Notch skeptical of free-to-play, says it's loved by devs - not players

Nathan Grayson

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Don't call Scrolls a free-to-play game. Sure, you can buy new pieces of legally contested parchment using the contents of your real-life piggy bank, but Notch isn't mincing words. His game, you see, isn't free . Moreover, he finds the claim that these money-munching games won't take a bite out of your bank account to be about as ludicrous as the notion that Scrolls could be confused with a sprawling, open-world fantasy RPG.

"While I am skeptical of the free to play trend, what I hate is the wording 'free-to-play,'" he wrote on his personal blog . "The reason anyone switches to 'free-to-play' is to make more money. You get your players hooked on your game, and then you try to monetize them. The idea is to find a model where there basically is no cap on how much the player can spend, then try to encourage players to spend more and more money. Various psychological traps like abusing the sense of sunk costs get exploited, and eventually you end up with a game that's designed more like a slot machine than Half-Life 2."

"So instead of calling it 'free-to-play,' we should call it 'as expensive as you want it to be' or something. I do not mind paying for games after the purchase. I like customizing my character, or getting a few extra levels (DX HR:Missing Link, woo!), or even paying a subscription cost for something with running costs. But let's get one thing clear: people who think 'free-to-play' is a great future are mostly game developers, not game players."

I think he's on to something where naming's concerned - and perhaps too eagerly propose " there-ain't-no-such-thing-as-a-free-lunch -to-play" as a solution. That said, things could be a whole hell of a lot worse. Most games aren't asking us to fork over sizable chunks of change to unlock guns with big, red "win" buttons attached and the ability to catch bullets with our teeth. What about you, though? Are you eyeing free-to-play warily from afar? Or are you selling off precious family heirlooms to pay for more League of Legends characters?

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