It looks like I'm going to have to correct the way I refer to Killer Instinct's business model. Killer Instinct, despite being absolutely free at launch, is not a free-to-play game; rather, it's "the world's most generous demo," according to Microsoft.
Microsoft's Ken Lobb, creative director of the first-party published Xbox One game, explained to Eurogamer how Killer Instinct doesn't follow the traditional free-to-play model. Basically, the fighting game will launch alongside the Xbox One with up to six characters, depending on how many you choose to buy; you can download the game for free with Jago available, but extra characters cost $4.99 each.
Alternatively, you can purchase the Killer Instinct Combo Breaker pack which includes six launch characters and grants early access to two post-launch DLC fighters for $19.99. Or you can opt for the Killer Instinct Ultra Edition for $39.99 which includes all of the above plus accessory packs and extra costumes, as well as the emulated version of the original Killer Instinct game.
So what does Lobb have against free to play?
"I just want to get as many people playing as I can," Lobb explained. "Some people are like, 'oh, free-to-play.' No. It's not free-to-play.
"What is free-to-play? It's a thing you really can't ever own at all. Day one, if you want to buy our game, buy it. You own it. There's no grind for little coins that unlock things later. None of that," he said.
"The free part is, day one, you can download Jago for free and you get the whole game with Jago. The story mode comes later, but you get his full tutorial, full practice mode and you can go online and play against everybody. So you have the full game with just Jago.
"Then if you decide you like Thunder for example, you can buy Thunder for five bucks or equivalent. Maybe that's all you want, so why should you have to pay forty bucks? Just pay five and then you have Thunder," he continued. "If you buy the $40 pack, there are a couple of other little things you'll be able to buy, but you're done. It's not like there's some buy coins to unlock thing. That's why I've always said this is not a free-to-play game."
"I want all the people who will be like, oh yeah, KI, I loved that! But I don't know if I can learn it again. Play Jago. See if you like it. That's the idea," Lobb concluded. "I like to call it, we've just made the world's most generous demo. And if you want to buy the game as a bunch of little premium DLCs, go ahead. It's not free-to-play."