General manager at EA Ben Cousins has been talking about the benefits of the free-to-play model ahead of the launch of the Battlefield Play4Free open beta in April. He says that he believes the $60 pricing on games is "exploitative," and considers the full priced game market to be "a really harsh business model."
Cousins was talking to Rock Paper Shotgun about the controversies surrounding microtransactions in free-to-play games when he said "I have trouble working out why free-to-play games have generated controversy – I've been doing this for four years now, so it feels kind of normal to me – but I can't think of anything more exploitative than gating all of your content behind having to pay someone $60."
"That's a really harsh business model if you think about it objectively," he adds, saying "what we do is enable everyone to play the game, and figure out if they like it. If they don't like it they can walk away and they don't lose anything."
"How many times have we all bought crappy games for $60, right? And the majority of people in our game spend less than that – the cost of a full-priced game. So what we're selling is a cheaper than full price game that you can try before you buy."
Cousins goes on to say that the rise of cross compatible platforms like HTML5 and Unity will see games spread across multiple platforms. "PC, Mac, Linux, Android, Chrome potentially – developers are going to become platform agonostic. You are seeing that with HTML5, Unity, the Molehill version of Flash, these are 3D engines with high level features and hardware graphics support, and they will run on any of those platforms. I see the future being guys on PCs playing this stuff, but they will be playing with guys on Android Tablets and Mac Netbooks, etc, etc."
According to Cousins, the rise in cheap, powerful laptops will mean that free-to-play, portable, multiplayer games will soon be massive. "I think the future will be us playing on these devices and playing free games with deep multiplayer experiences." What do you think, are portable, free-to-play games the future?