Free-to-play and hybrid subscription models have become the norm for many MMOGs. Not having an entry price barrier can certainly tempt some players that might otherwise never try your games to give them a go. But how do you turn free players into payers? Three figures of the gaming industry have a meeting of the minds to answer this question and offer their thoughts on the free-to-play business model.
In a Gamasutra posted developer roundtable discussion from its sister publication, PlanetSide 2 Creative Director Matt Higby, MechWarrior Online Creative Director Bryan Ekman, and Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris of Tribes: Ascend each discuss their decision to adopt the free-to-play model for their games, monetization of their respective games, the pay-to-win dilemma, and more.
Matt Higby: Nobody wants to be a pay-to-win, but it's almost impossible to define what pay-to-win is, because it's a really personal decision that you're going to make. Some people are going to be real hardliners about it, and will call your game pay-to-win if it has anything that costs real money that will give you a boost to how much experience you earn, or unlock an item that does anything noncosmetic for you.
While the pay-to-win debate is unlikely to end anytime soon, the trio also touched on the differences of developing a free-to-play game as opposed to the more traditional boxed games, analyzing metrics, pricing, and more.
What do you think? Has the move to free-to-play been a good one in your opinion? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.