Thursday, October 13, 2011

A different type of free to play: Memoir:44

Logging into Steam yesterday I spied an advertisement for a free to play game called Memoir:44. I hadn't heard about this one before so I decided to check it out. To be honest I haven't got beyond the tutorial yet but I have already discovered quite few things that are different from other free to play games.

The first point is that the game itself is a faithful online implementation of a successful and well reviewed board game that has an enthusiastic community of both online and offline players.

The second point is that rather than the usual f2p model of letting you play a version of the game for free and then charging for an enhanced experience Days of Wonder have settled on the far more straightforward approach of simply charging you in "gold coins" for every match you play. You can buy batches of gold coins for between €0.03 to €0.04 each depending on quantity and battles cost 2 or three gold coins depending on the scenario you pick.

Battles seem to last about half an hour so that works out at around 20c per hour of entertainment which seems like very good value to me. I think this is a great system that is immune from game breaking item shops and cross subsidies among player groups. Everybody pays for exactly what they get.

I suppose the only problem really is that it is hard to justify the free to play label. They do give you  fifty coins for free which should see you through your first ten hours of play (about twenty games) but to be honest this is probably the purest example of a pay to play game I know. It is very well explained on the Steam page but the games chat box is still full of Steam visitors complaining that "Hey this game is bogus because it isn't free".

I do hope that this doesn't harm the game by generating bad publicity because it seems to be a good game with an enthusiastic community and a very fair business model.


Tesh said...

As long as they are honest and up front with how they are charging, I see no problem.

...I still won't pay for time, which is effectively what that is, but it is nice to see them trying something new.

Winged Nazgul said...

One of the best video reviews of the board game can be found at 15:02 of this video:

Although if you are a fan of boardgames, the whole video as well as series are a must-watch.

Nils said...

A wonderful system. I wouldn't call it f2p, but if you do it's probably the first f2p system I like.

JThelen said...

If you can't play without playing, which from your description, you can't, then it's most definitely not f2p. At that point, if they're advertising it as f2p and get a ton of bad press for it, then I can't see it as anything but well deserved for false advertising and deceptive business practices.

mbp said...

@Tesh / @Nils A key point is that it is still good value. To put it in perspective a €15 spend (typical mmo sub) would pay for more than 150 games. That is many many hours of gaming.

@Winged Nazgul I love the RPS guys in written form but those videos are a bit too barmy for me. Good review of the game though.

@JT In fairness to Days of Wonder I did see a forum post where one of their reps explained that Steam had no other category for their game. They were forced to put it under F2P so they tried to make it as clear as possible on the store page.

Anonymous said...

Game Over.
Please insert another coin to continue.

I love that model, and wish others would do it too. (no sarcasm)

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