Free to Play is here to stay. Capcom has recently revealed that their upcoming PS4 title Deep Down will be using a free to play revenue model at the Tokyo Game Show a few days ago. Meanwhile gamer’s reactions have ranged from outright dismissal to cautious optimism about how Capcom will go about seeking players hard earned money. One thing that is quite clear, however, is that the paradigm is shifting in gaming and that in the future F2P will become a lot more ubiquitous in the AAA sphere.
When Peter Molyneux commented on the fact that he wasn’t impressed by GTA V and its sales, fans dismissed his claims with general mockery. The problem is that, while gamers and fans may disagree with him, publishers and developers heard him loud and clear and fully understood what he was saying. GTA V selling like hotcakes is very good news, and its record breaking performance is sure to be a boon to the industry as a whole as it proves that video games can be considered a legitimate entertainment medium with Hollywood level revenues to back it up. Not every game, however, is GTA V. When Molyneux spoke of $3 to $5 million a day revenue, publishers like Capcom smacked their lips and drooled like Pavlov had just rang his bell. They want a piece of that action in every way that they can get it, especially if it means opening multiple revenue streams of that caliber.
Sure the argument can be made that the console market and the mobile market are two very different entities, and that would be mostly correct. With more and more flagship franchises appearing in mobile form or having high profile mobile spin offs, however, the line between the two is being blurred, and now with F2P games increasingly showing up on consoles, it’s fairly obvious that they want to recreate that mobile revenue magic on consoles. The question is how much “core gamers” will take to this model. With games like World of Warcraft already paving the way, there is evidence for just how effective microtransactions can be even if it is taking over in a game that already has a deeply established fan base that is used to paying for game content in other ways.
Love it or hate it, the F2P model is taking root. This is not to say that the sky is falling. Games as we know them are not doomed, but the landscape is certainly shifting and many industry eyes will be studying Deep Down and just how well it does. Other titles have made the F2P shift on consoles, but with the new generation of consoles practically upon us, the fact that such a high profile game has gone F2P is a sign of things to come down the road; leaving gamers that aren’t turned off outright hoping that the revenue models are not overly onerous in their implementation.