The next-gen landscape of games is filling up quick, and the remainder of this year is already set to continue with a high saturation rate even with numerous delays. A surprising and potentially good development is the number of free-to-play games in the mix. It isn’t exactly a new idea, but in the console world it hasn’t really got as much traction… yet. With titles like Neverwinter and Fable Legends on the way, the face of free games may catch on. But will it become a problematic model that brings unhealthy micro-spending practices to the console world?
Kept in check
When the announcement about Fable Legends being free-to-play was made, the video made assurances about having to earn what is needed to progress rather than being able to simply purchase your way forward. They also have promised a commitment to being fair and providing a game that will motivate purchasing purely because people enjoy the game and want to spend money. Now, I have no reason to doubt these promises, but since nobody will actually pay for the game, what will make them keep their word? The truth is, they could hook people and then decide to inject the game with purchases and game changers that go against their initial promises. And the only recourse we have as gamers is to speak with our wallets. I say this a lot, but we will play a large role in the future of gaming, especially in the realm of microtransactions and free-to-play games. So we need to reward and ignore the right titles to help good free-to-play games flourish and the greedy cash grabs rightly flounder.
Don’t look down your nose
I believe that free-to-play has clearly proven itself in the PC world, but console gamers are a horse of a different color. It has to be pretty scary for companies to offer up their game in a way that can easily be snubbed and ignored by gamers simply because of skepticism or disinterest. And games with tough learning curves or rocky launches may not fair well because without any monetary investment in the game, players may find it easier to just walk away without pushing through hurdles or early problems. This is a good thing because it forces games to deliver stable, accessible, and fun content. But it’s also potentially a bad thing as quality games may fail to get any momentum without a smooth launch or because of impatient gamers. So my advice to gamers is to enjoy the free price tags and give free games a fair shake because they can add a really good culture and standard to a platform that is need of new approaches to game delivery and development.
Lastly, gamers need to be willing to give up the green if a game delivers on the goods. And don’t be ungrateful if a free game has lack luster graphics or meager content initially. Graphics matter less and less as indie titles have proven that experience matters far more, and content can be and will be added if gamers get behind the right titles. So don’t be a scrooge! Promote, purchase, and support the quality free-to-play games as we stand to benefit from an approach to games that has done very well for PC gamers.
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