MechQuest and my thoughts on 'Free' Games.
Mechquest, Adventure Quest, and Dragon Fable are all flash based games that take the turn based RPG formula, put them in flash games, add a bit of family friendly snark, and show a remarkable amount of polish in sound artwork and the like. So how do these free games, that took lots of money to create and lots of money to run the servers they're on manage to not bleed these people dry?
Consider all the costs I mentioned. Hosting for hundreds (actually tens of thousands if my last pass at the adventure worlds server list is any indication of the other games of players, managing to stay up often enough that people expect the servers up whenever they log in, and on top of this manage to do this without running ads on their page.
Actually scratch that. I've seen ads for these games for years on newgrounds, armor games, and other flash-game portals. Plus there's ads on site. Ads for t-shirts, mousepads, and other branded gewgews that bear the distinctive art that marks Artix Entertainment's most obvious imprint. You know it's their stuff because in spite of the different games hey all look like they belong together (they all share more or less the same universe after all.)
How? Simple. You have lots of gear to find. Lots of armor, hats, etc etc. Yet the best stuff, the top teir gear for your level, will always be out of reach to those that sign up for the free account. One time fees given thematicly appropriate names let you access more features in each game. Pets, Dragons, a rotating wardrobe of rare exclusive gear, exclusive areas... you get the idea right?
Ahh but tha'ts not all. You get the opportunity to plunk down real world cash for in-game credits/nova gems/whatever to get the absolute best of the best stuff. Believe it or not I'm mostly fine with this practice. They've made it convenient to do this. Between paypal, selling gift cards in brick n mortar stores, and even giving you an option of mailing in payments they make it very easy and affordable to support them.
They have a right to make money, and it's not like they're forcing you to pay up are they? In the case of their 'full' membership package is only a one time payment, and you can always do without the top tier gamebreaker stuff right?
Maybe I'm just a terrible player but since picking Mechquest back up after a couple years (was surprised my account was still there) due to boredom and wanting a deeper game than most flash sites give out (since my Cr-48 can't play minecraft yet) I've come to the following conclusion. Either I've just hit a horrible point in the level grind where everything seems either just a little too powerful, or it's subtle encouragement to poney up for better gear. If it's the latter they did a really good job because I can win and progress, but it seems more luck than skill some times. If it's just me being a bad player then shame on me I suppose.
One way or the other they provide mostly fun amusements with no mandatory payments involved. They've found a model that apparently works and has let them not only stay in business but expand during a recession so I can't really fault them there. It just gets infuriating as a player to see the tollbooths everywhere. Eh well.
Anyone feels like signing up can follow the first link in article or follow this one. I get xp bonuses for referrals (if the player referred actually plays.)
Behold my Character Page! Glory at the suctatude!
Edit: After earning enough to get some different parts it turns out I just had a bad build.