American McGee praises free-to-play

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AmericanMcGee

There are a lot of people wondering if the current console model is still sustainable. There’s a lot of time, money and human resources that go in to creating triple-A games – based on the risk that you might get something back from it. It’s something that’s leading a lot of developers – including Crytek – to tread the free-to-play waters. another such developer is Spicy Horse co-founder American McGee.

His studio has shifted focus to the free-to-play model – and it’s already earned them more money than their last retail release, Alice: Madness Returns.

"Earning out on a console title is like digging out from under an avalanche," he said to GameInformer. "If you don’t get out from under the advances within a very short period of time it’s all over.

"Free-to-play offers an opportunity to release something into the wild and improve it continually until it returns a profit. Making good on the opportunity is in no way guaranteed, but the option is there."

According to McGee the first titles from his shanghai based Spicy Horse, BigHead Bash and Crazy Fairies, have certainly proven to be profitable.

"Though the console market extracted two decades of profit and mind-share from Western developers and consumers, it was unsustainable from inception. Looked at from the perspective of external markets where consoles aren’t the foundation of the gaming ecosystem, the idea of physical media (discs) and fixed location gaming (consoles) now seems anachronistic.

"But it’s worth examining where the money flowed in a market where consoles dominated and how they helped consolidate power among a handful of publishers. The transition we’re now seeing is a revolution of the model that will lead to greater freedom for future publishers, developers and consumers."

McGee believes that F2P and Cloud gaming are the future – and it’ll become more and more difficult to get customers to part with that $60.

“I think cloud gaming is the future – that being play anywhere on anything with client-server backend to support social, multiplayer, updated content, consumer-developer connectedness, the possibility of in-game purchases, etc. Static games locked on physical media without the ability for those things will be unable to compete effectively in the future. Whether or not consumers are willing to pay $60 up-front for such a game without a demo or free taste of some sort – hard to say. That’s more about consumer-developer trust and relationship than a particular business model or platform.”

I’ve certainly noticed a proliferation of F2P content; even the most played PC game that the moment – and with more developers jumping on the Free to play bandwagon, it certainly seems like it could be the future of video games. 

Last Updated: July 17, 2012

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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