Depending on when you entered the video game hobby you would have a different perspective on the current pricing model that is in place for video games. I grew up in a time when cartridges not discs or digital downloads where the only way to play a video game ( Well floppy discs for computer games where still around). Gaming for me involved saving for weeks for a game that I had minimal amount of information as to the quality of and then paying $80 + for it. More often than naught I was pleased with my purchase but every once in awhile I ended up with a dud ; such was life back then without internet, advance reviews or the ability to DEMO a game before release.
The cost of games over the years has fluctuated but mostly decreased from when I was younger but what has developed is a great sense of entitlement from gamers in regards to how much content a game needs to provide based on selling price. It used to be that a game was judged on the merits of its Fun Factor and not production quality ( come on man…I played 8-Bit games…). Nowadays gamers are glorified video game accountants when it comes to determining if they should spend their hard earned money on a new release. The Fun Factor is not a part of the equation anymore.
Here is how a new review goes for a AAA video game release.
- Graphics that make my eyes bleed: Check
- Dolby Digital Surround Sound: Check
- 50 hour single player campaign: Check
- Life ending multiplayer modes: Check
- All future add on content that gets released: Check
Video Game value is a big topic now and if a developer fails to deliver they face the wrath of the very consumer that they worked so hard to cater to.
So here is the ultimate question. What if a developer delivered on all of the above items ( to a varying degree and of course based on opinions) and then GAVE you their new game for FREE? Wait…what?!?!? Free?
If your like me and hail from my generation your mind just got blown. The concept of giving me a game to play without handing over a single cent is beyond crazy. Well its a reality in the new gaming landscape and with this generation of console hardware its closer than you think; heres what you need to know.
So how does a game just get handed out to gamers without a cost? How does the developers recover the cost of development if they don’t sell us a product?
Free to Play ( F2P) key ingredient for success relies on gamer satisfaction. Put simply this means that the hope is that a gamer who truly enjoys the experience they are having will continue to play the game and also make whats called ” in game purchases” in the form of game perks and aesthetics that enhance their enjoyment even further. These are very rarely items that help win the game or give advantage ( although those games do exist) but rather items that could be obtained by playing the game longer but you don’t have the time to invest. Sometimes you can even purchase customization options that change the way your in game character looks.
Currently F2P games are starting to trickle in on console players and while mobile players and PC players have been dabbling in this for years now , it wasn’t until the past year or 2 have we seen this formula being applied to Xbox or PS players. Last generation we saw games like Air Mech and Defiance make its debut with a F2P model on Xbox 360 ( To clarify; Free 2 Play means that the game itself is free to download). This generation we are already seeing games like War Frame and Killer Instinct deliver next gen quality with a F2P formula.
Last Generation console gamers were promised a whole line up of MMO games and in the end all we got where a small selection of ” quasi MMO’s” to choose from but nothing that was as deep as a true PC MMO. Welcome to Neverwinter. This game has been on PC for over a year now and offers console players its first TRUE MMO experience ( launching on XBOX One ). It is based on the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop rules and the title of the game is pulled from one of the settings most prolific adventuring destinations.
The F2P nature of the game will ensure that it gets a large sweep of players diving into the world to swell the ranks of its hopefully fast growinng community. Having played the BETA of the console build back in February I can say first hand that the game’s social aspect combined with a very deep customization system will give recent AAA games that dabble in social play a run for its money. The F2P nature of the game shows itself in the form of visual upgrades and some functional ones as well ( mounts and character classes are purchasable through the in game store), and is not heavy handed like some F2P games have been in the past. The game also has a wealth of content at the ready having been in PC release for a year, which means console players shouldn’t be complaining about nothing to do at least for a little while.
Smite presents an interesting situation. The MOBA genre is a very hot landscape these days and it is pretty much the definition of E-Sports. It is also a genre that very few gamers are excited to see enter the world of consoles. For whatever reason the gaming community at large feel that these types of games have no place in the console space and like MMO’s have been scarce in past generation of consoles as well as now. Smite aims to change that in one fell swoop when it launches this year and proves to all concerned that not only can a MOBA exist comfortably on a console but it will thrive!
Fable Legends journey to release has been an interesting one indeed. Not only having a massively successful and revered legacy to live up to it had a sever identity crisis since they announced it last year.The game started life as a multi player centric addition to the franchise that allowed players to assume the role of a villain character and orchestrate the other heroes demise via in game tools ( controlling monster spawns, traps and overall challenges the heroes would face).
Nothing has changed too dramatically as far as gameplay goes but recently the game was announced that it would be adopting a F2P business model and developers compared it to games like League of Legends and DOTA in the sense that players would be able to purchase individual characters and items to enhance the gameplay that was going to be given ala carte. The statements made seemed to allude to a more competitive style game versus the deep narrative that we have come to expect from the Fable titles. Transitioning to the F2P model has layered on additional confusion as to what we can expect the final product to be like but I’m sure the choice was made with the grand picture in mind. In Lionhead we trust!
The games listed above are just some of the F2P titles that are coming our way this generation and as we move along Im sure more will make themselves known. The real question is whether or not this business model will find a home ion the hearts of console gamers or will they still be held accountable for the level quality they deliver; despite not costing us a penny?
Dwayne”EVO Knight” Morash