Remember childhood fads like Neopets and Runescape? They were merely the start of a much bigger movement in gaming. Modern free-to-play (FTP) games now range from MMORPGs to Facebook games. But it doesn’t stop there. FTP games will soon be expanding to next gen consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But does this mean that FTP is the new way to game?
FTP games have been available on consoles since 2011. However, due to increasing popularity, they are now included in the next generation starting line-up. The PS4 has FTP launch titles such as Warframe and DC Universe Online, while Xbox One is launching with Killer Instinct and Project Spark. And both systems have even more FTP games scheduled for release in 2014. Check out the full launch title line ups here: Xbox One or PlayStation4.
For Sony and Microsoft, the FTP business model attracts consumer attention and keeps their membership base active. It’s a smart move, especially if the games are free to play after buying the console and/or paying a general online subscription fee.
However, other successful FTP games, such as League of Legends, are able to produce revenue without a membership fee. While LoL’s paid options don’t imbalance the game mechanics, the cost of maintaining millions of active users is still apparent: ratings are low, server errors are frequent, and the community is riotous.
The FTP vein is taking focus away from the quality of gameplay in order to cater to the whims of the masses. In a way, the FTP model has the potential to turn the gaming industry we know and love into nothing more than commercial marketing schemes, no longer produced purely for the enjoyment of the game mechanics, graphics, and story.
Despite any reservations, the FTP format is expanding. Will FTP games ever completely replace paid gaming? Probably not. But FTP gaming has certainly become a significant, possibly dangerous, element in the competition.