Free to Play is Good, Right?
I like the model because I like “free”, but it can only work with certain games. First-person shooters like Team Fortress 2 have worked really well because you can put however much money you want into one of those games, and if you enjoy playing it and getting new content, then you’re still going to come out ahead without having to pay $60 before playing. Think of it like a demo for a AAA game but instead of a small slice, in most cases, you have the whole game to play from the start. A game’s life can be extended indefinitely by allowing the game to be free but then change fir “extras”. A question to raise is whether or not the model can work on a console. Are there enough games on consoles now that can work with the model?
Can the model work, or work well, for that matter? Games on the PC just seem to have more to work with when it comes to what you can charge for. On the other hand, games like Forza on the Xbox or sports games could benefit if implemented right. Forza could release their game free and then charge for car packs/tracks, but at the same time, the variety of things to do and cars to drive and what tracks to drive them on make that game fun. A similar thing could happen with sports games like Madden. When you take two games like those and lock off some of the content, it will be similar to on-disc DLC at that point, won’t it? The $60 price point for everything and paying extra for DLC after the fact turns out to be a better deal in most cases, at least on consoles.
What if the model was put to use on an arcade game like on PSN or XBLA? Smaller games that aren’t as big as full retail games but with the support of an online service such as XBLA or PSN could work, maybe? Take a look at Happy Wars, coming this Fall on XBLA:
Will the free-to-play model work with this game in particular? It’s likely that it will. Now, whether we’ll see more of this on consoles, we’ll have to wait and see.
So what do you think about Free-to-play? It’s a great idea for publishers to keep their games on the market long after release, but does it have a place on a console? Will this new model change pricing across the board and how publishers charge for content across the board?