The Fate of Being Free

It seems the unsavory elements are slowly infecting my calm little beach front villa of New Eden. Being free to play has come with certain consequences and one of the most obvious is the quality of the players entering in the this open Beta phase. With the floodgates open and no barriers to entry anyone is allowed in and with little consequence to those not invested it just leaves a space ripe for idiots, a holes and trolls to make their mark and I see them now more than ever. Being an fps also seems to bring in more of that kind…you know the ones.

I knew this was coming eventually as it happens to all ftp games but it had taken awhile to have an effect this time around. Firefall isn’t one of those hugely marketed AAA titles like Neverwinter so it was never going to get the sheer amount of mouthbreathers disturbing the peace but it is starting to happen and unfortunately may be influencing the future of community interactions. The community up until now, being insulated and sheltered from the storm has actually grown reasonably close, relaxed, and helpful. I don’t know whether it’s the result of the usual small community effect or that this one is just better than a lot out there because of the people and Red 5 themselves.

Usually people would freely invite nearby players to their squads to share resources and get a little bit of help in the process. Now there are certain griefers who purposefully send thumpers back eaarly to start the cooldown, place their own and then leave group as a way of securing resource nodes all to themselves. I have seen a bit of griefing going on in the ares missions as well, some players purposefully set off all the respawns as a way of wiping people. Then there are the mobs being trained onto thumpers and the usual trolling and discriminatory remarks in chat. That just seems so uncharacteristic of what we are used to, and a community built on being friendly and helpful are starting to notice these happenings more often and becoming more reserved because of it. I hope this doesn’t change things. One of the main pro’s of a niche game is the better community and interactions you have…without that any mmo seems a lot more unwelcoming then and Firefall doesn’t have the vibrance of a large population as back up.

People are discussing no longer inviting people within their group unless they know them and that really does seem like it could be rather detrimental if it becomes the dominant thought. One of the main ways I have made friends within Firefall is through thumping. The way it’s designed with waves, the usual down times, the hectic moments, the participation rewards and just how it is all so visible on map have really helped in getting people together and providing opportunities to talk. I met a really friendly guy just last night and we chatted about random cartoons and tv shows for over an hour while thumping (that reminds me to google frisky dingo). It is those moments that I would really miss if the community suddenly did become more insular and I probably wouldn’t enjoy the game as much if it did.

I don’t see much way to fix this though as Firefall is freely available for anyone to try, and there are no restriction on new accounts. There would be no sort of repercussions on these griefing types either as they can just make a new account and start over. They’re not worried about anything in their inventory and are unlikely to have purchased anything so it’s easy to start all over again. Purchasing something usually creates an investment to a product that kind of limits this sort of action, not many people would be willing to waste their money having an account being banned and even less would be likely to buy a game solely to grief the playerbase. These acts aren’t really serious enough to get banned though, they just create a more negative atmosphere to play in. It’s a tough problem to solve.

I hope the community doesn’t crumble under the pressure of the cretins and create an unsocial game space, all I can hope though is that they hold out for long enough as I’m sure that crowd will either get pushed away from the game based on the more complex mechanics and investment needed to progress or they will roll on to the next free shiny to be released and corrupt that poor game. I’m still not sold on Free to play as the new and apparently “better” payment model for mmo’s and experiences like this just make that more certain. It seems there are many more consequences to having this style that can completely outweigh the benefits at times. I don’t think that’s nostalgia talking either but I think we shall see in a couple of years time were this payment model takes us.

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5 thoughts on “The Fate of Being Free

  1. Pingback: GW2: The Fate of Monty Haul Rewards and Resultant Inflation | Why I Game
  2. Hmm, I remember similar feelings in LotRO when it went F2P way back in the day. My server was also a small one whereof everyone knew everyone in a sense. F2P was necessary because the game was becoming uninhabited, but the transition did change the community. It’s not extremely bad or something, but it did really change and will never be the same. I share your ambiguous feelings towards F2P.

    • I definitely agree that it can be useful, it used to gain smaller and older games a lot more visibility (like Lotro) but with the predominance of free games in the marketplace I don’t think that’s entirely true anymore.

      It no longer has the benefits it used to but it seems the consequences are getting worse.

  3. I haven’t had the chance to play much Firefall yet, what with the competing demands of so many MMOs so I can’t comment directly on how F2P has affected that game. My experience in other MMOs, though, has been far more positive than otherwise. I wonder if its the particular mechanisms of Firefall that are the root of the problem? It’s certainly been my experience that any MMO that contains easy, consequence-free ways to spoil other players fun will be ruthlessly exploited by a certain type of idiot, regardless of payment model.

    • It hasn’t devolved to far at all, it’s just that sort of poison which may spread or may not but it really is to soon to tell. I think the part that makes it more noticeable is that Firefall is more towards the social side of the mmo spectrum. It’s not the usual solo to end or be just another faceless person in the zerg.

      I think it’s also that most things have a certain value to them that makes the griefing more destructive. That thumper costs a bit to craft, that blue resource could be used for greater gear, and that death means another notch of durability loss. It’s a risk vs reward situation to it were strangers, and in particular new players suddenly are more of a risk to help or be around.

      If people stop helping others, offering groups, and answering questions than I can see it having a huge effect on the new player experience. It can be an overwhelming game and without the posiives it might suffer.

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