Like it or not, Perfect World Entertainment is looking to carve out a major chunk of the free-to-play marketplace.
Last week’s news regarding PWE’s intended purchase of Warframe developer Digital Extremes raised quite a few eyebrows, but it may just be the first of a number of high-impact moves being planned by the Chinese company.
As I noted in an interview with PWE back in December, a press release “announced the creation of a ‘console division targeting current and next-gen consoles,’ with both ‘prior and upcoming’ titles ripe for adaptation.” At the end of the interview, General Manager of Publishing Andrew Brown told me that there would be an “official announcement about particular projects” in January or February.
We’re obviously well past that Jan/Feb window, but it’s not hard to imagine that talks to acquire Digital Extremes – whose game is very popular on PlayStation 4 as well as PC – were already occurring late last year and, as things of this magnitude tend to go, dragged on for some time before an official announcement was made.
So maybe you’re not a fan of Perfect World’s games or policies. Maybe you don’t play Warframe or at least think you can dodge another game or two that they might get their hands on. Turns out, it might not be that easy.
A few weeks ago, Perfect World made known their intention to use their Arc distribution platform to draw players not only to its games but to multiple third-party free-to-play titles. According to Senior Product Manager Mark Hill in an interview with Gamasutra:
“Once Neverwinter players start looking for something new, we need to push them into something even newer. Even if a game has been out for a while, like Path of Exile, it’s still something we want on Arc.
“A lot of these guys are just developers. They don’t have all these marketing tools, they may not want to build their own billing platform, so we’re like…we’ve already built all that, let’s open it up to them and we can expose their games to the specific players they’re looking to find.”
He also goes on to quote some very specific numbers regarding the lack of cross-over for players of one PWE game versus another and how that’s received a huge boost – from 2% to 25-30% – after the implementation of Arc. In theory, putting games on Arc and having access to them tied to one account should increase all games’ player bases across the board.
Maybe that will be the benefit of Warframe, or any other games, coming under the Perfect World banner. Maybe getting the game on Arc will be good for the game, increasing its exposure and potential player base. Sure, it’s on Steam now, but so are a few thousand other games. At least on Arc, it would be more likely to get noticed. Admittedly, far more people use Steam than use Arc, but better the big fish in a small pond, right?
Unless, of course, Perfect World winds up being the “Steam of F2P games,” which sounds somewhat attractive but may be less so once hundreds of low-quality games clog up the system and make it hard to find anything (except PWE’s native titles, of course). As one of the early innovators in F2P gaming in the West, Perfect World probably senses the opportunity to create a platform that caters exclusively to free-to-play gaming and could probably attract plenty of gamers with a simple catchphrase like “Free-to-Play Starts Here.”
What do you think of PWE’s push to acquire more F2P games, either directly, like Warframe, or through Arc? Would you be interested in an Arc-like platform that catered exclusively to F2P games?
By Jason Winter