Peter Molyneux warns that if free-to-play game developers continue to be "obsessively greedy," they could end up facing the same restrictions as online gambling houses.
The term "free-to-play" covers a lot of ground. Some games are legitimately free, with options allowing serious fans to blow a few bucks as they see fit, while others are virtually unplayable without regular infusions of cash. Peter Molyneux, the man behind a whole bunch of games you really like and a few you probably don't, is getting into the business himself with Godus, but in an interview with Develop he warned that the F2P model as we've come to know it is untenable in the long run.
"We cannot continue to be obsessively greedy with our consumers, grooming children for hundreds of pounds from their parents' accounts," he said. "I hate the term 'free-to-play', and I hate the way the model is burning through our consumers and the tender shoots of new gamers."
He reiterated comments he made last month describing Godus as "invest-to-play," which he said feels like a "more responsible way of monetizing free games." He also said that game makers have a more practical reason for changing the way they approach the payment model: To avoid possible legislative restrictions on the market.
"If we're not very careful, we'll be in the same place that gambling apps are now," he said. "Those go through unbelievably strict legislative requirements."
The European Commission announced at the tail end of February that it was holding meetings with relevant agencies from various European nations as well as Google and Apple to discuss "proper consumer protection for apps customers." An investigation into the matter by the Office of Fair Trading in the U.K. resulted in developers in that country being given until April 1 to make changes to their games that include up-front notifications of the use of microtransactions and in-game advertising.