Free to Play: The Reality of the Game

Smite PatchingFree to play games such as League of Legends or Smite are quite popular. Obviously, the aspect of being free is what drives many people to these titles. Everyone wants to be entertained without spending money. However, have you ever put into consideration what it takes to develop these games you love so much? Although it’s free to you, it isn’t free to the developers.

What Goes Into Building a Free MMO?

There are many aspects that go into developing each and every free game that you like to play. These aspects cost someone money regardless of the circumstance. Although some of the costs can be offset by donations, the reality is that it takes a great deal of time and effort to keep these games operational and relevant over time.

The first aspect to consider is that of programming the game in the first place. Those that put time and effort into developing graphics and game play have their own bills to pay. Electricity, water, rent, food and all of the facets of life are still a necessity to those creating the three-dimensional graphics you love. So, where does the money come from that ensures that these developers don’t become homeless?

Server Power
Depending on the popularity of the game, it could take a great deal of hardware efficiency and high-bandwidth networking to keep the game operational. This hardware costs money and the Internet access is a perpetual bill that needs to be paid as well. When you get frustrated from poor latency when playing a free game, consider that the hosting company probably doesn’t have enough revenue to pay for the latest and greatest technology for upgrades.

Electricity and Overhead
Businesses that host free games need to pay for the electricity and other overhead expenses that ensure your online game is working properly. A large amount of power is consumed by data centers ranging from the juice put into the server itself to keeping the facility cool with air conditioning units. This doesn’t include paying a network admin to make sure everything is running smoothly at all times.

Corporate Finances

Large Corporations and Financial Support

Some people have the misconception that large companies that host servers and games do so due to the income from other business deals. For example, Sony’s Playstation Network can be financially fueled by Sony itself. Unfortunately, this is not good business practice – and often not the case.

Self-Sufficient Branches
Each development of a business needs to be self-sustaining and independent of the main body. Otherwise, income decreases in order to make up the slack affecting wages and other facets of the business. Would you feel it would be fair if you lost $0.50 per hour in your wages because a branch of your company was failing? Each section of the business needs to be self-sufficient in order to remain profitable. Otherwise, the business could fail and your free game could be deleted from the Internet permanently.

The next time you load into your favorite free to play game, take into consideration all of the people that worked on creating it and how they are going to pay for their own food. You may begin to understand why some things need to have a monetary value.

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Michael Brockbank

I have been playing games for more than 30 years. I wouldn’t consider myself a hard-core gamer, but I have brought the pain in my day. Now that I am rounding the horn at 40, I still enjoy everything from booting up the old Commodore 64 to exploring new titles in Steam. You’re never too old to enjoy a good plot and mind-numbing graphics.

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