Wednesday, July 6, 2011

EXP Podcast #133: Born Free-to-Play

Cash-strapped gamers have never had it so good: today, there are plenty of companies literally giving games away for free. However, developers aren't simply doing this out of the goodness of their hearts; games without initial costs often feature non-traditional ways of making money. Recently, a few high profile games like Team Fortress 2 and World of Warcraft have started experimenting with free-to-play and micro-transaction payment models. They join a host to of other games that are trying to change the way players pay for games. This week, Jorge and I talk about some of the financial, gameplay, and cultural issues surrounding free-to-play business models. As always, we're always interested to hear any of your valuable thoughts, so feel free to jump into the comments with your thoughts.

Some discussion starters:

- What are some of your favorite free-to-play games and how do they implement their non-traditional payment models?
- Do specific types of games or genres lend themselves well to the free-to-play model?
- What kinds of cultural and socio-economic issues arise when transitioning to a micro-transaction payment system?

To listen to the podcast:

- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes here. Additionally, here is the stand-alone feed.
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Run time: 32 min 23 sec
- "World of Warcraft goes free-to-play until characters hit level 20," via Joystiq
- Music provided by Brad Sucks


  1. A small note: CCP's implementation of the cash shop does have an aftermarket: the items can be resold to other players for ISK.

  2. I'm a huge proponent of "buying content"... y'know, like most games are still sold. Subscription games annoy me to no end, but something like Guild Wars is great. I do love that games are experimenting with business models, as it tends to create better value for players via competition in the market.

    I'm certainly not opposed to paying money for a good game. I just hate paying for time and access.

  3. Thanks for the info, Hirvox. Every time I think Eve can't get crazier, it does!

    Hi Tesh,

    I'm in the same boat as you. Buying specific elements of games piecemeal still strikes me as somewhat distasteful.