FREE TO PLAY GAMES

US $100In recent years we have noticed a new movement in PC games.

Alien Swarm is one game that Valve published for free. The game became wildly popular and the Steam store acquired many new clients.

Valve’s Steam DRM platform has become very popular with publishers. Locking the game to the original purchaser is not very popular with players who historically sold or gave away old titles once they had no more use for it.

EA recognized the problem and opened their Origin store. They used the popular Battlefield 3 as the launch vehicle.

Most free to play games use premium items to earn revenue. The popular Age of Empires Online uses such an approach. While a premium city is available for $20 a free city is available but its much more difficult to each level 40.

Microsoft Flight has been released for free for the anniversary of the original DOS game. The free game is more of a playable demo as it is impossible to get anywhere in the game without paying cash for a more suitable aircraft etc.

The Korean AION is now available as a free to play game. AION is a very popular RPG and it is now available to the English speaking world.

Tribes Ascend is available. This game is a bit over 3 GB but they are using an installer inside the game launcher.

Vindictus is another free game now available on Steam. Its a MMORPG and it depends on players to buy things for their character.

Sony is getting into the act with their PlanetSide 2 shooter. Its being offered as a massive online clash that features huge armies of players fighting it out.

Hawken is a rehash of the classic Mech Warrior games from Lucas Arts.

Splash Damage, makers of Brink etc., are readying a new free to play shooter called Dirty Bomb. Found another free to play game. This one is a mod called No More Room in Hell.

Overall there are now many free games for the PC. You can find the latest titles on the home page.

FUTURE TRENDS

Electronic distribution reduces costs for publishers. This moves cost to consumers who have to upgrade their internet plans to be able to download vast amounts of data every time they have to reinstall Windows. Today there are now many publishers using electronic distribution.

The reason for the move to electronic distribution is simple economics. The marginal cost of a game DVD is around $4-$5 while the marginal cost of a download is virtually free.

The typical fist person shooter can cost between $20-60 million to produce. It can take a team of 100 over 18 months to produce a top quality game. The trend for new titles is for higher costs due to the increased amount of artwork found in the typical game. Generally the bigger the game distribution the more artwork there is.

Popular games like Battlefield 3 sold millions of copies. EA earned over $1 billion from the game. Most titles however do not sell that many copies. Metro 2033 sold about 1.5 million copies.

It’s not surprising that free to play games top the popularity lists. Games disks are expensive.

NOV 2013

Checking the free to play in Steam, we noticed there are now 77 titles. This demonstrates that free to play has some potential in the market place. It definitely makes it easier to evaluate games from a review perspective as screen shots are now easier to make.

THE EU STEPS IN

Google has agreed to comply with a new series of guidelines that have been released by the European Commission. The guidelines will require developers and app stores to stop advertising games as “free” when they offer in-app purchases. The changes go into effect late September 2014. Apple has also been singled out with the free to play apps in their store. but unlike Google they have been dragging their heels.

“In-app purchases are a legitimate business model,” European Commission vice president Neelie Kroes says, “but it’s essential for app-makers to understand and respect EU law while they develop these new business models.”