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Classic  Hitman ,  Tomb Raider  games go free-to-play
Classic Hitman, Tomb Raider games go free-to-play
August 29, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

August 29, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing

Square Enix has found a new way to cash in on its older core games, adopting the free-to-play model that has done so well for the mobile and social spaces.

The publisher has launched a new cloud gaming portal, dubbed Core Online, which will bring microtransactions and advertisements to Square Enix titles like Hitman: Blood Money and Tomb Raider: Underworld. With this service, the company can continue monetizing its older games well after their original retail or digital releases.

Each game on the service has been divided into designated chapters, and users can pay $0.49 to play each chapter a la carte, or they can play for free by watching video advertisements. For each minute of advertisements, users will get 20 minutes of free game time, and they can continue to renew that time by watching additional ads.

Alternatively, users can purchase the games outright for a one-time fee. Currently, all games on the service are $4.99.

At launch, the service only supports IO Interactive's Hitman: Blood Money and Mini Ninjas, though Square Enix says games like Tomb Raider Underworld, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Gyromancer will launch on the service in the coming months.

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Matt Robb
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Finally, someone uses F2P to really give people options on how to pay for content.

Julian Gosiengfiao
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And well done to them, I'll say!

Jonathan Jennings
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well we now know what the model for backwards compatibility will entail in next gen consoles

Mark Ludlow
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As an estimate, you would need to watch 30 minutes of ads (About a Sit-com episode's length) to gather enough time for one non-completionist playthrough. I get enough of that going to the cinema. (It is literally 30 minutes of ads before the movie) Is $4.99 really that much that people would rather subject themselves to advertising for play credit?

Pay-per-chapter is a useful idea though, it's like being able to play a demo without investing in the whole game and then finding you don't like it.

Simas Oliveira
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As a 30yo established professional, yes I agree with you, I'd rather pay $5 and not waste my rare spare time. As a 16yo student I once was with no income and lots of spare time, I'd watch 30 min of ads and play 10 hours per day, and I'd be extremely happy about it, and would tattoo Square Enix logo on my chest!

Christopher Engler
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It's about time. There are a ton of old titles people will pay to play, and the industry needs to look beyond first-week sales.

Cordero W
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Hahahaha. This is the funniest joke I've ever heard.

Danny Bernal
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This is how it begins ... very convenient ... soon you'll be seeing more in game advertisement within the main content even for fully paid games... eventually you'll also need a monthly fee to log in. greed goes so far.

well I could be wrong. Maybe not all services will end up like xbox 360s.

Diego Leao
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I don't understand people complaining about this. The article clearly says that consumers can play for free if they _want_ to (with ads), or just buy the game. They have the choice, they don't have to endure ads on their fully paid games. They can even pay to play individual chapters if they _want_ to, so quit whining, come on!

I believe this is much more effective than in-game advertizement, and offers great value for those exposed to the optional ads (free AAA games). It is also a good business choice, since the old games (catalog) where just gathering "proverbial dust".

Andrew Grapsas
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So, how long until someone writes a script to just repeatedly watch ads and accrue time? Eh. This is an okay way to play, I guess, for people not willing to spend $5 on a singleplayer title.

Simas Oliveira
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Or people who can't pay, either because they can't spare the money or don't have credit cards or paypal accounts. I like to "have" things, so I'd pay, but as a teenager I'd make use of said script!