This Week In The Business: Free-To-Play Failure

This Week In The Business: Free-To-Play Failure

QUOTE | "It will start to tail off because the people who play the games will recognise when they're about to be nickled and dimed, and stop playing them." — MMO pioneer Richard Bartle, arguing that free-to-play games have a "half-life" and will soon start to fail.

Elsewhere in the business of video games this past week ...

QUOTE | "We look at [the free-to-play business model] as the future." — Anil Dharni, COO of mobile game giant Gree, laying out all of the advantages the company sees with free-to-play games."

QUOTE | "I don't think we did a particularly good job marketing it or talking to fans about their expectations for what Dungeon Keeper was going to be or ultimately should be." — EA Mobile head Frank Gibeau, just before suggesting EA "innovated too much" with the controversial free-to-play reboot.

QUOTE | "At the end of the day it's the content that sells. We need developers to start making games for it." — Shuhei Yoshida, head of Sony Worldwide Studios, explaining why Project Morpheus VR is still far from a launch date.

STAT | 374 per cent — Amount Ubisoft sales rose in the last quarter over the same quarter last year; that's due mostly to Watch Dogs, which has shipped eight million copies worldwide so far.

QUOTE | "With frequent updates; good and convenient services; that's how we fight piracy. I hope it works." — Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester, talking about his company's alternative to using anti-consumer DRM.

QUOTE | "We used to launch 30 games on smartphones on tablets [annually]. This year we'll launch 12 to 14 games." — Gameloft VP of publishing for the Americas Baudouin Corman, explaining how mobile games are requiring more time and resources to make.

QUOTE | "While the feedback is appreciated, certain ideas would require us to ask for extra budget." — Megaman developer Keiji Inafune, talking about his Kickstarter-funded project Mighty No. 9 and why he can't implement all the feedback.

QUOTE | "We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation." — Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella, affirming Microsoft's commitment to the Xbox as a key element in the company's future.

QUOTE | "There is no reason why inclusivity should come at the expense of an amazing game experience." — Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime, responding to a fan letter criticising the company's stance on diversity in its games.

STAT | 84.9 per cent — Percentage of the top 50 grossing apps on Apple and Android app stores worldwide that are games; of the 700 apps surveyed, just 50 companies were responsible for 81 per cent of them.

Image via Shutterstock


    Free to play got corrupted by the "pay to win" and "pay to play more" model. It should b more like: Company that only looks to earn more money through gaming industry while has no passion about gaming will fail. Look at Dota, lol or even hearthstone

      I'd say DOTA 2 is by far the best example. Both LOL and Hearthstone have pay to win elements to them.

      Out of the three dota is the only one that doesn't use money to give you an in-game advantage. Furthermore Valve is making millions off it. So visual customization is clearly profitable.

        Can you explain to me how LoL is pay to win? lol

    Some good linked articles - and a "click here for revenue title" that was destined to be "catchy" but done to gain clicks in the gawker fashion. Thanks for the links - an unbiased summation on each quote would have been nice to round out an article.
    So the gist was:
    Whereas before the two business models were mainly B2P and Subscription - times have now changed and despite what they may wish, the gaming business model is showing that the Subscription model is no longer mainstream AAA sustainable for any developer that can gain the backing to put out a 'winning' IP and is only good for niche small targeted markets and the current legacy titles.
    That some developers are deep into the red and continue to talk up subscriptions whilst hemorrhaging subscribers and money, but seeking further funds for new ventures push F2P and a declining model - basing this on the glut of eastern F2P titles that were quickly ported to a western market to cash in on the "high wave" of interest in MMOS, whilst telling investors that their game will show a return on investment and is not a risky capital venture.
    That mobile gaming is mirroring PC from 5 years ago and is in a boom/bust cycle.
    The sony and microsoft articles were good ones, cheers.

    The 2 or 3 Free to Play titles I regularly dip into are all top notch - and if they were not F2P - I would not have installed or played them and they would not have therefore received real money income I have paid them for certain in game conveniences. So seems to back up what they are saying on a personal level.
    When ESO and Wildstar change to Buy to Play (they may go Free to Play - but why would they) - I will install and play them as well - and if they have the right convenience products - they will most likely gain income from me they would otherwise not.

    The different business models need to gate their content differently to how the current "warcraft" model is designed - but you cannot gate too much content behind a paywall or this will disenfranchise too many players. They must keep the "fun" factor to keep the consumers coming back - and nowdays its not just mmos - so it must be a constant monitor of the game behind the scenes statistics, and a steady stream of new items, goods or service conveniences that can be purchased = steady income stream = more dev time.

    Like so many, I am a time poor gamer. I have disposable income for this hobby and dont mind paying for convenience - but subscriptions do not suit my lifestyle (older gamer).

    The main demographic of gamers are over 36+ - this is a time poor money rich section - and B2P and F2P is the way forward for this business. Obviously B2P is always going to be here - from Bioshock, BF4, to Skyrim to Guildwars2 - there are some strong and varied B2P titles that have strong server architecturee costs and others that dont.

    Over the next 18 months we will see if the investment into/by ESO/Zenimax and Wildstar/NCsoft/Nexon will be billed as a viable return on the the dollar input - and which business models will be seen as AAA sustainable or niche target only.
    Citation: hey I can do links as well!

    “With frequent updates; good and convenient services; that’s how we fight piracy. I hope it works.” — Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester

    It works for me, Fredrik. It works for me.
    I play the shit out of EU4, by the way.

      Its a lot easier when the company does that strategy with games that are good. I remember Ubisoft said they would try no DRM on one of their games and it was a garbage game that nobody wanted then they blamed its poor sales on piracy.

        I guess this is similar to the conventional industry wisdom that 'game demos actually reduce sales'.

    "I don’t think we did a particularly good job marketing it or talking to fans about their expectations for what Dungeon Keeper was going to be or ultimately should be.” — EA Mobile head Frank Gibeau, just before suggesting EA “innovated too much” with the controversial free-to-play reboot.

    Too innovative? I don't see much Innovation in copying Clash of Clans with a beloved IP and sticking massive paywalls in a game.

    It's like saying Command and Conquer 4 was too innovative. It really wasn't, EA just removed half the game by taking out resource Management and Base Building.

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