Our goal as a studio is to make a game that you love to play and want to support – and to hopefully make more games together in the future. Our monetization model will shape our growth as a new studio and influence that way that you, as a player, experience our game. We’ve been thinking long and hard to make sure that we’re doing right by both the community and our team.

It’s all part of an ongoing conversation inside of Archetype Studios that we’d like to invite you to join.

Why go Free to Play?

Midair will be a Free-to-Play title with two main sources of revenue:

  1. Aesthetic modifications that do not impact gameplay
  2. A one-time option to bypass a progression system which unlocks gameplay elements

“A progression system that unlocks gameplay elements” –  Isn’t that “Pay to Win”?

No. To be clear, not creating a Pay to Win experience was one of the first decisions that Archetype made and we’re sticking to it. The content which will be available through the progression system will offer more variety, but not an advantage in gameplay. This is a priority which we are and will work tirelessly to uphold.

Having a large, engaged community is important for the success of a modern game. And it’s vital to creating and sustaining competitive and rewarding multiplayer. Without enough people participating, competitive games grow stale and move toward a “solved” state where a handful of strategies dominate. This is both boring to dedicated fans and alienating to newcomers.

It’s no surprise then that Free to Play games have spawned some of the most active and exciting gaming communities in the world. By lowering the barrier to entry and allowing more people to play, a game and its strategies are stimulated to evolve and grow.

Progression systems help accommodate the larger playerbases which modern games benefit from. It allows players of more diverse backgrounds, skill levels, and motivations to learn about a game while making a journey toward a competitive, high-level state of play. This means that a game can reach more people without compromising the integrity of the core and hardcore experiences.

But there are still two issues which a completely free game does not solve: How do developers receive the funding which they need to survive and grow, and How do players who are more immediately invested and interested in “late-game” or hardcore experiences move past introductory progression?

The solution is, as has been seen in many other Free to Play games, is to offer progression bypass at a real-world cost. But, questions like How long should completely free progression take? and How much should bypassing this progression cost? are still important.

We’ve looked at existing Free to Play titles and studied what we like, what we don’t, and how Midair can be better. Here’s some of what we’ve learned.

League of Legends

Someone did the math once and found in 2013 (they’ve changed it since) it would take roughly 1435 hours of playtime to unlock every champion if games were always 20 minutes (the earliest a game could ever end) and the player had a 100% win rate.  What does that mean to a casual player?  Well let’s say a casual player plays a 2 hours each night after work and 5 total over the weekend, giving them about 15 hours each week of play time.  If there were no bathroom breaks, gaps in between games, and they didn’t break this schedule for Christmas or anything resembling a love life, a casual player would need to play for over two years to unlock every champion.

1435+

Absolute minimum hours of gameplay to unlock all champions in League of Legends (2013)

Tribes: Ascend

Tribes: Ascend before the OOTB patch monetized gameplay through new weapons, loadouts, items, and perks.  These could be earned through in-game (XP) and paid (gold) currencies.  We don’t have any numbers that will show how many hours it would take to unlock everything, but Mabel on our development team has played nearly 500 hours at a competitive level with an XP boost active and gold bonuses and, as he puts it, “is not even close” to unlocking all gameplay elements.  Using the example from earlier, a casual player would need to play for 33 weeks just to get to where Mabel is at, having not yet unlocked every gameplay item in the game.  To be clear, Tribes: Ascend has had several changes to its unlock model over time, so think of these as “on launch” numbers.

500+

Over 500 hours to unlock all gameplay elements in Tribes: Ascend (on launch) if you’re very skilled and have +50% xp boost and gold boost

We’re still figuring out the details of exactly how long it will take to reach all gameplay unlocks in Midair, aiming for a good sized reduction in total gameplay required relative to what we talked about with League of Legends (2013) and Tribes: Ascend (on launch).

League of Legends
Tribes: Ascend
Midair

This chart shows where our thinking is about where Midair will stand up to League of Legends and Tribes: Ascend (on launch).

Which gameplay elements are you putting in as unlocks?

We want folks who are veterans of the FPS-Z genre to get up and running with their stock loadouts as quickly as possible.  Staples to those games (what we call the “core set”) will be available in a player’s first match or after a brief period of leveling.  These initial levels will be pretty quick to get through for someone experienced, and will bring new players along gradually as they learn the ins and outs of Midair.  The elements unique to Midair will be unlocked after the core set to allow both new and veteran players to gradually learn what makes Midair stand out from the rest.

Here are the gameplay elements we are considering for unlocks:

  • Weapons
  • Packs/Abilities
  • Items
  • Deployables

Ultimately, the goal is to get everyone up to speed quickly with each role in the traditional CTF game without feeling super disadvantaged, while also encouraging players to keep playing to unlock new and cool things to do in the game over time.

How much will it cost to bypass the progression system?

Let’s cut to the chase.  I’ll explain after.

  • Package Price On Launch
    $30
    This package will have more to it than just gameplay unlocks, but you will unlock all gameplay in the progression system.
  • Kickstarter Package Price
    $20
    The same package at launch will be available during Kickstarter at a discount, and come packaged with even more exclusive Kickstarter-only benefits.

We’re happy to announce we’ve decided on our price at launch: $30.  Also note the progression bypass will be bundled with other goodies and perks.  During Kickstarter, the same package will be discounted to $20 and come with additional Kickstarter-only benefits.  We’ve got a lot of work to do between now and release to earn that $30, but now you get a sense of what the minimum price is to bypass the gameplay progression system.  We feel this price is pretty reasonable for people who want to “buy the game” and not worry about unlocking gameplay, and if you’re into progression systems or want to save money, just play normally and over time unlock everything you need without a prohibitively long XP grind.

Please give feedback!

We want to hear what you think about progression and how we’re monetizing.  Please post your feedback on our plans for Midair in this thread.

Until next time,

-The Midair Team