Doom co-creator John Romero gave an interesting interview to GamesIndustry.biz recently in which he compares the modern free-to-play model with the early 1990s shareware revolution driven by id's hellish sci-fi shooter.
"Our entire first episode was free -- give us no money, play the whole thing. If you like it and want to play more, then you finally pay us. To me that felt like the ultimate fair [model]. I'm not nickel-and-diming you. I didn't cripple the game in any design way. That was a really fair way to market a game," Romero said. "When we put these games out on shareware, that changed the whole industry. Before shareware there were no CD-ROMs, there were no demos at all. If you wanted to buy Ultima, Secret of Monkey Island, any of those games, you had to look really hard at that box and decide to spend 50 bucks to get it."
He goes on to say that F2P design will mature and at some point lose its stigma. "People are spending a lot of time trying to design this the right way," he explained. "They want people to want to give them money, not have to. If you have to give money, you're doing it wrong. For game designers, that's the holy grail."
Romero also remarks on the parallels between today's industry and the fledgling game industry of 30 years ago that he says was wholly created by indies, as well as the autonomy enjoyed by modern developers as a result of the move away from retail and traditional publishing. "With PC you have free-to-play and Steam games for five bucks. The PC is decimating console, just through price," he said. "Free-to-play has killed a hundred AAA studios."