news\ Jun 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Dust 514 is just the beginning of a free-to-play era in gaming


Upcoming first person shooter, Dust 514, could be the start of the free-to-play era on consoles. This model, which is spreading rapidly across the PC gaming market, is just beginning to test waters on consoles, but it's a trend that EA COO Peter Moore predicts will "inevitably" dominate the gaming industry in just 5 to 10 years.

EA doesn't have anything to do with Dust 514, but they are no strangers to the free-to-play model either.The publishing giant currently offers Battlefield Heroes, Need for Speed World, and Dragon Age Legends for free, just to name a few. And according to Moore, this will be the future of gaming: where the games themselves are free and rely only on micro transactions for revenue.

"We're going through, as an industry, just an unbelievably difficult transformation, that is not from one business model to another but from one business model to a myriad of different business models," he told Kotaku. "I think, ultimately, those micro transactions will be in every game, but the game itself or the access to the game will be free."

RIght now, free to play games have one major obstacle blocking their way, and it's not the fact that only a small percentage of the tens or hundreds of millions who play actually spend money. In fact, Moore went on to say many publishers turn profits from the micro transactions of just a small percentage of those who play the game. Instead, many free to play games are fighting the perception that they are of lower quality then say your average $60 game. Though that may not be true, it's the perception - one that I feel is changing with more and more quality free to play games like League of Legends and Dust 514 hitting the market. And as time goes on, we will begin to see more of this quality.

"I think there's an inevitability that happens five years from now, 10 years from now, that, let's call it the client, to use the term, [is free]," Moore added. "It is no different than... it's free to me to walk into The Gap in my local shopping mall. They don't charge me to walk in there. I can walk into The Gap, enjoy the music, look at the jeans and what have you, but if I want to buy something I have to pay for it."

From personal experience, I can definitely say I've spent money on micro transactions. As an avid League of Legends player, I've dumped more money into the game than I could care to count. The thing is, I don't feel bad about it because it's a game I really enjoy playing. A lot of the times, I think, or at least tend to believe, that the small percentage of players who really play a game that they enjoy will spend more than the $60 it would cost flat out for the game.

Given the recent trend the industry seems to be moving in, I don't think it's too far-fetched to believe we could see a future in gaming that relies only on micro transactions. We must first break that perception, however.


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