When Atlas Reactor was first announced, that game was planned as a free to play game in which you would unlock freelancers either with in-game currency you get by playing the game or by spending money. Just like League of Legends, for example. After some time of testing, they announced a change in their business model which was actually – as far as I could see – very controversial across the player base. The new payment model was “buy to play”. While it is more fair to pay one price and then get the whole game for free, having this paywall there also meant that they risked leaving out a huge amount of players who either can’t spend that much money at once or don’t want to spend any money. Some like to try/demo a game first before they spend money on it, for example. But games like Atlas Reactor live from getting a big player base, so players can find matches fast.
Not too long ago now, they announced that they would make changes to their payment model once again. But don’t worry: If you bought it because they said it would go “buy to play”, then nothing changes for you. If, however, you were part of the “I can’t/don’t want to spend money on it (yet)”-crowd, then it’s probably time to cheer. They added a “Free Mode” to their game. At the same time, they also removed the in-game store. According to the news post, they received a lot of feedback that the game still felt like a “free to play” game with the amount of stuff you could buy in their store. But since they went buy to play, they decided to get rid of the in-game store altogether now. While of course, I’m cheering because I get more stuff for “free” (well, I need to play the game to get those rewards instead of just taking out my wallet), I also hope that they will still get enough money by selling the game itself.
The change I do, however, absolutely love is them adding the Free Mode! You can read more about it here on the official website. Free Mode is basically a not time-limited demo where some features are locked. You can’t access all freelancers, for example. But you will get access to 6 freelancers which switch every week to other 6 random freelancers. Each free player will have a randomized selection. I think that’s a really good idea, because then not every free player is queueing with the same freelancer.
I guess all of this means that they really do use alpha and beta for testing and trying out things before settling with something, but I don’t remember seeing something like this before where a company made this many changes to how players can play and acquire the game. It just makes me wonder how potential players view this and if maybe it also affects trust in the developers with the changes in how you can access the game. For me, nothing will change, as I already did buy into the game and do not regret having made this choice. I actually do like “buy to play” and I got to test the game and know I want to play it. It just seems a bit… fickle. Or maybe insecure even. So I really hope that they have found the best solution now – both for us players as well as for them as developers.