Call it an experiment. Uncharted 3 is by all means a title purchased primarily for its single player campaign, but Naughty Dog wants to expand the game’s multiplayer horizons to include those who don’t own the game. To do this they have created a standalone free-to-play multiplayer client available for download in the PS3 store. Unfortunately, unlike CCP’s recent console exclusive F2P FPS Dust 514, this standalone is what you would call a freemium title. The f2p multiplayer comes with a severe level cap restriction which only allows players to level up to 15 without paying, although players continue to have access to all the competitive multiplayer options without having to remove the level cap.
Players who want to remove the level cap can do so by either raising the level cap to 25 by paying $4.99 or by removing the level cap altogether (increasing the max rank to 75) by paying $19.99. At that price point you are essentially buying a bargain bin multiplayer only game. As a small consolation prize if you purchased a level increase after maxing out, Naughty Dog will retro-actively award you levels you would have accumulated had you not been restricted by the cap. Yay….
According to Joystiq, when asked why Naughty Dog was pursuing this type of business model, the response was that they were” just trying to see what people might gravitate to” and that the “studio’s plan to go free-to-play is an attempt to accomplish two goals: reinvigorate the pool of Uncharted 3 players and test the freemium waters.”
My thoughts? The freemium waters are a stagnant pond waiting to dry up. Freemium is a tough business model to sell when you have developers like Grinding Gear giving away a full game with no restrictions for free. If console developers want to have any chance at competing in the free-to-play market they need to start thinking in terms of 2013’s F2P model and not 2007.