Mobile Dev Foresees Free Skyrim Analogue Making Millions

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Mobile Dev Foresees Free Skyrim Analogue Making Millions

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The next generation of free-to-play games will target single-player experiences and provide content as compelling as Skyrim, says an ngmoco manager.

Many of you paid $60 for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on launch day and never looked back. Most folks agree that the game was well worth the price of admission. For the price of a semi-upscale dinner for two, Skyrim provided dozens - if not hundreds - hours of content with polished sound and visuals to envelop the experience. Now, here's the question: would you have been willing to pay that same $60 in several small installments? Ben Cousins, general manager of mobile game company ngmoco Sweden, thinks so. According to him, free-to-play games are about to enter their third wave, and within two years, something akin to a free-to-play Skyrim will ignite the core gamer market for massive profits.

"I believe that single-player will be the next to be cracked in terms of freemium monetisation," says Cousins. "[Traditional], story-based, scripted, linear and non-linear single-player that we see on consoles." Cousins holds the view that free-to-play games have had two distinct generations so far: an early one where only cosmetic items were for sale, and the current one where payments eliminate annoying roadblocks in a player's way, like accelerating construction time in CityVille. He envisions a third generation that appeals to core gamers by offering traditional single-player experiences with a staggered payment model. "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."

As for how much money a game like this could make, Cousins believes it has the potential to exceed even modern-day blockbusters. He argues that free-to-play single-player games make a "lifetime" investment of $60 easier than an up-front payment, and thus could attract swaths of traditional core gamers, as well as those in growing markets like South Asia and Africa. Cousins predicts that such an industry could collectively grow to $100 billion, but even more conservative estimates place a single-player, free-to-play industry into the billion-dollar-plus range.

The free-to-play single-player game isn't actually as bizarre as it sounds. Think about the proliferation of DLC and how AAA series from Assassin's Creed to Mass Effect are already selling players small chunks of an overarching story. The economics, tools, and customer interest for the third wave of freemium games are already here; now someone just needs to make an excellent game to go along with them.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Great, I hope this fails...horridly.
I hate the DLC for 'true story ending' crap, don't need ANOTHER reason to get nickle and dimed.

Dear EA/Ubisoft/other 'tards trying to screw me:
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EA already has a policy like this, doesn't it? If you want freemium stuff you have to pay a few dollars extra, a la Tiger Woods 2013. Oh wait, that already costs 40 plus extra to unlock most of the courses.

I could certainyl see how something like this would work. Taking Skyrim as an example:

You get the game itself free, but then perhaps you can't customise your characters looks unless you stump up a few dollars for the character customiser. Then the guilds cost you a few each. A couple of new spells, not much more powerful than the normal ones, but they look cooler or something, a few dollars.

Skyrim sold a few million, but imagine how many would play it if it were free. I don't know if they really would make more, or even the same, as the standard pay $60 model, but it seems to work for MMORPGS, so it must be a viable strategy.

The idea of being able to pick up a game to play with nothing out of my wallet sounds appealing, but listening to this guy makes it all feel slimy.

No. Thank you, but no. I would just as soon get the developers their money at the get-go so they can get going on the next game I expect to enjoy.
It just feels like there is bound to be a loser in this deal, and if it isn't the customers, then it is going to be the people doing the actual work on the game.

In a world where games have more roadblocks than the Baghdad Green Zone...
We all know this isn't going to stay at $60 if this goes through. It was a terrible Idea for Mass Effect and time will not sweeten it.

Isn't that what we have already?

Minus the free to play part. Also: Imagine Skyrim if 98% of the game had to be purchased in over priced chunks. It would be AWFUL!

It could be fine if done right... but only if done right...

If I could go through all the choices I made in one playthrough of Skyrim and only end up paying $20 or so, then great! People that want only a single playthrough will pay $20 and those that want multiple playthroughs will make incrementally different choices so the second playthrough will cost an additional $5. Maybe I can get a massive unlock for $60.

But the problem remains that I'm ultimately having to be money conscious throughout the entire game, and that breaks immersion. I don't care if you call it Gems or Crystals or Skyrimbux or Bioware Points or whatever. I still see dollars and it'll break immersion.

Then people like EA, Activision, Bethesda, Ubisoft, or Capcom will come along and show the most exploitative way players can be milked. Play-to-win. Then the Korean online market will catch on and pump out a gazillion clones of something that marginally works.

It'd be great if done right... but it's unlikely to be done right...

I don't agree at all. I would rather just buy a game like Skyrim at the start. I have to profess, I don't ever play F2P games. I play some... I play some League of Legends when my friends are around occasionally. I was in the Tribes Ascend beta (awesome game) and the Blacklight Retribution beta (awesome game ruined by timed unlocks). But since release of Tribes, I haven't touched it. I bought and loved DCUO (being a massive comic book dork), finished in a month or two, and then never touched it again after it went F2P. It's just that... I spend money on games, I play them. I have something invested. I have zero invested in the majority of F2P games, so I don't really play them.

I probably wouldn't play a F2P Skyrim. Why you ask? Nothing breaks my immersion more than being given a sales pitch mid game. And most of the time, immersion is a major part of a single player game.

I don't know why all of these devs push mobile gaming so hard. The model is easier I suppose. You don't even need to make a working product to get people to buy that shit. I'm all for expansion, but mobile gaming is a step backwards. It like the original Gameboy. Sure there were some cool games on it, but they were all just smaller counterparts of the some full sized games. And as it stands now, that is all mobile games are. I don't want a smaller counterpart for Skyrim, even if I don't have to pay for it. I don't care for the Minecraft Mobile game because I play Minecraft on my PC. The 3DS ad Vita are at least offering full sized games on them and not mobile versions of existing games, which is all most Mobile/Smartphone games are.

It's not impossible, but I think it's just folly to think it's gonna happen soon.

Yip Yip

Completely expected the "pay to win" analogy to get thrown in here.

Heres what I dont get. Why the hell do people even allow free to play to exist knowing full well its built around a microtransaction model.

Seriously people are getting penny, nickle and dimed to death in an economy that is pure shit, and they want to extend it into what may well be the last bastions of gaming purity?

For fucks sake people, quit buying shit like this so they will quit trying to sell us shit like this and force the medium to become exclusively shit like this.

It could be fine if done right... but only if done right...

I agree with this. It would be sweet if I could download a game, play it, see if I like it, before shelving out any cash. It's just highly unlikely that it would be done correctly. The wrong kind of content would be shaved off.

Free to play and micro transactions aren't a bad way to do something but that doesn't stop people from using it incorrectly. Which is a funny way to look at it because doing it in such a way would grant the company more profit.

And aren't people forgetting about playing the game like 5 - 10 years from now?

With this 'pay as you go' and 'digital only'...if a company goes under.
You're boned.

It sucks.

Well, at first I disliked idea of small DLC chunks
But if developer realizes that there are players who dislikes wasting time on buying/unlocking DLCs (like me), it could be ok.
Let's say along other offers, free game comes with optional VIP pack- pay 60-70$ and you get every DLC/content pack that was/will be released in first 5 years. If game is being updated for more than 5 years, then Extended VIP pack for 20-30$ should be available for next 5 years.
For example, I bought such pack, and started the game, in main menu windows pops out with new and existing stuff, where I can simply choose what to install and what not. And stuff is being downloaded while I play, when download is done, it applies after I restart the game. Simple as that.

As an advocator of the F2P model, or would I say, good F2P models like Turbine's, I don't like the idea of having a single-player game and being rammed in the face with "convenience" items.

First, it would need a constant internet connection just to play SP, see how well it did with UbiSoft and how good it will fare with Blizzard and EA.

Second and would be included in the first line, if the company goes down, your game too and only the customer gets utterly screwed.

And third, microtransactions in an SP game (beyond DLC), just... no.

He envisions a game like Skyrim, but we savvy consumers know how to correctly translate such marketing speak to "crummy Skyrim clone".

That being said, if any game is gonna go F2P, I could see it working a lot better for something like an Elder Scrolls game than for something else. Give 'em the main story for free, sell quest packs as DLC. If quests can be done either before OR after beating the story, then it doesn't feel like a requirement nor does it discourage players who have finished the game from buying it. The thing is, this would only work in such an open game. Wise players will realize that a DLC dungeon is a more fun way of gaining experience than grinding in the forest, but not feel cheated since it's still an optional part of the game.

P.S. Thanks

P.P.S. Advertising captchas? Wow.

from the companies perspective you have customers playing your products for so much longer as well

Cousins holds the view that free-to-play games have had two distinct generations so far: an early one where only cosmetic items were for sale, and the current one where payments eliminate annoying roadblocks in a player's way, like accelerating construction time in CityVille.

So... The future Skyrim shall put up in-game roadblocks in the same style that arcades did "back in the day" with impossible challenges with the intent of taking as many dimes as possible out of our pocket?

You know, like in CityVille, a prime example of the latest freemium items where players can (And are semi-expected to) buy "upgrades" from the distributor.

If anything is done right; practically anything would be awesome. However ideas like this are MUCH MUCH more likely to turn a customer into an even larger open wallet compared to what some companies consider the average consumer today.

That worked out GREAT for Half Life and Sin Episodes.

The only game that didn't just suddenly die because of this Episodes shit is Sam and Max.

I think we all know where this is going:

"New Word learned! Force (Fus)! Spend 1 Dragon Soul and $2 to unlock it!"
"Smithing Level Up! Smithing 99! Your Smithing skill has gone as high as it can go.. Spend $1.50 to unlock the next Level!"

I disagree with this model, I'd rather just pay for a complete game straight out and am already annoyed by DLC and wish it would go away. If I can't play single player games without being harassed for money I might very well quit gaming.

Generally speaking the idea here isn't to collect the $60 in a "staggered" way, it's to try and make more than the price for just selling the game over a period of time in hopes that by spending the money gradually people won't notice that they are paying more for games.

That's how I see things at any rate. The infrastructure exists for someone to try this model, but that doesn't mean it's a paticularly good, or fun, idea, especially for the consumer. One of the biggest issue s with this kind of model already is that it's nearly impossible to tell what the level of financial committment to play well is going to be when you start, and that's one of the things the developers rely on.

Buretsu:
I think we all know where this is going:

"New Word learned! Force (Fus)! Spend 1 Dragon Soul and $2 to unlock it!"
"Smithing Level Up! Smithing 99! Your Smithing skill has gone as high as it can go.. Spend $1.50 to unlock the next Level!"

Exactly what I thought. There's few greater ways to pull you from the game than when the real world stops you from playing.

I would much rather just pay my lump sum of money and have the WHOLE game available to me; none of this stupid microtransaction nonsense. When I play a single player game I commit to the whole experience, with the exception of any available multiplayer.

I doubt this idea will be as successful as this Ben Cousins guy seems to think it will be.

Well... just try Battlefield:Heroes for an example of Ben Cousins idea of microtransactions done right.

... or I could save you the trouble and summarise it here :

Make the player either require a lot of time to aquire in game currency so that player can barely keep up, or pay a few bucks and get the best stuff in seconds.
In game currency items, you rent... for a few bucks you can get the items permanently.
For a few bucks you can suddenly pull a tank out your arse and turn the tables on the fight.
For a few bucks you... ah you get the idea.

I was happy with the older pay for the game , get the game... the whole game model. If the game was a huge success then release an expansion or two later down the road, not this make a game with the intent on selling parts of the game as DLC later on, or this proposed micro payments.

You all know what will happen right ? You will find yourself paying more in the long run for a Skyrim but in installments, the game will tease you and put up blocks that only for you can get past and carry on, and you can forget about mods at all.
Skyrim mods, noooo that may interere with the business model... sell you some mod like changes yes but not allow the public to mod the game.
It will also eliminate used games on consoles, after all all the micro transactions will be tied to one account, a player would have to sell thier account as well as the game.

That's basically an empty space game that you fill with your money. Um, no thanks. I'd rather buy a finished product with all the features for $60. Hell, Skyrim is a steal for $60.

I've always liked the -concept- of free to play an micro transaction based games. Games where you pay money based on how much you want to play. Instead of paying the up front buy in price, then hoping you like the game and get your moneys worth, rather just pay for content bit by bit.

HOWEVER, I have a strong aversion to this model right now. Currently, many publishers and developers seem to think that free to play is a method of subtly squeezing money out of players. I have played and seen far too many payment models for free to play games that are absolutely wallet crushing. When considering games that would otherwise be a subscription based game, you also run into the problem that sometimes developers seem to see free to play as an excuse to not be required to provide content updates, as they would have to with a subscription based online game.

Free to Play is a great idea, but until developers and publishers start using the model responsibly, I find myself wary of all titles that roll in under that guise.

I actually rather don't like the idea of a microtransaction Skyrim at all. I can get on board with it for online games to a degree but if I'm trying to sit back and enjoy a nice immersive single-player being asked for my credit card details every few hours would really put me off.

I know it's not quite the same thing, but I just plain stopped playing Dragon Age: Origins when that dwarf gave me a quest to go buy some DLC. (Warden's Keep)

Tanis:
Great, I hope this fails...horridly.
I hate the DLC for 'true story ending' crap, don't need ANOTHER reason to get nickle and dimed.

Dear EA/Ubisoft/other 'tards trying to screw me:
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This is why we can't have nice stuff.

The suggestion here is giving away 25% to 40% of a game like Skyrim absolutely free. More or less a huge demo. Download it. Play it. Decide if you like it before you spend a single penny. Then, if you do, here's nice affordable $5 to $15 chunks to but at your own pace as you can afford them to extend and expand the game. By the time you spend $60, you will have gotten the whole game that you currently have to buy not knowing if you'll like it or not. Then, with this model, it's easy to keep adding chunks and giving you more game to play at relatively low cost per transaction*, and the company keeps making money. Win-win.

But no. The nerd-raging internet flips the table at any change, even when it's to their benefit. Every week I find it harder and harder not to have sympathy for the likes of EA and Activision.

*Compare this to the current model of selling you basically the same game over and over again each year at full price so you can keep playing Modern Warfare, Battlefield, etc. multiplayer.

Because that wouldn't dick all over any immersion, would it? Besides, I'd bet a great deal of money that it works out as us spending more.

Proverbial Jon:

Buretsu:
I think we all know where this is going:

"New Word learned! Force (Fus)! Spend 1 Dragon Soul and $2 to unlock it!"
"Smithing Level Up! Smithing 99! Your Smithing skill has gone as high as it can go.. Spend $1.50 to unlock the next Level!"

Exactly what I thought. There's few greater ways to pull you from the game than when the real world stops you from playing.

I would much rather just pay my lump sum of money and have the WHOLE game available to me; none of this stupid microtransaction nonsense. When I play a single player game I commit to the whole experience, with the exception of any available multiplayer.

I doubt this idea will be as successful as this Ben Cousins guy seems to think it will be.

Couldn't have put it better myself. Admittedly I don't completely hate the idea of 'get game now, pay for game over the course of however long', but the benefit doesn't outweigh the potential negatives. And, y'know, I don't have a problem with paying for a game upfront in the first place.

The main thing I've taken from this is that 'freemium' is apparently a word now. (insert suitable table-flipping image macro here)

Tell you what else would make millions! Imagine, right, that you created a game which was so awesome that hundreds upon thousands upon millions of people bought it. Crazy, isn't it? Quality products making money by themselves!

Only from gamers would you see the offer of free stuff met with such boiling hot rage. What is -wrong- with you people?

Imagine what this would do to the modding community of Skyrim.

Fucking profit-maximizers...not that there's anything wrong with that in itself, but it's easy to take it too far.

Hitchmeister:

Tanis:
Great, I hope this fails...horridly.
I hate the DLC for 'true story ending' crap, don't need ANOTHER reason to get nickle and dimed.

Dear EA/Ubisoft/other 'tards trying to screw me:
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This is why we can't have nice stuff.

The suggestion here is giving away 25% to 40% of a game like Skyrim absolutely free. More or less a huge demo. Download it. Play it. Decide if you like it before you spend a single penny. Then, if you do, here's nice affordable $5 to $15 chunks to but at your own pace as you can afford them to extend and expand the game. By the time you spend $60, you will have gotten the whole game that you currently have to buy not knowing if you'll like it or not. Then, with this model, it's easy to keep adding chunks and giving you more game to play at relatively low cost per transaction*, and the company keeps making money. Win-win.

But no. The nerd-raging internet flips the table at any change, even when it's to their benefit. Every week I find it harder and harder not to have sympathy for the likes of EA and Activision.

*Compare this to the current model of selling you basically the same game over and over again each year at full price so you can keep playing Modern Warfare, Battlefield, etc. multiplayer.

Yeah, because nobody has any issues with the CoD-formula, so it's a valid comparison.

Why not do this with movies too? We'll get the first 30 mins for free, where they introduce all the characters and set the tone and whatnot. Then we pay for the next 30 mins, and if we like that, we'll pay for the last 30 mins to round it all up! =) Make sure you bring your credit card to the cinema!

"Flips the table at any change"? EA and Activision are already doing this, minus the "free"-part. And it's bad enough already. This has nothing to do with change, it's about exploitation and further undermining of consumer rights in this already consumer-hostile industry. Though it is true, everyone tend to overreact on the internet, I'll give you that. But frustration adds up. Given what I've just said, this is just another thing that causes frustration.

And "demos" already exist, if Bethesda wanted to give you 40% of the game before you decide to buy it, they would have. Kingdoms of Amalur gave you the entire tutorial/starting area of the game as a demo. Seemed to work fine to me.

Susurrus:
They had a similar thing in Dragon Age Origins - they had a character trying to take you to Warden's Keep, with a dialogue option "Purchase Warden's Keep DLC" or something. It was annoying as hell, and every time I saw the guy afterwards, it yanked me right out of any immersion I felt.

I know what you mean. Every time you see a guy like that in a game, you think "oh, there's the digital salesman. Great. Can't shut the door in his face or hang up..."

Icehearted:

razer17:
EA already has a policy like this, doesn't it? If you want freemium stuff you have to pay a few dollars extra, a la Tiger Woods 2013. Oh wait, that already costs 40 plus extra to unlock most of the courses.

I could certainyl see how something like this would work. Taking Skyrim as an example:

You get the game itself free, but then perhaps you can't customise your characters looks unless you stump up a few dollars for the character customiser. Then the guilds cost you a few each. A couple of new spells, not much more powerful than the normal ones, but they look cooler or something, a few dollars.

Skyrim sold a few million, but imagine how many would play it if it were free. I don't know if they really would make more, or even the same, as the standard pay $60 model, but it seems to work for MMORPGS, so it must be a viable strategy.

Many F2P games still have a cover charge. Guild Wars 2 won't be free to get, but it will be free to play and work much like you've otherwise described, more or less. I think Diablo 3 is about on that level as well, except with the odd choice of making players pay each other real money for fake goods.

"Guild Wars 2 won't be free to get, but it will be free to play and work much like you've otherwise described, more or less".

Really? I've read basically everything there is to read about Gw2, and I can't remember hearing that they're selling you pieces of the game...Imagine if they did though. You get to an area, and see that you have 5 dynamic events available. 3 are reserved for people who pay. Wouldn't that be something! =D

They had a similar thing in Dragon Age Origins - they had a character trying to take you to Warden's Keep, with a dialogue option "Purchase Warden's Keep DLC" or something. It was annoying as hell, and every time I saw the guy afterwards, it yanked me right out of any immersion I felt.

PrinceOfShapeir:
Only from gamers would you see the offer of free stuff met with such boiling hot rage. What is -wrong- with you people?

They are not talking about DLC here they are talking about selling you pieces of the game. Who the hell wants to be playing a single player game walk up to an NPC and get "Buy this quest from the store!" Leave that shit for MMOs it can stay over there just like every cookie cutter piece of shit MMO that comes out with the same boring X design. If this happens how long do you think it would take before single player games are the same design with cash shop items.

It's ridiculous and if the industry does decide to go this way I won't support it. DLC is bad enough, most content not lasting more than 30mins for $10+

razer17:
EA already has a policy like this, doesn't it? If you want freemium stuff you have to pay a few dollars extra, a la Tiger Woods 2013. Oh wait, that already costs 40 plus extra to unlock most of the courses.

I could certainyl see how something like this would work. Taking Skyrim as an example:

You get the game itself free, but then perhaps you can't customise your characters looks unless you stump up a few dollars for the character customiser. Then the guilds cost you a few each. A couple of new spells, not much more powerful than the normal ones, but they look cooler or something, a few dollars.

Skyrim sold a few million, but imagine how many would play it if it were free. I don't know if they really would make more, or even the same, as the standard pay $60 model, but it seems to work for MMORPGS, so it must be a viable strategy.

Many F2P games still have a cover charge. Guild Wars 2 won't be free to get, but it will be free to play and work much like you've otherwise described, more or less. I think Diablo 3 is about on that level as well, except with the odd choice of making players pay each other real money for fake goods.

What I am getting out of this is: "Let's make even MORE overpriced DLC and make the need for downloading it MORE, making our games have LESS lifetime and LESS collectibility in the future while people pay MORE money for a complete product.

Fuck this industry. I'll go back to play some Mega Man 3, which, by the way, is a complete game that has all the content when you buy it, AND you can buy it used AND you can play it without an internet connection AND it costs like 3 dollars now AND no-one will antagonize you for buying it used AND is completelly and utterly freaking awesome.

Free To Play Skyrim:

YOU HAVE RUN OUT OF STAMINA PLEASE PURCHASE A 2.99 STAMINA REFILL IN OUR IN GAME SHOP OR WAIT 8 HOURS FOR YOUR BAR TO REFILL!!

This article is basically wrong because the only real 2 gimmicks that all the successful F2P games have are 2 things. A carrot and stick gimmick and cosmetic. THAT'S IT. Anything that diverts from that is fail. Name any other game that was full at release with no gimmicks and was F2P. Except for like one rare game in Asia you are not likely to find it.

The carrot an stick is simple. Oh you need more (energy, faster build time) use this which you need to buy which gives instant gratification right away. Like farm ville and most of all the other city building type games which punish you with waiting. With a game like skyrim you want to play all the time.

Next would be buy cosmetic, power or unlock the story with money. And that won't get as much profit since face it once you buy more power its over. And walking around in a single player game in a santa outfit is basically useless. You dress up in online games to stand out. The only person you are impressing by spending 5 dollars to look like santa is well no one in a single player game. And unlocking the story is just basically making it a long drawn out shareware experience with a big wall that says YOU SHALL NOT PASS thus annoying me.

Free 2 Play type skyrim game will fail and I will enjoy watching it fail when it does happen.

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