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70% of DC Universe Online audience play on PlayStation 3

SOE, CCP proving that "free-to-play on PlayStation 3 is huge," says Smedley

Seventy per cent of players in Sony's free-to-play MMO DC Universe Online are playing the game via the PlayStation 3, according to SOE boss John Smedley.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International, the online gaming veteran said that Sony Online Entertainment and CCP have been able to prove that free-to-play gaming on Sony's console is a viable market, and one that's supported well through the PSN service.

"There's no purer way to see whether you have a good game or not than by saying 'this is free, do you want to play it?'"

"It's 70 per cent of the audience. Free-to-play on PlayStation 3 is huge," he said. "In fact, right now, it's us with DCUO and Free Realms and our friends at CCP with Dust 514 that are going to prove that this market really works.

"There's a lot of people that go through that store and it's so easy to find and download these games that it's a great business model. A lot of people have already stored their credit card information so it's very frictionless if they do want to buy something.

"We can put out thousands of items and it feels very frictionless. The remarkable thing is with a game like Free Realms where there's literally thousands of items to buy it, has to be a solid platform to begin with to support that. It's no small thing to be able to that. It's a business model of the future."

According to Smedley there was some difficulty convincing the hardware manufacturer to take a bet on console free-to-play, but eventually the numbers do the talking.

"I admit there was a mindset where when you use the word 'free' people pause. 'Wait a minute, what do you mean by free?' But even then people want to see the results. With DC Universe Online the split that we're seeing ended the debate right there."

DC Universe Online went free-to-play in October last year with an immediate uplift of players.

"Free-to-play is the ultimate expression of a free market in video gaming," continued Smedley.

"It's completely about quality, there's no purer way to see whether you have a good game or not than by saying 'this is free, do you want to play it?' I would argue that free-to-play is much more pure than regular games because with those marketing can determine who picks up the game."

Smedley admits there's an ebb and flow to players of DC Universe Online, and the company expects users to drift off and come back with the release of regular contact packs and expansions for the game.

But he also noted that Sony Online Entertainment monitors rival releases, with the company able to note the short and long-term success of titles by how long players of its own games stay away from SOE titles.

"When another MMO launches we track very carefully how many players we lose to it"

"When another MMO launches we track very carefully how many players we lose to it. We can tell when the bad ones come out because they might have a lot of hype up front and we lose players for a couple of days, but they come right back so we immediately know if something is not good.

"Then again with a game like Diablo III we'll see them go away for weeks. I was one of them! It's right in front of us when that happens."

"If you know where to look he data is right there in front of you. Look at Steam players and you can see what games are popular, we watch that, we track that carefully," he concluded.

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Matt Martin avatar
Matt Martin: Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.
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