It comes as no surprise to anyone that free-to-play games will be a part of the current console generation and play an even stronger part in the next generation. Basically, it’s something we all already predicted, since it’s the path that the videogames industry is following. Popularity and quality of free-to-play games is increasing drastically each year that goes by. As soon as free-to-play titles proved viable and extremely lucrative in the west, it was merely a question of time until they jumped from PC to consoles.

Rumors abound of Microsoft planning to jump in the free-to-play wagon very soon. They are, according to several sources, working on the micro-transaction backend for Xbox LIVE, something that is, as we all know, the real reason for a prolific free-to-play market to exist and grow exponentially. Micro-transactions of virtual items are an incredible source of income for developers – at nearly no cost (only the creation of the shop and items) and without any danger of stock rupture (how can you run out of something that isn’t physical?), this is a commercial dream come true.

Besides selling in-game items, Microsoft is reportedly looking at other free-to-play model: premium upgrades. What this means is that players who want the full experience will have to pay for something like a premium subscription (“freemium” is the word that is becoming the norm).

Tribes: Ascend is coming to PC (free-to-play) and Xbox 360 sometime this year, and it seems that Microsoft is working as fast as they can to get this anticipated Tribes sequel as a free-to-play launch title in Xbox 360. It’s a difficult objective, but not an impossible one. Sony is also experimenting with the free-to-play market, with their MMORPG Free Realms already available on PS3 (and there’s also the Japanese-only MMORPG Angel Love Online).

Nintendo is planning to add in a near future DLC content to 3DS and Wii U on their eShop, as reported by Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president. This will allow for purchase of additional content for games. That being said, the eShop will be technically prepared to offer micro-transactions and freemium content for future free-to-play games. The announcement that free-to-play tactical shooter Ghost Recon Online will launch on Wii U and PC is telling of Nintendo’s will to bet in free-to-play games.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the industry are conflicting opinions about the subject matter, saying that free-to-play MMO games will take quite some time to prove themselves on consoles and that their success will be far from that attained on PC, since the experience isn’t exactly the same. However, some MMOs are proving the contrary, with DC Universe Online (a pay-to-play MMORPG game) being reasonably successful. In the old days the FPS games were also an experience only possible in pc… Besides, other genres such as MMOFPS games, Racing MMO´s and much more are reliable additions to consoles and their integration seems relatively easier.

Free-to-play games are here to stay and are also confidently gaining their share in the mobile market, in devices such as mobiles and iPads, and I would be surprised if handheld consoles stay out of the deal, even if a steady online connection is strictly necessary all of the time.

Talking about the future of videogames is an arduous task, since technology is constantly evolving. If it’s related to cloud gaming or other format, one thing seems certain about it – free-to-play games will be with us all the time. The Internet access is getting better and better and this allows for the ideal conditions for free-to-play online games to evolve for something even more surprising. As for us, we can’t wait for the future to happen!

27 Readers Commented

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  1. Bioswat on August 21, 2011

    Cool! I wish Sony to make more games for PS3 and some F2P FPS Online games cause my PC is lagging because of tons of file on it and I’m lazy always to open laptop :D Plz Sony some new mmorpgs MMOFPS-s and other
    P.S. BTW if SOE ported Free Realms to PS3 may be they’ll port EQ2 some time? I mean F2P model of it:D

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    • Kaslonian420 on September 4, 2011

      @Bioswat

      F.Y.I Free Realms is on PS3. I found it the other day in the store.

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  2. philtothetop on August 21, 2011

    some mmo on xbox 360 could be AWESOME, except about the “premium accounts”. Those accounts totally destroy the f2p model, because most of the game is unavailable, but i’m not totally against purchasable DLC or CS, if it doesnt become pay2win

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  3. Tech1Crux on August 21, 2011

    Here’s the thing, Only the PS3 is strong enough to run good, Open-world MMOs (just look at how DC universe is PC and PS3, no 360, and MAG with 256 man battles…PS3, NOT 360) So Microsoft will try to bring a sort of F2P model, but lacks the ability to have any GOOD MMOs, PS3 already has DCU, FreeRealms, and FF XIV.

    Sorry microsoft, we all know your console isn’t strong enough, so stop trying to get people to pay more for games they’ve already bought. Leave the online world to PS3, atleast then internet connection is free.

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    • nuro0o on August 21, 2011

      You’re just een xbox 360 hater :P you didn’t read the latest news about them, Go back and search more about it before you come talking shit :P

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    • Phantasmagoria on August 21, 2011

      Here’s the thing. Both PS3 and Xbox are strong enough to run good, open-world MMOs. The reason it doesn’t is because of arguments between companies about charging extra for Live and a Subscription. Because of this PS3 gets MMOs while Xbox doesn’t.

      Sorry Tech, we all know your knowledge isn’t strong enough, so stop trying to get people to listen to your opinion on the console you’ve already brought. Leave the intelligent conversation to the real gamers, at least then the internet is idiot-free.

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    • Leo on August 26, 2011

      “Leave the online world to PS3, atleast then internet connection is free.”

      And look what happened…. wouldn’t want to invest time into something that will get hacked.

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    • barb on September 13, 2011

      u suck. PS3 is for the scum of the earth. 360 live may not be free, but it is way better.

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  4. Chhipz on August 21, 2011

    Nice article.

    I hate how many developers/publishers are denying the success of past console MMO’s, as well as RECENT ones.

    For example, Phantasy Star Online Ep I, II, and III were all great/popular games made by Sega, which were available on the Dreamcast, GC, PS2, and Xbox.. Even the Wii’s Monster Hunter Tri is the MOST played game on the Wii to date. Even DC Universe is going strong.

    And I KNOW there are even more…

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  5. Megazell on August 21, 2011

    Consoles. LOL They always 20 years behind PC. So out of the 94+ million titles on the PC/Mac/Linux how many will they be porting over? From the conference they stated 52. LOL

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  6. Baconation on August 21, 2011

    See the console gamers/devs are getting some brains, they see how computers are better and now they finally decide they should probably look more into it. There is no way consoles will ever have as much as the PC(F2P related) has but at least there’s something.

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  7. Densle on August 21, 2011

    I am a little bit scared about the Xbox free to play games. Microsoft always finds ways to get money out of these.

    So be prepared for limited as f**k, everything for xbox games.

    Wii and Ps3 will have fun.

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    • Baconation on August 21, 2011

      You really think for a second that Sony/PlayStation or Microsoft/Xbox 360 will pass the chance to get money out of this? they are all going to try and get something out of it. It will be just like PC, limited gameplay and features untill you give them money and even then there will be more to buy including monthly fees. there are very few truly free games and something tells me that those wont be going on consoles.

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    • quickman007 on August 21, 2011

      Ah, the good ol’ Microsoft is a greedy company argument. Been using Microsoft products for over 10 years now and have never felt the greed everybody talks about. Yes, they charge you for their computers (half the price of the competition might I add?), they charge you for their software, and they charge you for their services, but please keep in mind that they ARE a business and businesses do need to make a profit.

      On topic though, I can’t imagine that this would really go over very big. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are going to take some of the profit from these F2P companies, so they’re either increase the cash shop prices or have more limitation.

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      • Densle on August 21, 2011

        Because Microsoft had one MMO which was Phantasy star Online. It was an actually, full fledged MMO, hundreds of people, all that jazz. However, that game required a subscription to play. A lot of people got there kicks from the unlimited demo for it up until they shut it down.

        Ever since then I have only come across one game ever on the Xbox that was released free and is still free today. They tried with 1 vs 100 but that got shut down around two months after release. But so far Harms Way is the only free to download and play game on the xbox.

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        • Leo on August 26, 2011

          TotemBall, Pinball FX 2, Hexic HD, Dash of Destruction, Doritos Crash Course and Yaris. All free. Google is a handy tool.

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  8. DAMN on August 22, 2011

    this is f*** outrageous :O.. DAMN PS2 OR PSP OR WEE WHATEVER IT IS!.. DAMN.. DAMN… MORE DAMN -.-

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    • Ashi on August 22, 2011

      How can you possibly see this as a bad thing? Game companies will be making more money with less effort. Meaning that they’ll have more time and cash to make sure dlc and expansions come out as soon as possible. And if F2P succeeds (Watch Machinima on youtube theyre covering gameplay and commentaries on a few F2P already) that means more games will come to the market as F2P. Which means more game less money.

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      • Densle on August 22, 2011

        O there are a lot of things wrong with this. Yea sure it means more game, but the experience in those games will suck. Those bigger companies holding these games (Microsoft, Sony, nintendo) they will find ways to such as much money out of this as possible. So that means things such as premimie accounts, pay for power, p2p only areas and game and so fourth.

        This basically means MMOs are comming to console, f2p aspect of it is more unlimited trials, depending on the games they bring.

        For example, champions online. Before that game was free to play everything was all dandy. Now since they slapped free to play on it, f2p players are so limited they can’t even make thair own custom character anymore. They are so limited, that they don’t even have the ability to change Thair power colors.

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        • Leo on August 26, 2011

          Why would they make a game that they aren’t going to profit from? These aren’t shitty little unknown companies, they’re 3 of the biggest. It’s free to play, you pay for more customization, simple.

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        • Iggy Roflman on September 20, 2011

          Would you build houses or repair cars for free? These companies are not in the wrong to want profit for works of art that most people can’t make or even replicate. Besides the obvious reasons for limited free content others such as costs to pay employees, cost of maintaining servers and upgrading them regularly, vital things for success like publicizing and gee i dunno, having a house to go home to factor in when they make premium content or e shops. So yeah I think it’s a fair trade off, and besides if they make a huge profit they’ll have more resources to make their newer games even better. That’s the cost of entertainment.

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      • movieman14 on August 26, 2011

        @ Ashi : While Da##’s post is completely pointless….f2p doesn’t end up being cheaper…more dlc (which often is content that should’ve been in the game to begin with and is intentionally held back in order for additional charges) means more than likely more the gamer has to pay…most people don’t realize that just because a game is free to initially play that they end up spending a LOT more over time and much more than they would have if the experience were a one-time purchase.No offense in any way at all meant to you,but you are mistaken if you think the average gamer spends less on the f2p model…because if that were true then so many companies wouldn’t be so eager to embrace a model that ends up bringing in less profit.F2p ends up bringing much more money in for (more than likely) the same game that would’ve been released as one whole game,just separated and continues to be payed for by those that think they are over-all saving more money by spending more money over-time.Free-to-play has its place on pc’s/mac’s for online play,but that is,however,where its line should stay.

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  9. movieman14 on August 23, 2011

    Well,Iwata himself has said that they are not planning on going free-to-play but will work on dlc,so saying ”Nintendo is also going free-to-play” is not 100% correct.Free-to-Play might be acceptable for a handful of games but there is NO WAY I would want to see it on a majority of console games..while it might mean no immediate pay to begin playing you overall end up paying MUCH more overtime for membership,micro-transactions,etc. …free-to-play has its place in pc gaming but that is where (for the most part) it should stay,I prefer paying $50 to have all of a game than (over time) $100 and still not have the full game experience.

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    • striker on August 24, 2011

      so true, my thoughts exactly.

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    • Ashi on August 26, 2011

      I think when they said they’re going F2P I think they meant they’re building support for it. I doubt they’re making all their games free, just making their systems capable of supporting the games. And I’m looking forward to that, everytime I play a mmo I keep thinking “This needs controller support” or “I wish I had this on my xbox”.

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  10. movieman14 on August 26, 2011

    @ Ashi : Listen to this quote from the article…~ ”working on the micro-transaction backend for Xbox LIVE, something that is, as we all know, the real reason for a prolific free-to-play market to exist and grow exponentially. Micro-transactions of virtual items are an incredible source of income for developers – at nearly no cost (only the creation of the shop and items) and without any danger of stock rupture (how can you run out of something that isn’t physical?), this is a commercial dream come true.”~ …this doesn’t quite sound like just porting free-to-play mmo’s onto systems,it sounds much more like ”free-to-play takeover”.I also want to point attention to this part..~”Besides selling in-game items, Microsoft is reportedly looking at other free-to-play model: premium upgrades. What this means is that players who want the full experience will have to pay for something like a premium subscription (“freemium” is the word that is becoming the norm).”~
    That ^ is what happens when you go ”free to play” you lose money,not save it.And I would like to point out one last part which is probably most important is this paragraph. ~”Nintendo is planning to add in a near future DLC content to 3DS and Wii U on their eShop, as reported by Satoru Iwata, Nintendo’s president. This will allow for purchase of additional content for games. That being said, the eShop will be technically prepared to offer micro-transactions and freemium content for future free-to-play games. The announcement that free-to-play tactical shooter Ghost Recon Online will launch on Wii U and PC is telling of Nintendo’s will to bet in free-to-play games.”~ With no offense meant to mmo-bomb,this is grasping at straws…yes Nintendo is planning on releasing Ghost Recon,but as a game that is for purchase with online play (which many fps on wii already have might I add) not a completely free f2p.Iwata has had several interviews in which he very clearly stated that he does not want to go the f2p route and even with dlc would allow it for other developers but not do it with Nintendo’s First Party titles (and also to keep in mind..dlc is dlc,not a f2p game or a sign of one)…this is not ”proof” that Nintendo or the entire gaming market is turning f2p and it is really more like mmo-bomb trying to make a completely non-topical comment what they wish it were.

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  11. common sense on August 29, 2011

    anyone who likes F2P games is just… gullible, if this is the future of gaming then the poor people will be left out in the cold while rich kids act like they are gods killing everyone in sight with their mommy and daddies credit card, yeah sounds like fun, “hey i killed that noob” means i spent more than him or “dam some noob just killed me” means he spent more…future of gaming sounds boring and non competitive, wake up people!!!!!!!

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