OPINION: Free to play is here to stay, but so are other models

Leigh Harris
OPINION: Free to play is here to stay, but so are other models

Cliffy B recently utilised his newfound freedom to espouse some rather frank views on the current fate of the gaming industry.

Namely, he thinks the Wii U could see Nintendo be forced to back out of hardware entirely, and that Microsoft and Sony were about to lay the smack down on one another's respective posteriors. 

I, too, have expressed some skeptical sentiments regarding the Wii U as a strategy.

Nintendo aside, Cliffy made the comment that games needed to come out at all prices. Subscription models are apparently being toyed with over at Sony, which is great, but Cliffy asserted that free-to-play, in-game purchases and indeed every single price point from $5 to $80 (AU) needed to stick around.

I agree with him in that I simply don't see business models going anywhere. Crowdfunding, the publisher model, self-distribution, free-to-play, pay by donation and all other manner of methods to get games to market have been viable before and likely will continue to be.

In the same way that entire mediums such as theatre, vinyl, comic books and free-to-air television never went away (even if they did become more niche) when they respective larger and more 'advanced' competitors bust into the joint like bulls in various china shops - all that happened was that the market became more broad and choice increased.

To illustrate via the most pertinent case-in-point, App Annie charted the meteoric rise of freemium iOS apps in the last two years, but the premium market is still there - it just looks small now due to the gold rush which surrounds it.

That all said, the power for setting which business models apply are in the hands of very few, so sweeping mandates changes are a possibility, but if they're no good, we flexible and ingenious gamer bunch will undoubtedly contravert any massively negative moves with our own ways of re-opening distribution.

There's no one silver bullet for getting a game to market, and as such, I don't expect any one method to dominate at the expense of all others.

Things will simply diversify, and that's generally a good thing.



Tags: Retail , Distribution , Development , cliff bleszinski

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