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THQ's Farrell plans mid-price revolution

CEO discusses lower pricing model and microtransaction route for MX vs. ATV: Alive

THQ CEO Brian Farrell has again argued that the one-size-fits-all approach to retail game prices is flawed, as the company prepares for the release of the mid-price MX vs. ATV: Alive.

Speaking in an interview with Forbes, Farrell discussed how he hopes off-road racer MX vs. ATV Alive will popularise a new mid-range price for retail games.

He described the pricing model that will see that game released at $40 in the U.S., instead of the usual $60, with the game having over 100 pieces of downloadable content and an in-game store for microtransactions. (Currently the game is listed with various RRPs in the UK, from £49.99 to £29.99).

"It's an innovative concept based on what we've seen in the free-to-play markets," said Farrell, as he described how it allows "the gamer to customise their experience and pay for the modes that they want to play."

Farrell acknowledged that the model for MX vs. ATV: Alive bore some similarities to the microtransaction model of casual games such as FarmVille, but suggested that free-to-play games on home consoles were still some way off:

"I do see an opportunity to bring free-to-play online games to console. But as we said before, we need to work with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo on the business model that works for both them and us."

In discussing the problems still facing digital distribution of full games Farrell offered two reasons for its lack of traction on home consoles: "1) today's high-definition AAA video games require huge file sizes and the download time and storage capacity is cost and convenience prohibitive. 2) We need to work with first parties on the business model. We've already begun this dialogue but we have a ways to go."

Finally, asked whether gamers were now relying more heavily on critical reviews of games, and whether this may have hurt sales for Homefront, Farrell was non-committal:

"There's no doubt that players are making more informed decisions when it comes to purchasing a game. Some of that is from looking up reviews from their favourite gaming publications but a lot of their decisions are still based on word-of-mouth."

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