Jul 14, 2011

['Free' Actually Means a Lot of Money (For Developers)]

via The Escapist:
"The core gaming audience often seems to disregard such [F2P] games as child's play or not worth their time. I myself am guilty of having been excited about an upcoming MMO only to dismiss it after discovering it was free-to-play. The perception, in America at least, is that if you are giving your game away for free, then it must not be very good.
"What we're trying to do is change the perception out there that free-to-play games are B-games or C-games," Kern said. "We asked ourselves: Why not release a top-quality game under this model? There are free-to-play games out there making hundreds of millions of dollars per year on this model. That is more than enough to support top quality development."
And in the current economic climate (which seems set to continue for quite some time), F2P may very well be what allows many future MMOs to succeed at all. Rather than reducing the  'perceived value' of a game, using a F2P business model could actually increase it (if the game is built around it, rather than adopting it out of last-ditch desperation as most Western games have done). Ever since the 'box + 15$ monthly fee' model was invented, it's been clear that MMO players have never minded spending money to support the games they enjoy (and in the case of games like WoW, they're even willing to drop extra money on top of that monthly fee to get pets/mounts/etc, which actually adds up to spending more than it would cost them to buy those things in the average F2P game!) -- the F2P model only makes options more flexible for those who wish to support their game with cash to do so at their own rate, as well as removing the original monetary 'barrier of entry' that so many MMORPGs built on the traditional model seem unable to get away from. Believe me, MMO gamers do not need their arms twisted to get them to cough up cash if they're having fun in a game, and the cash shop is fair.

I remember back when even offering a Free Trial was something you only saw months after a game was released, as if the devs didn't want to let people see if they even LIKED the game before making them spend 30$+, which seems like more of a gouge than a game that has an optional cash shop that allows you to d/l it and try it for free as long as you want. Successful Western games like World of Tanks, Battlefield: Heroes, Wizard101 and FreeRealms have shown that it's not just an 'Asian thing' for games built around F2P from the very start to work, and work well.

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