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No Free Lunch!

By Randy Chase
There is clearly an element of the Internet community that feels that nothing on line should be commercial. This is obviously a throw-back to the days when the Internet was an esoteric little community populated primarily by academia and bureaucrats.

I know that I am going to get complaints from some people who don't think anyone should charge for on-line entertainment. (How do I know that?  Easy.  I hear from these people on a regular basis.)

The old adage about there being no free lunch applies here. Everything of quality costs something. It is just a question of how the price is paid, at what time the money changes hands, and who pays the costs of the service.

I've heard from some people who have pointed out that they can play most other games on-line for free. Why should they pay to play SpiritWars™?  The games most commonly used as examples by people making this argument are Magic: The Gathering®, WarCraft® and Age of Empires®.   Excuse me, but last time I visited the mall, none of the respective publishers of these games were giving their product away. Using Magic: The Gathering® as an example, most people playing on-line appear to have not only purchased the original game but both of the expansion sets. That would put the real-world cost of playing Magic for "free" at about $120.

I'm not going to charge you for an expansion CD in six months. I'm not going to require purchasing an upgrade when I improve and enhance the game. (And, as I discuss elsewhere, I'm not going to make you enter a spending contest to be competitive in this playing world!)

And I'm offering a fully functional free version of the game that you can play forever without spending anything.

But the reality is that this is what I do for a living. From conception to release, this game represents an investment of more than five years of time, effort and resources.   If you like the game and you feel that I am delivering a fair value for the price, we'll be glad to have you join our little on-line community.

I wish those vocal purists who want "free" entertainment the best of luck.   There are a lot of shareware titles in the world to choose from. (And you can take your pick of the "free" games on-line that require you to spend $60 at the local retailer before you play for free.) However, don't waste your time climbing on your soap box and asking me to apologize for practicing my craft and running my business.

Like they used to tell us when we were kids, you get what you pay for in life. That applies to the Internet just as much as it does to the real world.
Have fun. Hope I didn't offend anyone. But what's the point of doing all this if I can't get up on my own soap box once in a while. And this whole question of commerce on the Internet is something that isn't going to go away anytime soon.

Magic: The Gathering is a registered trademark of Wizards of the Coast, Inc; Age of Empires is a registered trademark of Microsoft, War Craft is a registered trademark of Blizzard software and SpiritWars is a registered trademark of Kellogg Creek Software, Inc..

SpiritWars™ is a registered trademark of Kellogg Creek Software.