After writing about the F2P offer for Vanguard, I've read an other blogpost somewhere (I can't find it now, but will add to the post when I do) which was pretty much telling the people that shut up and pay for the Gold, nothing is free. I do agree to a certain degree, especially the part about nothing being free, but I still think that - as much as can be know now - SOE's F2P strategy could be better.
Let me elaborate: We talk about a multimillion dollar MMO where the subscriber base diminished to a point where a handful of live servers were able to support them. There is a huge amount of content in, with lots of classes and races.
The approach I would take here is basically the following:
- Improve and sell the real estate: There are 2.2 continents in the game. If, after the conversion, there would be only one open and free, it is still enough for most players to start the game, and advance to the highest level. Let's spend some time with extending the .2 continent to a whole, and add some extra raiding, etc. to the closed big one, and sell it as an extension. (I know this would cause a lot of problems with the existing players, but with careful planning it could be sold)
- Make profit on the ad-hoc sales: There are a lot of players out there who play several games at once, and will not consider buying another subscription. On the other hand, they are willing to spend money on games from time to time - especially to skip some grinding for stuff that can bought for a relatively small fee. One very specific example from Vanguard: At about lvl 30-35, you can get a special mount: A unicorn. (There is also a shadowhound, btw). It is a very long quest chain. I have done it once, and never again, because of one quest in this chain: Feeding the Foals. Without further explanation, if I could skip that part (only that, not the whole) I'd easily pay 50-100 SOE points for it. But that is not the end of it, crafting materials and powders, diplo cards, there are a lot of things that could be easily sold. So far, the best of this kind of shop I've seen was the one of Lotro: The have a lot of items to offer, also free samples, weekly sales, etc. Something similar would suit Vanguard very well.
- I see the merit of having a Gold package in place, but in the current situation, I think it is somewhat overpriced. Also, I would introduce more packages, even up to 5, with different monthly prices or required amount of points spent in the previous month. There might be some people who are fine with not having brotherhood or caravans, but would kill for housing, and would happily pay a sub fee (somewhat less than that of the Gold) to have it.
I am pretty sure that they are not aiming to do either the first, nor the third option. On the other hand, we will see about the second one, because that one can make a huge difference in itself. I am actually quite optimistic - if they allow me to buy more bag slots, bank slots, allow me to lift the money limit or the item restriction, I will play. I have a few thousand SOE points to spend mainly on this.