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winning Path of Exile: The ethical free-to-play

  • January 12, 2018 12:49 AM PST

     

      poe orb store - The path of Path of Exile is a quirky one since it is one of the first MMOs to claim a sense of ethics despite being free-to-play. As one may know, free-to-play games are often painted in the worst of lights due to the fact that business models for these games are often predatory in nature. These sorts of predatory practices include: the ability to pay in order to bypass a heavy grind, quality-of-life improvements that should have been included in the first place, and sometimes even being able to obtain all the best virtual pixels to gain the best edge against the competition.

    This was an issue at its peak during PoE’s initial release back in 2013. Grinding Gear Games made it a point that they certainly were not the same kind of company that preyed on weak-willed people when it came to gacha boxes, P2W mechanics, or PoE currency trading for pay-to-win mechanics. Many people first thought that this was going to spell the end for the new game; it seemed so absurd that it would be able to support itself without such practices.


    PoE still does have a cash shop available for it, but contains mere vanity items that do not affect the core gameplay whatsoever. After five full years, it appears that it has, fortunately, been nothing but good for Grinding Gear Games. They have been able to pull millions of dollars from supportive customers that have either bought vanity items from the shop or other crowd-funding methods to continue to support the game. GGG admits that if they went with the P2W route, they would certainly be making more money, but the game is still doing great. They have been able to pay off all development costs, and have been profiting since 2014. This shows that there really is an ethical way to run a modern F2P game.

    Path of Exile is a fantastic example of good business practices in action, but let us not forget that it would not be such an ethical success if not for the core game itself. Many fans of the franchise were attracted to it by the heavy blend of Diablo and Dark Souls influences, which is something that the developers have stressed often about. With well-polished combat systems, interesting story and characters, and a plethora of content to boot, there is very little reason as to why PoE would not be one of the gaming industry’s best indie success stories.
    It is refreshing to see that it is not only the money-grubbing companies like EA that have all the triumphs regardless of how awful their business practices are. Grinding Gear Games and Path of Exile have come a long way and still have ways to go before we see this franchise die off. The game’s health continues to grow with the recent release of their latest expansion, War for the Atlas, which has revitalized the population as more and more players trickle in to experience one of the best and most cared for ARPG.
    It is a fever dream to expect every other developer to follow suit in GGG’s code of MMO ethics, but it is fantastic to have a shining example of what could be in regards to a utopian MMO industry.

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