The announcement that Brink, Splash Damage’s and Bethesda Softworks’ underwhelming shooter, would go free-to-play came as a bit of a surprise last week. So why did publisher Bethesda shift the six-year-old game from paid to free?
IGN caught up with Bethesda’s VP of Marketing and PR, Pete Hines, at QuakeCon in Dallas last week, and posed that exact question. Was it the result of months of intense research, with Bethesda carefully scoping out the F2P landscape, surveying focus groups, overhauling the game’s infrastructure, and coming up with a kick-ass plan to increase revenue?
Not quite. According to Hines:
“Todd Vaughn, our VP of Development, and I had talked about it and sort of kicked around this idea. Last year I think we had reduced it to like 99 cents [during a sale], and we were like ‘why don’t we just make it free? Like, why not?’
“Just make it free and let people download it, and maybe they’ll buy the DLC and maybe they won’t, but let’s just try it. The game has been out for forever, how much money are we really making off a 99 cents [sale]?”
So there you have it: Bethesda’s master plan for making Brink F2P was to make it F2P and hope people spend on it. Brilliant!
To be honest, that’s not terrible. Maybe it didn’t really have nine active players, as we alluded to on the last F2P Cast, but it probably wasn’t bringing in any significant amount of money either. Sure, there had to be some expenses involved in making Brink free-to-play.
But even if the conversion was sloppy — and we haven’t heard that it was — it would likely bring in at least a few dollars. Maybe more declining pay-to-play games could make the same shift to try and eke some cash out of their elder years.