Free to play is the next big thing in games, with numerous top tier developers and publishers – including Crytek – embracing the model. It allows developers to release a game for free, making their money through in-game microtransactions. It’s proven to be rather lucrative – and has the added side effect of nullifying software piracy. It’s not something you find much on consoles right now, but it should be – and might be a necessary model for platform holders to embrace come next-gen, if Crytek is to be believed.
"I hope for them that they do," Crytek’s Cevat Yerli said when asked if Microsoft and Sony’s next consoles would feature free t play option. "If they don’t then it’s going to be a tough time for them.
"It’s quite a challenge for those companies logically because they rely so heavily on retail to sell the hardware and to sell the games where the margin for retail really is," Yerli continued. "If they would forgo their entire retail business and go digital free-to-play, then they would not be selling any more Xboxes as well. There’s a chicken and egg thing there. And they have to make radical calls."
Microsoft’s and it excessively walled garden Xbox Live Arcade has resisted the idea of free to play games and MMO’s – though it’s soon to receive its first free to play title in the 15v15 game Happy Wars, which may indicate a change in attitude at the Redmond giant. Sony’s been a little more open to the idea with DC Universe Online, fantasy RPG Free Realms and its CCP developed Dust 514, an interesting F2P shooter-MMO hybrid that ties in magically with Eve Online. The biggest problem with Free to play games, says Yerli, is their public perception as low quality titles with an emphasis on paying to win – but Yerli wants to change that with Warface, its impending F2PFPS.
"We know that free-to-play games have a bad image," he said. "They have a bad reputation – it’s pay to win, it’s low quality. I completely get that, but we are making free-to-play that’s high quality. It’s CryEngine 3, it’s a big investment."
Do you think consoles need to muscle in on the Free to play action, or is Crytek – who’s committed to an entirely F2P future – just trying to push its own interests? I think the idea behind it’s nice – but there’s the possibility that, should Free to play games really take off, that they’ll make retail AAA games go the way of the dodo – doing more harm to the videogame industry than good.
Last Updated: August 28, 2012