You probably don't associate Crytek with free-to-play games, but now they're making Warface - a free-to-play FPS running on CryENGINE® 3.
According to the devs, making scalable tech isn't really an issue; the hardest part is in localising WARFACE for different cultures. It sounds like a minefield of etiquette.
“There were very big cultural differences,” managing director Avni Yerli told Gamasutra . “One of the anecdotes we were told in China is that it's okay to charge for the right to not be muted. Someone can pay so that everyone has to listen to them. In the West, I can't imagine that.”
Me neither. Imagine being forced to listen to someone playing muffled hippidy-hop because they can afford the privilege to be annoying. It's a shocking prospect, but one you won't have to worry about unless you move to China, and start playing localised free to play games.
Creative director Michael Khaimzon shed some light on the Russian perceptions of the payment model: “In Russia, no one complains about pay to win. Everyone understands that you pay for comfort and time-saving, and the skilled player still wins. Some people still spend thousands of dollars.”
If the skilled player still wins, I'd argue that “pay to win” isn't really the appropriate term, but I get where Michael is coming from: Russian dudes don't mind spending more cash. And they're obviously having a good time; last month Warface landed a million subscribers over there.
Warface will have its own set of priorities though: “We had to make a lot of decisions about what we wanted; the key to us is that it's not pay-to-win," says Nick. "There is a charging side to it, but it's about visual customization, different styles, and convenience. If you don't want to play four hours to get a weapon, you can get a boost that lets you get it in an hour."
“We've put a lot more time into Warface than a lot of people have into their free-to-play games. But we've done that because we believe that's the way to go. We believe that triple-A free-to-play is gonna be great, it's just playing a great game in a different way," he concludes.
When do you think the free-to-play model breaks down? And what are the best and worst offenders you've sampled?