For many, free-to-play is a dirty word – but not for Sony, who's seeing significant success from the controversial business model. Speaking as part of a panel at the Game Developers Conference overnight, SCEA employee Sarah Thompson – who's in charge of the platform holder's free-to-play business – said that the organisation's seen surprisingly positive results in this sector over the past few years.
"We're really looking at this as a significant part of our digital business," she said of the future of free-to-play, as heard by GameSpot. "I think that it's going to be a really a big chunk of our revenues in the next few years; three to five years. And it's already growing at amazing rates that are really quite surprising." She added that no one could have foreseen this happening a few years ago, but now it's emerged as a key strategy for the company.
"I think that it's really stabilising the business," she added. "And I think that it's future-proofing us. I think that it's really taking us into where we need to be as a company. As a company, we do fully believe in free-to-play." This has been evident for a while, of course, with David Jaffe's forthcoming arena shooter Drawn to Death adopting the model, as well as Sony San Diego's secretive Kill Strain. We suspect that more will follow.
What do you think of the format, though? We reckon that it can be done well – the millions of people playing DOTA 2 and League of Legends on a daily basis are evidence of that – but the microtransactions have to be handled with due care. We don't mind tossing a few coins to a title that we're really enjoying, but when those pay barriers get in the way of the game – well, we'll find something else to play.