Business model should be adopted only on a case-by-case basis
Free-to-play is all the rage in our genre lately. For developers and publishers, it seems to assure a larger player base by removing potential barriers to entry. Their hope then, of course, is that you stick around and spend some cash. On the surface, this feels like a win for players because hey - we're not giving a penny to anyone until we damn well enjoy something!
Not everyone in the industry is convinced that the free-to-play model is an automatic just yet, however.
Funcom's veteran producer and creative director Craig Morrison spoke to Gamasutra on just this topic, and when someone with his pedigree speaks, we listen. He feels players in the West have come to expect a free-to-play option in whatever game they play, and he's right:
"I think you can definitely see Western games being designed to start at the gates as free-to-play games, because that's what the market will expect. That's what the users will want, from an accessibility point of view"
But is this a good thing? Does that mean that subscription models are a thing of the past? No, says Morrison:
"I think we see subscription and free-to-play as tools. And tools can be used well, they can be used badly... It depends on the game. We don't categorically go, 'Subscriptions are dead; there will never be subscriptions anymore,' or, 'Free-to-play is the only way to monetize your games.' I think it depends on the game and it depends on your project."
Wiser words have never been spoken.
Head on over to Gamasutra for the full interview with Mr. Morrison.
Bill "Lethality" Leonard