Many of the most popular games on PCs, smartphones and tablets are “free-to-play”, or “free 2 play”, as the phrase is often spelled in order to free it further from the responsibility of meaning what it says. These games, mostly, are free to start playing, after which you’ll either have to pay to advance or just wait a while to go further. Most players, the makers of “free-to-play” games say, don’t pay. Those that do pay a lot.
I think the term stinks.
Thank goodness, then, for Gameloft, a company that is often slammed for snatching other people’s ideas. I think they may have just come up with a superb idea of their own. They have just announced the release of an iOS game they’re calling: Brothers In Arms: Global Front. Free+.
What does “Free+” mean? I asked a Gameloft rep who confirmed that, yes, it’s another way to describe “free-to-play” games or “freemium” games. Brothers in Arms: Global Front. Free+ is indeed free to download. And it does cost money to speed through the game. The official description on iTunes says so:
Earn Dog Tags and XP as you play that can be used to unlock loads of extra features and gear to customise your soldier, or purchase Medals to unlock them faster. It’s up to you.
As you can see from that description Free+ is not a new concept. It’s just a new term. I think it is a better term, a superior one to “free-to-play”. That little + signals that there’s a catch. You might read it and thing: “This game ain’t free. It’s free, plus…” You’ll wonder what that plus means and so at least you’ll know something’s up. The + sign even resembles an asterisk, just a little. How could you not know there’s a catch.
Let us praise “Free+”. Let us embrace that advance toward truth in marketing. Let us salute Gameloft for this innovation in gaming grammar, which they’re also using on one of their racing games. (And if they grabbed this idea from someone else, too, I’m sorry.)