Will Paying For Video Games Become A Weird Thing To Do?

Will Paying For Video Games Become a Weird Thing To Do?

I happily pay for video games. You might, too. But so many people enjoy the increasingly popular free-to-play model of video games. So many people don't pay to play. Is gaming going to be reaching a moment when many, many potential gamers just don't want to pay.

I tossed this idea into a conversation I've been having with some other gaming critics at The New York Times as part of the paper's year-ending Game Theory roundtable. I wrote:

There is no common price tag for great video games anymore. The year's best ranged from free to $US60. That initial $US0 tag is becoming more popular and is affixed to a model of gaming that cajoles players to pay more for more content or to make progress more quickly or more easily. The year saw a rise in games like this and growing momentum for so-called free-to-play games. That is the money-related topic worth considering for all gamers and game critics out there -- not how much the gaming industry made, but how much each game should cost and whether gamers in the years to come will still have a zeal to pay for them.

The sales of the $US60 GTA V this past fall certainly support the argument that people will still happily pay for video games. But when I look at all the free games doing so well on iTunes and when I see the stats showing the millions of people who play the likes of League of Legends and DOTA 2 and so many other free or "free" games, I wonder...

When do we reach a point when it becomes weirder to be one of those people who pays to play than to be one of those who does not?


Comments

    Nothing is free, you pay for everything eventually, and I'm sick of these so called free to play games.

    I don't care if future people will not be paying for video games, but I certainly do care if all the games become half-baked free-to-play terrors.

    I personally dislike the Free To Play model. I prefer my game in one piece rather than a bit by bit package. I would prefer a more television like model however, with an episodic style of delivery.

    The most awesome method of delivery would be a Telltale Walking Dead style of episodes, with the first free so that you can try the series before purchasing further episodes.

    Free to play usually ends up meaning spending $300+ for a game if you want to be able to complete it/keep playing it.
    I really miss the days where you just paid for a game, got the *entire* game and could keep playing it forever.
    The fact that even casual games like Clash of Clans have in app purchases of over $100 available means games will essentially cost much more under the micro transaction model. I really hate it.

    So, no, paying for video games won't be a weird thing to do, getting to pay only $60 or less and get to play for 'free' after that point may well disappear. So paying *more* for games in real terms will probably become the new standard.

    Last edited 27/12/13 7:37 pm

    I would not shed a tear if F2P were to die a painful death.

    I think it would be OK, provided in-game purchases can be gained as easily through gameplay, and is only for people who can't waste time. No energy bars either.

    EDIT: I'd still prefer to buy games full.

    Last edited 28/12/13 6:08 am

    Paying for apps and mobile/tablet games might become a thing of the past but I don't think it will reach console/PC games. F2P games are mostly online focused and an online games lives and dies by the community. Too many are going for the p2w model and that will drive people away and end the game. Once people have been burnt by that a couple of times, pay significant money to be the best in a game that dies they will not invest the same money in future games.

    The real model that *should* work is PWYW( pay what you want) model similar to the humble bundle the only question is whether or not to make a minimum price. Also this is assuming the game has a decent trailer & demo and the studio takes donations
    points:
    -some people will pay minimum price w/average of around $2-3
    -some people will pay what they think the game is worth <-the main point as its closer to traditional pricing for games while still way off
    -only consumer & developer friendly method to combat piracy
    >piracys reasons are: Lack of money, game is subjectively overpriced, studio angered gamers, 'why pay if you don't have to'
    >DRM is objectively consumer unfriendly, wastes time cause of inevitable crack
    >always on drm hurts both consumers and developers since the devs/publishers have to pay for the servers, if the servers ever go down no-one can play the game. Lose-lose all round
    ->F2P games live off the assumption that a lot of people will play and some will pay for (micro)transactions(anything more than what the game would have cost is not micro)
    ->PWYW games live off the assumption that a lot of people will buy and some will pay more
    (as there hasn't been a pwyw based studio it's hard to make a judgement on which is better, however I think F2P is slightly more dev unfriendly and in cases of pay to win it hurts erryone again)

    while pay what you want and free to play models have their obvious differences I still think that PWYW is more consumer friendly while being slightly less risky than a f2p model, you also don't have to worry about balancing the items in the store, pay to win etc, inherently spending more time on the game, also I think this shifts the view of 'making a AAA game(cough call of duty)' back into trying to make the most innovative games possible in a desperate attempt to sell, to shift the developers into interacting with the community more and, with a grain of salt, consider their ideas to improve the game that THEY are going to play, of course you cant pander to the community if you do it ruins the artistic vision but it would work for games entirely made from ideas from the community

    tl;dr pay what you want incorporates f2p & fixed price models and turns it into the most consumer/developer friendly model that even has room for a COSMETIC micro-transaction store (as petty as cosmetic items are, snarf it, pay what you want micro-transactions too)

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