Once upon a time, SEGA was one of the major players in the gaming console hardware market. After the death of their last (and to some, greatest) console, the Dreamcast, SEGA’s been on a slow downward spiral. While they’re still responsible for some killer games thanks to the licences that they have, SEGA’s output has largely gone from bad to worse every year. In this next year? It might be their very worst. According to the financial reports, they have plans to release 47 digital games in the next year. Just one of them isn’t a free-to-play game.
EA jumped on the free-to-play bandwagon in a big way, supporting the pay-nothing-to-start, pay-your ass-off-to-continue-to-play pricing model with microtransation—addled versions of its popular franchises. They’ve spawned things like Battlefield Heroes, FIFA world and other, similar f2P experiences. They’re now shutting them down.
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to be a king/queen of a bustling kingdom? Have you thought about keeping your townsfolk happy, or imagined the admin of dealing with daily riots? Perhaps you’ve pondered conquering your neighbours and beyond, plundering the land and cementing your name as one that should be directly associated with fear. All of the above is possible in Goodgame Empire – provided you have lots of time to spare… or a particularly fat credit card.
Nintendo gets a lot of flak for not keeping up with the times. But when it comes to the free to play market, even they’ve dipped their toes into that potentially lucrative world. Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball and Steeldiver: Sub Wars are great examples of how to do freemium right. Pokémon Shuffle on the other hand, is a perfect example of how to not go ahead and apply the freemium formula to a mega-hit game franchise.
Cliff Bleszinski is one of my favourite developers, and you can’t really blame me. The man was the genius behind Gears of War, a franchise still considered one of the best shooters around. It’s been ages since he left Epic Games and ventured out on his own, and we’ve had little to go on regarding his new shooter, Project Bluestreak. PAX East didn’t exactly clear everything up, but at least now we have an idea of what’s cooking at Boss Key.
Warframe has gained a lot of popularity. Since launching on consoles, the developers have seen a spike in usage and a ton of new users. Of course, they need to keep adding content to keep those new users satisfied. The latest expansion of the game adds an epic scale.
Not all free-to-play games are equal. Some of them are more concerned with ringing every possible bit of cash out of a player before offering them anything that is actually worthwhile, whereas other games are actually pretty damn fun to play and worth a few extra bucks being tossed towards the experience. Take WarFrame for instance. It’s a solid game, that can easily be enjoyed with or without cash. That business model has proven to be rather profitable for the title, and Sony is paying attention.
World of Warcraft is a testament of time. Every time it looks like subscriber numbers are irreparably dwindling, Blizzard manages to suck dedicated fans right back in. Last year that came in the form of Warlords of Draenor, which served as a rather fantastic expansion for the ever popular MMO. This year, it's a new feature that will allow you to play World of Warcraft for free. Sort of.
When I told people that I was actually keen to play Fable Legends, they laughed at me. Then they made fun of my gigantic money-hat, occasionally stealing a loose R20 note when my back was turned the other way to avoid their scorn. Well who’s laughing now, huh? Because Fable Legends is going to be a completely free to play game! HA HA!
Free to play, love it or hate it, is here to stay. It’s a genre of gaming that has become popular as of late, slipping away from PC and finding a home on console as well. Drawn To Death, an online multiplayer shooter from David Jaffe and his studio The Bartlet Jones Supernatural Detective Agency happens to be a free to play game that is headed to the PlayStation 4. But it won’t be F2P in the traditional sense.
Dragon’s Dogma is one of those games that I just don’t get. It had everything going for it when I first saw it years ago. A great open world. A promising combat system. Great visuals for the time. But the end result was a cluttered, clumsy oaf of a game that had me spending most of my time throwing my companion off of cliffs. Still, the game found a fanbase, that was mostly united in their hatred for Garth and his review, spinning some more content out. And the next incarnation of the game will be going completely online.
EA has made some unpopular decisions that have stuck in the industry. Many still blame them for the ridiculous free-to-play monetization the industry has seen in recent years. Now they have a new free-to-gouge model, although I actually think I like it.
Over on Reddit, people are debating the merits of Evolve's pricing system. Rather than having players buy a full price game, plus DLC, they are questioning why it wasn't made as a free-to-play experience. Does this apply to all multiplayer games?
We may be using some new hardware in our living rooms, but the process of acquiring and playing a game is generally still the same. We buy a game, we install it and then we play it while moaning endlessly about that one cheap bastard of a boss that is almost impossible to defeat. But on the other end of the spectrum, there happen to be free to play games that are making an impact. And by impact, I mean a jackhammering of success on home consoles.
Puzzle & Dragons is a ridiculously popular free-to-play mobile game. The formula and design is fairly simple, but now it's getting a Mario skin and making its way to the 3DS.