The Weekly Raid: F2P, B2P, Or P2P: What Is Your Preferred MMO Business Model?

Around 10 years ago, a slew of Asian MMOs & MMORPGs started making their way to the West. These Asian MMOs brought with them a business model that was previously unknown on these shores. Since then, the free to play model has been widely adopted by many studios and is used across a range of genres. While pioneers of the model like Nexon have struggled to actually make any money in the West, free to play has given us some of the best games of the past decade. Think League of Legends, Path of Exile, Warframe, Dota 2, Tera, and so on.

Traditional subscription MMORPGs didn't go away, but few new MMORPG releases opted for the subscription-only model following the F2P tsunami. World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV are the two remaining subscription MMORPG heavy hitters. A third model has also gained popularity, spearheaded by the original Guild Wars. Buy to Play (B2P) MMORPGs offer a full MMORPG experience, but rather than a mandatory subscription, they require a one time purchase. Often they are supported by optional subs and a cash shop as well. Some of the biggest MMORPGs today have opted for this model including Guild Wars 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online.

Now that we've had many years to experience all three of these business models, which do you feel works best for MMOs and MMORPGs? Which do you personally prefer, and which do you think will still be around in the future? Will we see a variety of F2P, B2P, and subscription games coming out in the years ahead, or has the tide turned against one or more of these business models?

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.

  • Yao Dong Hu

    I feel there will be less and less MMORPGs come out in the west. One reason is it's not making much money, I feel most of people who play MMORPGs are against P2W and don't spend a lot of money, PC MMORPGs are so ghetto compare to how much money mobile game makes. Because of that, more and more developers transitioned into mobile game making, others were just bought by the chinese or big wheels, therefore less and less new games get developed.
    I actually kind of miss the old MMORPGs, it was so exciting and full of suprise when you could loot something good once a while and sold it to other players for real currency, instead nowadays game company gets everything. Being a causal player now gets crushed by wheels, no-lifers and elite player, so much less fun.

    • Yao Dong Hu

      Sorry, feels like a bit of offtopic.

  • Preciel

    f2p, people argue that it will always be p2w but games these days go p2w regardless of the model, the developers are getting greedy and implent cash shop in b2p, p2p games, it's actually ridiculous.

    • Indeed. Even b2p / sub games have cash shops anyway. At least f2p saves us the initial bucks up front

  • darkfyra

    If we can avoid pay2win,this will be my system of choice

  • I prefer free to play personally DESPITE free to play leading to cash shops and potential p2w stuff. I've personally gotten over being upset over p2w because every business model has black market p2w anyway. Stuff like acocunt buying / power leveling has ALWAYS been a thing and at least in a f2p game i can see if i like a game before shelling out any money. Plus i think F2P brings in more players which is great for everyone in an MMO

    • Nolife Alice

      Worst thing about p2w is that gear barrier that splits the community and the harassment with dps meter / ilvl third party tools that happens daily.
      I even saw people getting harassed for not playing the meta class of the month.

      • I think that kinda behavior happens no matter what business model the game is. Just gotta ignore the idiots like that. /ignore or blacklist features work well!

  • Feto

    I prefer P2P, if it's a decent mmo the sub fee is gonna be worth it anyway. Most B2P have some kind of "VIP account" that removes (kinda) most of the annoyances of the game or F2P that sells thing for the same end, like Pets on MapleStory (it's annoying to loot everything manually, especially with how fast the game is), VIPs on TERA could do more dungeons per day (or week? can't remember), more exp and gold and a bunch of other stuff; I read somewhere that Black Desert seems to have something similar. So they pretty much make the game more annoying just to sell you their VIP thing.

    As for what's probably gonna be around it's probably F2P, since you get a lot more players than B2P and they can sell all kinds of stuff on the cash shop and make a big profit out of it.

  • Yea Right

    So far I gotta say Funcom has the best F2P business model. They give you access to everything, and subbing just gives you bonus perks, like each raid gives 1 Simple Relic (an item used to purchase gear) if your free to play, and 2 Simple Relic's if your subbed. So it just speeds up the process. Works out great since we have some people who sometimes fall on hard times and can't keep shelling out cash for the game, but who can keep playing with us and not be limited to what they can do.

  • Some games I think deserve a subscription model. As long as the devs are making a profit, they will continue to make quality updates to their mmos. Others can fall in on the b2p or f2p model as they please.

  • Augosyx

    All 3 I guess. Being from a F2P to a B2P/P2P, the transition between playing a paid subscription and F2P is a huge culture shock, P2P you're bound to get everything w/o worrying too much about the possibilities of cash shop deterring gameplay or upset the balance, although there are some B2P games that abused their Cash Shop system. F2P is still on my books provided they have quick exp rates, less bs questline and balanced Cash Shop system, anything in the CS that breaks the game equals me quitting instantly, no matter how good of a game that is.

  • EazyMakaveli

    free 2 play. every game has a fucking cash shop and its impossible to stop RMT so people saying "bro its b2p to avoid cash shop and p2w" is bullshit.

    the only sub game i know that does not have any cash shop at all is Mortal Online, but that game is garbage.

  • Beo Bhan

    B2P with Costumes or F2P with Costumes.
    Altay said its going to be more of in the future. I like gw2 but I dislike that the expansions can only be bought.....make the game cost 80$ but let all expansions be free....also let people play for free with restrictions....just not restrictions that block/kill the mmo element (like FF14)....