Over the last few years, the free-to-play gaming market has been expanding. This has been made possible largely by the success that browser-based online games have experienced. Such titles as Battlestar Galactica Online or Farmerama have made it clear that a free title can generate massive amounts of revenue.
However, this free-to-play boon isn’t just limited to microtransactions in browser-based titles. Recently, there have been a number of AAA-quality client-based games that are bringing high-quality graphics and gameplay to players without having to shell out any cash.
For example, one of the biggest success stories of the last year has been that of World of Tanks. The client-based online title challenges players to take control of various tanks and fight alongside their teammates on massive battlefields. Featuring many different technology trees and playable countries (USA, Germany and more), the number of players has exploded since the title first launched in 2008.
Though up until the last couple years there was little was known of World of Tanks outside of Russia, it has recently been featured in the Guinness book of records as having the most players online simultaneously – 190,541 all playing at the same time on various server nodes around the world. Wargaming.net, creators of World of Tanks, is focusing on expanding this “simulation action” style game by introducing World of Warplanes and World of Battleships with aircraft and warships instead of tanks, respectively.
This success hasn’t gone unnoticed and rather than shoddily made, cheap retail titles, major companies, such as the famed Crytek (famous for the Crysis series of games), are working on their own free-to-play games. Warface, the first-person shooter from Crytek, features high-quality graphics and online gameplay that puts players together in a squad and presents them with various obstacles they have to overcome. The gameplay itself isn’t short and doesn’t leave players wanting – the daily missions and multiplayer offer up new surprises every time players log in.
The future is looking bright both for gamers and free-to-play titles in the future, if the trend continues with high-quality games. Of course, as with any business, there have been flops and mistakes made but again, with such titles as World of Tanks making waves in the gaming industry, it is hard to see a near future without free-to-play titles.