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    What is P2P?

    P2P stands for “pay-to-play,” a model used in gaming where players must spend real money to access or continue playing the game. These games often operate on a subscription basis, where players pay regularly to maintain access.

    The P2P model is distinct from free-to-play games that might offer optional purchases for enhancing the gaming experience. This model ensures that players have uninterrupted access to a game’s content as long as their subscription is active.

    Pay-to-play has been a standard practice in the gaming industry, particularly within the realm of MMORPGs, where continuous development and server maintenance require a steady income.

    An advantage of the P2P model is that it allows developers to offer a deeper, more immersive experience, frequently updated with new content.

    P2P FAQs

    How does P2P differ from F2P?

    In a pay-to-play model, players pay upfront or through a subscription to access the game, often receiving a more comprehensive and ad-free experience. Free-to-play (F2P) games, on the other hand, are accessible without initial payment but might include in-game purchases or ads to generate revenue.

    Are P2P games more expensive than F2P games?

    Not necessarily. While P2P games require a regular payment to play, F2P games can sometimes become more expensive if players frequently purchase in-game items or currency. The total cost depends on the player’s spending habits.

    Can you switch from P2P to F2P?

    Yes, some games initially launched as pay-to-play have transitioned to a free-to-play model to attract a larger player base. This switch often introduces microtransactions as a new revenue stream.

    In other cases, P2P games can transition to F2P in a legacy state when they are no longer profitable. Instead of being shut down completely, the game is made available to players for free but without any further updates or development beyond minor bug fixes.

    This is the case for some commercial multi-user dungeons (MUDs) that were once P2P or P2W. Other commercial games have switched to a freemium model.

    What are the benefits of P2P games?

    P2P games typically offer a more polished and expansive experience, with regular updates, dedicated support, and a more balanced gameplay environment since access barriers can deter cheaters and ensure a committed player community.

    Are there free trials for P2P games?

    Many pay-to-play games offer free trials, allowing players to experience the game for a limited time before committing to a subscription. This helps players decide if the game is worth the investment.

    Myths about P2P

    One common myth is that P2P games are dying out. Despite the rise of free-to-play models, many online gamers still prefer the P2P model for its uninterrupted, in-depth gaming experience without the distraction of in-game purchases.

    Another misconception is that all P2P games are expensive. While P2P games require a subscription, the cost is often comparable to buying a new game every few months, and long-term players might find more value in a continuously updated P2P game.

    Also, depending on a player’s spending habits, they might end up paying more for a free game that requires in-app purchases.

    P2P examples

    • World of Warcraft: A classic example where players pay a monthly subscription to access the game’s vast world and content updates.
    • Final Fantasy XIV: Another MMORPG that operates on a subscription model, offering extensive storyline and world-building.
    • EVE Online: Offers a unique space exploration experience with a P2P option for players seeking full access to its features.
    • DragonRealms: A commercial MUD with multiple subscription options that allowed players to participate in different servers. Each server had its own rules and appealed to a different player type.

    Related terms

    • play-to-win (P2W)
    • pay-for-perks (P4P)
    • freemium

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."