Free-To-Play Games Are The Way To Go
I always thought that the free-to-play model was limited to casual games but it seems to be the buzzword for game developers and publishers in 2010. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, free-to-play games are games that allow players to play the game without paying. This is different from the shareware model as free-to-play games usually allow access to the full game and players instead are charged via microtransactions for additional items, in-game currency or even additional quests.
Free-to-play games have become more prevalent in the mainstream and even I’m playing one of them in the form of EA’s Lord of Ultima. In the case of Lord of Ultima, players get the option to purchase more of the in-game currency which in return is used to procure advisors and items. These will help with playing the game in ways such as cutting construction queues or managing recruitment orders when the player is away.
EA is particularly interesting because as a major publisher, it is adopting the free-to-play model in a big way. The recently released FIFA Online, which is a spinoff of EA’s popular FIFA franchise is free-to-play; the same going for its upcoming MMO racing game, Need for Speed World. The latter will allow players to purchase “premium packs” featuring new cars and abilities.
Late last year Turbine made its popular MMORPG Dungeons and Dragons Online a free-to-play title with players paying for content and items ala carte OR opting to pay a subscription fee for unlimited access to the game. Warner Bros continues this trend this year by recently announcing (today!) that Lord of the Rings Online (also developed by Turbine) will be free-to-play this Fall 2010!
On the handheld front, mobile games developers like ngmoco (among others) are bringing free-to-play games like MMOFPS Eliminate and strategy games like We Rule to the fore with microtransactions being the main source of income.
Phew…we live in pretty exciting times don’t we? One truly positive aspect that I can see from the free-to-play movement is that it mitigates the risk of piracy. Players get to play games for free and the dedicated ones get to invest time and money into their games. It’s a win-win situation, at least on the PC, and on the iPhone and the only fault I can find is when there’s a poor Internet connection the games can become unplayable. This however is expected to improve with faster Internet speeds and availability. In any case, do excuse me as I have dragons to kill in Lord of Ultima.Powered by Sidelines
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