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Why F2P won't eliminate paid games

Jef Reahard

Champions RPG co-creator and former EA and Capcom marketer Steve Peterson has published a lengthy rebuke of conventional F2P-is-the-future wisdom.

"The reality is that many game designs don't lend themselves to free-to-play monetization," Peterson writes. "Virtual items in story-centered games like Telltale's Walking Dead series would be ridiculous. Balance is a difficult issue for virtual items in many games, particularly as the variations of items multiply. Blizzard's massive problems with the Auction House in Diablo III show that."

He goes on to cite DIII's premium buy-the-client price point as an example of how pay-up-front PC games remain a hugely profitable market, to say nothing of the fact that F2P has made little headway on consoles. "While free-to-play is a very successful business model, it's not the only business model that's succeeding these days," he explains. "Not all games lend themselves to the business model, and not all developers are prepared to deal with the issues involved. Some platforms are less suited to free-to-play games, and there's evidence to suggest that paid games are making a comeback on mobile. Some developers have complained about the model in very public ways. Free-to-play is a fine hammer, but not every game is a nail."

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