In case you hadn’t noticed – the industry we work and play in is changing at an alarming rate. Gamers are moving to mobile platforms in droves – and mobile platforms are dominated by the Free-To-Play business model. The model is quickly spreading to other platforms, and some are predicting it will be the dominant model in a few year’s time.
This disruption has caused a great amount of division among developers and gamers alike.
On one side of the fence, some of the “old school” folks are talking about the evils of F2P. Adam Saltsman wrote up a post awhile back calling out what he called “Contrivance and Extortion” of Microtransactions, and it caused quite a stir. Adam said the following, about games that offer you the ability to pay to skip past the grind:
“This is extortion in the worst way; this is extortion of the time we have left until we die, the sole resource of consequence for human life. Developers who deliberately engage in this kind of design should be ashamed of their creations.”
On the other side of the fence, F2P proponents like David Edery talks about the “Magic of F2P” and compares it to a progressive taxation where wealthy players support the poor ones. David makes it sound like a utopia for gamers and developers alike.
From what I’ve seen, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground. Dan Cook (also of Spry Fox, which creates F2P games) wrote recently that he’s giving up on the term “Free to Play” altogether because, as he put it:
“You end up with these strange fervent gangs of very angry internet people who pounce on any discussion that mentions F2P and then vomit up a series of pre-digested talking points. There is no meaningful dialog nor is there any desire for such.”
I think unfortunately, the tendency on both sides of this war tend to overlook some of the very valid concerns of the other side, and to sometimes skew the perceived benefits of their chosen model.
And I think what’s unfortunate is that we seem to be mostly focused on discussing whether free-to-play is evil or not. Naturally, people will disagree on this, and so there’s little meaningful consensus.
Perhaps instead, we should look at the big picture: What does F2P mean to the core play experience? What does it mean to us as developers? What does it mean to the industry as a whole? What does it mean to the relationship between developer and player?
You may have guessed by now, or read in one of my previous posts – that we at Flippfly have decided that F2P isn’t for us.
Here are some of the reasons that lead to that decision.