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Are free-to-play games at the second stage of Truth?

By on October 11, 2011
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German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer posited “Three stages of Truth” *

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

It seems to me that free-to-play games are at stage two.

File:Arthur Schopenhauer Portrait by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl 1815.jpeg
  • Initially, they were laughed at. “They can’t possibly work?” “How can you make more money with free than by charging a subscription or upfront free?” “You can’t make a decent game on iPhone if you can’t charge $9.99 on it”
  • Now they are being violently opposed: “Free to play games are evil”. “Free to play games are unethical.” “Free to play games will destroy the game industry”. “Free to play games aren’t even proper games”.

How long before the truth – that free-to-play is not only here to stay, but likely to become the dominant business model for games – becomes self-evident?


* According to Wikiquotes, whether it was Schopenhauer who said this remains disputed

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve:
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  • But I want my boy math solving games to play.

  • and what about the games in apple store where they charge $0.99 .. do they make lot of money ?

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  • Rory Madden

    I wonder about this too. It seems like currently free-to-play is pretty big in mmos and casual games. I play Lotro, and I think it has definitely helped revitalize the community and doesn’t really get in the way of the basic game-play. 

    However, I have trouble envisioning how to f2p model would work for a game like Mass Effect 3 and Dragonage 2 (examples I chose because I have played and enjoyed them). What would you monetize, and how would you do so without compromising game-play?

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  • David Barnes

    No, we’re in the Third Stage.

    Fourth stage: the vocal minority of flat earthers either lose their faith in the face of overwhelming opposition or die out.

  • According to Raptr, 20% of WoW players have played a Zynga game (not any social game, specifically a Zynga game.) For CoD players, the figure is 12%.

    30% of Xbox 360 owners have played a Zynga game too.

  • Bobrider

    Wow, I hope not. I mean, it seems more likely we’ll have some gamers who want big experiences without having the fourth wall broken every ten minutes, like Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption, and some gamers who want free games that are fun for ten minutes but no investment. I don’t see both groups of consumers consolidating at any point. More likely it’s just that the market will continue to grow.

    I’d be more interested to see how much real crossover there is. How many farmville fanatics are playing Dark Souls, and how many Modern Warfare kids are managing a cityville on the side.