Is Free To Play The Wave Of The Future?

It’s no secret that video game companies are trying to cash-in any way they can. While the standard $59.99 retail price for a new title is a good way for companies to ensure a steady cash flow, there is a new alternative that game companies are adopting at a fast pace.

In the past, free-to-play games have not been very successful. This was usually due to the fact that most of the titles that were free-to-play were also low-budget games. This has all changed in todays gaming scene, and I have a strong feeling that most companies will start adopting free-to-play.

Today, a number of very successful game franchises are free-to-play, and the list is growing, day by day. Everything from League of Legends, to the upcoming XBLA title, Tribes: Ascend. Gaming companies are paying close attention to this trend and are noticing the high profits that can be made going “free-to-play”. Here are my two main reasons why I believe “free-to-play” is the wave of the future.

Micro-transactions Game companies don’t really have to worry about the high cost to develop their high quality games. With micro-transactions appearing in so many games these days, gamers are more inclined to follow the trend and shell out some cash for some in-game goods. Believe it or not, you might actually spend more money through micro-transactions than you would purchasing a retail game for $59.99. I am one of those poor souls who has fallen into this trap. League of Legends is completely free-to-play, yet I have shelled out over $80.00 in micro-transactions, just to buy some character skins!

Free appeals to more people. Let’s not pretend that we don’t like free. Everyone likes free stuff, and when it comes to videogames, who would’t want to at least try the game out. This brings me to the point I’m trying to convey here. If you put out a game for $59.99, there is only a number of people who are going to actually purchase it. Maybe you don’t have the money to buy the game right now, or maybe you read some bad reviews for the game. But one thing will always remain true, people will always love “FREE”. If there was a game out there that I was looking forward to playing, and it got terrible reviews, I definitely would not purchase it. However, if this same game was offered free-to-play, I would definitely check it out. You see, free doesn’t cost anything, so even if you download the game and it sucks, at least you can turn it off and never play it again, guilt free. Why do developers care? If 2 million people download this free game, and actually like it, chances are these players are willing to fork out at least a few dollars to purchase something in-game, via micro-transactions. Going back to my first League of Legends example. If Riot would have released this game at full retail price, $59.99, there wouldn’t be any way way for them to suck anymore of my hard earned dollars from me. However, because they released this game for free, and because the micro-transactions are very cheap, I have paid a little over $80.00. This means I spent roughly $20.00 more than I normally would on a full priced retail game. What does this all mean? Well if developers put their game out for free, it gives more people a chance to experience it and hopefully spread the word. Heck, even online casino sites offer free games now a day, it’s just a trend that works out wonderfully for both the host and the client.

At the end of the day, videogame developers are just trying to do what they love and make a living off of it. Who knows, free-to-play might not take off as most developers think it will, but in the meantime we can enjoy the flood of free titles that will be coming out in the very near future. What are your thoughts on free-to-play becoming the wave of the future? Do you think we will see more and more companies adopting this practice?

Want some awesome free-to-play games, here’s a list of some of the best!

League of Legends

World of Warcraft -Free up to level 20

APB: Reloaded

Rise of Immortals

World of Tanks

Team Fortress 2

  • Desz

    Good post.