Free-to-Play: Here-to-Stay?

Oh, hi! It’s one of those posts about these newfangled vidya gaems again. Did you know “newfangled” is all one word? I sure didn’t.

So, I was reading a couple of articles on free-to-play games. I knew f2p was doing well these days (I’ve played several, including League of Legends and APB: Reloaded, and both of those seem to be very healthy), but I wasn’t even close to knowing how well.

EverQuest, a 13-year-old game by Sony Online Entertainment, went f2p last month. Since then, “unique log-ins… have increased by 150 percent”, and purchases of in-game items have risen 125 percent. Now, granted, the fact that people aren’t paying monthly for the game anymore has to be taken into account, because this means SOE aren’t necessarily getting more money. Still, EverQuest II has also seen increases since its update to free-to-play in December 2011, with new player registrations increasing “by around 300 percent.” In-game item sales have increased by 200 percent. Clearly, something good is happening here.

But Sony isn’t necessarily making more money from their previously pay-to-play games, so how does this prove f2p is a good model? I mean, I think just bringing in more players is a good model, but there are those who will go for the financial argument. Well, you wanna know the company that is getting more money?

Valve.

Since Team Fortress 2 went f2p, Valve’s revenue has increased twelvefold.

Yeah. I think free-to-play is working, and it’s here to stay. The only problem is when games go for the “play-to-win” approach by letting players buy better items that free players can’t get. The “freemium” business model similarly stinks, where there is a “free” section of the game, and then a “premium” section of the game for paying players. Freemium and play-to-win can be interchangeable, but I think freemium is more deliberate on the part of the developer/ publisher, where play-to-win is a colloquial term used by gamers for games that seem to give advantages to players who pay for in-game items.

Free-to-play is a genius model. Rope people in with a cool, free game, and if they like it enough, they WILL pay you for it.

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~ by The Retro Gamer on April 22, 2012.

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