Free To Play…
For quite some time, The Free-to-Play (F2P) business model has been synonymous with low quality games, bit this idea is changing fairly quickly. In fact, F2P has saved some great games from the brink of extinction. Great games like Champions Online, DC Universe Online, and The Lord of the Rings Online, wouldn’t even be competitors anymore if they hadn’t decided to adopt the F2P business model.
While some companies go F2P to maximize earnings there are companies which specialize in very high quality free to play games. Gala-Net is a perfect example of this. Gala-Net is an online game publisher that brings you extremely polished F2P games like Rappelz and Allods. Gala-Net doesn’t develop the games, they only provide services to the developer including things like bandwidth and customer service. They also use their experience in the industry to make the game as successful as possible.
Another interesting use of the F2P model is using a popular game genre, to create something of a spiritual sequel to a game. These “spiritual sequels” use the popularity of another game to help them rapidly. League of Legends and to some extent Bloodline Champions are a perfect example of this. These games built on the fame of DoTa to create power house companies. To make money they offer things like alternate skins for characters or emotes that give the player a reason to spend money, but doesn’t make them superior to people who are actually playing the game for free. They also rotate free characters weekly as a marketing strategy. Riot, the developers of League of Legends, has proven to be so successful that they are planning a tournament with a prize pool of over 2 Million dollars.
The quality of free to play games have been significantly rising, there is also gaming journalist Charles Onyett of IGN.com claims that “expensive, one-time purchases” will soon be a thing of the past will be replaced by smaller transactions. Some people even claim that freeware games give developers the largest amount of creative freedom, which can lead to new and exciting genres in gaming.
I personally don’t think console games will ever be replaced by F2P games, I for one will always be willing to dish out 60 dollars for a new game that I think I will enjoy. I can see F2P games finding a place on the console though, creating an environment that will be the catalyst that creates many new amazingly entertaining games.