To date, the “free-to-play” business model has been synonymous with PC games. However, that could soon change. Such games could become a major part of the gaming landscape once Microsoft and Sony launch their next-generation consoles later this year, a new report suggests.
As the name indicates, free-to-play games don’t cost anything to play. However, they include certain in-game items, levels, upgrades, etc., that require players to spend a little bit of money to “enhance”their gaming experience.
In some ways, it’s a great idea. People can avoid spending $60 or $70 on a new game and tailor their gaming experience to their personal budget. However, it also means that gameplay experiences are vastly different, depending on how much one spends.
Furthermore, some of the companies behind free-to-play games offer very, very limited gameplay features to those people not willing to constantly spend money.
Overall, it’s a controversial though apparently profitable business model for many video game companies. That’s why Mark Rein, vice president at Epic Games, believes free-to-play titles will be very prevalent on the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4.
“The next-gen consoles are going to be fully embracing the free-to-play … business models,” Rein said in a recent interview with Joystiq. “So in case you don’t know that I’m putting that out there. Sony and Microsoft are both going heavily in that area.”
So far, we have seen a few free-to-play games on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network (PSN). Microsoft’s online platform received Happy Wars last October, and so far about two million people have played the game.
Meanwhile, Sony has announced the third-person role-playing game Ascend: New Gods, which is also a free-to-play title, will be available through PSN sometime in 2013.
So, are you guys happy about the arrival of free-to-play games on current and next-gen consoles? Or does this idea make for flawed gameplay experiences?