Why exactly Dark and Darker went free to play and the philosophy behind it

Ironmace Games just revealed some major news about Dark and Darker, and if you’re a fan of the game, you’ll want to pay attention. The launch of Epic Games and Steam is a huge achievement, but there’s more to it, especially regarding the Free to Play (F2P) model they’ve adopted.

So, Dark and Darker went F2P. Naturally, some of you weren’t too happy about it. Ironmace has heard the outcry, and they’re addressing it head-on. They admit they could’ve handled the introduction of F2P better, and they’re owning up to it. The game has always been a paid product during Early Access, and they intend to keep it that way for the whole experience. This approach is about staying true to their early adopters and fighting off cheaters and real-money traders (RMTs). Nobody wants a game full of cheaters.

But here’s where it gets interesting. The F2P model wasn’t just a random decision. It was a promise to their early loyal adopters on Blacksmith, ensuring they wouldn’t have to buy the game again if it went to major platforms. Ironmace didn’t want to double-dip or take advantage of the fans who got them this far.

But when they had the chance to launch on Epic Games and Steam, they hit a snag. Distributing thousands of free keys to Blacksmith customers wasn’t feasible or fair to their platform partners. So, the solution? Go F2P to allow a smooth transition without abusable keys.

Ironmace intended to ensure that their loyal customers felt appreciated and not exploited. The Normal game mode, which limits items to common grade, was opened to free players because it was a fan favorite. This mode was designed to address item disparity and was seen as the fairest mode by many Blacksmith players. However, new players, unaware of this context, saw it differently, as a bait-and-switch tactic. Ironmace realizes this misstep and is striving to correct it.

Going Forward

Another reason for restricting free players to the Normal mode was to curb hackers. Like any competitive online game, Dark and Darker faces its share of cheaters. Limiting hackers with free accounts to less impactful Normal modes was a move to minimize damage.

Ironmace is working on solutions to balance the needs of both existing and new players. Their goal is to let new players experience the full loop of a full loot extraction game while still respecting the loyalty of their current players. They’re looking at ways to provide access to High-Roller dungeons and unlock character slots for F2P players. Details are still being worked out, but an announcement is coming soon.

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Angel Kicevski

I am ANGE1K. I started playing video games a long time ago. In a blink of an eye, I became a hardcore gamer. A couple of years later, I traversed to the professional Counter-Strike 1.6 scene. After the competitive ERA, I managed to find the gaming industry amusing and started working on FGR. 8 years after founding FGR, my mission remains the same. That is to discover secrets within the gaming industry, create guides for all the games I play, and provide you with some important news. Oh, yeah, I post tons of patch notes too. Currently stuck in WoW with high M+ keys, Tarkov, a bit of Gray Zone Warfare, Dota 2, and CS2. P.S. Last time I counted how many hours I've spent in video games turned out to be 13+ years. And that was a long time ago too. Almost 24/7 in front of PC. If you need anything, feel free to contact me on X!

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