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October 5, 2009 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: Is ‘Free-To-Play’ The ‘Way-To-Go’?

Battlefield Heroes

It sure seems that way as DICE’s Battlefield Heroes, the free-to-play (F2P) iteration of Electronic Arts’ (EA) widely popular Battlefield franchise, has just reached 2 million unique user accounts since its June launch. Considering Blizzard’s Word of Warcraft has amassed 12 million subscribers (at $15 monthly) worldwide in the past 5 years, this is quite an achievement.

This trend isn’t exactly new, however it seems EA and DICE have had such large success due to either the Battlefield moniker or they have perhaps done the micro-transaction method right. Perhaps we should elaborate that F2P games, generally PC or Mac only, are games that require no retail purchase nor subscription fee yet offer perks and other little goodies such as experience point bonuses and cosmetic upgrades for bits of cash.

Several developers and publishers have released, or re-released their franchises using this model and have been wildly successful. While there aren’t any official statistics out there to our knowledge, it should be safe to say that millions upon millions of gamers are currently playing at least one F2P game (guilty as charged).

What does this mean for the future of online games like MMOs or online enabled FPS games? Could all games at some point become F2P, in some measure of the word? Would you consider playing one of these increasingly popular F2P titles? Lastly, what do you think of the micro-transaction system and its effect on gameplay? You know where to go!


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