MMORPGs: The Controversy of the 'F' Word (Free)

rpg game artwork

 Free-to-play or "F2P" MMOs in the modern era are becoming more common with the multitude of Flash game and social network websites.  You can invite your Facebook friends, all through easy to click buttons.  What most people don't realise, however, is that the F2P platform is not a new concept;  It's actually an old concept by societies lax standards!


Iron Realms has been putting out free-to-play MMORPGs for 14 years (Achaea's birth celebration marked this month!). The free game environment first attracts those with very little in their household entertainment budget.  The ongoing war of 'most entertainment for my money' continues to burn deep in any serious gamer..


 Where video games can be bought for $30 dollars for half as many hours of entertainment and sometimes great replay value, sometimes not.  The Iron Realms community has built the most successful social system I can think of in modern times.  They host, develop, interact, and painstakingly supply a sustained superior customer service in recent years, all for the cost of the average player of $0.  This is not a free trial in your dream role playing game environment, it's just how it is.


Iron Realms realised early the dream was not to become rich from developing MMORPGs with a subscription-based model; it was to provide a strong role playing environment for players to live fascinating second lives, be it as a merchant or combatant and everything in between.  They had to pay the bills though and decided to offer advantageous rewards for willing to help donate to keep the lights on.  Players could purchase any number of these rewards to get stronger, or to make their lives easier.  While people unable to donate could be just as strong or make their lives just as easy, they just need to be more creative, become more of an active participant in the role playing games.


The economic system in Iron Realms games works in such a way that the less fortunate, or those who are not willing to spend their hard earned cash on a video game, can still play and enjoy the exact same opportunities without favoritism either way.  Many people without the advantages gained by spending real life money have reached max level, become a respective combatant, and have went on to lead great organizations through triumphant times.  Where the same ends were available to them, they just went about reaching it in different ways.


Some people will argue that to get ahead in Iron Realms role playing games you must be willing to put in X amount of dollars.  These people are normally short sighted and do not maintain a 'can-do' attitude.  We run into the same people in life who wish they could be faster, without training, wish they could make more money, with less effort.


This unique economic system balances a place where those who donate and those who don't are equally important to the world environment in all facets.  Because you log into an Iron Realms rpg game to play a character and be immersed in a fictitious world and everyone allowed and encouraged to give less or more.  All sorts of people drive these worlds to a lucrative success over the more shallow-minded, virus-laden, 'social' - network attempts at depth entertainment.


Ben Bridged is a text game enthusiast who enjoys the best role playing games from Iron Realms!


A lot of this is definitely true, and to be honest, text-games are more enjoyable than graphics (doesn't mean I don't play games with graphics, just no where near as much). I enjoy the interaction that is available with the IRE games, as well as having my imagination and creativity to actually work.

It's also true that you do not need to spend loads of money to have an effective character, just have to work a bit harder.

Very nice article, a definite enjoyable read!

You sure don't need to spend lots of money. Just digg articles! :)


Very good article.

Yes, lots of diggs! Hehe

digg digg digg

After "digging for victory" in Nethack, "digging for credits" here !

*goes back to dwarffortress*

Digg is a great way, as mentioned. The facebook app is a solid option, as are the bardic and artisan contests. Bashing for gold works with proper class, even. Fishing is a fun way, as well. Lots of options!


In the end, you probably wont be a mega-artifacted crusher of souls. But, that shouldn't stop you from having a blast playing a fully capable and fleshed out character!


Depends on the realm, some artifacts play a stronger role than others. But it's true that without arties you can do just as well as someone with a ton fo them...just a matter of getting all the lessons to learn the skills is all.

and having that creativity and innovative mindset even in combat. =) The constant tweaking of the combat balances makes it such that there will never be a 'sure-kill' type of combination (... for too long) so you always have to keep innovating to stay on top. =)

Plus quick wits. I have trouble keeping up with the text.

The fact that you can suffer through more than one round of Dwarf Fortress marks you as one of the toughest people on the internet. Respect to you.

Dwarf Fortress is great.


digg dug?

I've played Achaea and managed to tri-trans out my class skills without spending a single credit. Blackjack ftw! :P


I've also invested tons of money into IRE over my 10 years of playing so I've been on both sides. It just takes a matter of time and dedication to earn everything IG.


Blackjack can be quite profitable, I agree!


haven't tried gambling yet

Off to the casino!

really? i better checkif aetolia has blackjack...

"Iron Realms realised early the dream was not to become rich off of rpg game players, it was to provide a strong role playing environment"


This is what keeps me coming back. You guys offer the opportunity to buy in game credit, but NEVER require it. Keep up the wonderful work!


Yes, I really like that it's entire possible (though understandably more difficult) to do as well as anyone without investing any money at all. When I do rarely, I think of it more as a donation than buying credits.

I agree; I consider the rae times I do to be a donation to a great game.


Couldn't have said it better. Excepting spelling "rare" correctly.

just a typo


just a typo


It's like a donation, but you get stuff in return...haha!

But still!

That is often how I view it.

The way I see it, more money paid means more potential full-time employees means more and better constructed events.  Thus, I feel I can justify spending a bit.

Spending a bit, for me, is rendering a good pice for an amazing product!

I have to agree whole heartedly with this, except for pice. I would say price :) But yes investing into something that I have gotten well hmmm... like probably a year or so in actual playing one game, you cannot beat that at all!

Completely agree, though maybe is just how I justify it in my head, I can say for the amount of entertainment I've gotten, it doesn't compare to say dinner and movies which is an easy $100.

Your'e right about that!  Although they are a business and they deserve to be paid for the things they create for us, the aspect of it being free always draws me back and I've been playing for a very very long time. 



 Of course, good service will ever be totally free, and that's not a bad's just the way of the world

Yup, they also let you get credits in portions through things like this and facebook which is great.

You couldn't have said it better. :)

Lots of people keep playing because they can choose whether to invest time or money in the game and lots of those people provide the atmosphere that keep a lot of the people who buy frequently interested and active, so it sort of plays back into itself and probably generates more money for the game than it might otherwise get.

Yeah, even if I quit for a few months, I come back and see a great world with no OOC annoyance.

Thanks for writing this article.

Good reas as always, now if I could just stop getting the errors from digg saying the article doesn't exist..

I'm not alone!

Lol "Second lives"? No, this has become a priority in my daily routine. <3 Thanks so much for all the hard work you do in ensuring these games are enjoyed.

I definately have more fun here than anywhere else. I probably have 2-3 times the days played on Achaea than all of my console games put together.


I don't play console games at all. So..agreed.

iis why I keep coming back here! It fits into the budget of the unemployed person.

And the time-schedule, too!

You are right.


Thanks IRE, BTW.

I actually didn't realize just how the game worked the first few characters I made. I really thought that for a player who didn't indulge in buying credits from IRE, all you were gonna get was the bound credits for levelling, and then maybe you could win one of those competitions that always seemed to be won by top tier players anyway. Now, though, I've realized my error, and this game has become so much more enjoyable, because the glass ceiling is gone. I just have to take the stairs, not the elevator.

Stairs and not the elevator. I love it.

Spot on!  well said.


Buying credits definitely makes it EASIER, but there are so many opportunities to earn credits without purchasing them. I've gotten close to a thousand from a pair of Greathunts, not to mention that fishing gives you credits in MKO, the level bonuses, city and guild sales, etc etc.

Stairs over elevator is a good analogy, but if you really take all the opportunities that you have to earn credits, you'll be in good shape.

Point in case? I'm going to hit that "save" button, and get a credit. Thanks, IRE.

It does make it easier. But you are right, IRE has so many ways to win or earn in game credits that it doesn't make it a requirement to have to purchase credits with real money. This is one of the many things that puts IRE above the rest IMO.

I concur. I do not have too much time to play and I let my membership work for me.

Friend to the unemployed since '97.

Ha ha ha

nice one

Got me through my time without a job without losing my mind :P

I spent too much time playing to properly look for a job! Though that may just be a lack of willpower on my part...




IRE games have amazing quality for being free. I love Achaea.

They really put in a lot of effort to make sure you don't need as much to be effective.

The amount of effort required to trans skills in Lusternia seems staggering.



its always there when I feel like harvesting, giving away herbs and seeing others smile. Life needs more smiles!


Except for those that deserve punishment! /groinrip


this article pretty much sums up why I left graphical games behind me.  Coming from a very low income family, IRE  games allow me to still play a great MMO and not feel guilty that I spent the whatever $ a month to play.  As they say, the best things in life are free. 

This discussion about payment methodology always comes back. In the end Iron Realms provides a setting where you can choose to pay as much, or as little as you want. The real joy to IR games for me is that i can choose how i want to play at any given moment. In years past i played mostly for combat and the PK experience. During those times i was much more driven to push my edge any way i could.  Now i play mostly for the social and exploration elements and i find myself spending very little. 

My character has a few artefacts, and a good number of trained skills. These purchases have been made over a time span beginning in 1998. The value of the purchases i have made within Achaea has lasted more than a decade. There are very few forced monthly billing Mmos on the market that hold their value for that long, much less have added huge amounts of content.

I'd rather spend money.

Well hey, that's what it is. Your money or your time.

not really truly free, but still, thanks.

IRE games are still 100% free, with a pay-for-perks-like system

you only pay if you're too lazy to work for the credits

I'd disagree with the 'too lazy' remark there are plenty of other reasons someone might make a purchase, for example anyone with disposable income will most likely be able to pay for more credits after an hour of work than an hour of playing IRE games.

I concur with what I said above.

Heh, paying is a good thing I've enjoyed playing Lusternia for a long time and will donate and receive credits in exchange, or artifact bundles whatever. I have earned most of my skills and stuff through in game means, but now that I'm older and have a job and a life and don't want to be a hardcore player anymore I like the idea of being able to put a couple dollars here and there to get a new nifty toy every few months.

In the past I have refused to play games that required a monthly payment to play. I understand the reasons behind it but I keep pretty busy with my own life and think it a loss to pay x amount each month whether I play or not. I love the fact that as a player I can choose not to put down a single penny for something that keeps me entertained.

That being said, because I enjoy the game I like to show my appreciation by making a few purchases every now and then. But even if I don't, I won't lose my trinkets or my character that I put a lot of time into.

Keep in mind, its a game. Some people have different ways they like to play and come from different situations. Some like the action, some like the story, some just like to do their own thing and blow off some steam after work/school/clubs/practice/all of the above. Some people pay for perks where others might think the fun is in earning it the hard way. All it comes down to is you have the free choice with some very fun games.

The people paying for credits are the only ones contributing them to the game. Without paying players, there'd be no credits on market. No organizations would have credits to sell or use for improvements. People who bash for hours on end to make enough gold to buy enough credits to get good arties wouldn't be able to buy those credits and would lose their motivation to play.

It's sorta free, the free ways to gain credits si slow though but..can't complain I guess. heh.

Aye, it's hard to get enough lessons for all the skillsets without buying credits.

I don't want to spend all my IG time bashing because I need credits

The new promos help a lot with this. Even if you don't want to bash you'll eventually get enough lessons for skills - you just have to wait for them.

Probably the best deal they ever had, also for themselves.

Author doesn't seem to understand the meaning of "average". Man, 1998 is over,  it's 2011 now, the "free-to-play" (or should I say the "pay-to-win"?) is tried and true formula for tens (hundreds?) of eastern mmorpgs and browser games, who are you trying to fool with your propaganda? Grinding to buy credits from rich kids isn't different from working IRL to buy credits (besides sheer inefficiency of former option). The minuscule amount of promotional credits is exactly this - free trial, it just gimps your character instead of limiting playing time. There is no controversy about "free" word because IRE games aren't free and (besides Achaea) never were, no matter how you put it.

 And about comparison to video games at 30$ per, I'm not sure why this comparison of apples to oranges comes every now and then. There are many online games besides IRE muds, some of them have exactly the same paying model (together with "free-to-play",  grinding, pay-to-win PvP and cash shops), some have subscription and latter usually require less money investment than IRE games while providing more of replay value.

"The minuscule amount of promotional credits is exactly this - free trial"

I remember when you only got 5 lessons per level gain, no credits, this was before 'neocredits', the precursor to 'bound credits'. Newbie kick your way to level 21 before you could even join a class.

Today, I bet I could make a new character and trans all class skills + Survival using just level gain and promo credits. 300cr a month just for inviting FB friends (10 a day)



People def. have it easy now.


I definitely appreciate the free promotions. The 10 lessons a day go a -huge- way towards increasing skills!

Bleh, for those who don't use facebook - or have three friends on it, it's much harder :(

Check out this article that explains how to make a Facebook profile for your IRE character and use it to invite tons of friends.

The promotions are pretty good, I think. Monthly lessons and credits, buy a few more with gold, or discounted organisation sales. It's not fast, but there are worthwhile options.

There's more than one type of average. The median and the mode could easily be zero.

I like it when games are free. I do play games that cost money though. The main thing that keeps me coming back to IRE games is my love of books. I have always thought to myself "What would it be like if I were in here?"  IRE made that dream come true and even better than that, it gave it without me having to spend a dime. Even though I am not a pk lover, I still will try every now and then. Many things are great about this game. First is that it is FTP (Free to Play), second is that credits can be bought or won by doing various things, and third is that everyone is nice and will help and socialize (What every game needs, Sorry WOW you lose in that aspect along with many others).

It's just a difference between short cut and working hard. Period




I think it's interesting how we judge someone who 'works hard' in Achaea and has extra time versus someone who works a 7am-5pm daily job and has some extra cash flow to put into the game to make it more enjoyable for themselves (and drives the credit market ultimately).


I personally enjoyed the game of World of Warcraft, until I realized the only way I had could 'get ahead' was to put in the time.  So I did, I got my level 85 character and did some other events and such.  But at the end of the day/week/month, I just couldn't compete with some of the people who had very little to do in their personal lives (which is fine).  It made it less enjoyable for me because when I want to join a raid, my gear isn't good enough and the only way to get better gear is to put the time in and hope for your 0.4% -chance- of it dropping off a mob when I dedicated three hours of my life.


At least in the IRE model, I can pay to get some perks even if I can't put in four plus hours a real life day into the game, which makes it more enjoyable for me as a casual player, and I'm not turning the tides of the game.


Believe me if World of Warcraft wanted $100 or whatever for a stick so I did't have to spend the first hour of my game time, travelling to where I need to be.  Or even a way to harvest faster, or some artefact weapons that were still good but couldn't decay on my long abscences, they would have gotten it because I enjoyed the game. 


I don't have an xbox or any other console games so the money that people routinely spend in that area, I just spend here.  I don't know how that makes me a less favourable player to the player base?  The old sayings still reign true, credits won't make you a better tactician or strategist in combat, they won't make you a great marketeer, they can't make you smarter, taller, or correct your spelling.  They do provide some nice perks though.  Enjoy your day everyone! :)


When you have to work hard to earn your credits in game, be careful where you spend them. Plan ahead!

Hmm interesting article. Some good points

I'm sorry to say the this article is full of the writers opinions, usually wrong opinions, and contradictions.  Good premise but worst article I've read on so far.

warning:  Citrus citing.  

As long as you're patient enough to invest in all the ways there are to get free credits. IRE games never have to cost a dime of real money. I can't see myself every venturing outside IRE games to satisfy my MUD additction, personally.

I think people prefer to pay for perks than subscriptions, i certainly would.

I have taken a step away from this game several times, but time and time again I come back to it. Yes you can even do a subscription on  IRE but it's more bang for your buck. I pay more than I would for wow but once a month I get credits for an alt, a couple of tokens for nifty items, and the new boxes which is like playing the lotto once a month. Love IRE.

I am not able to buy credits with real life cash all the time, but I certainly have been keeping myself busy attempting to buy some in game. This still allows me to get some good perks, and enjoy the game as well as not spending cash. Keep it up IRE

It's free but looking at it, I've probably spent 4 thousand dollars on all my characters.

It is very easy these days to get a lot of credits without ever spending a dime. However IRE pays money to keep the game going for us so throwing them a little money for a small credit package isnt the end of the world for all the entertainment we get from their games.

I like the analogy that I read in Achaea: artifacts are like golf clubs - even with the best set in  on the market you aren't going to beat Tiger Woods.  With a few exceptions of imba arties, you simply -cannot- buy a WIN in IRE games.  There's no substitute for skillz and a decent system.

I completely agree with Dysse!

People shouldn't agree with Dysse...brings bad karma

Aye, Dysse is a troll, we all know it :<

I disagree with Dysse.  On the grounds that disagreeing is the most educated thing to do when faced with the proposition of space docking.

Dysse gets it all

Gold is easy to obtain once you get your head round how your character can best earn it to convert to credits

And are willing to invest a lot of time.

the issue being finding out the best ways to make gold...

Dyyse makes one of the best points out of all the comments. I've yet to have extra money to spend on credits and I don't feel as if I'm way behind. A good day of bashing easily earns me enough to buy a few credits.


Can't say anything about the other MUDs, but Achaea is run by the people who spend money on credits, and buy artefacts. So its still more of a pay for perks than a free game, if you don't pay, you'll always be second best. 


You really believe that, my friend?

will net you more credits...a lot more than spending hours "working" IG for them.

I mean getting like a one day a week job at burger king for 5 hours insted of 20 hours in game 'farming gold'

gold is shiny! =D

"Some people will argue that to get ahead in Iron Realms role playing games you must be willing to put in X amount of dollars.  These people are normally short sighted and do not maintain a 'can-do' attitude.  We run into the same people in life who wish they could be faster, without training, wish they could make more money, with less effort."

Except for this part, the article was good. A straw man *and* a glittering generality at the same time isn't making your point any stronger.

Playing a class with a marketable skill (concoctions in my case) makes earning gold/credits IG ten times easier. If you're firmly never going to purchase credits with RL money, you might want to consider one of these classes.


I like there methodology. I can pay or not pay and still achieve the same results. It all depends on how fast I want to get there.

Two of the very things that attract and keep people playing for years, and a lot of cases for over a decade now! It is that these games are social and free.

A very good article.

couldn't agree more

Long Live IRE? :D


You don't -need- to spend any money, this is true.  With a little ingenuity, some perseverance, and patience, you can amass a stockpile of shinies even Smaug would envy.

I rarely bought credits and did well enough on my various chars, its a good open system which allows people to play as they wish.

I always found the argument that IRE games are free to be a bit misleading. If I showed an IRE mud to my friends from other muds, they would quite quickly point out that the game is not free to play.


Unless the average players want to hit a ceiling as far as skills goes rather soon, said player must invest in the game. It doesn't have to be much. Some people didn't pay anything at all and still got enough credits.




Claiming that the IRE games are free to play doesn't hold much water for most other people coming from other mud communities. On the other hand, as a business, IRE provides equal service and options to paying and non-paying customers. A lot of people spent insane amount of real money on the game, and it sort of weighs up for the people that can't spend much (if anything) at all.

I've spent years playing Achaea before I bought my first credit, and I was still able to enjoy the game. You have to work a bit harder than those who go the way of credits, but it's still possible. I'd still call it a 'free' game.


I always actually enjoyed (for some weird reason) figuring out the very best ways to make money in the game and trying to rack up a profit. I find it satisfying.

If you don't think the game is fun if you can't crush people with your arties, and also hate all of the ways there are to make money in the game, then I guess it's not free to play. But for me, earning the money for the toys I want is part of the game.

I've rarely bought credits, and if I did it was for a skill here, a skill there, but I've always wanted to be able to afford elite heh

just work at it.  It does take awhile w/out RL money though.  As in a few years...

Easier to get dragon?

I enjoyed this article.  I disagree a little bit with the appraoch to those who donate but still enjoyed this.

I am fairly new to the MUD realms and IRE for that matter but have heard of my father and my father-in-law talk about the old IP games that were similar to MUDs except you called into them instead of logging in.

These concepts have been around a long time, just lost in the sight and vision of the ver changing world of technology.  People do not like to read anymore, they do not like to have to imagine their characters and play out a personality.  Most people want to be given a cool hero who has forgotten their skills and through 5-6 hours of hardcore gameplay all of a sudden regains them to fight a "sinister" boss.

Those who disagree with MUDs, hehe

As long as the option is there, its a great thing. Far too many games now offer bonuses for paying customers than non-paying ones simply cannot get (Modern Warfare 3 springs instantly to mind).


Giving people the chance always ensures a larger base of players, which is beneficial for everyone.


I have no problem buying credits. I enjoy the people and I enjoy the game. Even if in DA, the dragons don't cry at me when they die. Hrmph.

Especially in these recent days, with consistent promotions and bonuses, it's getting easier and easier to compete without spending a dime.

and you will still be better if you buy credits

I don't mind paying for my entertainment. Most of the MUDs that rally against IRE and claim that they are completely free are also completely inferior. I like that I'm putting effort into a game that is professionally run and who's stability can be trusted. Plus, as others stated you can buy credits with gold once you're big enough. Personally, I took advantage of the sale to get myself off the ground a little faster but to each their own.

This is a great article. Especially that it does show that you do not have to put a single dollar of real money into any IRE game. Of course it can take longer to accomplish goals that one might have for his or her character, but that just equals more "play time". In which case most gamers always want in any game.

is fun!

Totally Fun!

True that!

I love that I can buy credits if I really want to, but I love even more that I can work for them IG. I find it a lot more rewarding saveing up gold to buy the credits I want. 

The fact that it's not demanded of you is the very reason I invested in IRE.

Over 8k escrow on Lusternia.

As with most things in IRE games, it's there and it is what it is. The beauty is being able to do what you want with it and make it work for you.


I love that I can buy credits in game!


By F word, do you mean font?

I think I dropped about $3Gs at Lusternia.


can be costly.

I've bought tons of credits since I'm impatient but it's definitely true that you don't have to do it to get anywhere in the game.

I think it also depends a lot on which IRE you're talking about. In Lusternia I've definitely felt you could get somewhere with nothing but effort, but in Imperian there's definitely more of a "buy in or get out" additude to combat.

I agree with some of the above comments concerning time vs money. If I didn't have a full-time job, I wouldn't buy any credits but I would spend a larger amount time trying to make up for it in game. However, if my time is limited and I have a full time job it's just easier for me to buy credits. It really depends on the person and the age group. We all spend a huge amount of money in 'entertainment' as is... Going to the movies is like what $15 dollars now for 2 - 2.5 hours of fun.


And not to mentioned regular games that come out at 50+ USD and give you less than 20 hours of game play. How much of IRE games can you enjoy for free? Compare that.

I have yet to buy a regular game where I'd idle 90% of time or was forced to write a script to be able to play it properly. Why don't you compare to other -online- games?

"Author doesn't seem to understand the meaning of "average". Man, 1998 is over,  it's 2011 now, the "free-to-play" (or should I say the "pay-to-win"?) is tried and true formula for tens (hundreds?) of eastern mmorpgs and browser games, who are you trying to fool with your propaganda? Grinding to buy credits from rich kids isn't different from working IRL to buy credits (besides sheer inefficiency of former option). The minuscule amount of promotional credits is exactly this - free trial, it just gimps your character instead of limiting playing time. There is no controversy about "free" word because IRE games aren't free and (besides Achaea) never were, no matter how you put it."

 "And about comparison to video games at 30$ per, I'm not sure why this comparison of apples to oranges comes every now and then. There are many online games besides IRE muds, some of them have exactly the same paying model (together with "free-to-play",  grinding, pay-to-win PvP and cash shops), some have subscription and latter usually require less money investment than IRE games while providing more of replay value."

Noeth of Imperian


I and the rest of the gamming world could not have said it any more clear. People only fool them self. I like my MUD's dont get me wrong. But the for the average exchange of a Buck($1.00) Muds offer little compared to the so called "free to play MMO's. Again though ---apples and oranges.

what she said

I haven't spent a cent on the game yet, still having fun.

All the arguments above this are...


If you don't like the way it's designed, STFU and GTFO, kthxbai.


There are enough ways now to get credits for free (Facebook, Digg, commenting, promotions, etc.) that if you don't want to pay for creds, you can still get a "playable" character without devoting hours of your life to farming gold. Granted you have to have some patience, as you won't get the "instant gratification" of spending $ for creds, but you don't have to spend that time logged in either.


Ultimately, if you can't enjoy playing the game without having fully Transed Arti-whore, then you're doing it wrong.


There are lots of little tricks you can do to  still make the game fun without money.

this one again. I'm confused!

me too!


I've been playing  Achaea for 10+ years and I love the fact that the game is free to play. I've had a lot of ups and downs financially over those 10 years and having this game to come to and play for absolutely free is a huge blessing.

if the games weren't free, I probably wouldn't play, so yay for that

love freeeee games. Been playing achaea since I quit DragonRealms back in 2002ish? Maybe 2001? I'm not sure, been some years.

Most 4 letter words are curse words or nasty tings like snow and rain. Butthis 4 letter word is awesoome, FREE!

I know I enjoy the pay for perks model, as opposed to pay to play.

I love this stuff!

Vote for Achaea on!

As much as I love Aetolia and it is free, which makes it all the better I somehow find whatever available funds I have flowing into it, heh. It may not be much but still.

ITT: Fapping over the microtransaction business model that is applied in the worst possible way.

I've spend very little on Achaea..playing to achieve something(xp/gold)is what keeps me interrested!Good game..and its your choice if it's free or not!

is like the new trend in many games, at least graphical MMORPGs have been on the rise in trends for years and years now. MUDs have been free with pay for extra, at least most of them for a long time. But there are even some muds and games you MUST pay for just to play. My friend who STARTED me on Aetolia wants me to buy ff14, but I can barley afford the disc/game let alone to pay every month :(



Free is great! Both for the players and the developers. Granted, the mechanic itself can be a bit misleading, with micropayments. But, overall, it's highly effective AND I'd wager that while a huge majority of players have paid something, for the entertainment value, it can be very economical. Granted, you can go all out and spend a LOT of money. But really, that's a decision wholly up to the person.


Giggity... I mean DIGGity.



I'm new to Iron Realms games and really appreciate that different paths are available, with no (outside) pressure: spend a little, spend a lot, or only spend your time --- and sweat and tears. As another commenter said, this makes me more likely to invest money into the game.

I agree,at least we have the option to pay or not!everything is still accessible without just takes longer and more hard work!!

Awesome article totally true, you will be able to be great without spending real money!!

I like this article. After two embraced class changes, with a lot ofwork, it only took me two weeks or so to start transing skills again, all with in-game gold. Love it!

free credit is good as well

I pretty much stopped playing console games in favour of Achaea. This game has taken control of my life. :p

I think if Lusternia stopped being free, I really might pay for it with the level of addiction I've developed for it, now.

I've been off and on Achaea for years, different characters and classes and everything, and I was lured in by a free gaming environment.  It's nice to know that everytime fate lures me back, I don't have to prep my bank account like I would for something like WoW, just be prepared to grab a few credits and off I go.  It's quite a brilliant approach for keeping someone like me on the hook.  Bravo, IRG.

I think this is a great artical.  those without extra real money to spend can still achieve what others do it mjust might take a bit longer.  great information for those hunting a free mud to play.


Ya as far as I'm concerned Iron Realms has hit a the mark with a spot of marketing genius, I love the way it is set up. Thanks again IR staff. Appreciate you

digg digg

Honestly, if a game is good I don't mind giving some cash their way to support what they do.  Have no problem with that, with our without perks.  Of course, perks are nice.  :)

I don't like spending a lot of money to play games. The games I play most have cost me the least amount, either free or a one time purchase.


I wouldn't be playing IRE games if the cost monthly payments, I just don't feel games are worth that. Note that this goes for any game with a monthly payment! I've played them, but always for very short durations.

Free credits are good as well

I like that Achaea is free, personally. The less I have to spend on my addiction, the better for my bankaccount. I do splurge now and then on credits etc, and I have payed for text games before, but it's nice to not have to.

It'll take longer, and the bashing/questing loops get pretty boring without really consistent good company but it's true that you can buy some good stuff in the IRE games if you're willing to invest the time into game gold. It'll never be as much or as easy as for those who can pop a credit card for a win button, but you can buy, win or earn quite a few credits in Aetolia, at least.

an ingame word filter to translate offensive terms into harmless substitutes, this would be optional and off by default ( bonus side effect of reducing whiney issues )

If the game wasn't free, I wouldn't be able to play it. The usefulness of credits, however, has probably motivated me more to improve my writing (which is still, admittedly, not great) than any English teacher in the last four years. I love Bardics.

Free rulz. And then those who can pay for credits cover the expenses of running the website. What an awesome system!! Reminds me of a certan country that I live in.

EVE was much cheaper for me than IRE games have been. Omnom PLEXs

so free is basically required

I have no issue with it, and I find that its great to play free, with free programs and systems. But when you want to take that extra step forward, or change classes, then its no longer free, and often costs a LOT of money, and I'm working on something like that now. 

Events, bashing, etcs etcs etcs

We need an article to list the ways to earn free credits. I need to sign up to Digg (whatever that is) apparently.

Yay, FREE! ^.^

I like the fact that it's possible to get anything you want without spending real money, if you don't have money to spend on it. Most pay-for-perks games have unique perks that you can -only- get that way, which is kind of disheartening.

I have spent some money over the years, but not as much as my toys would suggest. (I also doubt anybody will feel sorry for me, but right now I have credits, and really don't know for what, if anything, I want to use them>)

When I first started Achaea one of the lures was that the game was truly free. I played for awhile, enjoyed it, got paid at work and pissed at my then other half who was blowing through money on frivolous things while I was working and I said, "Wait a minute!" and I spent, I think, $40 or $70 to trans one of my main skills. 

I may have done that a couple more times at that point.

I was very, very, very, fortunate.

The first time I had a hunk of credits it was because a player who was going dormant permanently gave me their credits. (I know exactly who it was, and is, but I will keep my quiet about that - I still love them, however.)

The first artefact I owned was gifted to me by one of my unofficial Mentees. I love my flowerpot still (although I am having a lot of fun with my chocolate bag!), as well as the Grook who gave it to me before going on to different things. I still love him, and do share that story once in awhile now that he is no longer in the lands.

The first artefact I bought was a Ring of Endurance for my now spouse as a wedding gift. 

I had a couple of people for whom I regularly refilled to the tune of 50,000 gold, or the equal in credits, at a time - when credits were a lot less gold than they are now.

I bought a shop on amazingly generous terms, which net me perhaps 5,000-10,000 gold per year. (Three people helped me there with terms and loans, and I continue to love and adore two of them.)

I worked a shop for a then friend (:: spit ::) which shop made 50,000 a *month*. Didn't last forever, but long enough to save up a lot of gold and a lot of credits.

I turned all that gold into credits, because credits are safer than banks.

I take advantage of all Guild, House, and City sales.

Even with the minimal Hunting  I do I can earn a credit's worth of Gold a day.

All that adds up to a lot of credits over nine real life years.

I have also spent some real life money a few more times. My goal was to be able to hunt a little more efficiently. (I mean, come on, two mauls for a medium spider?).

I had a bunch of credits saved, and bought a few more when there were good deals.

I also give away credits and gold and herbs and refills and and and and and....

I try to give back or make generous loans to help others just as I was helped.

So, let's say nine years with fifty two weeks per year, five days a week - $3.00 cup of coffee a day. That's $7,020 --- I've spent nothing close to that, and had way more enjoyment. (Although I do love my coffee.)

So yeah, Achaea can be free, but even if one chooses to spend real life money, it is still a bargain and a half.

Your mileage may vary.

P.S. I can't get that Facebook refer thing to work, darn it! 

P.P.S. By the way, the first skill I transed was Groves, not concoctions. That was also back in the days when there was a much smaller limit to the number of credits to lessons conversions per day.

P.P.P.S. I have  friend who has earned thousands of credits over the years via their Artisinal entries. I remember their first entries, and their frustration wondering what they needed to do in order to win. Currently they rank in the top 25 of the overall rankings proving that practice and dedication really do make perfect.



I think free is definately the way to go. That taster eventually means that they might buy something, and even if the ydon't then they're the kind of player that works so har d in the game that it enrichens it for everyone else.

Noeth, I'm a tad embarassed to see your name associated with the same game I play when you talk about this 'propaganda' IRE is supposedly spewing out as if it's run by Communists. I think there's a misunderstanding by some that "free" somehow means the game gives you -everything-. If there's any amount of time or effort that the player has to make in order to get anything from the game, then it must somehow be not free and false advertising. You don't even need to pay for the internet service that connects you to an IRE game. I used to play it during college on their library computers using the java application.


Comparing it to other video games is simply showing how text games, for the most part, don't normally charge like other games the average person has access to and can choose to play, such as World of Warcraft where you first spend 50 bucks for the box and then a monthly fee just to play the c.d. you already paid for.


It's only considered propaganda if you believe you're being forced into doing something you don't want. If you think that bitterly of the game, then perhaps IRE games are just not for you. Too many people have already stated their approval of it so maybe it's not the game after all.


















Date: 3/19/2013 at 3:37

From: Lemuela Valstivar, Winter's Frost

To  : Everyone

Subj: Leaving


Reality is I've been gone for at least a month or two now, but I never really made it official and this is to those few who've sent messages the past few weeks wanting to know when I'd be back, not realizing.  It's hard to believe ten years have passed and in that time I've volunteered on both sides of the Garden gate for most of those years and seen both good and bad. Like a lot of you, I've made friends, wished them the best of luck when some left for bigger and better things in the real world, cried when some left both worlds with a sad void when they died.

But it's time to move on. The game I fell in love with back in June of 2003 isn't the same game now. In the neverending, driving focus in trying to force players into conflict, the game has lost its heart and soul. The game was built on and brought in players based on rich history and legends of gods and hidden knowledge, secrets, the thrill and scare of belonging to something that was forbidden. All of that has been stripped. Its a shame that the more the game changed to force players into conflict, the more it restricted it until now there's no more heart and soul left.

Take care...


aka Saadyia/Rhaeleanna/Nephelia/Deyhmortia/Andora/Mathessa/Teshar

Looks like I win, Imperian ex-fangirl. :P

reading this article made me realize that i really need to upgrade my isp.

I would have agreed 6 years ago that it could be done to the 'top tier' extent with little or no OOC money put in, but with elite and all that, its just too common for everyone to be ahead of the game from the start now.

I mean Achaea is free and I am not one to really pay for credits, but there have been a few occassions where I felt obliged to buy credits if they were on special... but I prefer to try and work my way up to richness within the game which is totally possible and actually not that difficult.

Follow up article

The C word (credits)

Iron Realms has been putting out free-to-play MMORPGs for 14 years (Achaea's birth celebration marked this month!)......Again, would be nice if these articles had dates on them. I realize I could find out Achaea's birthdate by digging around on the website, but if you're going to include it like this somewhere, would be nice to be more specific than "this month".

People who can afford Credits or just want to sink their money into them, have a serious advantage over the free players, which sometimes sucks the fun right out of everything.


I have fun without spending a lot of money, but it's really hard to trans out when the free bound credits for leveling stop.



What reward could be cheaper than a virtual one? Still, it keeps us all coming back for more.

mudding is more of a hobby than playing through a video game, i think

if it wasn't free. My first MUD was MSN's Dragonrealms, but I had an awesome friend who paid for it for me for quite a while. He eventually stopped of course and I managed another few months til I couldn't anymore. I found Achaea shortly thereafter and didn't spend a dime for 7 years til Elite came out, then I broke down, heh. But before that I did fine with the -many- ways to get creds up til and of course after that point. Now that I'm in Aetolia, I've actually found it way easier to hunt up gold for creds so it's not bad at all. I still want my Elite, though!


Free is relative. Its free depending on if you do combat or want 'top-tier' just about anything unless ICly you're forestal/alchemist/trade classes.

it's really hard to get ahead in the game without purchasing credits, I'm not sure iron realms will have anything to worry.

is the only way I can see to take a quantim leap into the future where the me that I want to be lives .


Rofl, so true..

The option to choose free or to pay is good for the community, it attracts a wider range of people.

Don't know what the controversy really is..

we have both so we are best!

lalala some more.

I know of at least 5 people in MKO who have Omnitransed without spending a dime. Its hard work, but doable. Most have made clever use of promotions and events to get ahead.

Plenty of free in IRE


I can see only truth on this post. One of the best things in playing Achaea, for me, is the fact that it is free to play. Of course if you are willing to pay you can get things more easily and quicker but you can also get good stuff and artefacts only by playing and enjoying the game. Specially if you are in a class which you can collect or make things and sell them to other players and use the gold to buy credits.

The only thing I am sad is people raising the credit price on credit market. Come on guys, it used to be 3-4k a piece.