Pay to Play vs. Free to Play in Lord of Ultima
– by Goemon
One of the great things about OSGs is that they are free to play. Of course, the companies that make these games are just that- companies, and because of that they need a way to make money. Each of them has their own way of getting you to do this, but generally you get some kind of advantage in game in exchange for real world money. Pretty much, you can spend real cash to get in game gold or resources, or speed up construction.
Lord of Ultima gives players a chance to try out the premium content by handing out “samples” in the form of quest rewards or dungeon/boss loot. So pretty much, the marketing geniuses give you a taste of the good life for free, in hopes that you’ll like it so much you’ll continue to pay for it.
Free Lord of Ultima gives you a six slot building queue, which is actually pretty nice in comparison to other games (*cough*Desert Operations’ 1*cough*). So you can line up six orders and let the buildings construct themselves. BUT, if you pay for the building minister, your queue shoots up to 16. You can seriously set up several days worth of building orders and not have to worry about wasting any time. Building Minister for 48 hours is one such quest reward, and let me tell you, it is quite a luxury. I felt the loss of the Building Minister more than any other premium content- a convenient set it and forget concept if I’ve ever used one.
There is also a Defense Minister, which is essentially the same thing as the Building Minister except it bumps up the troop recruitment queue to 16. Also very handy to have around.
Lord of Ultima also peppers you with so-called “economic artifacts,” which is really just a fancy way of saying resources or gold. This is a very common quest reward that gives you X amount of wood, stone, iron, gold, or all of the above. I didn’t find this quite as cool as the Building Minister, but I can still see its purpose- founding a new city, for example, would be made much easier with a huge cache of resources to work with. A couple of the other artifacts advance recruitment or building queues up a certain amount of time. This pretty much serves to keep the player playing the game continually; i.e., rather than queuing up buildings and leaving for several hours. the player can just speed it up and keep playing the game right then and there.
There’s also Orbs of Peace, which prevent you from getting attacked. I haven’t had much use for that since I really only get plundered and have been able to defend myself just fine so far.
Did I enjoy using this premium content stuff? Yes. Do I wish I had access to it all the time? Also yes. Am I actually going to pay for any of them? Nope, but I’m sure many people will.