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My Random Thoughts on Ubisoft’s “Free-to-play” Business

Sara Lau
Aug 20,2012  09:08 by
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The world is now flooded with tons of free-to-play games from new developers and established ones alike. And Ubisoft, the French-based developer, has taken its steps, apparently.

The recently released, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, and the upcoming titles including Anno Online, Might and Magic Raiders, Might and Magic Heroes Online, Might and Magic Duel of Champions and Silent Hunter Online come from different studios of Ubisoft and target at different groups. No matter you are a fan of city-building titles, third-person shooters, action MMORPGs, card games, or simulators, you can always get your satisfaction in Ubisoft’s free-to-play titles.

But here’s the thing: it is known to all that free-to-play titles never offer the best quality as retail games do, then why do they create so many free games in the first place? As far as I know, there is no way that retail games could invite as many players as free games do. The gaming community has increased sharply in recent years, thanks to the churning out and spreading of free games.

The high accessibility promises large numbers of entries but on the other hand, it also makes it possible to drop out anytime anywhere. From my experience, people quit a free game without a second thought once they get bored. A free game has to be really good to keep gamers buying the in-game items and speed-ups. And when you take that into consideration, it would be quite courageous and confident of a developer that chooses to have its works offered for free.

The truth is free-to-play games do have their privileges: you’ll never know for sure whether a game is good unless you play it. That allows you to decide whether to keep at the game after playing without any kind of fee. On the contrary, the payments for retail games indicate that you’d better make that decision before you try them. Therefore those payments are supposed to tell those who really would like to play the games from “click-and-goers”, instead of telling good games from bad games, which seems to be the very case now given that free titles consist so many lousily duplicates.

Fortunately, major game developers sometimes manage to deliver quality free games. Zynga, EA, and Playdom all have succeeded on that. So this time, Ubisoft has got to make it right. And it is our hope that all developers spare no efforts in bettering their works, both free-to-play games and retail ones.

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