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 Journey  creator's next game may be F2P, even though he's not a fan
Journey creator's next game may be F2P, even though he's not a fan
March 13, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

"If we do actually end up going to free-to-play, we will make sure that you don't pay because you are not happy, you pay because you are happy."
-Thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen ponders his next move in an interview with Joystiq's Jordan Mallory.

Now that Chen's studio is no longer in an exclusive contract with Sony, its follow-up to last year's Journey could very well end up using a microtransactions-based business model, though that decision is still up in the air. Should the game go that way, though, Chen says it won't be like the majority of free-to-play games he's experienced, which he says encourage microtransactions by frustrating the player.

"I would rather see a game where you play to feel happier, and to make other people like you, and the make the people you care about happy," he explained. "That's something I've never seen in a [free-to-play] game."

Chen, who designs games based on an emotional aesthetic, says that he'll only go that route if microtransactions actually compliment the feeling he's trying to evoke in players.

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David OConnor
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From other creators, I might dismiss this comment as "the usual PR wank".

But from Jenova Chen, I believe and completely agree.

Mike Murray
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He should try Path of Exile.

Kevin Reese
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Was going to mention that game myself. I think they did a great job with their store. I wonder how the metrics worked out for them, and if they are making enough to be viable.

Cordero W
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And the poison grabs another person.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Carlo Delallana
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Jenova is an alchemist, if anyone has a chance of turning poison into something "good" it's this guy and his team.

Cordero W
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Be careful who you worship.

Freek Hoekstra
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the statement is very bold and I hope he can make it work.
I mean it would be like a donation scheme after the fact,
the real question is will it encourage enough people to pay...

Mike Murray
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Not sure why this is posted twice...

Garret Carstensen
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"Chen says it won't be like the majority of free-to-play games he's experienced, which he says encourage microtransactions by frustrating the player."

This is certainly possible and has been done well in a few games already. I think you can break down the value of virtual goods into 3 factors: additional experience, utility, and aesthetics.

Additional experiences is usually what buyers receive for purchasing DLC. Utility relates to purchases that alter gameplay, usually alleviating some frustrating feature. This is the typical microtransaction which he says he hopes to avoid. Aesthetic value relates to vanity items; Star Trek Online is a good example of a game that capitalizes mostly on vanity items.

I would say if he hopes to avoid encouraging microtransactions by frustrating the player, he is mostly limited to selling virtual goods that offer new gameplay experiences, or offerring vanity items (which works best in an MMO where there are other players to whom you can show off your shiny expensive items). Combinations between the 3 are possible, such as new characters in LoL, who offer new moves (experiences), are more powerful (utility), and aesthetically better (cool looking).

I think Chen can figure this out. If he does microtransactions, the game will likely be dominantly online-multiplayer, and he will likely be selling vanity items for self-expression or new areas to the basic game.