I want to share a link to an entry on PsychoChild’s Blog, called “A Tale of Two Free-to-Play Games.” In the entry, he describes two (actually three) different online games that moved from subscription models, Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online, to free-to-play models with microtransaction markets to bring in revenue. (Both still feature “premium” subscription options.)

Now, the jist of the entry compares the sort of content that’s being sold to the player, and how that affects player expectations. DDO gives you a fair portion of the game with the option to purchase additional content that can also be unlocked through repetitive play. It’s a matter of weighing your patience against the convenience.

LotRO, on the other hand, locks a fair amount of arbitrary, cosmetic content behind a paywall, including material that used to be a normal part of the game. In essence, what they’ve done is take away toys that they used to let the players have. You can look at it through a benign light, but what they’ve done is fundamentally selfish.

Also comparing the two is the idea that while DDO keeps actual gameplay extensions behind a paywall, it isn’t intrusive about it. It’s kept in an easy-to-find place, and the players are free to buy into the idea or ignore it entirely. LotRO gets in your face, though, with all the subtlety of a flashing banner advertisement.

The third game described is Puzzle Pirates, but I feel I would be cheating you out of a good read if I were to summarize it here for you. What you should do is go and check out PsychoChild’s post, scroll through the DDO and LotRO sections unless you want the nitty-gritty details, and read the last section about Puzzle Pirates.