Can free-to-play MMOs really be played for absolutely free? This is what we wondered and the cause why we made the decision to call this new series into being: the F2Pmeter, which will serve as a means to put the free-to-play-ness of your (and our) favourite titles to a test. Games begin with a 100% of free-to-play-ness, and depending on how our questions have to be answered, this percentage will drop (or not!)
Our first candidate is TERA, the top 1 game in July’s best MMORPG ranking, a quite popular themepark fantasy MMORPG that offers fast-paced console-style action combat and multiple playable races and classes to adventure in an immersive open world and face intense skill-based boss battles and PvP matches.
Let’s have an in-depth look at some of TERA’s features and its free-to-play model in this first episode of our new F2Pmeter series to find out the actual level of "free-to-play-ness" the game offers!
No. Once pay-to-play with an initial purchase and a monthly subscription required, the game has switched to the F2P model, now allowing players to simply create an account and play without having to pay anything.
Yes (optional). Despite being free-to-play, TERA grants the possibility to upgrade your account status from Standard (free) to Elite by paying a monthly fee of $14.99 to earn bonus and discounts, shorten dungeon cooldowns and obtain other comforts. There is also another account status, called Founder, restricted to players who bought the game before its free-to-play launch which provides similar bonus.
No. Updates and patches are always free for everyone (at least as of now).
Yes. There’s a cash shop that sells a huge array of cosmetic and convenience items and services, such as costumes, weapon skins, race/ gender/ appearance/ name change, pets, dyes, additional bank slots, and so on.
No. Not really, perhaps the boosters may help you to level up or gain reputation faster, but it’s not a direct advantage over other players, just a time-saver. Similarly the items can all be obtained by normal gameplay as well.
No. Like in many currently existing MMORPGs, the UI in TERA is quite customisable, resizable and moveable, all of which can be done for absolutely free.
Yes. There don’t exist any differences regarding the races and classes available for paying and non-paying players.
Yes. Elite accounts have lower Brokerage fees and a limit of 50 items simultaneously posted; Founder and Standard accounts have the same fees (slightly higher) and can post a total of 30 (Founder) and 10 (Standard) items respectively.
Yes. Standard and Elite accounts have an initial limit of 72 bank slots and can purchase additional ones, while Founder accounts start with all the available slots unlocked (288).
Yes. There are no restrictions to the accessible zones and dungeons, although the Elite accounts have shortened dungeon entry cooldowns and twice as much daily entries.
No & Yes. There are no limits to the end-game content but, as already mentioned, Elite Accounts have shortened dungeon cooldowns and twice as much daily entries.
Yes. Despite the option of paying for an Elite account and making purchases the Store, the game ultimately appears to be utterly fair and absolutely playable without being forced to take out your purse at all. Those who choose to pay, gain access to some nice cosmetics and customisation options and will have an easier life in-game with time-savers, convenience items and boosters, without having a direct advantage over non-paying users.
TERA was initially released as a pay-to-play title, with first-time purchase and the classic monthly fee. Later on, after popularity and subscriptions had dropped, the MMO switched to the more popular free-to-play model in order to stay alive. This way, it actually managed to take a breath of fresh air and get back on track, growing in popularity again and quickly becoming one of the best and most appreciated free-to-play MMORPGs out there.
Our F2Pmeter test resulted in a reasonable 70% of free-to-play-ness for TERA.