Worries about the unreliability of the F2P model.
By Tim Colwill on September 24, 2013 at 2:02 pm
Carbine Studios producer Jeremy Gaffney is working away on their very excellent-looking upcoming MMO WildStar, which is taking the unusual step of bucking the trend and not being free-to-play.
Says Gaffney: “Games that look very successful in free-to-play may or may not be making profit. Games that look unsuccessful in subscription may actually be more profitable.”
“Different games with different business models work in a very different fashion. If you look at City of Heroes compared to Guild Wars, it looks like City of Heroes is a smaller game. And it is, fewer people play City of Heroes, they peaked out at – I don’t know the numbers – something like 200,000.”
“But 200,000 subscribers paying $15 a month, if you do the math, that makes about as much money as selling 6 million boxes, if they last long enough.”
Gaffney also worries about the “juggling act” required to sustain F2P populations.
“Most of the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that 1 or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free. As a publisher [that variabililty] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?”
“So free-to-play’s not a magic bullet.”
WildStar will also include an EVE-like system that allows you to buy your own game time with in-game currency, and sell it on to others.