Dragon Free for All

Dun­geons & Now What?

It was worth com­ment­ing on before, but time flies and here we are. DDO freeplay has gone live. Some­day I should com­pose some­thing of a per­son­al post­mortem on the game, but until then, we can talk about this devel­op­ment.

Of course, by “free” it’s “freemi­um,” not absolute­ly free. There are ways — sub­scrip­tions and micro­trans­ac­tions — for play­ers to put mon­ey into Turbine’s pock­et (and no doubt Atari and Has­bro take a cut, or else they wouldn’t have agreed to the new busi­ness mod­el). On bal­ance, though, it does seem that Tur­bine has made it pos­si­ble for the absolute­ly free play­er to earn access to all of the game’s con­tent. The guy drop­ping the nick­el just makes it eas­i­er. Not entire­ly unlike the lat­est social net­work games.  But with bet­ter graph­ics.

So what do I think ? It’s a savvy move, even if it’s wide­ly regard­ed as a Hail Mary pass born of des­per­a­tion. DDO was nev­er designed (or mar­ket­ed) to com­pete with games at the now-tra­di­tion­al $15 sub­scrip­tion. A small­er scope result­ed in some­thing between Dia­blo and a full MMO in terms of con­tent, scope, and invest­ment. We should expect the audi­ence to be able to dis­crim­i­nate val­ue when it doesn’t work in their favor, and Tubine failed that test. D&D play­ers most every­where prove high­ly sen­si­tive to price; many believe a $30 Player’s Hand­book is over­priced, when the cost per hour of enter­tain­ment quick­ly approach­es zero. Find­ing ways to reduce, hide, or make costs incre­men­tal to the audi­ence are all good ideas in this inter­net age.

Check back in a few months to see if Tur­bine announces addi­tion­al con­tent or an expan­sion (new busi­ness mod­el suc­cess!) or cuts bait (patience was nev­er their strong suit).


  • […] six months ago, I sug­gest­ed we check back and see how DDO’s switch to free play has gone. The answer, accord­ing to Turbine’s cur­rent exec­u­tive this week, is pret­ty well: The response […]

  • before: not real­ly new, just shiny.2. Great Grfx? Yes maybe. But if great looks means pedo-style girls with super boobs and msi­i­ikn­rts count me out. I am from europe and fair­ly lib­er­al. But thats not my style.3. Very sim­ple: its from NCSodt. They build games, then shut them down. They have done it with auto aus­sault & tab­u­la rasa. Both games which real­ly where new and inno­v­a­tive.

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