[Primer] Why do F2P MMOs have energy meters and paid energy refills or Servers are not free ( + loot tickets )
Posted from my smartphone
There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch ( see Notes )
Empires is run on a server. Servers cost the Devs real money. If Empires was run solely on your phone, you would not need energy ( World & Raid ) except for alliance energy, equalize group effort, and war energy, equal turns for both sides.
But then you could only play Empires on WiFi & Bluetooth. This would severely limit who you can play with. No one playing Empires in Bluetooth range? Then you cannot play a Bluetooth based Empires.
==Basic idea of the Energy meter==
Energy meter does two things 1) limited simultaneous server load and 2) allows monetization of server load to recoup costs through 2A ) energy refills and 2B ) “alternate accounts” ( alts ).
==Spreading the server load==
My other F2P MMO “BoH” added a daily quest that triggered at 10A UTC. The servers promptly crashed due to load. The programming fix was to assign every account a random time between 10A UTC and 10:15A UTC, or 1 of 900 times slots. You cannot assign each player a random time to log in, but you can limit the duration. Larger energy meters reward users who have invested more time into the game. These users are more likely to spend money to improve their account than a user who just started. Or worse yet, a user just trying to cash in on another game’s advertisement ( think Mystic Vision but you have to reach Level 10 in Empires to get gems in the other game ).
If players could all do activities at the same time, and unlimited amounts, no company could afford the cost of the server spikes, while paying for a huge number of idle servers while players are not playing. Energy meters spread out the sever load. Even if players create alts, meters still spread out the load as user are required to log out of one account with an empty meter and log into the other account with a full, or partial, meter.
==Recouping server costs==
When a user buys more energy, the user directly supports the cost of the server. It will also cause a user to pause before buying more energy to decide if it is worth it, further spreading out severs load.
This is like the idea of High Occupancy Toll lanes. HOT lanes, and game servers, have a limited capacity. Gridlock, or game server crashes, occur when too many users want to use the same lanes, or servers. With HOT lanes you can get to use the faster lanes free, if you carpool, reducing the load on the road and making road maintenance cheaper. Carpool in this case is an inperfect version of energy meters. If you must get somewhere fast, you can pay the toll to use the HOT lanes. This is similar to buying energy. But by making you pay a toll, HOT lanes make you less likely to use them alone in your car, reducing congestion for every person using the HOT lanes and making maintenance cheaper while also recouping some of the road building and maintenance costs.
Alt accounts would seem like a Free Lunch ( see notes ) but since a user now needs to power up two accounts, users are more likely to pay for energy refills, summons, building speed up, VIP Pass, etc. Users with alts have to play two accounts. Since idle accounts cost storage space, many Terms Of Service allow the company to delete inactive accounts after a certain time to reduce storage costs. So paying for time is more cost effective for the user with alt accounts that can afford it. One account will gradually get ahead of the others, so users that can afford it will spend money to catch the lagging accounts up to the most advanced account.
Anti- cheater measures also cost real money see Niantic and Pokémon GO which took almost 2 years to remove rigged HotM guaranteed summons ( scanner bots help find rare Pokémon for players similar to a bot guaranteeing you a HotM on your first summons by having thousands of bots rolling millions of free daily summons to find the HotM ), bots stealing gems ( bot would removes players in the SAME alliance from a gym so the cheating player could get on the gym and earn Premium currency similar to booting you from a titan so another user could get the titan loot ), quickly leveling accounts for sale on internet. All these activities add server load, driving up the cost of server time and storage, thus indirectly increasing the cost per legitimate user.
Approximately 60%- 70% of Niantic’s original install base for Pokémon GO were not human and/ or using GPS spoofing.
Spreading out game play using metered free energy makes it easier to identify, and shut down bots, before they accumulate, and transfer, massive in game resources through selling maximum leveled accounts with full heroes to bot armies helping alliances with titans/ alliance war to eventual hero trade like in Pokémon. As an aside, randomized hero summons, HotM trading, 5* Hero trading, and hero roster slot gem cost are a way to monetize server side storage fees incurred by users.
Loot tickets cost energy because of how the load on the server ( which costs real money) works for F2P MMOs (see HOT lane example ). Loot tickets can be bought for real money for the same reasons as energy refills ( see above recouping server costs ). Yes, this means you are paying twice, but as the HOT lane example above shows, that further reduces load by make a player think THREE times before using a loot ticket which substantially spikes server loads, server storage needed and increases server code maintenance costs.
TANSTAAFL, on the other hand, indicates an acknowledgement that in reality a person or a society cannot get “something for nothing”. Even if something appears to be free, there is always a cost to the person or to society as a whole, although that may be a hidden cost or an externality. For example, as Heinlein has one of his characters point out, a bar offering a free lunch will likely charge more for its drinks