Web Game Pricing

There are two major web-based games I play. One is Kingdom of Loathing, the other is Forumwarz. Both are free-to-play, however Forumwarz has recently changed its scheme in order to force itself to turn profitable. I wanted to examine this in a little more depth.

KoL has always run purely off donations. They produce one new item a month that can be purchase in-game for $10. They have other things available for purchase, like custom avatars, or custom titles, or other familiars. None of them are gamebreaking, and though they obviously give advantages, it is still highly possible to be competitive in the game without ever sinking money into it. They make enough money to support 5 full-time staff, too.
Forumwarz began the same way. Episode 1 was free-to-play (and ad supported, in fact, which KoL is not). There were random cosmetic things you could purchase, as well as additional characters, and you could also buy gamebreaking enhancements that would actually remove you from any competitive aspect of the game, a mechanic which I thought was genius.

But Episode 2 has just been announced, and it will be released on October 15th. The episode itself will cost $10 to play, though any changes that affect the entire game will be free to everyone. I’m happily coughing up the money because I know it will be worth it, but I definitely have something against a game being free, and then suddenly saying “You can’t play anymore unless you pay”. Anyone who shows up in the future will basically be playing a shareware game, and that’s really not cool. I completely understand the need to support the staff of the game, but I just think the way this turned out wasn’t the best. Offer items that are fun and worthwhile! Offer more stuff for donating! Think of something that allows free players to remain free and still see all the fun stuff! I play Forumwarz much less after I beat Episode 1, because there was only some competitive stuff to do there. KoL has PLENTY of stuff to do, and doesn’t require me to sit around waiting for more content. There’s always more to see and do.

Either way, I already preordered Episode 2, because I’m excited to see the new story and mechanics and such. But I think it could’ve been handled in a much better way, and they would’ve ended up living off the money just fine.


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