When I decided to really look into the concept of â€˜FREE-TO-PLAYâ€™ games in 2006, it was met with quite a bit of resistance. I didn't really care, I wanted to see (for myself) the level of interest in our market.
To do that I had to get a game (without any brand loyalty) into the market and see what happened. Now 12 months later, the game is live I'm seeing so much interest, I'm not even waiting, I'm calling this one early.
I just checked the numbers (without a single TV commercial or magazine advert), we have over 725,000 people signed up to play 2Moons and it's still in Beta! It's blowing me away!
(Remember itâ€™s BETA, so Acclaim has lots of improvements in the pipe.)
We also recently announced the new development competition for the user-created MMO game â€˜TOP SECRETâ€™. Now remember they didnâ€™t sign up to PLAY a game, they signed up to MAKE a Free-to-Play MMO game together, and we passed 50,000 (student/indie/mod) developers signed up. (As I type it's 52,518.) Even if only 1% show up, thatâ€™s 525 developers on a team! (Normal teams are between 30 to 60 people.)
So is there interest there?
I think so.
I've talked to the console makers about launching games like this on their hardware and the response has been pretty surprising. They really are trying to hold off a long as possible as they don't like the idea of letting gamers play for free, using their network and bandwidth. Well I guess thatâ€™s not too surprising, they have their standard ways of doing things.
What's funny is this future is inevitable (free-to-play is here to stay), so why the heck not dominate the space?
Which hardware maker will pull the trigger first and start aggressively going after this market will be very interesting. They will likely see a massive spike in the amount of playing time on their consoles and they will be able to generate revenue through advertising & item sales.
I think we have proved the gamers are interested. We also have proved that itâ€™s a perfectly good business model (Acclaim is growing fast.)
It's funny how you hear about companies wanting to grow their markets and embrace the mass market. I think PRICE is a pretty damn good way of opening the doors. FREE being the doors are wide open!
So letâ€™s see how long the hardware companies wait before they have to allow numerous "full size" free-to-play games on their networks.
They need to add "Free to Play" to their concept submission documents soon.
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