Capcom believes “free-to-play” should not be synonymous with “pay to access meaningful content.”
Capcom knows there’s a market for free to play games. It also knows the phrase “free-to-play” elicits many groans. It plans to rectify this by making full F2P games that satisfy users instead of losing their interest when content is gated by monetization.
Capcom isn’t limiting F2P games to mobile devices either. Deep Down is its upcoming F2P role-playing game for the PS4. Producer Yoshinori Ono is aware of the criticism but believes F2P games can be monetized and provide a fun experience for the player.
“There are some people that see Deep Down being a free-to-play title as a negative thing,” Ono said in Famitsu. “The fact that these people exist is a sign, I think, that we in the game industry have failed to produce good F2P games. However, if these people have a good, fun experience with an F2P title, that impression’s going to change.”
Capcom’s Motohide Eshiro, producer of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies, said, “I think a pure ‘pay to win’ strategy leads to nothing but dissatisfaction.” F2P games in their monetization structure alienate potential players and shorten the lifespan of the games. If players cannot access additional content relevant to finishing the game, many will stop playing it.
Eshiro also worked on Blade Fantasia, an RPG released for iOS in Japan. The game is free-to-play other than monetization of character upgrades. From his experience with Blade Fantasia, Eshiro believes game developers can monetize content that players want after release and will “gladly pay the market price for it. That was key to learn.”
Eshiro sees tier-based payments as a future mainstream approach to monetization. One tier will have no monetization, and players will be able to play the game with no problems. Additional tiers will be for people who are willing to pay for content they like.
“Having a game design where users can decide which tier is right for them is an important aspect in getting people to play longer,” Eshiro said, “and securing that allows us to provide better service.”