Free to Play is the future of games

2 min read


I despise micro-transactions, I’m not big on free-to-play games and that’s a sentiment shared by many of you. Tough. According to guys who’ve made a ton of money with micro-transactions, it’s the future, and all developers should transition to using them.

That’s the word of King Games Guru Tommy Palm. Yes, it actually says “Guru” on his business card.

“The micro-transaction is so strong and it’s definitely a much better model. I think all companies have to transition over to that,” he told IGN. “If you talk to many hardcore gamers, they’re not happy about it right now, but if you asked them about the long term, “Do you want to continue playing your favourite game for years to come?’ And the answer will be yes.”

He does concede that the pricing needs to be sensible, an that $5 horse armour isn’t the way to do it. He also says F2P games really do need to be free. Buying stuff should be an option, and never a necessity.

“I think for companies it is very important to find a good balance. Free-to-play games are difficult to do, and you really need to be good at making it feel balanced to the gamers. So it’s not too greedy.

“At King, for instance, we took the decision to make our games truly free-to-play, so you will never end up in the position where you’re forced to pay. So you can play all the way to the end without having to pay. For instance, in Candy Crush, of the players who are on the last level, more than half of them didn’t pay to get there.”

A good example of that, aside from Candy Crush Saga, of course, is Blizzard’s Hearthstone.

“Just looking at Blizzard’s Hearthstone – it’s a great example of a F2P game that is made really well, it’s well balanced, and I don’t think many people are complaining about that business model. It’s easy to see if there’s concept that is close to your heart. It works out really well.”

Unfortunately, with game development budgets sky-high, and publishers looking to extract as much cash out of games as possible, micro-transactions are only set to increase – as is the entire free-to-play model.

Last Updated: April 15, 2014

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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