The lights are on
I'd rather spend one lump sum for a game experience instead of continually monitoring my bank account to make sure I'm not overspending on microtransactions. The way publishers are talking right now, we may not have that choice for many games in the future. As evidenced by the frequent layoffs of talented development teams and shrinking pool of revenue, the traditional AAA game development model is experiencing some tough times. Sick of skyrocketing game development costs that require huge returns at retail just to break even, publishers are eagerly exploring new revenue and production options. The model du jour? Free-to-play. Battle tested in Asia and increasingly becoming the approach of choice for many stateside PC games, publishers are starting to speak candidly about the free-to-play model's importance as they move into the future. They're not just talking about mobile and PC platforms, either. Don't be surprised to see free-to-play take a larger role in the next generation of consoles.
Here is what several industry figureheads are saying about the free-to-play frenzy:
“Our highest ARPU (average
revenue per user) are free-to-play games among paying users. You think about
that and say, 'how can a free game be the game they pay the most for?' We have
people who are giving us $5,000 in a month to play FIFA Ultimate Team. And it’s free.” –Electronic Arts CEO
John Riccitiello via IndustryGamers.
“Ubisoft is positioning itself to capitalize on the forthcoming arrival of the next generation of consoles, which will be increasingly connected and will strongly boost the market thanks to a new qualitative leap, and the integration of social games benefits and the item based model; the ongoing strong growth in the free-to-play market for PCs, smartphones and tablets.” –Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot via Develop
“I think, ultimately, those microtransactions will be in
every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free. I think there's an inevitability that happens five
years from now, 10 years from now, that, let's call it the client, to use the
term, [is free.] It is no different than... It’s free [for] me to
walk into The Gap in my local shopping mall. They don’t charge me to walk in
there. I can walk into The Gap, enjoy the music, look at the jeans and what
have you, but if I want to buy something I have to pay for it.” – Electronic
Arts COO Peter Moore via Kotaku
“All these western developers spending $30 million to develop these games for dedicated consoles – all of these companies are going to be invading the Asian markets within the next five years or so, and they'll be free-to-play, worldwide, global products...The only way to survive is to go global.” –Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney via Gamasutra
now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from
packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience. What this
entails is that our future, all the new games that we're working on, as well
new projects, new platforms and technologies, are designed around free-to-play
and online, with the highest quality development.” – Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli via
“I'm a massive fan of Valve's games, and when Valve
went free-to-play with Team
Fortress, for me that was like, 'Okay, that's the vindication.' Valve
doesn't do something unless it feels it can be tremendously successful. That
was a big deal for me. It wasn't social games taking off or anything like that –
if you're engaging a more casual audience, if it's free it's going to be more
popular. But Team Fortress 2 went
free-to-play, it didn't upset anyone, and now Valve is making loads of money
from it. I mean, everyone follows Valve.” – Ngmoco Sweden general manager Ben Cousins via
What are your thoughts on the free-to-play business model? Have you had good experiences, or do you usually feel like you're getting nickeled and dimed?
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I'd rather buy my games and play them. I really don't want to worry about microtransactions or a charage on my credit card several times per day.
They're great free to play games like Hawken. I wish games like that are more known..
I'll take the state of F2P today as long as they stop going for the "rental" approach. I would not like it if it becomes the primary model, and complete experiences are pushed to the side.
Free to play takes the achievement out of a game. If u want something u just buy it instead of completing say a quest or getting far enough in a story. I fail to see how free to play would enrich a game experience, and the experience is why we all play games, to forget about the money and the world around us. I don't like being teased with content because these companies are just looking for a way to profit and slip money out from under us.
I hope those people are "bending it like beckham" to be spending $5k a month. And he's prolly not even in FIFA.
Been playing the Blacklight free to play game and its actually quite enjoyable.
This will be horrible. Sure the words "free to play" sound good but these will hardly be "free" games. Basically, you will get a demo and be expected to buy every piece of the game that is actually worthwhile. You can see by a lot of these guys quotes that what they see in free to play is an opportunity to take advantage of stupid people that will spend $5000 on one game... disgusting.