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Free-to-Play argument is over says Gree

Free-to-Play argument is over says Gree

Mon 30 Jul 2012 5:32pm GMT / 1:32pm EDT / 10:32am PDT
MobilePublishing

Japanese mobile gaming company espouses benefits of F2P

One of the biggest rising stars in the gaming world, Gree, has made it clear that free-to-play "is the model that the industry is moving towards."

The ever-changing landscape of the industry has many wondering just how core gamers and casual markets are going to collide and many developers have found a path in the free-to-play business model. Mobile developer and publisher Gree believes that this avenue of approach is not only working well, but will become the standard for the market in the coming years.

"It requires a very, very different mindset and business model to conventional boxed product gaming," said Gree's UK head of EMEA developer relations David McCarthy. "The decision on whether to go free-to-play, certainly on mobile, is dead.

"There's no argument - free-to-play is the model that the industry is moving towards. If you look at the [games in the] top grossing charts the vast majority of them are free-to-play, and it's very few people who can make pay-per-download work as well for them as free-to-play in the mobile space."

"I think that's going to have consequences for the boxed product business as well. Companies like Konami and Capcom are now deriving a huge amount of revenue from these kinds of games and I think that the things that they learn in this space are going to affect the way that they make conventional games in the future as well."

Games like League of Legends and World of Tanks have made sweeping successes in the F2P model while more traditional developers like Sony Online Entertainment have seen many of its games move over to F2P away from the traditional subscription model seen in MMOs. Gree advocates that developers are simply finding it more appealing to work with micro-transactions on games that keep people interested for longer amounts of time, rather than ask for a lump sum from the start.

"A lot of developers are really hamstrung by this project finance-based model where as soon as they finish one project they are scrambling around competing with a ton of other studios, mostly talking to publishers asking for money," McCarthy offered. "If someone's coming looking for money, publishers are the least likely people to give it to them.

"Social games give you a lot more control over your revenue streams. You can release a product, adapt the content, and generate new content over the lifecycle of the game in reaction to the way users are playing it."

Gree recently showed a major presence at E3, along with Wargaming.net, the developer of World of Tanks. The idea that F2P gaming is more than simply a fad is hard to argue with as many people are starting to debate just how successful this model can be in the Triple-A arena.

[via Edge]

14 Comments

Morville O'Driscoll
Blogger & Critic

1,533 1,330 0.9
"[F2P] requires a very, very different mindset and business model to conventional boxed product gaming,"
Conflating F2P with digital distribution is a mug's game. Obviously F2P requires a different mindset to boxed retail. They're not only different business models, they're different distribution methods. Perhaps a better comparison would be with digital only and F2P?

"The decision on whether to go free-to-play, certainly on mobile, is dead."
On mobile, maybe, but not desktop? Once again, people, different business models can co-exist. Just like buying a house can exist with renting a house and holiday homes, F2P can co-exist, certainly with the "Buy a game and then buy DLC" model, if not the pure "pay-up-front" model.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 30th July 2012 8:57pm

Posted:2 years ago

#1

Massimo Guarini
Founding Director and CEO

26 18 0.7
"Konami and Capcom are now deriving a huge amount of revenue from these kinds of games"
Oh yes?

"developers are simply finding it more appealing to work with micro-transactions on games that keep people interested for longer amounts of time"
I really don't think so Mr. McCarthy.
Developers are first and foremost creators, and believe me, they don't give a shit about micro-transactions in the same way a movie director cannot be bothered by where to place commercials in his movie.

"If someone's coming looking for money, publishers are the least likely people to give it to them"
That only happens when your game and/or negotiation skills and/or presentation suck.

"Social games give you a lot more control over your revenue streams. You can release a product, adapt the content, and generate new content"
Absolutely nothing to do with social or F2P, but rather with digital distribution. Nothing to do with paying upfront either.

I'm sick and tired of people evangelizing business models over content quality.
If your game/movie/album is really good, rest assured that people will grab it, regardless.

Just make good games.
Everything else is secondary.

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Raphael Honore
Localization Assistant Manager

31 3 0.1
Massimo, while I generally agree with you, as a consumer, if I want my fantasy MMO fix and game A is f2p when game B is p2p, chances are I will try A first and stick with it if it's decent - and there's no question that there are tons of very good f2p games out there these days. It's not enough to make a good game, you need to make a truly original, one-of-a-kind type of game to convince people to pay for a box nowadays...

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Nuttachai Tipprasert
Programmer

79 60 0.8
I'm sick and tired of people evangelizing business models over content quality.
If your game/movie/album is really good, rest assured that people will grab it, regardless.
Totally agree! Zygna is the very good example. No matter how good business model you are using, the only thing your customers care is your products. You never and will not ever sell your business model to your customer, so, stop putting emphasis on the business than the content. Just make a good game and sell however you want. F2P or P2P are not relevant until you have quality products to deliver.

And stop saying like F2P and digital distribution are the same entity. They are two separated things. All F2P games are digital distribution but not other way around. I have dozen of games in my Steam library and all of them are Pay to Play!

The majority of the games, especially in the social and online sector, will move forward to F2P; I agrees. But I don't believe that F2P model can be applied to all kinds of games. How can you make the games like Deus-Ex or Skyrim become F2P without ruining player experience?

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Bruce Everiss
Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
Well you know where I stand on this. Gree are just stating the obvious.
It is precisely because the cost of one incremental digital distribution is precisely zero that the initial retail price of games is moving rapidly to the same point, aided and abetted by micro transactions that allow players to make payments as and when they want within the game. Everyone who uses this model prefers it.

Charging up front for a game is no longer tenable because it is not competitive, customer expectations have changed. Anyone who is running or planning a game development or publishing business based around an up front fee is doomed.

David Darling has just written a blog article comparing the financial performance of Zynga and Electronic Arts in recent years and it makes absolutely chilling reading. Times have changed and there is a new order.

One thing very interesting to come out of this is the resurgence of Japanese publishing. After a few bad years when they seemed to be going downhill they are surging back with strength (except for one of them) mainly because they embraced and understood the new paradigm before the traditional Western publishers did, many of whom are still rooted in the PS One era.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Robert Oelenschlager
Independent Game Developer

21 18 0.9
If this is a new world order, gaming has entered its own Kali Yuga.

Posted:2 years ago

#6
Free to Play is just one alternative form of gaming, it doesnt mean its suitable for every gamer. Why do we allow folks to keep evangelizing business model A vs B instead of espousing, we believe this model is great for this type of genre/game type. the end..

Posted:2 years ago

#7
@Bruce I read that blog. The problem is that David compared the revene of the last 4 years during a time when Zynga was growing rapidly (it's only 5 years old) due to low competition on a new platform and a marketing mechanism which was VERY cost effective. Those two things have changed. The next 2 years will be the first two that you could even begin to compare like for like as they have roughly the same market cap or at least did and are both mature businesses now.

That said you may be right, I do think F2P is changing the amount that you can charge upfront, where we differ is I don't necessarily think that it will be a sustainable business model for anyone in the long term.

.... plus it's really bad for game design and balancing so maybe that clouds my view.

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

525 768 1.5
Somehow I can't imagine many Christmas shoppers buying gifts such as vouchers for in game currency or special items for a game the recipient already has. Talk about taking the excitement out of a gift. Instead of "here's a brand new game", it's "here's the arbitrary amount of hours of your life back you would have had to spend pointlessly grinding to get the same thing".

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Terence Gage
Freelance writer

1,288 120 0.1
Bruce - "Anyone who is running or planning a game development or publishing business based around an up front fee is doomed."

Yeah man, I'm sure The Last of Us will make nowhere near as much money as Draw Something 2!!

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Jim Webb
Executive Editor/Community Director

2,266 2,404 1.1
Coexistence...look it up, Gree.

How in the world do you make Mario, Zelda, God of War, GTA, Gran Turismo, etc....F2P without completely stripping the initial game down to almost nothing, changing the gameplay or whatever?

You simply can't make every game on the F2P model. Nor does everyone want to give up those games to play nothing but F2P titles on mobile.

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Felix Leyendecker
Senior 3D Artist

181 200 1.1
Assuming the F2P model will at some point rule supreme, how do critics deal with this? Do they judge the fun factor out of the box, or after spending money to an arbitrary threshold? Do they compare it to other F2P games or full-price games? Will there ever be game of the year and best of show awards for a F2P game?

Posted:2 years ago

#12

David Phan
Co-Founder & President

10 3 0.3
I think that freemium game quality and design on all platforms will get extremely competitive and innovative in the next few years. This evolution in standards will benefit all gamers by phasing out the creation of sub-par freemium titles.

Right now, it's still the wild wild west when it comes to freemium (at least in North America) so we're seeing new advancements every day and we're also seeing bad freemium execution quickly become irrelevant.

And for the record, I generally agree with all the sentiments around freemium or paid being a choice/option for both developers and consumers.

Posted:2 years ago

#13

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,174 1,124 0.5
If pay to play ("freemium") and standard games can't coexist, it's quite frankly the end of good single-player focused, story-driven games. Sure, i used to read comics as a kid and still do on occasion, but I don't read every book chopped into bits like it's a cliffhanger serial, and I sure as hell don't want ALL my games divided into peep show sized bites where I need to keep plunking in coins to get a few more seconds of playtime or some standard issue goodies that extend the fun for an extra hour or so.

Where the hell is the market going to go when people start rejecting this model? That's the real question. You can only P.T. Barnum the unwashed masses for so long. hell, if they start reading industry sites like this and taking notes, they'll figure out soon enough that they're being rooked, I say...

Posted:2 years ago

#14

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