CSR Racing Dev Believes in Single-Player Freemium

CSR Racing Dev Believes in Single-Player Freemium

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Boss Alien's Jason Avent thinks that a free-to-play Uncharted 4 would still make millions of dollars.

There's been quite a bit to say on the issue of free-to-play videogames in recent years. Some developers think they're great and some have problems with the format but the fact remains that a lot of people are playing them, especially in MMO and mobile markets. The trend hasn't really made its way into single-player markets just yet, but Boss Alien's Jason Avent thinks this could change in the near future. Based on his experience developing CSR Racing, a freemium iOS game that earns $12 million per month, Avent believes there's no reason story-based games like Uncharted or Skyrim couldn't have financially successful free-to-play releases.

"It doesn't have to be turned into Farmville," Avent explains. "It's a little bit different fitting it into a story-based game ... but if you were confident enough that the game was good you could let people finish it for free. I think you'd have to pay to complete it - as in do everything - and then there are other ways of monetizing, so you could give Uncharted 4 away. It would take a massive amount of confidence, but you could give it away."

Avent believes the reason single-player games haven't gone free-to-play isn't because the model is unfeasible, but because developers and publishers are afraid of it. "The fear is that you've spent, I don't know, $50 million on a game like Uncharted, and are you ever going to get that back?" Avent said. "You've got to get over that fear. These games make that amount of money. It's conceivable that single-title free-to-play games will be $100 million businesses. It's gonna happen."

While I personally prefer to buy my single-player content upfront, there still is some truth in his words. DLC content has created several alternate financial models for games that make free-to-play options far more feasible than they were ten years ago. While gamers were angry that titles like Dragon Age: Origins came with purchasable quests, that ire might have evaporated if the core game were free in the first place. All it would take is one success story under a free-to-play model for triple A publishers to change their tune.

Source: Games Industry International

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Yeah it would, but not because it's free-to-play: because it's Uncharted.

I really hope this free-to-play and freemium bullshit that these iOS developers keep spewing as this "innevitable future of gaming" dies in a mighty bright fire. If I pay $60 I want my game, I want it to have the content I paid for, and I want to be able to beat it. I don't want to shell out $5 here for "Unlocking Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Archery, and Lockpicking" or $5 here to "Unlock the ability to mod your copy of Skyrim!"

If they offer the ability to just buy the game upfront and let other people pay for additional "primary" content, like crafting or character customization in a game like Skyrim, then by all means go for it. But let me shell out a flat fee of $60 and buy my game up front.

Mega Messiah:
I really hope this free-to-play and freemium bullshit that these iOS developers keep spewing as this "innevitable future of gaming" dies in a mighty bright fire. If I pay $60 I want my game, I want it to have the content I paid for, and I want to be able to beat it. I don't want to shell out $5 here for "Unlocking Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Archery, and Lockpicking" or $5 here to "Unlock the ability to mod your copy of Skyrim!"

If they offer the ability to just buy the game upfront and let other people pay for additional "primary" content, like crafting or character customization in a game like Skyrim, then by all means go for it. But let me shell out a flat fee of $60 and buy my game up front.

I think you're confusing microtransations and DLC for freemium.

Freemium games go "This upgrade will cost you $10,000 of in-game cash, which would take you about 2 hours to pull of, OR you can pay $1.99 for 100 coins and get it right now!"

Nobody is forcing you to pay for this junk, there's just a lot of impatient people out there willing to fork over real cash to save themselves some digital time.

See also: gold buyers/powerlevers in MMORPGs.

Yea i miss the days when we got whole and complete games, and then expansions packs were whole and complete games in themselves.

Now days some publishers are so fing greedy that they need to lock out or make day one dlc crap that is overpriced and would have been in the game 5 years ago with your 50 dollars.

I rather get back to the 40 60 dollar x-packs that add real quality content than half the crap that is shoveled out as dlc.

nickle and diming the single player game is not the way to build good will among gamers.

It's an interesting idea, but a lot of single-player gamers don't have Internet at home (like me). You have to be online to pay for digital content. Therefore, I would never support a freemium Uncharted 4 if I had to pay to complete the game. I would, however, be willing to buy it at retail for $60 with everything in it to begin with, or I'd be willing to get the free version if the paid content was only extra stuff.

Freemium just isn't convenient for me, and I imagine it would cause huge problems with younger gamers, too. Freemium single-player is a feasible idea, but I dearly hope it goes through tons of improvements before it happens.

For example, what if Uncharted 4's freemium edition included everything the $60 retail edition normally would, but you could pay real money to get different weapons at specific times, or for a temporary bottomless clip. The game itself wouldn't be affected and would be fully playable and beatable without paying (and offline). But additional things like changing Drake's hair color or changing all the female characters' outfits to bikinis or making the AK-47 into a sci-fi laser rifle could be paid for. So TL;DR, the game would be free and players would pay for the cheats.

Not sure if that would work. Just throwing that out there because I'd fully support a game like that.

True premium is cool: Buy only the features you want. Age of Empires Online does this fairly well: You can play it for free, and the payment things are either one time, cosmetic, or unnecessary if you're a good player. You can pay to unlock a full civ, but you only have to do that once per civ, and of course if you don't like a civ you don't have to pay for it at all. Likewise if you don't like the defense against waves you don't have to buy it, if you don't like skirmish you don't have to pay for that and so on.

If you DO want things, you buy that feature once. If you don't want it, don't pay for it.

Ultra-Premium with $60 + DLC is BS though.

No, I'm sorry but no, just no. Story-based games need to be released the way they are now, boxed and as singular products (I'm ignoring DLC because it'll only throw me into an uncontrollable rage). The reason? Is because there are people out there -much like myself- who for some crazy reason, actually play the game for the story. And what do people like to do with stories? Experience them a second time. Now, as it stands we can do that with boxed games because they are there on our shelves, all we have to do is pull them down and pop 'em in and it'll stay that way until the world runs out of energy. But with all these "freemium" games and online distribution sale models, the games you buy won't always be there. Case and point, Metal Gear Online, I bought Metal Gear 4 and Metal Gear 3 Subsistence and I can't play either of their online modes. Servers get shut down people, they are closed, and when does that happen? When the fuckers running them feel like it and when keeping them open isn't making any more money. Now, for an MMO like WoW, this isn't an issue, WoW isn't going anywhere. But with Story-based games once you've played it, chances are those sequential play-throughs we do won't happen for a while, at least not in my experience. So the scenario you're looking at is the fanbase buying all the content there is, playing it, then stop, and by the time they come back to play it a second time, servers are down. Game is gone. Plus, don't know about you, but I like playing games from 10-15 years ago, you think the Uncharted 4 servers will be up in 10-15 years?
I doubt I can be convinced otherwise and I just prefer having my games as they are, in boxes where I can control them, ain't nothing wrong with that.

Don't worry, rant's over, you can come out now.

cerebus23:
nickle and diming the single player game is not the way to build good will among gamers.

They don't want to build good will, they want to build piles and piles of money.

"It doesn't have to be turned into Farmville," Avent explains. "It's a little bit different fitting it into a story-based game ... but if you were confident enough that the game was good you could let people finish it for free. I think you'd have to pay to complete it - as in do everything - and then there are other ways of monetizing, so you could give Uncharted 4 away. It would take a massive amount of confidence, but you could give it away."

.....so is he talking about just making demos longer? I think thats what he's saying.

008Zulu:

cerebus23:
nickle and diming the single player game is not the way to build good will among gamers.

They don't want to build good will, they want to build piles and piles of money.

"They" don't want shit to do with this idea, a developer of free to play games on the iPhone thinks that suddenly he's the expert on this and is passing on his opinion.

cerebus23:
Yea i miss the days when we got whole and complete games, and then expansions packs were whole and complete games in themselves.

Sims House Party. Shut up.

As a hard core lover of single player games, I would love for some F2P games to show up (that were worth something, none of them are)... but it's not feasible for one reason. I would immediately stop playing a game that sold me a sword in Skyrim for real money, or buying a better drop rate in a game like Torchlight 2. Monetizing some of my favorite games so I can play a stripped down stupid version of them for free would ensure that I don't play them. I already don't play the Uncharted series, I never found it nearly as good as it was made out to be, I probably wouldn't play it for free either.

I recently picked up a F2P single player game on my tablet, and it was fun for about 30 minutes, but when I started getting spammed for real money to buy shit in the game such as better equipment, it was uninstall city. I make pretty good money, but at no point did I think it was worthwhile to spend a few dollars in order to progress. I may be a broken man, but I haven't looked back and regretted any of my recent single player game purchases. Most recently it has been Borderlands 2, Torchlight 2, and the much divisive RE6.

I can't help but feel the any company that concentrates so hard on F2P will soon go the way of Zynga. They aren't forming real relationships with a steady user base, they are offering up a diversion that will be replaced by another diversion in a short while.

The concept of freemium single player games really scares me...

 

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