Frozen Synapse developer talks business and the F2P dilemma
Frozen Synapse developer Paul Taylor, from Mode 7, wrote a "mini-postmortem" at Games Brief on how business and design considerations influenced the game's development and marketing. He explains why Mode 7 gambled on a higher price point (for an indie game) and discusses how Frozen Synapse is at once limited by being pay-once, but how it would likely fail as a free-to-play game.
He writes, "Pay-once is the most maligned business model out there right now: I would suggest that even the most hardcore entrenched old-school developers have been won round by the raw data that free-to-play games have generated, so pay-once is in decline."
However, he also points out that a game like Frozen Synapse does not lend itself to F2P, and that Synapse's target audience of hardcore gamers is "averse" to F2P models. He also admits that designing for "pay once" let Mode 7 design a game that was "not based around restricting the player's access to content."
"I’m yet to hear a sane scheme for an F2P Frozen Synapse," Taylor concludes.
The whole piece is worth reading for an interesting description of how Mode 7 used a paid-beta to switch to full-time development, Steam's critical importance, and why Mode 7 is being very cautious about expansion and porting. While the core team has moved onto another project, because Taylor says they do not want to stagnate, they have also brought a new team member aboard to work on DLC and tweaks for Frozen Synapse.
Paul joined us on Three Moves Ahead a few months ago, and he addressed a few of these topics in some detail, as well as the importance of Frozen Synapse's curious fiction and single-player campaign.