Free-to-play "apocalypse" on the horizon, says Mythic co-founder
Free-to-play becomes a more ubiquitous business model by the day on PC. It's gained enough popularity over the past few years that everyone from Valve, Sony, and EA have skin in the game. But have big publishers and smaller indies overreacted to the success of free games like League of Legends? As a market, could F2P be a balloon on the verge of deflating?
Former CEO and president of Mythic Entertainment Mark Jacobs wondered much of the same in an interview with VG247. Jacobs, who served as a general manager and VP at EA from 2006 to 2009, warns: "Let’s just see what happens in three to five years—and I’m betting closer to three—where free-to-play will become just another model. Right now you've got everybody chasing it, going ‘Isn't this great? Free to play, we’re going to make so much money.'"
"You know, free-to-play is just another model, and just like every other model in the industry, it will hold its special little place for a while but then there will be consequences,” says Jacobs. “Those consequences in a few years will be a bit of an apocalypse. You’re going to see a lot of developers shutting down... if you go free-to-play, you really have to compete with every other free-to-play game out there."
It's not uncommon for relatively new studios like Red 5 and Hi-Rez go all-in on free to play. But how many games are drawing enough of an audience in the space to be profitable? A quick look at SteamGraph reminds us that Dota 2 and Team Fortress 2 dwarf their F2P competitors on Steam.