“I believe that single-player will be the next to be cracked in terms of freemium monetisation,” said Ben Cousins, manager of Ngmoco Stockholm, during the Free-2-Play Summit in London. “And I’m talking about traditional, story-based, scripted, linear and non-linear single-player that we see on consoles.”
“I am totally 100 per cent confident – I will bet large amounts of money – that we will have, in the next few years, a free-to-play equivalent of Skyrim. A game like Skyrim, where you accrue skills and equipment over time, that you can play for hundreds of hours, is actually one of the easiest games to develop for a free-to-play model. That would be a big hit.”
Cousins talked of three eras of free-to-play games.
1.0 is the original era where micro-transactions items only offered cosmetic and customization options. The average spend of gamers was around $5 according to Cousins.
2.0 is the Zynga model, where transactions are used to remove purposely built in time sinks such as waiting for buildings to erect or plants to grow. The average spend is $20.
Finally 3.0 is the future of the genre which will include purchasable gameplay features and functions that will add to the game. Cousins predicts that the average spend here will be closer to $60 per player.
EGM’s TAKE: The only worrying part we see in this prediction is that the allure of free-to-play may become so massive for developers and publishers that pretty much all games will follow it. If you can actually create something to the quality of Skyrim and make it free-to-play then most will choose that rather than a retail release. Imagine it, there’s no piracy, due to it being constantly online and you also remove used game sales, as there’s nothing physical to trade in. This could be exactly what developers and publishers have been looking for. Is free-to-play really the future?