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Sony, Microsoft going 'heavily' on free-to-play next-gen, says Epic VP Rein


Sony and Microsoft are telling developers they're "going heavily" on free-to-play and in-app purchasing models with their next-gen consoles, according to Epic Games VP Mark Rein. Speaking in a roundtable discussion at the UK's Game Horizon conference, Rein said both companies will take on the kinds of financial models seen on mobile devices.

"The next-gen consoles are going to be fully embracing the free-to-play and these IAP-type business models," Rein told the audience, "So in case you don't know that I'm putting that out there. Sony and Microsoft are both going heavily in that area."

Roundtable chair Matt Martin of GamesIndustry International said that's what both platform holders are saying, but that "we still need to see some kind of evidence."

Rein replied, "Well, I'm telling you. I'm telling you what they're telling developers."

In this month's issue of Game Informer, via Gaming Everything, Sony Worldwide Studios chief Shuhei Yoshida said his company's working on a "free-to-play type" PS4 game, and that Sony is open-minded when it comes to different financial models.

"We are developing a free-to-play type of game, but we haven't announced it yet," Yoshida told Game Informer. "We don't have any subscription-based games in development, but we are not crossing out any type of game; if it makes sense for a particular project, we'll look at adopting different models. We are open for any types of models. Overall, we are increasing investment in the digital side of development, either through digital titles like Journey that we've been doing, but also trying to add more service-based models to our games going forward, like DLCs or additional features post launch."

Sony also recently announced Blacklight: Retribution as a free-to-play PS4 game.

Later during the Game Horizon roundtable, which focused on "new opportunities in video game hardware," Rein said the PS4 and next Xbox can learn from Google and Apple on how to make gaming more convenient for players.

"I think what you're going to see the new consoles do is a better job of making it easier," Rein said. "I think the real big thing that the consoles can do is improve their interfaces. They can improve the Xbox Live-type experience. They can improve their media center capabilities. But that's only going to make them also better platforms for having your games. Your games will just come down from the cloud, you'll be able to go to any Xbox, sign in, and boom, you'll be able to play your game."

"I think they can make gaming a lot more convenient, and then I think you'll game more if it's more convenient," he added.

We should learn more on all that in the coming weeks, with the next Xbox set to be announced on May 21, and E3 kicking off in just over a month's time.

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