Analyst argues game devs are abandoning free-to-play in some genres

Red Fox Insights analyst Jake Parmley has another piece on Gamasutra this week, this one arguing that video game developers are “backing away from free-to-play” — and why.

Parmley suggests that the vast majority of consumers (over 80% in the US and UK groups surveyed) prefer games with one-time fees in spite of the success of F2P games like League of Legends and Hearthstone, which is having an effect elsewhere in the video game market. FPS titles, he argues, are leaning away from F2P, and he cites three examples in our wheelhouse:

  • OverwatchBlizzard launched Overwatch as a B2P title and has said it will consider the data post-launch.
  • LawBreakers – CliffyB announced a move from free-to-play to buy-to-play back at GDC because “a lot of core gamers have a negative reaction when they hear free-to-play because they think they’ll get ripped off.”
  • Atlas ReactorTrion likewise moved from a planned F2P to B2P model, saying its players “really just wanted to be able to just pick up the game and have all the options open to them.”

“Free-to-play suits many games and certain audiences appreciate the ‘no barriers to entry approach,'” Parmley argues. “Even Blizzard’s own Hearthstone appears naturally suited for free-to-play, where purchasing additional booster packs to enhance a deck is an idea mirrored by real-world card collecting. However, more devs are backing away from Free-to-Play in order to give audiences full game content up front.”

We previously covered Red Fox in April when Parmley took a look at Black Desert’s business model and described the relationship of high-priced items, player champions, and community growth.

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