To those familiar with the history of RTS and online PC gaming (aside from FPS, is there any other kind in early online PC gaming?), both Westwood and Blizzard made a decision that helped make Warcraft 2 and Red Alert smash hits. It is not because they were good games. There were many good games in the early 90s. It is not that they were online or good multiplayer games. There were other online or good multiplayer games out there. No. The reason why, at least a big reason why, is because of…
A SECOND DISC
SPAWNING – Spawning was done with Warcraft 2 and Starcraft. One CD of Warcraft 2 could ‘spawn’ off other copies and play multiplayer with as many people as you wanted. As long as someone had one CD, it meant 8 people could play (8 was the largest the game could play). Starcraft did the same but did it a little differently. One CD had five people who could play.
If I wanted to play with a friend or brother, we just needed one disc. If you went to a LAN party, only one person needed the game. Instead of reducing sales in that less people needed the game to play multiplayer, it INCREASED sales because more and more people got introduced to Warcraft 2 multiplayer (and would proceed to buy the game for themselves).
A SECOND DISC- With Red Alert came two discs: one for the Soviet side and one for the Allied side. Mostly, these discs were to house the enormous story movies for each campaign. But you could play SINGLE PLAYER campaign of that side with one disc, and you could play multiplayer with anyone who had a disc. So people would lend a disc to a friend or sibling. This increased sales because people would get non-customers to play the game with them.
I hate the concept of Free 2 Play, but Spawning and A Second Disc are examples of Free 2 Play. So is Freeware and Shareware. Free 2 Play has also solved two big problems facing modern gaming:
1) A divide between younger and older gamers. Younger gamers have time but no money; older gamers have money but no time. Paying money, as distasteful as it is, actually solves this dilemma. Younger people can farm for gold while the older people can just purchase their heroes outright.
2) Free 2 Player gives no financial barrier to get one’s friends to play a game with you.
Nintendo’s local multiplayer was always so popular because local multiplayer means one person owns the game and console. You do not need multiple consoles and games. In the same way with a board game, you do not need multiple board games (or multiple tables!). Now I see why a team based game can only really work free to play is because that is the only way to get one’s friends to join you.
Above: This video gives you a better idea of how Heroes of the Storm gameplay actually is
Heroes of the Storm should be viewed as two games. There is the actual game which I have no complaints about. The other is outside the game with the endless experience bars.
Heroes of the Storm has a big problem in its free hero rotation. Yes, the heroes are ‘free’ for that week. But the problem is that you get tired of fighting those same heroes each day for that week. When the next week rolls around, you fight nearly just those same group of ‘free’ characters. It gets boring.
What is more boring is grinding for gold and experience. In order to be in Hero League, you have to own at least 10 heroes or so. So no newbie is going into hero league. But in Quick Match, people will yell at you if you don’t know how to use a character. So that leaves everyone being funneled into Co-op which is 5 humans on the same team against AI bots. Oh, how exciting! Bots! (sarcasm)
While they level up their hero to level 5 (for the gold and to understand the hero), they are all learning the wrong ways to play due to all the bots.
Since the idea of team gameplay is to be able to pick different heroes for different roles, this is unlikely to occur when only one of that type of role is available for free. It removes the F2P advantage of getting people to play with you without cost. Why can’t I spawn a hero of mine to a friend if I am not using that hero?
Why can’t teams or clans buy heroes that any member of the team or clan can use? Perhaps the hero cost then would be 5X but the point stands.
What turns me off from Heroes is the endless experience bars. Do I really want to spend my life filling them up? No.
I try to think how Warcraft 2 or Starcraft 1 would be in today’s gaming where everything has an experience bar. Your account has an experience bar. Your race has an experience bar. Your mouse cursor has an experience bar. Your ‘a’ button has an experience bar. Even your ‘lag’ has an experience bar. Endless experience bars! I should seriously think about adding an experience bar to this website. The more the reader reads, the more his bar fills up. Then he gets to a ‘new level’ which is another experience bar! God, I should go into game design immediately!