Free To Play: One Of The Hottest Gaming Formats For Cloud Gaming
As cloud gaming comes into its own, something that most industry experts agree is coming down the pike in 2014, the search for the most effective way to market these games successfully becomes one of the most important activities around. Cloud gaming has effectively leveled the playing field, making the scramble for market share more important than ever before.
One of the more unique methods of marketing that has come down the pike in recent year is the free-to-play model. As opposed to actually purchasing a game, with the free-to-play model players can play a significant portion of the game for free.
(Image Source: Team Fortress)
Advantages of Free-to-Play
Many industry experts agree that the free-to-play model is not only here to stay, but could also signal the death knell of retail purchasing in the near future. The psychology behind this is simple: people like free stuff. So when a game that is comparable in graphic, sound and content quality to its paid counterparts comes into play, approximately ten times more people are expected to try it out.
While having a stable full of customers ten times the size of your competitors is good, how do you get them to pay? Given that free-to-play games are, well, free as the name indicates, no upfront payment exists to cover costs and profits for the developer. The answer to this quandary comes in the form of a relatively new form of payment called the microtransaction.
Microtransactions, also known as micropayments, are pretty much exactly what they sound like: a financial transaction involving extremely small amounts of money. These microtransactions are used to purchase additional content in the game, further enhancing play by an order of magnitude.
Disadvantages to Free-to-Play
Surprisingly enough, one of the biggest arguments against the free-to-play is ethics. The reasoning behind this is that given how small the transactions are in free-to-play video games, people will do them more often. In turn, this can lead to an excessive amount of spending money on game items, to the point where it has been equated to gambling addiction.
Actual gameplay is another area that can suffer under the free-to-play model. This occurs when paid players are awarded with special items and additional content in exchange for their payment. Since non-paying players do not receive these extras, the board is severely tipped in the favor of the payer.
The Future of Free-to-Play
If there is one thing that virtually every industry insider can agree on, it is that free-to-play is here to stay. In fact, it is already one of the primary methods of video gaming in many other parts of the world. For example, China has over 100 million online gamers, with actual game consoles being comparatively nonexistent. As you can imagine, free-to-play is already a huge industry over there.
Having a model like free-to-play is key in developing online and cloud-gaming audiences to their full potential. Do you like the free-to-play game model? Let us know in the Comments section below!
By Joe Pellicone