UPDATE: Zach Sharpes got this ad to pop up on Facebook yesterday:
And Magicman says there was a section on the Amazon website that also labeled the game as a “free sports brawler,” thought that section is now gone. We’re trying to get a contact at AGS to confirm or deny these findings and will update you as we find out more.
Original story: Amazon Game Studios made a big splash at this weekend’s Twitchcon, announcing three new online games: battle-royale-style game Crucible, sandbox/survival MMORPG New World, and arena brawler/e-sports hopeful Breakaway. The first two categories of games haven’t found much success in the free-to-play market (with Daybreak having arguably failed on both counts), but the third still has a strong presence. AGS hasn’t made any official announcement regarding Breakaway’s payment model, so that leaves us free to speculate on exactly what it’ll be.
A year ago, I would have considered this no-brainer: of course Breakaway will be F2P, it’s just how games like this are done these days. Then came Overwatch, which turned the paradigm for arena brawlers upside down, being a paid competitive game that turned out to be hugely successful. Granted, it had the development power and marketing might of Blizzard behind it, two factors that proved more than sufficient for breaking the stranglehold of F2P on the competitive PvP genre. With them, you get a big success like Overwatch; without them, you get Battleborn.
Does AGS have those same elements in place for non-F2P success? The dev team is certainly star-studded, with veterans from Portal, Guild Wars 2, Far Cry 2, and the acquisition of Double Helix (Killer Instinct reboot), though it remains to be seen if all these superstars can work together efficiently. The marketing budget and overall “presence” of Amazon and Twitch is also arguably on par with Blizzard, so all the pieces would seem to be in place for a full-price retail launch for Breakaway.
And then there’s the Twitch integration, which will allow viewers to “gamble” on matches using a new kind of currency, thus allowing people to be invested in the game without playing – or paying for – it (and won’t be abused at all, I’m sure).
So if the majority of signs point to Breakaway being priced at full retail, let me try to play devil’s advocate for a moment and argue for a free-to-play Breakaway.
As much potential as they might have, Amazon Game Studios is not Blizzard. They don’t have tens of millions of people already playing their games, and while Amazon itself is huge, only a small percentage of its customer base is likely to be gamers, much less gamers interested in a PvP arena brawler. Going F2P with Breakaway could help build up its player base and get more bodies in the door, not only for Breakaway, but for its future, likely non-F2P, titles.
The synergy could work in the other direction, too. While microtransactions in paid games are hardly unknown, they’re much more prevalent in F2P games. Drawing people to an Amazon transaction page more frequently could be beneficial – hey, while you’re buying that skin, why not pick up the latest DVD, hat, or other item you’ve been eyeing for a while?
Oh, and when you’re making those purchases? Get in the habit of using Amazon Payments, not PayPal…
If you put a gun to my head right now and forced me to choose Breakaway’s payment model, I’d probably say buy-to-play. But I can see a few arguments for free-to-play, and we’ve been surprised before. Amazon Game Studios isn’t looking to be an independent developer, satisfied with a tiny piece of the gaming pie. It’s already made some bold and unexpected moves, from its hires to its game announcements, and more could be on the way.
What do you think? Will Breakaway – or any of Amazon Game Studios’ other titles – be free-to-play?