Damion Schubert Talks about Free to Play Strategy and Respecting Players Wallets

damion-schubert-gdc2012-03It has been quite some time since there has been a real revolution in video game design. This is a topic I was just recently talking about with some gamer friends of mine. We are now in the midst of something new and revolutionary in the world of video games- the free to play phenomenon.

Not so long ago, free to play and microtransactions were limited to the indie game sphere (and Korean MMOs). But we are seeing this game model enter mainstream gaming and honestly, most people are cool with it. The market is changing and everyone in it (gamers and developers alike) see the shift happening.

Gamasutra recently reprinted an article from Game Developer magazine in which Damion Schubert talks about this topic and the changing market. Here’s a snippet:

If you look at most hobbies, they allow spending to scale to level of interest. It is possible to knit on the cheap, picking up only some needles and a ball of yarn at Hobby Lobby. Hardcore knitters, on the other hand, may spend thousands of dollars amassing huge yarn collections, and even fly across the country to go to sock-knitting conventions (yes, they exist). This level of optional spend is found in most major hobbies: woodworking, building model trains, playing music, golf – you name it. And while shops that cater to these hobbies are more than eager to help newcomers get off the ground with their new hobby, most of them live or die by their regulars, who are more than willing to spend their disposable income on the hobby that gives them so much joy. 

(My knitter friends are digging on this analogy right now…) So when we look at video games as a hobby, it’s safe to say that people are willing to pay as much as it takes to keep them entertained. For some gamers, that’s not very much but for others, it could be a great sum of cash to support their hobby.

Video game developers are learning about this changing market and taking steps to meet the gamers where they want to be and deliver what they want while also making a profit for themselves. How do you think they’re doing at that so far? Is this new system working?

Lisa Clark

Lisa has been an avid gamer since she was old enough to hold her first controller and a game writer for more than a decade. A child of the Nintendo generation, she believes they just don’t make games like they used to but sometimes, they make them even better! While consoles will always be her first love, Lisa spends most of her gaming time on the PC these days- on MMOs and first-person shooters in particular.