Free-to-play as a business model stirs a lot of passionate opinions in both gamers and developers. According to Richard Bartle
, well-known gaming researcher and co-creator of the first MUD, free-to-play as a business model has a certain half-life
and is going to hit a point when it's just not viable any longer. Bartle spoke on the topic at the Develop conference in Brighton, explaining that the lack of standardization across the industry is part of what will hamper the model, with different games placing different cash gates at varying levels of restrictiveness.
Bartle went on to state that the model also relies upon a fixed number of people willing to pay a large amount of money to make up for the users who pay nothing, and designers themselves will be unhappy with developing content for free-to-play titles. It's undeniable that the free-to-play model has had a massive impact on MMOs; whether it's a temporary thing or a consistent feature of this particular genre is still up for debate