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Let's talk about the f2p model



Full disclosure: I'll be buying the season pass on day 1, so the opinions of f2p players (or mostly f2p players) matter more than mine. I hope this post sparks a discussion, since apart from one thread asking that AD1 cost 500 gold instead of 750, there hasn't been any discussion of the f2p model in the closed beta thread.


If you're not in the closed beta, here are the specs if you'd like to offer your thoughts:


Adventures and characters are bought with gold. When you download the game, you get Perils of the Lost Coast, Merisiel, Kyra, and 0 gold. Gold is earned as follows:


Beating scenarios:


Normal: 100

Heroic: 200

Legendary: 300


Within scenarios:


Kill a monster: 1 gold

Kill a henchman: 2 gold

Close a location: 6 gold


Adventures and extra characters can be bought with gold:


Base set characters (Valeros, Lem, Harsk, Ezren, Seoni): 2000 gold each

Deck C characters (Amiri, Lini, Sajan, Seelah): 4000 gold each

AD1 (Burnt Offerings): 750 gold

AD2-6: 4000 gold each


Whenever a popular game is f2p, a discussion always emerges as to whether the game is "really" f2p. My personal opinion is that with the exclusion of games that are blatantly exploitative ("Oh my! It seems you've run out of ENERGY! Would you like to buy a POTION?"), no f2p game is objectively "really" f2p or "really" not. Rather, the fairness of the model is relative to each player.


For example, in Hearthstone, if you're only interested in Arena and you're good at it, you can enjoy the entirety of the game easily without paying a dime. By contrast, if you're bad at Arena or just want to play ladder, then you'll think the f2p model is an utter sham, because the amount of grinding necessary to build competitive ladder decks is obscene.


So for Pathfinder, I think it's okay to accept that some f2p players will be disappointed with the gold gain and/or the prices. The question we have to ask is not, "Will this model make everyone happy?" but rather, "Are there at least some players who will be able to enjoy the game f2p and not feel unduly burdened?"


My tl;dr opinion is "Yes." It seems to me that Obsidian has chosen the price points very astutely, so that a player who wants to unlock everything without grinding can do so and will need to experience everything Obsidian has created in order to do so. Here's the math behind my opinion:


Beat Perils + AD1 on normal: 800 gold

Beat Perils + AD1 on heroic: 1600 gold

Beat Perils + AD1 on legendary: 2400 gold

Purchase AD1: - 750 gold

Average "incidental" gold gain playing with 2 characters (based on my experience): (40 gold per scenario) x (24 scenarios) = 960


Thus, accumulated income after beating AD1 through legendary = 800 + 1600 + 2400 - 750 + 960 = 5010


At this point, our f2p player drops 4000 gold to buy AD2, leaving her with just over 1000 gold. Assuming AD2-AD6 work the same way, it's easy to calculate how much our player will lose per adventure when buying the one after it:


Beat 5 normal scenarios: 500 gold

Beat 5 heroic scenarios: 1000 gold

Beat 5 legendary scenarios: 1500 gold

"Incidental" income: 15 scenarios x 40 gold = 600 gold

Purchase the next scenario: -4000 gold


This produces a 500 + 1000 + 1500 + 600 - 4000 = 400 gold deficit per adventure. Since our f2p player has ~1000 gold in the bank after buying AD2, she will have ~600 gold after buying AD3, ~200 gold after buying AD4, and she'll be ~200 gold shy of buying AD5 after she beats AD4. At this point, to avoid grinding, she'll need to play a few scenarios of Quest Mode to buy AD5. After beating AD5, she'll need to go deeper into Quest Mode (more than before) to acquire AD6. And finally, after beating AD6, she'll have ~3600 gold -- not quite enough to buy two base set characters. She'll need to hit up Quest Mode once again to get up to 4000 gold, which will allow her to buy two additional base set characters.


The player can play through the whole game again with the new characters (or with Kyra + Merisiel + the 2 new characters). Since she doesn't have to buy the adventures or unlock the difficulty modes this time (really hoping Obsidian makes me right about that one! :)), she can play straight through on Legendary if she wishes and all of the gold she collects doing this is pure profit:


Reward for 33 scenarios x 300 gold = 9900

"incidental" gold from 33 scenarios = 40 x 33 = 1320 [note: this will be higher with a 4-character party]


That's 9900 + 1320 = 11,220 gold (or more) after the second playthrough of the game. At this point the player can buy the remaining 3 base set characters and 1 C-deck character, or (if she plays a bit more Quest Mode) either 2 C-deck characters and 2 base set characters or simply 3 C-deck characters. Unless her "dream team" 6-character party involves all 4 C-deck characters, she can now play through the game with her dream team party and unlock the remaining characters afterward if she wishes.


So, in sum, a player can enjoy the entirety of the game f2p within a reasonable time frame and zero grinding provided she meets the following criteria:


- She's okay with playing with Kyra and Merisiel for a long time

- She enjoys beating everything on all 3 difficulties on at least her first playthrough

- She doesn't mind playing for a long time before playing a 4-character party, and an even longer time before playing a 5- or 6- character party

- Her "dream team" doesn't involve all 4 of the C-deck characters


Of course, a player who wants to play through Rise of the Runelords with 4-6 characters right away will look at the character costs, look at the adventure costs, and write an angry rant on the forums about how the f2p model is bull honkey. But on closer inspection, it all seems pretty legit. If it weren't for the higher difficulty modes or quest mode, I would argue for much lower prices. But because those higher difficulties and the quest mode do exist, a player can genuinely experience everything the game has to offer and unlock all of the adventures and characters without having to grind a single scenario. (By "grind" I mean "do the exact same thing more than once.")


I think this is a very generous f2p system, and I just hope it's not so generous that too many players end up not giving Obsidian any money. :)


My one critique of the f2p model is the option to buy 200 a gold for 30 days for $2. This is a "feels bad" mechanism. You either get 6000 gold over 30 days for $2, or 4000 gold right now for $5. If you choose the $5 option, you feel bad because you're losing money AND gold. If you choose the $2 option, you feel bad because you have to wait for your gold, you have to log in every day, and you lose gold on any day you forget to or can't log in.


I think (and I hope other players will chime in if I'm just a weirdo!) that it is possible to have a cheap, long-term option that doesn't feel so bad. For example, $2 for "killing a monster or closing a location awards 1-3 bonus gold" indefinitely. Objectively, this is worse than just getting 200 gold a day for 30 days, since you'd have to play a whole lot to get 200 gold (and the eventual 6000 gold) with this, as opposed to just logging in. But it feels so much better. You don't have to stress about logging in every day or feel bad if you miss a day. You feel good every time you kill a monster or close a location and that bonus gold pops up. And it doesn't spur a "feels bad" comparison to the other gold option. "4000 gold now versus 6000 gold 30 days from now" feels really bad; "4000 gold now versus more gold eventually" is a much healthier comparison: I can either get immediate gratification now or make more money in the unspecified long term. This doesn't feel nearly as bad as "lose money and gold if you're not patient!"


I can't imagine who would read all this, but that's all I got! What are others' thoughts on the f2p model?

Edited by Borissimo
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I am not planning on buying the season pass but am planning on playing a lot; I currently intend to spend small amounts of money on this gamr from time to time.


I don't know how feasible it is to code such a thing in the existing structure, but I would be very excited to pay a small sum ($5 or less) for a lifetime unlock of bonus gold for each XXX (bane defeated, location permanently closed, etc.) in addition to the small sum for a daily gold dump that I will most likely be purchasing on release.

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Yep. This is real free to play game. You can really play the game without buying anything. Is that good for Obsidian, I don't know. Maybe They still dream about bacon after this game...


But I agree that different buy something options would not harm. Because people like different kinds of experiences.


I will definitely buy season pass, because I ma mainly interested in those harder level adventures that you don't see in normal game and am not interested in grinding. Too Little time too Many good games to spent it.

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My only concern with the f2p option as it is now is that it requires a lot of playing with just Merisiel and Kyra.

I don't like Merisiel at all. The game is instantly NOT f2p for me because I don't want to play with her.

If those are your 2 favorite characters, sweet!

If those are your least favorite, why would you even bother trying this game.

What if you chose 2 out of 4 characters upon completion of the tutorial?

Someone might still be unhappy but chances are very slim.

Pie in the sky, 2 out of the original 7.

Free is great. And I know I'll buy the game (season pass) anyway.

But make sure it's f2p for those that don't like clerics and rogues.

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Starting character selection is a tricky thing. For players familiar with the game, sure, letting them pick their starting characters is great. But for everyone else, offering a choice is actually a bad thing. Here's why: say Newbie Norman thinks Valeros and Merisiel "look cool," so he picks them. Then he starts playing and thinks they suck. Now he has to feel bad because he has to live with his starting decision for tens of hours of gameplay. "How was I supposed to know which characters were good?" moans Norman. Paradoxically, not offering a choice makes a lot of players feel better. If someone hates Merisiel and/or Kyra, their thought is, "Well, that's just what you get" as opposed to "Gah, I did this to myself."


One way around this problem is to gve 2 extra characters at the beginning but make players pay for extra party slots. For example, suppose you start with Merisiel, Kyra, Valeros, and Ezren (the classic Warrior / Wizard / Cleric / Rogue lineup), but you can only play with a party of 2. Wanna add a third character to your party? 2000 gold. Wanna add a 4th and beyond? 2000 gold. This way, the total cost of everything in the store is the same, but players have access to more classes. The downside is that players who never wanted to play with Valeros and Ezren in the first place get screwed in this scenario. Well, maybe screwed is an extreme word, but anyone who wasn't going to buy Valeros and Ezren has to spend 4000 gold they wouldn't have had to spend under the current system.


Kyra and Merisiel are among my least favorite characters. My bottom 3 are definitely Kyra, Merisiel, and Seoni. Yet even so, I've been really happy playing with K & M in the beta. Both are simple and effective in a small party, and I honestly cannot think of a better pair of starting characters with which to introduce new players to the game. Ezren is too complicated / difficult with the huge cache of spells and no blessings. Seoni is too fraglie and requires extremely precise play. Valeros is simple and effective in combat, but his d4 wisdom makes him suck at closing locations, and you need location-closing flexibility when playing in a small party. That leaves Lem and Harsk, both of whom are weak at combat early on, a downside you really do not want in your freebies because it'll turn new players off to the game.


Kyra and Merisiel have their own challenges, of course, but they use a wide variety of cards (melee, ranged, items, light armor, heavy armor, divine spells ... all that's missing is arcane spells), are effective in combat (Kyra can use blessings then heal them back), are resilient thanks to evasion and healing, and have good stats and a fair number of blessings to close locations. I have a feeling the dev team either knew the game very well or got some pro consultation from Paizo on the initial character picks.


I do admit that the need to beat the whole game on all three difficulties with just Merisiel and Kyra (or else play a TON of Quest Mode) is going to put some players off.

Edited by Borissimo
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There was a ton of discussion about this. It was not a simple choice.

As far as two character parties go we needed to go with what would be an easier choice for new players to ease into the game as oppose to vets. Also overwhelming a new player with 4 or 6 characters off the bat might scare them away. Remember that when most people learn to play they are just playing a single character or two. (I have plenty of solo games under my belt on the physical version, but that is not an ideal way to learn to play and turns take forever. I am constantly checking all my characters hands and I forget to activate powers...)

Meri helps new players learn that they can run away from a fight or a probe is need be, it helps them learn to manipulate the location deck. It also lets them know you have to stop and fight sometime, or you can run out of time.

Kyra can heal and this is another good skill for new players to learn. It can be easy to die in this game at first. You can quickly over help on checks or not provide enough and lose entire hands. She helps ease that a bit and teaches you how to heal and how to make your characters work together.

Since we automate a lot of things it is much easier to handle a 4 or 6 character party here than in the physical game, however that is still a lot to remember and a lot to do.

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My only issue with the M+K team is the lack of firepower when they are together.


Just my 2 cents:

If I had to give a new player two characters to use, I would probably choose Harsk + Kyra.


They have good damage output through Harsk, good scouting (also Harsk), collectively a good amount of blessings which can fuel both combat and exploration, useful healing from Kyra, and a good spread of card wants and skill die. They can be played together or in separate locations, which each have very visible pro/cons. Harsk teaches a lot about character deck manipulation as well as some ideas on location deck manipulation. Kyra teaches you that you don't use your powers all the time, and you can learn the right timing for firing off heals.

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