What's your take on free vs paid RM resources?

DoubleX

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Note: This post doesn't talk about specific commissions for specific projects, but rather resources for general use.
As the release date and price of MZ are announced, some upcoming MZ users are already thinking of making/using upcoming MZ resources, and free vs paid ones is an important consideration for most in both sides(some resource users are also resource makers of course).
Be warned: I expect this post to have very heated debates, those hating these things a lot are better off staying away from this post :D

There are several dimensions on free vs paid resources.
1. In terms of free vs commercial projects:
i. Always Free on all RM projects
ii. Always Free on free RM projects but paid on commercial ones
iii. Always paid on all projects(perhaps more expensive on commercial ones)

2. In terms of payment model:
i. One time fee for a license lasting forever for the buyer
ii. One time fee for a license lasting for a project for the buyer(so the buyer will have to pay again to renew the license for the next project)
iii. Periodic license subscription fee for the buyer(so the buyer can't use the resource anymore until the license's renewed)
iv. A small portion of net(or even gross) profit's taken by the resource maker
v. Some combinations from the above

3. In terms of project members:
i. The project can use the resource if any member has the license
ii. The project can use the resource if all members have the license
iii. The license's owned by the project but not any member
iv.(Mentioned/inspired by Shaz) The project can use the resource if at least 1 members actually using that resource directly has the license
v.(Mentioned/inspired by Shaz) The project can use the resource if all members actually using that resource directly have the license

4. In terms of effective period:
i. Always free/always paid
ii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can still use it)
iii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can't use it without buying a license)
iv. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(with refunds to those having a license)
v. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(without refunds to those having a license)

5.(Mentioned/inspired by TheoAllen) In terms of paid resource accessibility:
i. Accessible for free but must be paid to be used
ii. Must be paid to be accessed or used
iii. Accessible/usable for free with a limited period/1st project, but must be paid afterwards

6. In terms of paid resource granularity:
i. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(with bundle discounts)
ii. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(without bundle discounts or even with an additional "bundling fee")
iii. Everything as a single file that can be bought individually
iv. Buying some resources need some other resources to be previously bought as well(with discounts)
v. Buying some resources need some other resources to be previously bought as well(without discounts)
vi. Some combinations from the above

Needless to say, those being always free on all RM projects will be the most generous(whether it's sustainable is a different thing entirely), while the following combination will be the most money sucking:
1. Always paid on all projects(and more expensive on commercial ones)
2. One time fee for a license lasting for a project for the buyer
3. Periodic license subscription fee for the buyer
4. A small portion of gross profit's taken by the resource maker
5. The project can use the resource if all members have the license
6. Free for a while but add a paywall after taking most of the "market share"(those having the resource before having the paywall can't use it without buying a license)
7. Must be paid to be accessed or used
8. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(with an additional "bundling fee")
Fortunately, from what I know, such a money sucking resource haven't existed yet and I don't think it'll ever exist, as I consider this combination "voluntary robbery"(I guess that's as far as how pathetic one can become without making the terms of use illegal) lol

On the other hand, the following paid combinations seems to be the especially common(I don't know if it's the most common though):
1. Always Free on free RM projects but paid on commercial ones
2. One time fee for a license lasting forever for the buyer
3. The project can use the resource if any member has the license
4. No paywall addition/removal later on
5. Accessible for free but must be paid to be used
6. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(with bundle discounts)
7. Everything as a single file that can be bought individually
Perhaps because of the following reasons:
1. Free projects are unable to generate profits(except those getting tons of genuine donations while still fitting the "free" definition), so it'd be hard for resource users to use paid resources for free projects.

2. No matter how unbelievably fantastic a paid resource and its supports are, one still has to actually use it to judge whether it'll really suit the needs, so those planning to make commercial projects with paid resources can try the latter on free projects first, without having to pay anything for such tries.

3. The absence of periodic subscription fee means the absence of time pressure from paid resources, thus decreasing the pressure towards resource users when making commercial projects, with usually an already tight budget other than time(on the flip side, such an additional time pressure can actually motivate them to be more effective and efficient when making commercial projects).

4. Unless a commercial project has a very large profit margin, even taking a small portion of gross profit away from the resource users can already cause the whole thing to become not profitable, thus largely(but still not totally) defeating the purpose of making the project commercial(although it still gives invaluable commercial project experience to those resource users); On the other hand, taking a small portion of net profit instead would probably give resource makers so little money that it won't be worth the effort for the resource makers to enforce this term of use.

5. If all commercial project members have to have the license, the development cost of commercial projects can increase a lot when many such paid resources are used and the team's large, even though it's likely an edge case anyway. In extreme cases, the team might have to decide between not using such resources and reducing the number of team members.

6. If the paywall isn't a constant, then resource users won't know what to expect. If the paywall's added later, then it's questionable whether the resource makers can really make much money, due to the fact that those already owning those resources before having the paywall can "carelessly leak" them to those who'd have to pay without the resource maker being able to prove anything; If the paywall's lifted later without refunding, then those already paid the resources will likely go insanely mad - so mad that the reputation of the resource maker can be shattered instantly(if there's refund then the resource maker will have serious money issues).

7. While making paid resources accessible for free will lead to an increased amount of piracy, plagiarism and sometimes outright stealing profits(accessing the resources for free then selling them without the original resource maker knowing), but it'll more friendly to fellow resource makers resolving compatibility issues among resources, which especially apply to plugins(although plugin developers can still ask the fellow for special permission to fix the compatibility issues). Of course, making paid resources accessible for free is still a very big risk, so not all resource maker can keep affording this, therefore it's also common for them to shut down free accessibility when they're indeed hurt by scumbags too many times and too seriously.

8. Letting resource users buy resource files both individually and as a bundle with bundle discounts can take care of both users using only few resource files and those almost using everything. Also, because of the existence of bundle discounts, users will be highly encouraged and recommended to buy the bundle even if they don't really need everything inside, thus on one hand increasing resource maker profits, and on the other hand doesn't impose much moral issues due to such a choice being optional and well-informed in advance.

Now let's think of the following possible scenarios involving the amount of free vs paid resources:
1. All resources are free
Advantages -
i. Users don't have to pay anything for any resource regardless of whether those resources deserve to be paid, meaning that those with tight budgets can use all resources, causing the number of resource users and thus useful feedback given to the resource makers to increase, leading to increased RM sales and resource quality(provided that resource makers have the passion to do all these for free).
While this also comes with toxic feedback which makes the lives of resource makers and those giving useful feedback harder, there are ways for resource makers to deal with the toxic feedback, like standardizing feedback providing formats/procedures and declaring policies on toxic feedback, even though it does mean more work on the resource maker and sometimes those giving useful feedback(and sometimes some resource users are unfortunately too toxic to deal with).
ii. Resource makers having a hard time making high quality resources and/or providing high quality supports can learn from those who do without having to pay anything regardless of whether they should, meaning that more resource makers will improve more quickly, leading to the increased overall quality of resources and their supports(that isn't the only way to reach so of course).
While this leads to a kind of unfairness to those already making high quality resources with high quality supports, and in extreme cases, even an increase of objectively provable plagiarism, the community can always get rid of these losers quickly and is already experienced in that(such losers will always exist no matter what the community do but one can always try), and the unfairness can be somehow compensated by the unmatched popularity and reputations.

Disadvantages -
i. Eventually, those consistently providing high quality resources with high quality supports will take most of the "market share", and it's likely that there will be only few such resource makers per resource type, meaning that the workload of at least some of those resource makers will eventually be too high to bear anymore, probably leading to retirement that could've been reached later(and sometimes comebacks that could've happened to happen a lot later at least).
While these retirements will eventually happen and will eventually be compensated by the existence of new resource makers providing high quality resource with high quality support anyway, early retirement that could be postponed would still not be what the community wanted(but the community can and will still accept of course).
ii. Similarly, those hardly being able to provide any high quality resource nor resource with high quality supports(no matter how hard they try) will almost always have such a small number of "customers"(no matter what they do) that they'll be demotivated eventually, and it's likely that such resource makers will be the majority, meaning that the number of active resource makers of this kind will be eventually lower and lower, causing more resources to be left without supports(even though they don't have many users to begin with).
While one can always switch from one resource to another and resources will eventually be unsupported anyway, having many unsupported resources with a lot fewer supported counterparts would still not be what the community wanted(but the community can and will still accept of course).
2. All resources are paid
Advantages -
i. While not many can be a good resource maker, nearly everyone can be a bad one, and when all resources are supposed to be paid, even a bad junior programmer like me can earn some quick money by making paid resources(in my case, plugins) without worrying too much about the resource quality or proper supports, due to the fact the paid resources are now the norm.
This can actually cause some resource makers to be motivated enough to be more proficient more quickly, and thus surprisingly lead to the increased number of good resource makers and high quality resources with high quality supports in the long term, all due to the desire to have a larger and larger amount of market share.
ii. Those taking free yet high quality resources with high quality supports for granted will finally learn just how wrong they're, as the only other way for them is to leave RM entirely(Even if they're to be resource makers themselves, they'll still learn the lessons 1st hand).
This not only can increase the relationship between resource makers and users remaining, but also cause the latter to take resources and sometimes projects using them more seriously, thus reducing the amount of published trash games in the RM community(even though they'll always be there no matter what the community does).

Disadvantages -
i. Eventually, the RM resources will be so contaminated by scammers and innocent but still utterly incompetent resource makers that the whole thing will effectively become a massive cesspool, damaging the reputation of not just those deserving to have their reputations damaged, but also those not deserving so, due to the fact that now resource users will have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff.
Similarly, the whole RM community or even RM itself will suffer from the unstoppable loss of members, severe drop of sales and eventually the severe damage to the whole RM brand, and all these tragedies are hard or even impossible to reverse.
(If the "all resources are paid" is lifted after that to try to save the day, then resource makers will have much, much higher demands on even free, let alone paid, resource makers, as a kind of revenge towards the perceived betrayal from the latter)
ii. Those not having the balls to make paid resources(including dumb noobs like me) and take the upcoming obligations(including legit ones like fixing bugs/internal compatibility issues quickly, questionable ones like "the customer is king" mindset or being compatible with every foreign resource used, and perhaps some totally unsound self-entitlement as well) will either have to improve their proficiency quickly the hard way, or be forced to leave the RM community until the "all resources are paid" is no longer a thing, and the number of such resource makers is better not to be underestimated.
3. Most resources are paid but some are free
Advantages -
i. The "entry barrier" of making paid resources will be a lot lower, leading to the increased number of resource makers making money out of their resources, thus increasing resource maker sustainability, and sometimes even resource quality and supports due to the increased incentives.
Similarly, resource users will be more willing to accept that free but high quality resources with high quality supports shouldn't be taken for granted, thus reducing tensions between resource makers and users and the amount of toxic feedback.
ii. Those not having the balls to have paid resources(including dumb noobs like me) can still make free ones, and it's likely that such resources will have many users, as there are not many such resources and the demand to use free resources will be high regardless of how many resources are paid.
Similarly, resource users will also have a choice to use free resources, even when they can be of low quality and have poor supports.

Disadvantages -
i. Eventually, more and more resource makers will make free resources to try to steal the "market share" from the paid counterparts, causing more and more users to switch to the free ones, meaning that the entire "most resources are paid but some are free" will eventually be unsustainable, and this can mean a world of hurt of resource makers having made tons of paid resources.
ii. Even if this whole thing's sustainable, the number of users per free resource would still be too high for most free resource makers, due to the fact that many resource users will rather use free but low quality resources without proper supports than paid but high quality resources with proper supports, meaning that the workload of at least some of those resource makers will eventually be too high to bear anymore, probably leading to retirement that could've been reached later(and sometimes comebacks that could've happened to happen a lot later at least).
While these retirements will eventually happen and will eventually be compensated by the existence of new resource makers providing free resources anyway, early retirement that could be postponed would still not be what the community wanted(but the community can and will still accept of course).
4. Most resources are free but some are paid
Advantages -
i. It's very likely that those consistently making high quality resources with high quality supports will be the ones making paid resources, as those unable to do so but still trying to make paid ones will be out of the paid resource business very quickly, due to the drastic and obvious contrast between the wheat and the chaff there.
Similarly, those unable to do so can stick to making free resources(without the competition from the best resource makers as well), and they don't have to feel obligated to make high quality ones with high quality supports no matter what(even though it's still highly encouraged and recommended), as such demands can be handled by the paid counterparts(they can start making paid counterparts when they become proficient enough).
ii. Resource users can choose between paid but high quality resources with high quality supports, and free but low quality resources with low quality supports, with clear expectations from both groups and without having to constantly worry about being scammed much(even though there will always be scammers no matter what the community does).
Of course, there will be free and high quality resources with high quality supports even with "most resources are free but some are paid", but that's good for almost everyone, as long as the free resource makers involved can be sustainable and aren't stealing too much "market shares" from the paid counterparts.

Disadvantages -
i. If many free resources and their supports outclass the paid counterparts in almost every way, the latter will eventually vanish and the whole thing will become "all resources are free", meaning that some kind of tacit understanding among resource makers will have to exist in order to maintain the equilibrium, and it's possible that resource users will have to have the same understanding as well, none of which are easy, simple nor small tasks .
ii. Sometimes maintaining the equilibrium can mean some free resources outclassing paid ones will become paid later, causing severe outrages from many of those using those resources(and in extreme cases even a feeling of being betrayed by their idol like figure) , thus killing the reputation of said resource makers and seriously shaking the confidence of users using free but high quality resources with high quality supports, even when those already owning those previously free resources don't have to pay after they become paid ones.

I don't know much about other resources, but in the case of plugins, I prefer most to be free but some to be paid.
More precisely, I prefer the resources with the highest qualities and best supports to be paid in order to protect the best plugin developers from excessive workload and some toxic plugin users(usually they don't have the balls to pay just to leave toxic feedback, which is a main trouble for some of the best plugin developers), and let the not-so-good plugin developers to face a less fierce competition among free plugins(at least not so fierce that it feels useless no matter how hard you try and what you do), even though it's still good for the best of the best to make free plugins and the not-so-good ones to try to make paid ones.

On the plugin user side, this means a more effective and efficient way to separate the wheat from the chaff, and a more serious thought on using high quality plugins instead of just throwing everything together and expect an utopia to come instantly(and even expect high quality supports to quickly right the wrong from them for them) :)

On the RM side, I think that's the best balance between having so many low quality plugins with poor supports that it's too hard to find high quality ones with proper supports, and having so few free plugins that some RM users consider RM pricing a scam(most considers RM nothing without plugins so most plugins being paid effectively means an uninformed mandatory paid "DLC" in RM for most of them).

That's my current take on free vs paid RM plugins(I decided to share it even though I know mine's too naive to be shared), and I'd like to know what's yours on plugins or other resource types :p
 
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Shaz

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I did not read your entire post (I skipped a couple of the scenarios), but as far as I'm concerned ...

1. In terms of free vs commercial projects:
i. Always Free on all RM projects
ii. Always Free on free RM projects but paid on commercial ones
iii. Always paid on all projects(perhaps more expensive on commercial ones)

Any of the above are fine by me.

2. In terms of payment model:
i. One time fee for a license lasting forever for the buyer
ii. One time fee for a license lasting for a project for the buyer(so the buyer will have to pay again to renew the license for the next project)
iii. Periodic license subscription fee for the buyer(so the buyer can't use the resource anymore until the license's renewed)
iv. A small portion of net(or even gross) profit's taken by the resource maker
v. Some combinations from the above

I would only purchase something under (i). I want to pay for it once, and use it on as many projects as I want, without ever having to buy it again. I would not purchase under any of the other options.

3. In terms of project members:
i. The project can use the resource if any member has the license
ii. The project can use the resource if all members have the license
iii. The license's owned by the project but not any member

I don't have a preference on this one, as I don't work in team projects. I guess (iv) which you haven't mentioned, and which are the RPG Maker Web terms, where anyone using that resource in the project has to have a license, is reasonable. So your audio guy doesn't need a license to the tilesets, but anyone working on mapping or eventing does.

4. In terms of effective period:
i. Always free/always paid
ii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can still use it)
iii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can't use it without buying a license)
iv. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(with refunds to those having a license)
v. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(without refunds to those having a license)

(iii) is probably the only one there that I'd strongly object to. It's not fair on people to let them get a long way into their project and then tell them they have to remove all your resources unless they pay you. Out of principle, I'd remove the resources and never use or buy anything from that person again. (i) and (ii) would be my preference.


I don't see any reason why plugins should be any different to any other type of resource. Just as art and audio takes skill and practice and experience to be any good, so does scripting. In fact, I'd go so far as to say plugin creation takes more dedication after the fact, because of all the support requests that come from people who aren't using them correctly, or are having compatibility issues, or want specific tweaks just for their game, or for bug fixes. Also updates to the engine sometimes require rework on plugins, but rarely on other types of resources. So it's a longer term thing that you can't just create, sell and forget, like you might be able to with graphics and audio.

I'd like to see more scripts and plugins available in the store. Maybe people would be more accepting then that plugin creators deserve to be paid for their efforts just like creators of other types of resources. Not implying that all plugins should be paid, but if their creators want to charge for them, they should be able to without being criticized by a large portion of the community who just want stuff for free.


Also, thank you for starting this thread. It was a very interesting conversation that deserved more discussion than is afforded by the status feed.
 
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CraneSoft

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As someone who had no budget, I would only pay for things I know I COULD use across a lifetime without limitations, and of course, having quality no other free resources can provide. Anything less, it is not worth the risk and trouble.

The problem with plugins/scripts is that they are very delicate resources that often require tweaks/fixes to work unlike musical and graphical resources, just like programmers need to constantly update their code in software. With that reason, the most important factor for paid ones is they NEED to come with support (with a certain amount of quality in the code as well obviously), ESPECIALLY with compatibility issues and bug fixes. Unfortunately, I had never had good experience with them as I personally tried out paid scripts being completely unusable so I effectively wasted money on them, because the author either went missing or like the majority, doesn't provide support. With that said, I don't mind paying for really high quality scripts/plugins (that doesn't already have a free alternative obviously) provided they work and the script writer willing to lend a hand in making them work for me.

iii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can't use it without buying a license)

This actually happened to me, a scripter, without warning, decide to paywall all his previously free for commercial scripts from being usable in commercial without first contacting him/pay etc, by only sneakily updating the terms of use without actually locking them behind a paywall. After spending more than 6 months fixing his broken script and tweaking alot of parts just to make it work, I am not pleased and decided to stop using it completely. I wouldn't pay a cent for someone like that out of principle even if I could.
 

TheoAllen

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Personally, for accessibility, I prefer something like either
1. Feel free to take a look, but if you want to use it, you have to pay the license.
2. Free for non-commercial, contact me for commercial.

The first one is like many RTP edit. It's free for people who look at the edited files, they could even save them. However, you can not legally use it without actually paying the license to use the RPG Maker version in which where the resource comes from.

This is one of the reasons I don't buy resources DLC.
They are not actually "open" like RPG Maker default resources in which many already have access to them once you bought the software,

Another reason is that game development is a hobby for me. I like to share what I have done, I don't encrypt my game. You're free to look at my game and how I did something. Many of the resources require me to encrypt the game. This makes sense, but I don't like being controlled by the end-user license like that. So I might as well as just give up and use the free resources available and design something around that.

Now to actually answer your question.
1. In terms of free vs commercial projects:
i. Always Free on all RM projects
ii. Always Free on free RM projects but paid on commercial ones
iii. Always paid on all projects(perhaps more expensive on commercial ones)
I'd go for 1 and 2.
The third one is fine though.

2. In terms of payment model:
i. One time fee for a license lasting forever for the buyer
ii. One time fee for a license lasting for a project for the buyer(so the buyer will have to pay again to renew the license for the next project)
iii. Periodic license subscription fee for the buyer(so the buyer can't use the resource anymore until the license's renewed)
iv. A small portion of net(or even gross) profit's taken by the resource maker
v. Some combinations from the above
The first one makes more sense for resources because it won't be changed after you bought it, unlike software updates.
The second one makes more sense for an application (license per PC or a few PC).
The third one makes more sense for a service (electric bills, etc).
The fourth one makes more sense for commission works or team projects in which the resources are exclusive for them.
The fifth one depends.

3. In terms of project members:
i. The project can use the resource if any member has the license
ii. The project can use the resource if all members have the license
iii. The license's owned by the project but not any member
I prefer the team member could edit the resources, however, the license to use the resources in actual projects owned by someone who bought the resources. It might as well as bound to project or under a specific company name.

4. In terms of effective period:
i. Always free/always paid
ii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can still use it)
iii. Free for a while but add a paywall later(those having the resource before having the paywall can't use it without buying a license)
iv. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(with refunds to those having a license)
v. Have a paywall that will be lifted after a while(without refunds to those having a license)
This is a weird question.

Your second or third case usually due to unforeseen situations that some of the things ended up being paywall. Like, there was no plan, but an unfortunate accident leads to it.

Your fourth case, while sounds good, try to satisfy the customer who requested a refund may be a lot of work. And if you can't do it well, might as well as don't do the refund.

I don't have a preference for this. It's usually an unplanned situation.
 
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DoubleX

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Just adding the following:
6. In terms of paid resource granularity:
i. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(with bundle discounts)
ii. Everything as a single bundle that can't be partially bought(without bundle discounts or even with an additional "bundling fee")
iii. Everything as a single file that can be bought individually
iv. Buying some resources need some other resources to be previously bought as well(with discounts)
v. Buying some resources need some other resources to be previously bought as well(without discounts)
vi. Some combinations from the above

I don't have a preference on this one, as I don't work in team projects. I guess (iv) which you haven't mentioned, and which are the RPG Maker Web terms, where anyone using that resource in the project has to have a license, is reasonable. So your audio guy doesn't need a license to the tilesets, but anyone working on mapping or eventing does.
Added the following under "3. In terms of project members:":
iv.(Mentioned/inspired by Shaz) The project can use the resource if at least 1 members actually using that resource directly has the license
v.(Mentioned/inspired by Shaz) The project can use the resource if all members actually using that resource directly have the license

The problem with plugins/scripts is that they are very delicate resources that often require tweaks/fixes to work unlike musical and graphical resources, just like programmers need to constantly update their code in software. With that reason, the most important factor for paid ones is they NEED to come with support (with a certain amount of quality in the code as well obviously), ESPECIALLY with compatibility issues and bug fixes. Unfortunately, I had never had good experience with them as I personally tried out paid scripts being completely unusable so I effectively wasted money on them, because the author either went missing or like the majority, doesn't provide support. With that said, I don't mind paying for really high quality scripts/plugins (that doesn't already have a free alternative obviously) provided they work and the script writer willing to lend a hand in making them work for me.
This actually happened to me, a scripter, without warning, decide to paywall all his previously free for commercial scripts from being usable in commercial without first contacting him/pay etc, by only sneakily updating the terms of use without actually locking them behind a paywall. After spending more than 6 months fixing his broken script and tweaking alot of parts just to make it work, I am not pleased and decided to stop using it completely. I wouldn't pay a cent for someone like that out of principle even if I could.
I'm sorry to hear these, as it seems to me that you've faced a probably irresponsible scripter/plugin developer in the 1st case(unless he/she has informed you about how all these before you pay), and a scammer in the 2nd case who's likely to have planned the whole paywall thing right from the start(otherwise such a drastic change of terms of use would be announced very loudly in the public way before that change actually takes place).

Personally, for accessibility, I prefer something like either
1. Feel free to take a look, but if you want to use it, you have to pay the license.
2. Free for non-commercial, contact me for commercial.
Added the following free vs paid resource dimension:
5.(Mentioned/inspired by TheoAllen) In terms of paid resource accessibility:
1. Accessible for free but must be paid to be used
2. Must be paid to be accessed or used
3. Accessible/usable for free with a limited period/1st project, but must be paid afterwards

Your second or third case usually due to unforeseen situations that some of the things ended up being paywall. Like, there was no plan, but an unfortunate accident leads to it.
I agree that they're due to unforeseen situations in general, but in extreme and rare cases, some scumbags will plan for this, and it seems to me that @CraneSoft is one such victim :(
 
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DoubleX

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There are also some resource makers primarily relying on donations instead of directly selling resources, meaning that most or all of their resources are free, but they still expect those generous enough to donate and have tons of money to spend to actually donate(preferably a lot) for their hard work.
Unfortunately, donation doesn't always work, partially due to its optional nature, so sometimes some resource makers will want to do some additional work to increase the reliability of the donations to sustain their works.

I'm thinking of whether something like this can work - Most/All resources are free, but if the resource maker doesn't get enough donations, then:
1. Some existing resources will become unsupported
2. Some resource requests won't be entertained
Thus further encouraging and recommending those having money to donate even more :)
This scheme can become even more specific, like if the donation reaches a certain threshold, then a flagship resource will be done x days after the threshold's reached, so those having donations can also know what they can expect from the resource maker :D
 

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I only glanced of most of the texts, but there is one glaring omission to this discussion:

Art style and Completeness of a tileset.

As the texts above stand, they will only work for RTP and RTP-Style.

If you want a different art style on your project, you need to get enough tiles to make all your maps in that other style, and that is usually at least a few hundreds of different tiles.
Such a mass of tiles can't be done quickly, it will take any artist hudreds of hours to make them.
And that is too much time to offer them free of charge - the artist has to eat during those hundreds of working hours after all.

The free concepts described above can only work if they mostly follow existing (and paid) art styles, as soon as you want to go for a different art style you can't get it completely free - I don't know of any artist who has a complete set and placed it somewhere for free.
 

Cormorant42

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I don't mind the existence of paid resources. If anything, allowing creators to charge for their work almost always results in higher quality, since at that point they're competing with other artists for your interest. That being said, I understand how having to pay for resources is not a viable option for some developers, but there's a lot of quality MV-sized assets out there for free, and since MZ uses the same asset size, I think it's fair to say that there'll be enough free assets out there for people to use.

Also, as for "money-sucking" asset licensing issues and whatnot, I haven't really encountered any of that...but then again I get most of my assets on the RPGMakerWeb store or itch.io, and the vast majority of products there give you an unlimited use w/attribution license with your purchase.
 

??????

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That's quite a wall of text :D

I feel there should be some sort of poll or something for this topic. It'd save people from having to read through tons and tons of posts to get a feeling for how the community feels in general.

Personally, I have been having a lot of these same thoughts lately. As a programmer with a fair amount of experience, I'm fairly confident that I could make some really awesome systems for the engine, but at the same time, awesome projects require lots of time, and whilst yes, making plugins and such is something I would do anyway for my own personal projects, there isnt really incentive for me to release things for free to the community.

For example, lets say I make a super awesome system that does the best thing ever. Why would I want to release that system as a free plugin for others to use, when I could keep it for myself and my own projects, which would make them much more unique and stand out. IMO, if such a system was to be shared, it'd only be right to have some kind of fee attached to the use of it. But unfortunately, the rm community has traditionally shunned from paid code (not counting private commissions). It has been getting better over the years, but its still no where near as common as it should be.

With regards to paid plugins being some kind of mandatory dlc to use the engine. whats wrong with that? unity engine has an asset store you can buy inventory systems and player character animation extensions and such like.. Whats the difference? Both of them are engines (tbf unity is free) and in both situations a custom system to expand the default engine capabilities is created.

I personally think that a part of the issue is that a lot of the rm community is fairly young, and may not have means of regular disposable income that they can use for such things.

Anyway, just my thoughts :)
 

DoubleX

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That's quite a wall of text :D

I feel there should be some sort of poll or something for this topic. It'd save people from having to read through tons and tons of posts to get a feeling for how the community feels in general.
I've actually tried to make polls for this post before even posting it, but it seems to me that the topic of free vs paid resources is very complicated and convoluted(at least for me) if it's to be discussed in a very general sense, maybe that's a reason why I've made such a wall of text :)
If I were to add polls, I'd add one for each free vs paid resource dimension, one for each scenario involving the amount of free vs paid resources, and one for donations, and I feel that there will be way too many polls right here(also I don't know how to add it at this point as it seems to me that I can't edit the post this way) :D

Edit: Sorry for overlooking this part:
With regards to paid plugins being some kind of mandatory dlc to use the engine. whats wrong with that? unity engine has an asset store you can buy inventory systems and player character animation extensions and such like.. Whats the difference? Both of them are engines (tbf unity is free) and in both situations a custom system to expand the default engine capabilities is created.
A potential risk is that, unlike Unity, RM isn't free, and RM's supposed to be easy enough for a child, who's unlikely to have much budget to pay for resources, unlike Unity which is unlikely to have children as its main targeting audience.
While the following line of thought's probably not a good customer attitude, RM can still be in trouble if many RM users think this way:
1. As Unity is free, if it turns out that they need resources made by some resource makers but those resources are all paid and they can't/don't want to pay for that, they can simply abandon Unity entirely without losing anything other than time.
2. As RM isn't free, if it turns out that they need resources made by some resource makers but those resources all paid and they can't/don't want to pay for that, they'll feel that they've effectively wasted all the money spent into RM, especially when they don't know the reality of those resources in advance(normally one should investigate before buying if the money means that much to them, but clearly many simply won't do this before yet will complain later, especially if they're children).

As a made-up example, imagine that I'm one such customer:
1. This engine's so cool with such a low price! I'm going to buy it, as it's so much cheaper than many other paid engines!
2. It's easy enough for a child? So I can make a game without making resources myself, that's great!
3. (Just bought the engine and played with the default editor for a while)
4. The default engine's so minimal that no one's gonna just use it without additional resources, so I'm gonna grab some from the community...
5. What the? Most resources are paid? I'm gonna find those free counterparts even when they're much more rare...
6. Why almost all those free resources and their supports are so poor(that'll likely happen at least on the early times when most resources are paid but some are free)? What's the point of publishing them when they're nearly unusable?
7. Who'll even use this engine without those paid resources? Why doesn't it explicitly declare that? If I knew that I've to paid all these extra money before even buying this engine, I wouldn't have bought it, it's like buying a game then only afterwards I can know that I've to buy a DLC just to make the game itself work!
8. I feel being scammed, and I'm not going to just let the engine get away with this, so I'm going to request for a refund, and will tell everyone else that using that engine will force you to pay a lot more money for paid but necessary resources regardless of whether I'll receive the refund or not!
Of course, that's just a made-up example, and I'd be ashamed of myself if I seriously think this way(why didn't I just do more research before buying the engine?), but as long as RM's supposed to be easy enough for a child, it'll need to be cautious on the possibility of having many potential buyers thinking this way :p
 
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??????

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Yea, those are some valid points, and I do think there will be folks out there with such a mindset already. With that in mind though, I'm not saying every decent plugin should be pay to get, like, if someone was charging even $1 to access a limit breaker script or something dumb i'd likely just laugh.

But for example, I'm a new user of RM who just installed the engine, I try to make my first game and fail like everyone else because there a isnt default features to support my idea (making pokemon like game/zelda like clone with abs/epic ff style saga/insert generic project here).. I find out about plugins and see a bunch of free ones that clearly do stuff, and some other paid ones with better features/options/whatever. I try to write my own code, but I suck at it, so I'm left with the option of either doing what I can with the default engine and free stuff, or I can get some pay to access plugin, or maybe pay someone to write me some custom code..

At the end of the day, if your trying to expand the default capabilities of the editor, and cannot program the changes yourself, then how could you really get mad or annoyed or w.e?

I personally dont think that having a paywall to access additional features is beyond reason. If I want new art that I cannot make myself, I'd pay for it. Why should there be a difference for an abs battle system or redesign of the menu or w.e?

Also as a side thought and against my earlier statement about kids: even kids these days have a lot of disposable income. Just look at the price of almost every single games dlc for an example. Why is it ok to pay $10 for a fortnite skin or cod character pack but its out of the question to pay the same for a customizable system for my own game? :D


With that being said though, I really am not sure on what the best approach would be from a plugin creators perspective. Like, ok, I can put my super awesome plugin behind some paywall, great. This immediately reduces the amount of people who would use it, but ensures that those who do will have actually contributed towards the development of it. ~ Awesome

But then I make another plugin that is even better. Do I have each plugin behind its own paywall? Do I have a 'plugins bundle' that includes all my plugins? Do I release some kind of dumbed down free version of the system?

So then, what If I release all plugins for free with a license for commercial usage, this will allow them to reach more people, I'll get more feedback (not all of it good or helpful), and will also maybe make some money if someone wants to use the system commercially. But then what happens if a plugin is used a lot in non commercial games only. It shows up in tons of games and suddenly seems just as common as the default scenes - imo this would 'devalue' the plugin as people would then be more likely to seek something 'unique' for their game.

Yea... sorry, went on a bit of a tangent :D

Overall, not sure what the best approach for a creator would be, but I dont think its entirely unreasonable for a developer to have to pay to use a system. I mean, think of all the times you add a feature someone requests in a system, think of combined time that takes up, surely all that time is worth at least a buck :p
 

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Overall, not sure what the best approach for a creator would be, but I dont think its entirely unreasonable for a developer to have to pay to use a system. I mean, think of all the times you add a feature someone requests in a system, think of combined time that takes up, surely all that time is worth at least a buck :p
My take, as a plugin developer, is as follows:
1. If most of my plugins have nearly no users for a very long time(let alone those using mine in published games), I won't even think about making commercial plugins, simply due to the fact that it's not going to work.
2. If I already have quite some popularity and positive reputation, I'll consider making some commercial plugins, but only if they'll reach a professional level and I'll be willing to support them like a professional(and the difference between professional and amateur qualities in those cases will be drastic), or they'll be something like(or outright as) commercial level 3rd party systems or even complete software.
3. Alternatively, I might consider letting some users to donate money to support my work, but then my obligations towards my plugin users will drastically increase, which can be a serious problem if I burn out for a very long time and/or managed to secure a stable full-time job.
So, I feel that I'll continue to only make free plugins in the foreseeable future, as I simply don't feel that I'm qualified enough to make commercial ones yet :)
 

??????

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I think that is fair, especially if you dont feel that you are ready to release a professional level system and then provide long term support for it. Everyone also has a different standard of quality for what would be considered as 'professional'.

But its not unreasonable to request users of your systems to become a patron and assist you in development costs. At least, imo its not :D
 

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In this forum, someone suggested that MZ should have subscriptions as well, even though it's not about free vs paid resources.
While I don't think it'll work in MZ, that discussion inspired me to have an idea as another potential income source for MZ resource makers if MZ does have subscriptions.

Simply put, as long as the resource maker meets a set of public criteria on a month(certainly including the fact that he/she's made some high quality free resources with high quality supports), he/she'll take a very small portion from the MZ subscription pool on that month, and the exact amount depends on the contribution, popularity, reputation, and maybe some other criteria.

Of course, only the best resource makers(definitely at least including you folks here but not me) can even have a chance to earn money this way, and this model will definitely increase the burden of all MZ users(as at least some of them will have to subscribe and the rest will have to pay for at least a slightly increased one time purchase price due to the extra costs supposedly to be covered by subscriptions, and that slight one time purchase price increase's just to play safe in case only few go for subscriptions), but maybe it's a dream that some resource makers can at least think about(maybe the next maker after MZ?) lol
 

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I think that would be better done by individuals than bundling people together, especially with an engine, because that just becomes an admin nightmare that never ends.
 

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As someone who is really only talented enough in these fields to be an editor and consumer, this topic is really fascinating to me.

I've been tempering myself from taking my ambitions too far in my current RM skill level, but I'm personally willing to pay for any resources I use; although if we're talking community wide, I'd go with the 4th option of most being free with some being paid, with the caveat that only those confident in their abilities are the ones who sold their general resources to the public. This is assuming that is their goal/desire.

That's not to say they can't be commissioned by those who love their style regardless, which is the route I'd most likely take if I truly wanted a custom project in both look, sound, and gameplay.
 

??????

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I also am not sure a group subscription model would work. It'd be too tricky to calculate the 'worth' of each persons contributions. Perhaps something like the humble bundle sliders could be implemented, so any person who subscribes can choose where their funds go to, but then, why be a part of the group when you could just setup your own subscription based service via patr3on or such.

also: @DoubleX ~ You dont seem very confident in your own abilities. Either that or are incredibly humble. How long have you been programming for? I see on rmn you have scripts from as far back as 2014. Is it cause you dont have javascript experience that you dont feel confident?
 

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Didn't we already have a subscription type thing going on with Member+ years ago? Subscribers would have access to exclusive resources, and contributors would be paid for what they made. That didn't work out too well.
 

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I hope the CEO of business join this forum, but I did not see it yet. Most members I saw either ok economically or almost losing their house due to their circumstances.
I see why commercial resources tried to make it a low place as possible. Everyone has a reason for their own to make it free or not.
@DoubleX, what you want to do? I respect your decision no matters what as long as you have a reason.

1. In terms of free vs commercial projects:
i. Always Free on all RM projects
ii. Always Free on free RM projects but paid on commercial ones
iii. Always paid on all projects(perhaps more expensive on commercial ones)
If you want to, that is fine.

2. In terms of payment model:
i. One time fee for a license lasting forever for the buyer
ii. One time fee for a license lasting for a project for the buyer(so the buyer will have to pay again to renew the license for the next project)
iii. Periodic license subscription fee for the buyer(so the buyer can't use the resource anymore until the license's renewed)
iv. A small portion of net(or even gross) profit's taken by the resource maker
v. Some combinations from the above
If you want to, I think you just have to make it clear to the buyers that is your term.

I don't know much about other resources, but in the case of plugins, I prefer most to be free but some to be paid.
That is ok, you do not need validation from us. It is like your house your rules.:kaojoy:
 
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DoubleX

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also: @DoubleX ~ You dont seem very confident in your own abilities. Either that or are incredibly humble. How long have you been programming for? I see on rmn you have scripts from as far back as 2014. Is it cause you dont have javascript experience that you dont feel confident?
I've been programming for more than 6.5 years(excluding the time learning programming in schools), and with nearly 2.5 years of professional software engineering experience, even though it's still next to nothing compared to a seasoned professional, despite the fact that I'm indeed trying to be humble.
As long as money's not involved, I'm somehow confident that, given a very abundant budget(especially time), I can make an advanced complex plugin being close to a professional level(works without much nontrivial bugs and is of reasonably high quality) with very serious supports.
Currently this is my limit(I've not publicly announced it yet but I've been taking this project very seriously), and I think it'll be close to a professional level once it's done, even though that project's still far from complete yet(but this will be always free as I don't feel that it warrants to be a paid plugin even when it's very close).

But once money's involved, the time pressure will likely increase drastically, because it's at least understandable for plugin users having bought my plugins to expect very quick yet excellent fixes for just about anything, and I won't be surprised if it includes compatibility issues involving fundamental conceptual conflicts among the plugins involved(I've faced this with some of my free scripts/plugins already), and I won't expect my explanations on that to always work.
Besides, my experiences from my 2 full-time programming jobs tell me that, I can still only perform well with a very abundant budget, but will probably fail miserably once the budget becomes very tight.
For instance, I've faced a situation where I've to implement a rather big feature set on 3 days, and while my estimate is that it takes 3 weeks for me to be done well, the 3 days deadline's already non-negotiable due to it being a promise towards customers before I even know anything.
At the end of the day, I've to work 48 hours on these 3 days(16 hour work with 8 hour sleep in the office per day) just to make it barely work with tons of serious bugs waiting to be encountered, but the code quality's as low as the most ugly things I've ever seen, and I never managed to have the time to clean up my mess despite I once tried work a 80 hour work week for a whole month(16 hour work in the office for 5 days with 8 hour sleep in the office for first 4 days), because new feature requests are never ending and I was(and still is) just a bad junior programmer.
While it's very obvious that there are some very severe structural problems in that company, I'm still thinking whether a seasoned professional software engineer can perform well under a very chaotic environment, and maybe that's what distinguishes experts from amateurs like me.
While my city's large and I only have 2 professional programming jobs, if it's indeed true, at least in my city, that seasoned professional software engineers are supposed to abstract away the chaos from the management instead of the other way around, then I can only conclude that I should keep programming as a hobby and stay away from full-time professional software engineer jobs there.
Moreover, most of my scripts/plugins have next to no users, so I don't think writing paid plugins will work at all, even though I'm still hoping that I can change this after I've MZ(but this will lead to increased workload and can be a problem once I've a full-time job).

Of course, if the case of my plugins, I can write many terms of use to protect myself, and reserve the right to reject unreasonable or infeasible requests from a paid plugin user, but my doubt is whether things will become ugly quickly and whether I can resolve the issues well, because contracts alone doesn't prevent plugin users from being ugly.
Obviously my doubt comes from my lack of experience and observations on how paid plugins work with paid plugin users, but when there are already some of those using free high quality plugins with high quality supports having such an absurd self-entitlement(I've seen it many times happening on some of the best scripters/plugin developers but fortunately I've never faced such plugin users as most of my scripts/plugins have next to no user to begin with), I won't be surprised if the paid counterpart has even more ugly counterparts, and I'm still very weak on dealing with very ugly dramas.

@DoubleX, what you want to do? I respect your decision no matters what as long as you have a reason.
I'm thinking of letting plugin users give me donations after I've jumped into MZ, and most, if not all, of my MZ plugins will probably be always free.
But if I'm lucky enough that I managed to make some plugins reaching a professional level with professional level support(as if I'm working as a seasoned full-time professional software engineer), then I'll consider charging them for commercial projects.
For instance, if I managed to implement saves in the snapshot form(think of some gaming platform emulators letting you press a hotkey to save/load at any moment) or client server multiplayer(or p2p counterpart), I might charge something like a one-time 10USD fee for permissions to be used on any commercial projects(those projects can use mine if anyone has the license).

Of course, that also depends on how well my donations will work.
If almost no one donates or if there's almost even no plugin users, then I don't think charging my plugins will work at all.
There might be some plugins that are close to the professional level(but not yet) that I'll want to write as well, but I might announce that they'll only be written if the donation has reached a certain amount.
But I'm not certain on any of these things, at least not before I actually have MZ :)
 
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