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Cryptic, Riot, and more weigh in on free-to-play growing pains

MJ Guthrie

Anyone adamantly wanting a return to gaming where a handful of publishers and platforms run the show might need to acquire a time-machine to do so. In a recent article, various development studios -- including Cryptic Studios, Riot Games, and EA -- discussed the growth of free-to-play and how the model is affecting the games industry as a whole.

According to these publishers, there's no argument that F2P will become a major force in the industry. Cryptic Studios COO Craig Zinkievich remarked that although F2P is stigmatized as evil in the social market, the recent influx of titles has gotten the core gaming audience more excited about the model. More consumer excitement, of course, leads to higher-quality games. Sean Decker, VP of EA's Play4Free label, noted, "The good thing about so many companies moving into the free-to-play space is that it's great for the players: the quality of graphics are going up, the quality of the gameplay is going up."

However, in the rush to capitalize on F2P, some are going to crash and burn. Zinkievich said, "I think there will definitely be failures within the next 12 to 24 months. Many who are entering the market right now are doing it as almost a money-grab." He added, "But subscription is dead. [Star Wars:] The Old Republic was the biggest possible swing for the fences. There is no longer any argument over whether that can be done. Free-to-play is the way of the future. It is the new world." Does that include console gaming? According to these folks, yes.

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