Sunday, February 7, 2016

Eighth Thought - Class-Based Shooters

   Class-based games in general love to make you pay for characters, but I have a specific problem with it when it comes to shooters. I believe that all classes, or one character of each class, should always be free in a class-based game.

   Yes, I understand they have to make money. There are so many other ways of making it than preying on new players, which is what this is. MMOs these days won't make it so classes can only be bought with cash, since that throws up the Pay-to-Win red flag, so you get systems where you can unlock the characters with in-game currency. Everyone who plays the game for a long time eventually gets all of the characters, so the people getting screwed are almost entirely newbies. This leads me to my big, blunt ultimatum: locking classes out like that dooms the game.

   Much like any game that doesn't take the newb experience seriously. By "newb experience", I'm talking about what your first impression of a game is when you start playing it. This applies to every game, but is particularly dangerous when it comes to MMOs since it can be directly influenced by other players. An MMO can be really nice, but if the community is toxic enough people will still uninstall the game. This is exasperated if the game's mechanics are also there, testing your patience and reaching for your wallet. I would rather my shooters just not be class-based and go hard on customization instead, but apparently that's just me. Not that it would solve anything, since they would just lock the customization, therefore locking you out of creating your own potential classes anyway.

   "Why pick on shooters in particular? This sounds like it applies to lots of F2P games."
   I'm picking on shooters because they have the least defense. People seem to think shooters have an end-game that must be protected and blocked off for as long as possible, lest people become disinterested while the devs starve from their lack of funding, wallowing in their own filth and drowning in alcohol. Multiplayer shooters don't have an end-game. Player interest is sustained due to a high skill ceiling and the sheer enjoyment of shooting people/zombies/whatever in the face. Anything blocking them from achieving that end to the best of their ability is just a hassle.

   For example, you start with a basic soldier class, but you want to be a sniper (let's just assume you're the best sniper that ever was and ever will be). You can't buy a sniper rifle because it costs five billion gold, but you also don't want to drop 5 bucks, probably because you don't want to support the game that forced you to pay 5 bucks to use your favorite weapon. You decide to farm the gold, but you're not having much fun, because you're not doing what you want to do. The mere fact that you didn't immediately uninstall the game and play something else means you would have still played the game even if you didn't need to work to unlock something so essential, since the game was fun enough to keep your attention. So why? Why.

   For clarification, this isn't saying "everything must be free, always". I'm simply asking the developers of my favorite genre to understand who plays their games. Sell me costumes, boosters, trinkets, anything you want. Just not classes.

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