Need for Speed: World and Everything That Is Wrong with the Free-to-Play Model

You bought a digital car. Doesn't get much more rock bottom than that.

Need for Speed: World is already an outcast.  Apart from every other game in the series, this new installment has gone rogue (also known as free-to-play).  Usually games are guilty of trying a paid model and having it fail (Lord of the Rings Online), and then releasing a very attractive free-to-play model to entice those of us out there that are cheap into playing.  Despite what any of the developers/publishers of these games think, free-to-play is actually an epidemic.

Instead of enticing those people you missed into playing a free game, you have now likely deterred people from playing any other online game you may make in the future.  Along with those games, now every other subscription based game out there is doomed as well. The valid customer reason why this is happening? “If I wait long enough, it’ll just go free-to-play like Champions Online or Age of Conan.”  Much like the black plague, it is going to be tough to eradicate this trend.  Games may die, and we may have to pile them up into the streets.

What started the free-to-play game?  I blame games like Neopets and Farmville.  These games are so simple that a paid model would simply never work with them.  They instead charge real money (or coins, to be cute) to enjoy premium items in game.  Failed PC titles started doing this to act as middle ground for those who didn’t want to pay steep subscription fees.  Instead, gamers could buy special items or buy access to special areas.

Now we are finally getting somewhere, so we can concentrate on World, the red headed step child of the Need for Speed series.  It’s a free-to-play game, it isn’t hiding that. But recently Need for Speed: World has added the Koenigsegg CCX “Elite” Edition car, which is reportedly available to all players.  This car — get ready for it — costs $100 in real world monies.  Buying this car possibly has a lot of negative repercussions:  You could be labeled as a “super nerd,” you could want to return it after realizing it was a dumb waste of money, but you can’t because DLC is non-refundable. Lastly, you may cry at the thought of losing $100 and not doing anything cool as a result of it.  But don’t take our word for it, go out into Need for Speed: World and check it out yourself.

[Corrections: We had originally pointed out that Need for Speed: World was only free-to-play up to level 10, at which point you had to purchase a “starter pack” to continue to level. This was formerly true, but a change in the game’s structure on 9/8/2010 removed the level 10 cap and allows racers to achieve the true level cap of 50 without purchase. Thanks to Galadween for picking up on the error and letting us know.]

[Source: Joystiq]

[Image via Joystiq]

Jessica Weimar
Jessica Weimar
Jessica Weimar

MASH Veteran

Jessica is clearly a fan of video games, or she wouldn't be writing for this site. She attends college and like most other staff on the site, has a day job that she despises. She spends most of her free time playing games with her boyfriend.

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