets is because, over there, the micropayments are deserving of the name -- they are very, very small amounts. As in, completely decking out all the optional gear for a few US$. The reason why it succeeds is because it's basically spare change and people don't really feel like they're paying much of anything. But when you or your friendly communist neighbor has a market of 1 billion people, those little bits of "almost nothing" add up to a lot of something.

In the US, the tendency of "micro" payments has been to charge $2.50 just for horse armor. That kind of shit wouldn't fly over there, either. Here in the sparsely populated US you can't really make up for things with volume on the same scale that Asians can. You have to make margins on each unit sold, and then you're no longer really engaged in "micro" payments. This is real, hard cash payment involved here, the only thing that could be called "micro" is the content that you get for it.

So yeah, I just pulled an RMS there. Don't call it the micropayment model, that's marketing bs that the companies want you to believe. Call it the microcontent model, because that's what it really is in the west.

But back to the original point, the model can only succeed if the price really remains close to nothing. "Worthless" is roughly the same in every currency.

Re:Lost in currency exchange (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243375)

Well, according to this [] the USA isn't exactly a country with a small population either. As for spending power [] the USA is still taking the lead.

Sure, you might have a billion people next door, but that doesn't mean all of them can afford the few "cents" of "micro" payment.

Re:Lost in currency exchange (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243603)

Given the cost of labor and the ability to replicate it, these items need to only be created once and then can be added to characters automatically with no human intervention. The cost of labor is really low there.

My point? I don't think they need to have a profit margin on all items sold. After the first few they have paid for themselves probably. In a market that large that's likely done quickly. Anything else is pure profit. After profitability has been reached there's no *need* to make a continued profit as the labor has already been paid for.


Now I RMSed you.

Not to mention that this stuff is running "in the cloud" and, as such, we have no idea what is really running behind the scenes. Without access to the code how can you trust it? Why would you? Why would you want to trust them with your credit information or the ability to bill you somehow?

See? RMSed again. RMSed is now a verb. I have so decided and let my (future) subjects be warned. When I'm elected president of the united world nations I'll make that a priority. ;)

Oh, and by *some* interpretations GPL3 might not even be okay to run on non-GPLed OSes as it would hook into the OS. (See SMF vs. Joomla FMI.) So unless these apps run on Linux, they're still not okay. RMSed again...

(Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love F/OSS. I make my LIVING off it and even contribute in a variety of ways.) But, if we're gonna RMS stuff let's do it properly. *grins* (Yes this is either funny or -1 something or other. Feel free to use either and I might not have to wait a billion hours between posts.)

Wednesday? (1)

dexomn (147950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242637)

Combat arms has been out and available ("Blasted into the US video game arena") quite a while before Wednesday folks.

Re:Wednesday? (1)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243223)

too bad this is windows only :(

looking at the trailer definitely got me hooked, would play it if it would be available for mac or linux.

Re:Wednesday? (2, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243631)

Dual boot?

If the OS running under what you're wanting to do is so antithetical to you then you *might* want to take a look at your values. If you don't have a copy of a legit Windows OS running around than my apologies and you are correct in saying so but, really, unless it is financial reasons it isn't that hard to boot to another OS to run what you want.

The day I let an OS decide, or even a goal, what I use for software is the day I fail. What matters to me is getting what I want or need out of the system in the least risky way possible. *shrugs* It's not a Microsoft vs. World thing to me. It's just getting what I need done to be done in a reasonably decent amount of time with a reasonable amount of security.

Netcraft confirms... (2, Funny)

Cowclops (630818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242647)

Only old people in Korea get cheap car insurance for playing free video games.

WOW so many bad facts (4, Informative)

Foo2rama (755806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242753)

www.k2network.met Has been bringing in Free to play microtransaction games into the US for awhile like 3 years Warrock an FPS and Sword of the New WOrld... Hell even Nexon brought had one like 6 years ago in the US with Shattered Galaxies. As for Virtual markets... EQII runs it own, and even UO had a strong real money economy going.

Americans like a.... (0, Troll)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242811)

Buffet. Pay once and do/eat what ever you like.

Habbo Hotel (1)

Phanster (1355611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242813)

Take a look at Habbo Hotel. Even though not a MMO, they have expanded globally to localize different online worlds within many other countries using their free-to-use approach. Although currently they have started to incorporate advertising into their worlds, a large part of their revenue originally spawned from the purchase of furniture to decorate your hotel room.

Re:Habbo Hotel (1)

tehfly (1129653) | more than 5 years ago | (#25243071)

Finally someone who remembers this. Habbo was probably one of the first to make it big through this. They started out back in august 2000, years before these MMOs mentioned in the comments were released. And they made huge amounts of cash through selling virtual furniture for single digit euro prices! Hell, they even started out before there was the euro as a currency!

Pah Second Life has them beat (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242905)

On these things you pay money to customize your player - clothe them etc.

On second life you pay money so you can take off your clothes and not be the only one lacking a virtual penis.

Second life has you by the balls my friend!

Runescape (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242939)

Yeah, I know we're beating this one to death with examples of free-to-play business models. Hasn't Runescape ("approximately fifteen million active free accounts, over 136 million accounts created") been doing the same thing for years?

Neat model! (1)

laktech (998064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25242951)

Sounds like a business model of your typical MUD game. The concept has definitely been proven and one does not need Combat Arms as an example. The premise is that a gamer will invest more than the average $15 per month for playing an online game by purchasing additional, immediate content. In contrast of having to wait for an expansion, then investing additional time to advance the character through the new content. Instead, a gamer has to wait for a paycheck. Another neat thing about this type of a model is that players will be more inclined to play the game. For instance, Second Life is a prefect example of a great demo. It's free to enter the realm and experience it. Those players which enjoy the game play will stick around and eventually pay premium prices... of course, others will abandon the game. However, due to the ease (e.g. free) of entry to play, a much larger population pool had an opportunity to participate. Another advantage is that the company can apply price discrimination to maximize profits by selling content at the highest price anyone is willing to pay for it. An example if you will. Player A is willing to spend $10 for item X; while a more thrifty player, will only spend $5 on item Z. An expansion, is a more fixed-price item. A fixed-price of development is much more costly and risky. Adding lesser updates throughout the life-time of the game has much smaller costs and thus will generate more revenue. I think gamers will benefit.


Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25243167)

How does the white separatist dude keep getting on the front page?

Is there some gaming of the moderation system going on?

Slashdot! Get this racist fuckhead off of your front page all the time!

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