After eyeing the likes of Rovio making millions by selling endless iterations of a tarted up artillery game for free/pennies, other video games companies have been pondering making more use of the free-to-play (F2P) model made fashionable by the mobile and social games platforms. In Ubisoft’s recent conference call they revealed that internet connectivity and chargeable downloadable content will become more important than ever to the monetisation of games.
We have already mentioned the upcoming Wii U full game download system, with Ubisoft being a major player in the Wii U launch with 7 titles lined up. Ubisoft intend to bring free-to-play games to the Wii U to make money from selling items within, and extensions to, the games. An early example of this charging system is within Ghost Recon Online where, according to Wikipedia, players will “rent a gun” for a period of time. The Windows version is confirmed as free-to-play but we haven’t heard if the Wii U version will be exactly the same as yet. According to the report on the MCV gaming news website there will be quite a few other games for next gen consoles featuring in game buyables and purchasable unlockables.
Thankfully Supercars on Amiga/ST didn't need real money for the custom shop upgrades to your car.
Colin Sebastian of Baird Equity Research told MCV; “UbiSoft expects this to drive better monetization than what is commonly available in the current generation. We believe the F2P model on consoles, as part of a broad multi-platform strategy (phones, tablets, connected TVs) could drive a higher level of profitability per franchise. In addition, developers of Facebook and Mobile/Tablet games may discover a new platform opportunity for their titles in the next console generation.”
It will be interesting to see the financial results of the Ghost Recon Online launch on Windows and Wii U. Gamespy, in the previous link, think it’s a great game which, in the Windows version they played, you need not spend a penny to compete fairly with players who have paid for extras. Everything in the game was unlockable with time. Everyone likes “free” and it’s not usual to get free big budget games on a console legally. A good selection of playable high quality F2P games available to Wii U could help it succeed if they get a good head start on Microsoft and Sony F2P development.