First off, check out this article by Klepsacovic. Money quote:
Sell a man a fish and you feed him for a day; offer a man a free fish and an inexpensive fishing class and he'll get really pissed off and starve to death instead. Because he's stupid.Brilliantly encapsulates a lot of the forum chatter about F2P.
I often think there is a disconnect between how players think F2P works, and how companies think F2P works. You can tell what a company thinks about F2P not by what they say, but by what they offer for sale.
Let's say that we have a subscription game. The earnings might look like:
- 100 subs * $15/sub = $1500
Now, let's take a F2P game. Judging by the forum rhetoric, players believe that the revenue works like:
- 300 players * $5/player = $1500
But if you look at what most game companies actually sell, it's pretty clear that they believe their revenue looks like:
- 25 paying players * $60/player = $1500
They sell some small items, but most of the store is targeted to people who are willing to spend a lot of money.
This is the real advantage of F2P. Rather than trying to scrounge up more subscribers, they remove the limit on how much the former subscribers can pay them. It's easier to chase a few whales than thousands of small fish.
For example, F2P in The Old Republic has roughly doubled revenues. However, I would wager that the majority of the increase in revenue comes from existing subscribers, and not the new players. That is why TOR focuses on Cartel Packs, because subscribers are willing to buy them.
But a lot of F2P players have not come to terms with this, and the forums often break into complaints that item X is too expensive. But the truth is that even if it was cheaper, most players wouldn't buy it.