Warframe Dev: Let’s “Give Players a Choice and a Voice”

When you’re talking about free-2-play done right, there are certain titles that always tend to pop up. One of those certainly is Path of Exile. Actually, the game’s devs are so confident about the fact that they even poked fun about “pay to win” three years ago.

[su_youtube_advanced url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w19sqGjmNlY” https=”yes”]

Lately however, another game has taken more of the spotlight. Warframe has silently become a powerhouse of the free-2-play market. Its latest expansion “Plains of Eidolon” doubled the concurrent average and players on Steam, and they were able to retain a large chunk of them as well. The developing studio Digital Extremes obviously is doing something right, and better than the competition. So if you want to learn a thing or two about the free-2-play model, can’t be wrong to ask them. That’s what James Brightman of gamesindustry.biz recently did. He sat down with Vice President Meridith Braun to talk Warframe and its monetization model.

It’s an interesting read if you’re into this kind of stuff. It’s lengthy but absolutely worth it. I’ve also highlighted and discussed the most important points below. Have fun with it!

“We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers.”

[su_quote]The fact that we constantly update, fix, and improve Warframe means something to our players. And often, in the same sentence, they say they are blown away by the fact that we aren’t a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers.[/su_quote]

Interacting with its community seems to be a strong suit of Warframe. Some devs recently backed off and blamed a lack of candidness to a toxic gamer culture, Digital Extremes instead embraces the challenge. What could make them so successful is that they back up their words with actions. According to Braun, fixes are sometimes “delivered within hours”. And that’s important because one of the major keys of running a business is reliability. If you promise a fix, deliver it in time, or let you players be part of the process.

I frequently read on Neverwinter forums that no update is given because there is none. That’s nonsense because no update is actually an update. Yes, the community often excels in hyperbole, but if you know someone is waiting for an answer, be straight with the process even if there’s a delay. Miasmat for example has taken the correct approach in the current foundry situation.

“We offer a fair non-intrusive pay model that respects our players wallets and time.”

The second thing to note is a fair montization model. This ties into what other have said about designing ethical lockboxes. Neverwinter with its exclusive and progression relevant items is awful at doing that. If something is not perceived as fair, it will fail. And talking about non-intrusive, how about those admin message spam? This is one of the worst ways to implement lootboxes. If your product was solid, this kind of annoying advertisement wouldn’t be necessary.

“Giving players a choice and a voice really matters.”

[su_quote]Giving players a choice and a voice really matters. It’s made a huge difference for us and it’s a lesson the industry needs to get better at. Whether it’s a free game or a $60 game with MTX, monetization has to be built into the DNA of the game design itself to succeed. […] We’ve also spent that same five years trying to turn perceptions around on the poor reputation free-to-play and MTX has received over the past decade in the gaming community.[/su_quote]

This is another interesting tidbit. First of all it refers to the perception of rewards I’ve mentioned above. Greedy developers and publishers have done such an awful job on free-2-play and lootbox monetization that we’re at a point where you have to do exceptionally well to sell a game that features this kind of stuff.

Braun also claims that you need to build monetization around your game. With lockboxes being such an important part of the progression, it certainly feels like Neverwinter went the opposite path. The game directs players to its cash store and some systems might be primarily designed with monetization in mind. This unfortunately means you’re not giving players choices, because somebody has to spend money for the system to work. Neverwinter by far is not the worst offender, but it could definitely do better in some areas.

If you want to be successful in the free-2-play market nowadays, it seems like it can’t hurt to look what Digital Extremes is doing these days. Have you played Warframe and can add own information about its monetization? Is it better than Neverwinter, or just different? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!

Neverwinter UN:Blogged is always looking for writers to contribute to the blog. If you are an active player and search for a way to spread your opinions, analysis, diaries or reviews to more than 40,000 regular visitors, then don’t hesitate and get in touch with us on our contact page or message board! We are currently especially looking for console and PVP content, but that’s not exclusive. There is no frequency requirement, you post how often you want.


j0Shi plays the Neverwinter MMORPG since the open BETA in 2013 and is a regular contributor to the blog and the whole UN:Project. Originally a Guardian Fighter, he has built up ALTs of all classes and plays on BIS/near-BIS level.

6 thoughts on “Warframe Dev: Let’s “Give Players a Choice and a Voice”

  • December 12, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    “and they were able to retain a large chunk of them until today.”

    So what happened today? Did they suddenly lose a load of players?

    • December 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm

      🙂 Thanks, we have reworded that!

  • December 12, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    “…and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers.”

    Hah! If Neverwinter did this, Blood Rubies would be 10 Zen, Coal Wards would be 100 Zen and Pres Wards would be 100 Zen for 100. And all gear would only bind to account when equipped, so I could try different belts and artifacts on different characters. I have 2 Legendary and one Epic CHA belts atm, an epic DEX, a blue STR and several Legendary and Epic Artifact set belts. If they did not bind to character, I’d have a single Legendary of all of them, STR, CON, DEX, INT, WIS and CHA, just to see how they work out.

    And I’d love to see that Admin Spam gone. Or, better yet, a separate Admin channel, where ALL lock box results are reported:

    OhNoes!@rippedoff1272 got a Cultist Air Symbol from the Cheatarse Lockbox.
    DamnitMan!@morefoolme got a green mount with no insignia bonus from the Lockbox of Eternal Garbage.


  • December 12, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    This article makes me want to vote Warframe best f2p game.

  • December 15, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I gave Warframe a try. I want to like the game as I really like some of the artistic elements they incorporated and the combat and movement are fast-paced. However, I never really understood the backstory as the game doesn’t really provide you much detail going in so it didn’t feel that immersive. You eventually get some information over the course of several missions, but it was largely ambiguous and not very compelling. Customization of game controls is rather limited as you can’t remap several core abilities. The UI HUD is not very user-friendly (for example, your health and energy meters are off in the corner) and is not customizable so you can’t move fields to where you think they probably should be (and the off-kilter map (it’s titled slightly from level) is like a thorn under my skin). The graphics are my favorite part and are probably the best part of the game, but I couldn’t really get committed to the game because the over-the-shoulder camera angle and field of view bothered me too much, made even worse by some recent game additions which cause your character to eat up roughly a third of your screen unless you are sprinting. Doing some online research to see if there was a way to change the camera angle to a more centered perspective (more useful for melee, running and jumping, which are significant parts of the game) or to dramatically increase the field of view (it is very narrow in default mode, which makes melee frustrating) resulted in a number of posts and requests to change the camera over the past several years of the life of the game. That they haven’t been incorporated would make me question the premise of the dev’s claim. If you can get past the lack of customization and camera angle, it is worth giving a shot as the graphics really are enjoyable. The pay model claim may be accurate, but if you lose potential players due to something as simple as the camera angle and lack of customization it doesn’t feel like players have a choice or a voice. Maybe if they work on those features I’ll give it another shot.

    The camera issue reminded me of Neverwinter’s whiteout blizzard setting in Bryn Shander. My eyes are still recovering and it is one of the reasons I dread ever playing an alt through SKT. I’m sure some developer thought it was a cool idea, but many players hate it.

    • December 17, 2017 at 6:22 am

      “Customization of game controls is rather limited as you can’t remap several core abilities.”

      Well, that’s it for me. I uninstalled D&D Online after a month or two because certain functions simply could not be re-mapped. The game would just not allow it. Multiple searches and forum posts (initially met with derision and irrelevant replies) turned up nothing.

      I could therefore not have my mouse and keyboard set up as close as possible to Daggerfall’s “Where you look is where you move” mouse-driven interface and so I could effectively not play the game. Neverwinter DOES allow this, as do all other games I have played.

      If it had not been for that, I would certainly have continued and got enough in-game currencies to unlock the Druid, which was behind a Pay Wall. But it was a Pay Wall you could eventually climb over with game drops. In fact, I may well have paid the cash for DDO’s version of Zen to unlock it. Instead, I uninstalled it.

      Skyrm has an over-the-shoulder camera angle, but you can adjust the ini files to zoom in and out, adjust the camera angle and also scroll into First Person mode or way out to cloud level. I used both. Exploring, I liked 3rd Person, in combat I found 1st Person more immersive. Having a HUD that obscures most of the screen is just daft.

      Why a company would point a double-barreled shotgun at their own foot and pull both triggers over something as simple as this is a mystery to me. Why certain core functions of the game absolutely MUST be hard-coded to certain keybinds and cannot be changed is another.

      Thanks for the detailed review, Jagovax. I would like to support a company that makes the claims this one has. But I will never even bother to download Warframe and try it out. It will be unplayable for me.


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