Free-To-Play Meets Build It Yourself
My mind sometimes races with strange ideas. They are strange in the sense that they relate to players and what they would like their games to include.
While gamers can be divided into various categories–which will not be discussed in this article–most want the same thing, and that is to be a part of something. To make something theirs.
And I am not talking about a community or a clique, instead I am talking about making a game a personal reflection of themselves.
Relating to the opening line, I would like to put forward one of my ideas. The idea will not suit every type of gamer, as the casual player who merely wants to plug-and-play will probably have very little interest in this. Gamers who prefer to build-and-create their own may be a little intrigued.
My thought pattern revolves around free-to-play and it has the potential to allow players to build-and-create their own game. A game that they can play and make their own, allowing the developers to generate recurring revenue without hindering the enjoyment offered.
Akin to how role playing games (RPGs) sucker players in, I believe the free-to-play model could do the same.
RPGs are enjoyed by the masses. I think that this is because players are afforded the opportunity to ‘go wild’ and create a character that they want. The character is theirs, and it is moulded as they want it. In essence, it is an extension of themselves. The player is able to choose strength over dexterity, or intelligence over agility. It is entirely up to them, and after hours and hours of playing there is a connection to what they have created.
The character created is then used to enjoy adventures in a completely fictional world. RPG players invest hours and hours of time into such games because they are building something that is theirs. And if the RPG example is not enough, take a look at Minecraft. Players are able to build an entire world, however they want.
My idea revolves around Minecraft and RPG games.
Imagine a game that has its own story. This is decided by the developer, and that is about as far as it goes. Players are then able to choose the remainder of the game. For example, the story forms the base of the game whereby the world in which the player participates is completely dynamic–and this includes the character.
Does the player want to enjoy a medieval, sci-fi or modern universe? Well, that may cost something small. The world will then have a story attached to it, and that story will be somewhat unique to the world. For example, a relatively modern-day universe may use the Mafia as key characters, whereby a sci-fi world uses extraterrestrials. Depending on which world has been chosen, slight dynamic changes can be made to the story for uniqueness.
Once the world has been chosen, players can then pick a character–and this can be similar to how players create RPG characters. Except it has surface-level changeability. Think Valve’s free-to-play model where players can purchase hats, or things for Dota 2 characters. In this way, the player is able to kit-out his or her own character visually. The character is a product of imagination, where there are limited skills and attributes that can be selected in-game for playing and storyline reasons. Skills and attributes would cost nothing as they would be for the purpose of the story. The small cost involved in player creation would be for that of the character’s design. Want to look like someone specific? Want to be an Archer or a Mage? Well that may cost you a small fee. The reason is not to extort money out of the player, instead it is to create a link between the player and the character. Some sort of obligation to play and use the character.
Once the world has been designed, and the character decided, it can be purchased. These two features of the game will be unique to the player and be an extension of him- or herself. Furthermore, the player may feel some sort of obligation to play a game that he or she helped build.
Extending on that idea, players are able to be completely dynamic with their ideas. Think of an example of a medieval world, with a character that is from the future. The story will be dynamic to the medieval world, however the way the player plays is based on the character. In this scenario, enemies may be using catapults and bows and arrows, whereby the character has a Plasma gun because he or she is futuristic. Sure, it is unfair, however it is the player’s choice. Creation may be as outrageous as possible.
Further extension could possibly see developers releasing the title with only one or two worlds at first. This is to help development come along without too much strain. Thereafter, the developer can release new types of universes as they see fit. The goal of this is to create longevity and recurring purchases. Perhaps the player has tried the two original worlds, and when a new one is purchased a new experience is created, with a modified story that has a new twist. All based on the same ideas, to limit the strain on developers–again.
The game would be downloadable, and free to download. The only costs involved are that of: the world and the character. The world and what it entails will have a price, whereby the character and its regular maintenance or upgrades can have further costs. It is a heavy investment for developers at first, as players may not even give the game a chance, however they take this risk with every game built, anyway. The idea is that small transactions may lead to more players involved. More players is more money.
This idea is very raw. I am sure that more can be added. However, the idea is a completely dynamic game that the player can build and mould. It becomes an extension of them, and is entirely up to them. Furthermore, it is aimed to be cost effective. For the developers, it will allow for a more recurring type of revenue. Extra development for the game, such as new worlds and character items, create new purchases leading to more revenue.
Players will not only have invested in something that they have paid to build, instead they may also be manipulated into thinking that a simple game is very good, merely because they have a personal connection to it.
Games like this could even be completely user-built, as a content creator could also allow players to build their own quests and tasks for each world. Other players can then interact with this for further playable hours and activity.
As I said, I have strange ideas. And it is mainly because I think that the free-to-play model is a great system when used correctly. And used correctly is when it benefits the player without ‘paying to win’. Free-to-play that creates a game where a player ‘pays to win’ is not my favourable means of using the system, and I would simply prefer to see something very versatile and dynamic.
Of course, you are more than welcome to add your ideas as to how this type of game could work in the comments. Or merely comment on how it would not work. Another idea is to share what your type of world would be, and you are allowed to be as outrageous as possible–think ninja pirates on space canoes.