I hate “free to play”.
Ok, that headline it a bit overly inflammatory. While I am sceptical of the free to play trend, what I hate is the wording “free to play”.
The reason some people are moving to this area is that free to play showed up in the “social gaming” segment (facebook) and made a few people (zynga) very rich. It’s been tried in other genres in other markets with decent success. By “success”, I mean “it’s profitable”. The reason anyone switches to “free to play” is to make more money. You get your players hooked on your game, and then you try to monetize them. The idea is to find a model where there basically is no cap on how much the player can spend, then try to encourage players to spend more and more money. Various psyhological traps like abusing the sense of sunk costs get exploited, and eventually you end up with a game that’s designed more like a slot machine than half-life 2.
So instead of calling it “free to play”, we should call it “as expensive as you want it to be” or something.
I do not mind paying for games after the purchase. I like customizing my character, or getting a few extra levels (DX HR:Missing Link, woo!), or even paying a subscription cost for something with running costs.
But let’s get one thing clear: people who think “free to play” is a great future are mostly game developers, not game players.
I’ll go play some team fortress 2 now until dota 2 is released. I can’t wait!! =D