Will all games become 'Free to play' in the future?Jul, 29 2023
A Future Without Price Tags
Every single day, I catch my son, Cassius, and daughter, Jemima, engrossed in their gaming world. Their eyes are glued to the screens like super-strong neodymium magnets, completely lost in this virtual reality filled with various missions, innumerable characters, and, most importantly, countless free to play games. It's a term we no longer use lightly in the world of gaming, as more and more games are jumping on the "Free to Play" bandwagon. Gets you thinking, doesn't it? Is, or rather will, "Free to Play" be the ultimate destiny for all games in the future?
The ‘Why’ Behind the Shift
The landscape in gaming communities around the globe is shifting like tectonic plates beneath us, quietly but powerfully. As a chill Wellington, New Zealand resident who’s alive to the digital thrills and spills and a gaming enthusiast himself, yours truly Orion must confess, free to play games are not just hitting the mark but also hitting it hard. It's all a part of the global change that we are witnessing - one where easy accessibility attracts more participants, thus more opportunities for monetizing.
Developers are invariably drawn towards the prospect of having a massive player base, as it means a larger pool of potential customers who could be enticed into making in-game purchases. From a business standpoint, it's a calculated gamble for a bigger reward. Free games are like the digital equivalent of delicious appetizers – they whet your appetite and eventually prompt you to order the full course for that satisfying experience.
'Free to Play' Triumphs
Swooping into the heart of the matter with the grace of a mythical griffin from one of those games (compliments to Cassius for the metaphor), here's the thing. It's evident that 'Free to Play' games are not a fleeting trend, but an evolution within the larger market dynamics. Monumental successes like Fortnite and Warframe are testament to the fact that this model allows publishers to reach a wider audience, a fact that would not have been possible with a pay-to-play model.
Remember, pay-to-play games are like a exclusive clubs where you need membership to be accepted, which can be somewhat discouraging for the budget-conscious audience. The triumph of free games lies in their deceptive simplicity and inclusivity and of course, the option of in-app purchases.
Free – The New Profitable?
Once upon a summer's eve, Jemima looked at me with her bright, inquisitive brown eyes and asked me, “If games are free, how do they make money?” Aha, a question that deserves high praise! If the games are free, how indeed do developers profit from it?
There’s an unspoken, unwritten rule really – nothing comes for free. This crucial truth applies even to free games, surprisingly. Understand that 'Free to Play' does not necessarily mean 'Free to Enjoy'. Many games lure you into their captivating world with the promise of no-entry fee and when you're swept up in the fervor, that’s when they hit you … with premium content and add-ons that you can only access by forking out some hard-earned cash. It’s this ingenuity that makes 'Free to Play' perhaps more profitable than traditional models.
Hold Your Horses, It’s Not All Sunshine and Rainbows!
Looking at it objectively, there's a flip side to this free game utopia. Questions about the ethical dimensions of 'Free to Play' games are abundant. Mind you, the world of gaming is as murky and unpredictable as the Wellington weather on a bad day.
Remember those pushy salespeople nagging you to buy unnecessary items? This model, in the wrong hands, can turn into something similar. The pressure to monetize could lead developers to build games that are deceptively designed to push gamers into making purchases. Not only can this lead to unenjoyable gaming experiences, it can also pave the way for excessive spending, particularly in young and vulnerable players like my Jemima and Cassius. Indeed, it's a thin line and one that needs more than just careful treadings.
A Peek Into the Crystal Ball
Now for the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question, will all games eventually become free to play? Let’s speculate with an open mind. Given the popularity of the model and the potential for significant profit, there's a strong likelihood that many games will adopt this approach. However, whether Every.Single.Game will move under the 'Free to Play' umbrella remains uncertain.
In my humble opinion, diversity will always be the mainstay of the gaming world. There will be gamers who'd rather pay upfront and enjoy unhindered gameplay, much like there are people who still prefer reading paperbacks over eBooks. While I wouldn't place a wager on a complete shift to 'Free to Play' games, I could easily be sipping tea in a future where it's the dominant model in the industry. After all, if the world of gaming has taught us anything, it’s that the odds can be defied and boundaries constantly redrawn.