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