Hi-Rez Studio's Todd Harris has been talking exclusively to PC Gamer about Tribes: Ascend. The upcoming shooter will be taking influence from Riot Game's hugely successful business plan for League of Legends. It's probably a viable tactic - we hear those guys are doing well.
According to Todd, "The monetisation scheme that we're looking at has some analogies with League of Legends in that it's fairly horizontal by design." He says the approach is “Something new for a shooter, but we think - for a very team based game like Tribes where there are specialist roles - all the loadouts will be viable and fun.”
However, Todd was keen to emphasise that players wouldn't be able to buy an in-game advantage: “If they're gameplay elements our stance is that they'll be able to earn them by playing the game.” If you're looking for cosmetic items, you'll likely need to dig your wallets out, basically. Todd says: “We will also almost certainly have some sort of cosmetic only or prestige elements that might be payment only. Players generally understand that. Players that choose to optionally purchase them for their own enjoyment get to subsidise other people's play so it's win-win.”
Todd went on to explain how Global Agenda's success has been encouraging. “We've got our own recent case study with Global Agenda where we can see that it worked well. That I guess just shows that it can work for players and it can work financially for us.”
Todd had previously told us that the free to play model allows games to stand up and succeed based on their merits rather than marketing campaigns.