Quake Champions is id Software’s and Bethesda SoftWorks’ upcoming team arena shooter. Sure, that might make it seem like any one of a number of such games on or coming to the market, but the Quake name is a powerful and ancient one. “Everyone’s copying Team Fortress 2” doesn’t really apply here when Team Fortress Classic started life as a mod for Quake, while Quake III Arena predates TF2 by a full decade and was one of the pioneering games in esports.
So it makes sense that the game franchise that can be considered one of the first big names in competitive gaming would try to get a piece of the modern scene. The big question, though, especially as matters for this site, is whether Quake Champions will be free-to-play?
On the surface, it seems like free-to-play would work. It’s got your typical arena shooter elements, such as champions with different abilities, so it’s easy to imagine a free rotation/pay-to-unlock-permanently method. There’s not a whole lot more we can speculate on, however; progression could lend itself to the typical experience boosts, and you’d have to assume there will be cosmetic customization (“skins”) offered as well, both of which are well-suited for a cash shop.
That said, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s going the paid route. Despite assurances to the contrary — the typical “anyone can play it, but hardcore players will find lots of strategic options” that’s a required part of marketing for any PvP game these days — Quake Champions seems more geared toward the dedicated players than the casual crowd. If any game would seem to cater to an older, more conservative crowd, it would be Quake. Tournaments for Arena have been going on for nearly 20 years, and I could see a significant backlash against “F2P noobs” if the gates to the franchise were opened to all comers.
Officially, it hasn’t been decided. At QuakeCon this weekend, I spoke to Bethesda VP of PR/Marketing Pete Hines and he told me that the company hadn’t yet decided whether to make Quake Champions a paid or free game. Given that other games in the field, such as Overwatch and LawBreakers, have also gone the paid route, shunning free-to-play wouldn’t be as unthinkable as it might have been just a year ago.
Still, there are advantages to being free-to-play. When you’re trying to establish yourself as a major player in esports, the more people you can get interested in actually playing the game they watch, the better. And, as venerable a name as Quake is, it’s been surpassed in many circles by newer and shinier titles; it might need that player infusion that F2P gives to keep it from being seen as more than an old-time novelty — or to get lapsed Quake-rs to give the franchise another shot.
What do you think? Should Quake Champions be free-to-play, or would it work better as a paid game?