[Update: I just found out Defiance, which I reference as a free-to-play title in this post, is going to have a shelf price of $60. So scratch that one from the list.]
A recent experience has me wondering what the long-term impact of so many free-to-play games will have on the industry. Now to be fair I’m doing that thing where I assume my experience reflects that of most gamers, so keep that in mind while you read this post.
I’m a casual shooter fan. I don’t play many shooters; the last one I picked up was Halo 4 I guess. I don’t play them competitively. But every so often I get in the mood where I want to run around shooting stuff and seeing things explode. In Ye Olden Tymes that would’be meant heading to the game store and seeing what’s available.
Not any more.
Friday night I was in the Defiance stress test. There’s an NDA on that game but it’s no secret that it’s an MMO shooter. The stress test was only a few hours and when it finished I found myself still in the mood to shoot stuff. So on Saturday I patched up Firefall and I spent Saturday and Sunday having fun in that beta. Firefall is also an MMO shooter. It has PVP but I was doing PVE and co-op PVE activities in it while I played.
Monday came around and I decided to change things up and play Borderlands 2. I think it’s safe to call BL2 a good game. I’ve seen it on some ‘game of the year’ ballets and most people seem to like it. I like it too. But it costs $50-$60 (or did when it launched anyway).
If I had it all to do over again, I probably wouldn’t buy Borderlands 2 at that price. Now I have to tread gingerly here. BL2 is priced competitively in the traditional gaming space. Compared to Halo 4 or Call of Duty its pricing is perfect. I’m not trying to knock BL2 in any way.
For people who take their shooters seriously I’m sure this isn’t the case, but I wonder if there are enough serious shooter fans to support many big budget $60 games. It is my understanding (and I may be wrong) that game publishers need casual gamers to purchase their titles in order to thrive.
So in the future, how will these publishers lure in casuals like me? What are they going to offer me that I can’t get for free?