The sad fate of the free-to-play game
"There are now literally thousands of examples of games that have been eliminated from the current generation of games because they are merely revenue vehicles."
- Mobile developer Jeremy Alessi in a new Gamasutra feature
on the perils of free-to-play.
Do we have to worry about the elimination of an art form? Alessi writes that free-to-play games are disappearing in a way that their forefathers did not.
In 2001, Alessi played Halo
and Metal Gear Solid 2
-- and, as he writes, "both were works of art that I can appreciate as much today as I did over a decade ago."
However, the first free-to-play game on the iOS App Store that caught his attention was Ngmoco's Eliminate
"I played and enjoyed Eliminate
," Alessi writes. "I even tried out out the new in-app purchase system and spent $20 on the game. I was enthralled at the possibilities of our latest technologies, just like every other developer. I looked at Eliminate
as something to aspire to. Was it art to me like Halo
? Maybe -- but unlike Halo
, I can no longer play Eliminate
, and I never got to enjoy the in-game currency I purchased.
"Due to the fact that Eliminate
's business model and gameplay were entangled, it required an expensive backend infrastructure to run. Once that infrastructure's cost exceeded the game's income, Eliminate
disappeared," Alessi writes.
The bigger issue, he says, is that "the mechanics of entangling currency with gameplay forever change what the game is." Read more in Gamasutra's latest feature.