Not Defiant Enough: Defiance Going Free-To-Play

I defy you to name a recent-ish MMO that hasn’t gone F2P or isn’t at least trending that way. Defy you, I say! If you said Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, well… good job. I feel kind of silly about all those theatrics now. But if you said Defiance, then MWAHAHAHAHA you have fallen for my ruuuuuuuuuuuse. The only MMO with its own Syfy TV show is going free-to-play in June. That’s… exciting? I don’t actually know, as I haven’t played it save for a demo session on the film set of the TV show (a recreation of St Louis, Missouri in Toronto, Canada because uhhhhhh). Reception seemed pretty tepid when the game first launched, though. I wonder if it’s picked up the pace sense then? Oh well. Scant F2P details below.

If you’ve never played Defiance but decide to cannon-ball into its giant-enemy-crab-overrun San Francisco on a penny pinching whim, here’s what you’ll get:

“New players will be able jump in to experience the entire Bay Area storyline, original end-game content, and future missions completely for free, so fuel up your roller, load your weapons, and get ready: brand new missions are on the way that will further unfold the unique storyline, coupled with the second season of Defiance, the television series from Syfy.”

Longtime players, meanwhile, will be re-christened “Paradise Patrons” and granted boosts to skill, XP, scrip, salvage, and reputation gain. They’ll also get a ten percent discount at the in-game store, which peddles the usual F2P MMO fare: boosts, costumes, randomized lockboxes, and an upgrade currency called Arkforge. The Bit Store, as it’s known, has actually been in Defiance for quite some time. So the game was always almost F2P, just you know, without the “F” part.

You’ll be able to purchase temporary Paradise Patron-hood by snagging a digital copy of Defiance or digging up a new boxed copy from the ashen ruins of your local game store. On top of everything else, that option will net you four character slots, five loadouts, up to 75 Ark Keycodes, a minimum 70 inventory slots, and is it just me or is this starting to get complicated?

Oh, you’ll also get 1,000 Arkforge, which is “a currency redeemable for resetting weapon mastery, upgrading your weapon’s power rating, or even bumping an uncommon weapon to epic rarity.” A quick scan of the game’s forums makes it sound pretty essential, though not necessarily in a good way. Apparently it’s incredibly difficult to obtain in-game, which has left many players feeling pressured to buy it from the Bit Store to continue tricking out their arsenals.

So that’s a conundrum. Here’s hoping it gets cleared up before F2P Day. Is it as much of an issue as some players are suggesting, though? RPS Defiance Super Best Space Marine Makeout Buddy Club (we have one of those, right?), what say you?


  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Sterling: A ruse? Hi, it’s the 1930s, can we have our words, clothes, and shitty plane back?
    Rip: Let’s go, kid.
    Sterling: Call you back, 1930s. And, hey, watch out for that Adolf Hitler. He’s a bad egg.

  2. Octuplex says:

    Why does this make me sad?

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Because F2P, on its own, makes a game worse. Good for anyone making money off a F2P game, but please be aware that it makes your game bad, your work bad, and in fact it makes you a bad person.

      Better you should have a stone tied around your neck and be cast into the sea than have anything to do with a F2P game.

      • trjp says:

        If you really think that, please don’t leave your home again – please don’t interact with others.

        Your ignorance may be contagious – operatives will be around shortly to deal with it – meanwhile, stay tight and keep your stupid ideas to yourself eh?

        There are plenty of excellent F2P games – some launched like that, some converted to it – hell I LOVE the idea that mugs who pay $200 for a spider mount are funding my gaming addiction – I LOVE IT

        • zero says:

          Plenty of excellent f2p games?? Hah. I hope your ignorance is not contagious. I have yet to find a f2p game that would not be vastly better with a regular business model. You do realize the f2p model is exclusively designed to abuse consumers wallets, yes? I could go into the details but rps doesnt like me typing on my phone -_-

          • Philotic Symmetrist says:

            Dwarf Fortress has an excellent Free-to-Play model.

          • shial says:

            Path of Exile and Team Fortress 2 are some good examples.

            Both concentrate on having a good game foremost and selling things that have no impact on how you or others play the game.

          • Minsc_N_Boo says:

            +1 For Path of Exile. No hidden content or XP bonus shenanigans….. just cosmetic items and account stuff like extra inventory slots

          • Shodex says:

            There are good free2play games, look at Loadout as a recent example. But he’s not wrong in saying that the majority of free2play games are in fact, crap. If you look at the Top Grossing Games on the Google Play Market for Android, they’re all free2play. Free2play is being embraced by companies like EA and Ubisoft as a way to trick people into thinking they’re getting a good deal, then putting all the content behind a stupidly expensive pay wall. Because with microtransactions, they control the pricing. No more limiting yourself to $60, you can lock everything behind pay walls as expensive as you want.

            Free2play as a concept, and in some cases this is still true, is about removing the initial $60-or-whatever pay wall from your game and exposing it to an audience that may have never played without it. Then offering bonuses to the dedicated players that have decided this game is worth their money. Soulbound aesthetic items, XP boosts, and extra character slots are the things I consider okay for microtransactions. In shooters with no dynamic economy, weapons and equipment that can be obtained through play (but not too much, don’t be abusive) is okay as well.

            Free2play can be done right, the majority of free2play is done very wrong.

          • acemanx says:

            LOL, TERA alone is a great example of an awesome F2P MMO that was P2P then changed to F2P and people love it still

      • SirTickleWorth says:

        I’d say Planetside2 and Blacklight:Retribution have a fine model. One may argue that the abillity to buy guns with real currency might lead to the presumption of Pay2Win but he would be making a terrible mistake.

        • MonkeyPunch says:

          Well maybe it’s changed since I first played it (aaages ago) but Blacklight had a terrible pay model. Paying for temporary items?

          And there are indeed very few decent F2P models and I believe the point the OP was making was that nowadays reverting to the F2P model means your player numbers/subscriptions are dwindling.
          Also the majority of F2P games have a terrible model.
          There are of course exceptions to the rule. TF2, Loadout and PS2 (only juuust) are some that I have played.
          There used to be MMDoC, but that recently changed it’s model and now it’s not a good F2P game.

          Nowadays when i see “F2P” I tend to look the other way because it means that it’s dev doing badly who wants to drain a ton of money out of me for what is essentially bullsh!t/stuff that should be free.

          Nowadays I shy away from F2P and just pay for games where I get everything for my 60/80(DLC – a whole other niggle) bucks.

  3. SillyWizard says:


    More like…

    Okay I got nothin’.

    • Felixader says:

      Arseforge. There i did it for you.

      The Game was not bad per se, it was just not really good in the same way. I played it for quite some time, although that had more to do with the typical friends = more fun thing.

  4. Taidan says:

    Defiance is a game with the heart of a great shooter, but was sadly gutted by cross-platform development and p**s-poor post release support.

    Really enjoyed the game upon release, but the season pass was the biggest waste of time I’ve had the misfortune to pay for for a long time.

  5. NothingFunny says:

    Why not? Warframe is apparently a big success with f2p model shooter/MMO hybrid

  6. Kollega says:

    I wanna ask you people something. Does anyone else think that Valve legitimizing gamble-crates through TF2 was a BAD THING for the F2P gaming in the West? I remember that when some Chinese MMO did the same thing, it was held up as an example of bad F2P, involving players in disguised gambling… and yet now it’s perfectly normal for respectable F2P games (insofar as an F2P game can be respectable, that is). When I saw that Loadout’s business model features no gamble-crates, I was pretty much “Can it be?! No gamble-crates! A blessing from the heavens! The developers did something right for once!”

    • Metalfish says:

      I’ve always said that the crates in TF2 were a very nasty piece of business. Surely the law will catch up with them sooner or later? This is unlicensed gambling, isn’t it?

      • DatonKallandor says:

        It absolutely is unlicensed gambling, but they get around by including piddly crap prizes in every box even if you don’t get the actual prize.

        As for Defiance this is just bad for everyone. Pay Game upfront + genuine non-gameplay cash store but no monthly subscription (aka GW2, or what Defiance had before) is a perfectly fine system. The devs make extra money off expansions and people spending money on cosmetics, but they don’t have to gimp the progression systems like they do with full F2P.

        But then again Defiance is already basically dead anyway. That’s what they get for linking themselves to a TV show that goes off-air for a goddamn YEAR between seasons, and doing a console and PC release while tying their patching schedule to the console.
        They basically made the dumbest possible decisions at every decision point. Really tainted the fantastic reputation Trion built itself with Rift, where they did literally everything right.

        • Vin_Howard says:

          Yah, Trion seems to have exhausted all their good in Rift (which, is, btw, the only mmorpg in existence that I have ever enjoyed; and it also has a really good f2p model).

          Besides Defiance, there’s the now dead End of Nations; and they are early accessing a game that might as well be called “Minecraft Online” because that is EXACTLY! what it looks like.

        • aepervius says:

          Your milleage may vary depending on your juridiction, but here (France/Germany) if you are not getting *money* back then it is not “gambling”. That’s why all those “play” lottery are allowed without gambling licence, and heck tehre are even distributor giving you random stuff for kids (you might remember then : they are big bubble of plastic with a lot of smaller random buble of plastic with a random toy inside – insert a coin get a random toy, some good some very bad). Same with packet of card with those trading card game. If it was gambling those would have been forbbidden in many juridiction.

          The principle is old really, TF2 invented nothing.

      • The Random One says:

        I agree completely. The gamble-boxes are a complete and utter shame, especially because their F2P model is otherwise excellent (well, TF2’s is; I don’t play DOTA, but I have no reason to suspect it’s any worse). And of course since we don’t know how much of their income comes from the gamble-boxes we don’t know if the excellent and fair system they have otherwise would be able to be profitable on its own. Especially since the gambleboxes are probably there to catch the whales (since even a really enthusiastic purchaser can only buy so many ten-dollar business shirts) and whales are apparently the most important source of income to all F2P models.

      • trjp says:

        Neverwinter does much the same trick – you constantly receive boxes which can only be opened with keys which cost real money’

        OK – you can trade in-game money for them — but you couldn’t even begin to earn enough to open all the boxes you receive – it’s basically a fruit machine for in-game items (and they are the ONLY source of many of the items in-game)

        I too am surprised it’s not been called-out – ESPECIALLY in the USA which has a really odd attitude to gambling (a country which views money as it’s God but has a downer on gambling because of another God is a fucking odd country)

        • SuddenSight says:

          It’s easy to forget, what with all the pro-business rhetoric that fills USA politics, but our country is also a highly religious, puritanical country.

          In fact, the whole “separation of church and state” that is considered important in both Europe and the USA was originally planned (at least in America) as a means of protecting religious beliefs from secular intrusion, not the government from religious affiliations (note this is almost the exact opposite of the trend in French politics). Religion has played a massive role in USA politics since before we became a country, for better or worse.

          To my knowledge, most video game companies get away with gambling elements by saying in-game things aren’t really “things” that you “own” – they are representations of things that you are given the limited right to view in the companies games. That’s part of the reason games like WoW avoided selling currency directly for so long – they didn’t want their in game items to be given a monetary value. But now companies do attach monetary values to things and no one has tried to sue anyone over it yet. It will be interesting to see if that ever changes, but I don’t think it will unless some sob story about someone gambling away all their life savings becomes popular in the news. But even then, digital property rights are so murky that any legislation law makers try to draw up will be mired in confusion for years.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Honestly, I think most of what Valve does these days is bad. Bad for games and bad for consumers.

      Their F2P models, specifically, are atrocious and the gamble crates is a travesty. But then, F2P is bad for consumers in general. Valve just managed to include gambling in it, as well as a god damn market place.

    • Vin_Howard says:

      I, personally, don’t see anything wrong with it. If I don’t want to, I just don’t open the crates. And if I feel like having some fun, I might open a crate or two.

      • trjp says:

        You realise that it being optional doesn’t make it morally OK?

        I love that F2P games are funded by other people so I can enjoy them ‘for free’ but I genuinely worry that people may be being exploited.

        It’s one thing to expect rich mugs to buy shiny horses or whatever – it’s another that someone is spending money their parents (or they themselves) cannot afford to spend on something as pointless as this.

        I feel that we need a little internal regulation for this stuff – I don’t know the mechanics of TF2 specifically but I’d like to think that all game developers have some system in-place to avoid people simply pouring money into their ‘fruit machine’

        It’s that or someone else will regulate it and you know they’ll fuck it up.

    • heker_88 says:

      The thing is with the TF2 crates is that because every character class is available to play from the get go, any new item you pick up is instantly usable and so it acts as more of an incentive to try a new class than just a as strait up waste of money. In defiance however your only skilled to one thing and so any other item you get not in this skill range is pretty much fully value less. Im not sure about crate dropping already owned items I think that is a bit of a dick move.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      If Valve dropped keys every once in a while in addition to the crates, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. The way the system is set up now is about as close to gambling as something can get without licenses being involved, and I hope Valve get busted one of these days for riding that thin line.

  7. SkittleDiddler says:

    No big loss for the rest of the planet who were never interested in playing the game. It’s always looked just as horseshitty as the t.v. show.

  8. teije says:

    To answer the “because, uhhhhh”. Toronto has been subbing for U.S. cities like NYC, Chicago, etc. for decades, given it’s generic-ness, skilled local film industry and lower costs. Just as Vancouver subs for Seattle/Portland all the time. In summer, you can’t go anywhere downtown without seeing a couple TV/film shoots with NYPD cars.

  9. Foosnark says:

    Actual gameplay stuff aside, as a St. Louis resident, the setting for Defiance has always amused me.

    There is actually a town nearby — a sort of sub-suburb of a suburb — that is called Defiance. It would be a one-horse town, if the horse was still alive. It consists of one blinking traffic light and a sketchy-looking bar.

    (Okay, technically it has a population of 3K, but you can’t tell that by driving through it.)

  10. cthulhie says:

    There’s been a real backlash against Trion in part for this game that I’ve not understood. I picked it up on a lark one day (knowing virtually nothing about the game or the IP) and found it to be a pleasant and casually inviting open-world cooperative shooter. It’s a bit like a less-polished Borderlands, but with shared world events like Rift that are quite diverting.

    I haven’t sunk 1000 hours into it, but I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth from it. And I can see why they’re going F2P–current purchase price in the US is $10. Even that comparatively low price is prevents dabbling users from trying it. If they’re making any money it’s from the DLC (which I actually think is overpriced–a value perspective that I somehow manage without resenting the company or taking it personally), so they may as well reduce the barrier to entry and get people demoing it.

    If you’re like me and find that the real cost of games is the time investment to determine if it’ll be fun, I say give it a try. Expect a cooperative online shooter with enjoyably responsive controls that supports casual drop-in sessions and I think you’ll find it’s worthwhile. Whether you ultimately enjoy financially supporting organizations that make things you like or not, it’ll still help my experience of the game–those world events are definitely more fun with more players.

  11. malkav11 says:

    It was basically F2P already. No sub, a frequently trivial entry price, and of course a cash shop. I dunno. I own it already and it was fun for a little while but it had the depth of a particularly thin crepe and the variety of an identical array of cardboard boxes. I can’t see why I would go back because of this.

  12. gtb says:

    This makes the recent terrible patch (which introduced the arkforge mechanic) make a lot more sense. I’ve played on-and-off since release, and I happened to be in an “on” cycle when that patch debuted. Suddenly the game went from real money transactions being mostly unnecessary to real money transactions being essential. The backlash was pretty bitter in the forums. It wasn’t that big of a deal for me, I just quit playing. There are a lot more games out there. But people who had been playing the whole time since release went ballistic. Now it makes sense, the arkforge mechanic is the paywall for their free to play model. It doesn’t make me want to play the game, but it makes sense.

  13. vodka and cookies says:

    Defiance is a diamond in the rough, as many have said it is basically Borderlands online, if you hate typical MMO’s like Wildstar/FireFall etc then it’s worth checking Defiance out as it doesn’t play at all like those.

    The game plays like a single player game just with lots of other players running about and it still have a fairly active player base to the point were the servers gets overloaded sometimes with too many players, hint pick the North America server.

    Bungie’s Destiny is extremely similar to Defiance just with a much bigger budget and is likely to damage Defiance but seeing as the game is not coming out on PC for a long time, Defiance is the next best thing.

    @GTB The game doesnt need you to pay money at all if you bought it from retail and it’s only 10 bucks on Steam, the arkforge stuff is only useful for upgrading weapons and you get a lot it for free with tier 2 boxes and as rewards from events, the only weapons which need upgrading are the rare purple and orange ones. The common white/green/blue are easily replaced so updating them to your level with arkforge is a waste.

    What ticked a lot of people off was the massive upswing in difficulty the big patch brought but in subsequent hot-fixes the difficulty has been towned down a lot, the co-op runs in expert mode (for level 5000 players) are now actually easy compared to the brutal gauntlet they were before. A lot of people who weren’t level 5000 were doing expert runs when they shouldn’t have been.

    • gtb says:

      …but all I have are purple and orange weapons.

    • malkav11 says:

      Except that Borderlands has a way more colorful and varied environment and much stronger writing and sense of humor, the latter being one of the big draws for me. Also, while there are a few interesting gun types in Defiance, I feel like Borderlands 2 (not as much 1) does a much stronger job of randomly generating the guns in a way that makes them feel distinct and fun to try out even when they’re of the same basic class. And there’s stronger character progression in Borderlands, particularly the second one. Defiance’s advancement felt like very small adjustments to numbers that weren’t immediately palpable in their effect.

      So, kind of a naff online Borderlands, basically.

    • Jahnz says:

      I don’t think I’d call Firefall a typical MMO as it’s also a 1st/3rd person shooter.

  14. Tekrunner says:

    I’m a day 1 Defiance player, and I’ve sunk about 1000 hours into the game. I believe that Defiance got a lot of deserved criticism for failing to meet the hyped up expectations that Trion had created for it, but that it’s also a very fun game at its core (as some other people have said, its gameplay feels somewhat like a Borderlands MMO).

    I wanted to clarify something though, regarding this: “A quick scan of the game’s forums makes it sound pretty essential, though not necessarily in a good way. Apparently it’s incredibly difficult to obtain in-game, which has left many players feeling pressured to buy it from the Bit Store to continue tricking out their arsenals.”

    The game has been experiencing some major changes in the last couple weeks, with developers seemingly trying to find a new balance for several things at the same time. One of these elements is arkforge, and a patch that was applied a few days ago has significantly increased arkforge gains. That patch has about tripled my daily gains, and I’ve gone from being very worried at the length and tediousness of the arkforge grind in front of me to being fairly confident I can make enough in a reasonable amount of time, without having to buy some from the in-game store. The forum thread that is linked in the article is from before that patch (hotfix 1.505).

  15. Jahnz says:

    I had completely forgotten that this game even existed until this article.

    Even if it’s F2P it’s a hard sell for me. For my money (time) I could just as easily play Firefall for a shooty F2P MMO experience (not that I’m likely to spend much time there either).

    I’m glad it’s going F2P and not just closing down completely like other misunderstood MMOs of days gone by (Auto Assault and Earth and Beyond).

  16. Maade says:

    Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but Defiance has always been Free to Play. I mean, I pre-ordered the game (Being the sci-fi addict I am) and I have never had to pay any kind of monthly subscription. I got to EGO level 1900-andsomething and never got around getting the DLC’s.. So are they now offering the game and the DLC packs for free or something?

    Oh and the new update kicks ass. First time I really got challenged in MMO game :D Seriously, they will frighten some new players away but now those mobs pack some punch :D

    • Redthirst says:

      It is called Buy-to-Play, where you buy the client, but don’t need to pay anything from then on.