Journey Dev Finds Free-to-Play Prospects "Exciting"

Journey Dev Finds Free-to-Play Prospects "Exciting"

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Journey developer sees potential in the free-to-play market, but not so much in Kickstarter.

Jenova Chen, co-founder of thatgamecompany and creator of games like Flower and Journey, is often cited as a pioneer of the modern industry. Accolades in no way equal dollars however, and going forward Chen hopes that his games can retain the emotional core that earned him his fan base while also drawing in the profit-centric side of the gaming industry. One potential route that he's exploring is free-to-play gaming.

"This is definitely where the money is flowing," said Chen speaking to GamesIndustry International. "I think free-to-play is both exciting and also really dangerous. So we're still testing out what will go there. How are you going to make people feel emotion when they're constantly on guard that you're manipulating them to make money?"

While his interest in free-to-play may be muddied by some of the more contentious elements of existing games, Chen was clear on his desire to avoid other forms of funding like Kickstarter. "I think most of the very successful Kickstarters are by veteran celebrity developers who made these games people in their 30's and the 40's used to love." Said Chen. "The people who played our games are teenagers and college students. How much money are they going to have to donate?"

While some might disagree that Kickstarter is a den of gaming nostalgia, there are many who share Chen's concerns about free-to-play games. Though recent years have seen a rapid expansion of the free-to-play market, profitable mainstays like in-game advertising and micro-transactions still irk many consumers. These practices have been further soured for some thanks to publisher's attempts to push pay-to-play mechanics into retail games. Chen is likely right that some gamers would be unhappy with a game that tugged on the heart strings and then asked for more money to proceed.

Source: GamesIndustry International

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This is...uhh...surprising...coming from Chen. I know that if Thatgamecompany ever tried anything with any type of free-to-play model, they probably would do it in a thoughtful and different way, but...I don't know. It just seems like the idea kind of opposes Thatgamecompany's ideas about games as art and all that. Who knows, maybe they'll reinvent the free-to-play idea into the best thing to ever happen to gaming, but I'm still staying skeptical.

StewShearer:
While some might disagree that Kickstarter is a den of gaming nostalgia...

Who on earth would disagree with that?

That's the premise of every Kickstarter game I can think of.

"We're going to make a sequel to that old game or make a game just like it. Give us money."

Zhukov:

StewShearer:
While some might disagree that Kickstarter is a den of gaming nostalgia...

Who on earth would disagree with that?

That's the premise of every Kickstarter game I can think of.

"We're going to make a sequel to that old game or make a game just like it. Give us money."

Not always. I actually helped out with a local Kickstarter that was geared toward making something fairly original. Niche yes, but not a retro game or spiritual sequel.

Zhukov:

StewShearer:
While some might disagree that Kickstarter is a den of gaming nostalgia...

Who on earth would disagree with that?

That's the premise of every Kickstarter game I can think of.

"We're going to make a sequel to that old game or make a game just like it. Give us money."

Actually, the overwhelming majority of kickstarter projects, including video games and table-top, are indies and startup companies without capital, looking for a modest sum to try something new. It's only the large, 6-figure+ kickstarters that typically aim for an existing fanbase of a loved franchise or genre.

On-topic: If this guy truly thinks that only teenagers and college students are playing his games, then he's either kidding himself or is surprisingly ignorant for a lead designer and company head.

Hey dude, port to the PC. We have money...

I'm torn, here. I want to give them more money, if they keep turning out the emotional masterpiece that was Journey. I don't want that emotional core to nickel and dime me, however. Though, one would hope that of any company to find that balance, these guys will be that company, and they find a way to offer us new art and emotions distinct enough from the rest of the game to be worth a supplementary purchase, but similar enough to be more of that game. Good luck, ThatGameCompany.

I recently - and since addictively have been unable to stop myself - played Journey and I loved Flower (skipped Flow) and I would much more readily pay more per title than have anything soured in these games by a pay-inside to play model. That's just me. I know the games are short but they are eminently repayable and give a fabulous Zen to my evenings after a stressful day. I pay top dollar - and I'm no hedge-fund baby - for less in this world.

Chen seems to be really bad at PR. He always seems to be making mad generalisations and I often feel "talked down to" when I read his statements.

octafish:
Hey dude, port to the PC. We have money...

I'm sure they happily would've a long time ago with all their games, but they had a three-game exclusive deal with Sony (which Journey was the last of). It got their games funded and published, so it's not all bad, but it still bugs me too that I haven't been able to play them (other than the really early Flash version of flOw from before Sony picked them up).

 

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