Lately there has been a rise in video games that operate under the “free-to-play” model, as major publishers are beginning to embrace it. For those who don’t know, free-to-play is a business model where you can play most of the game for free, while the company who made that game can charge you for certain other parts of the game.
I don’t trust “free-to-play” at all. What’s wrong with the traditional “one-time purchase” model? In the traditional model, you’d only have to pay once, and then you get to enjoy your game. It’s been like this since the 1970’s, when the console games industry started, and now it looks as though big companies are trying to change things just for the sake of making a mint.
The free-to-play model is quickly gaining prominence. Even Soul Calibur, once a mighty fighting game franchise, has given itself over to the free-to-play model. Personally, I think it’s only being accepted because it gives big companies an opportunity to be even greedier than before. With the free-to-play model, companies can charge real money for in-game items, or even advertise in their games.
Of course, I should consider the fact that there are several kinds of free-to-play games. For example, there are “freemium” games, which offer the “full version” for free, while utilizing micro-transactions for purchasing virtual items with real money. Some games, released as freeware, don’t charge the user at all, but are usually released as proprietary software.
For me, the traditional one-time purchase model was perfectly fine, and it was ultimately more satisfying because you were paying for a finished game (usually). If you ask me, I’d rather pay full price for a game that was finished, than pay several times in a game that isn’t even complete. That’s almost as bad as Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, which offered the true ending as DLC that you had to pay for.
Also, if some of these free-to-play games had you keep spending money in order to keep playing them, how long will it be before video games morph into something eerily similar to gambling addiction.
Thankfully, companies like Nintendo continue to have faith in the traditional model, standing firmly in opposition to companies like EA, who believes that freemium will be dominant, and that micro-transactions will be a part of every game. If you ask me, it’ll be a cold day in hell before EA is even remotely right.