Should all multiplayer games be free-to-play?

3 min read

Free to play

Over on Reddit, people are debating the merits of Evolve’s pricing system. Rather than having players buy a full price game, plus DLC, they are questioning why it wasn’t made as a free-to-play experience. Does this apply to all multiplayer games?

Based on the argument on Reddit, Evolve could be built similar to Warframe or League of Legends. Maps could be free, as well as a starting set of hunters. Thereafter, various hunters and monsters could be free on a weekly rotation. If you like a character (or want a special skin or other cosmetic upgrade), you can spend real money to own them forever.

Similarly, Destiny could have also followed a free-to-play model. Let anyone play, but if you want that really cool gear and don’t want to wait to find the necessary things to make it, just buy it with real money. Of course, this can also become a pay-to-win model, but with careful balancing similar to what they do in Warframe, it can simply be a way of speeding up the process rather than ensuring victory.

Evolve behemoth

I am not a fan of free-to-play games. Sure, they work in some instances – League of Legends and Warframe are both excellent and totally free games that earn a ridiculous amount of money thanks to gamers wanting shiny things faster. However, as soon as a game is free-to-play, it loses a certain value proposition. We all simply have a different view of free games compared to paid games. Plus, I don’t like the idea that I will have to keep forking out money over and over again for the same game. Sure, it sucks that Evolve’s hunters and monsters that the team is currently working on for the future aren’t available in the core game package. However, by the time they’re done building these characters, I will be so proficient at my monsters of choice that it will be nice to mix things up with some new options. I don’t mind paying for a game and season pass, as long as once that’s done, I know that I’m going to get everything. I hate the idea of getting hit up for cash every month or two, which would be my fear with a free-to-play games – the prompts to spend money would be constant.

I think multiplayer gamers are more used to this than those who typically play alone. Multiplayer often has people dishing out cash for fancy emblems and other micro transactions, where as these kinds of cosmetic changes aren’t as important for those who play by themselves.

I personally don’t mind Evolve’s payment model, provided that the game lives up to expectations. However, I would have written it off from the start if it were a free-to-play game. Am I behind the times? Should all multiplayer games be free-to-play? Or does that devalue games in a time when they are already steadily losing value?

Last Updated: January 21, 2015

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