Namco Bandai exec: “Free-to-play games can’t be high quality”

Wednesday, 18th January 2012 22:37 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Free to play games are undercutting the value of higher quality premium releases, according to Namco Bandai’s senior vice-president for Europe, Oliver Comte.

“Free-to-play games can’t be high quality,” Comte said at Cloud Gaming Europe, as reported by IndustryGamers.

The executive reportedly argued that the proliferation of free games devalues triple-A development – a position with echoes of Nintendo’s anti-smartphone stance.

“We need to put certain value on certain work,” he said.

Comte’s comments certainly make it sound like Namco Bandai won’t be jumping ship to freemium models any time soon.

“When you’re a big company, you can’t take risks too quickly, you can’t make a change just because there’s a fashion for a couple of years; you want to be there in 20 or 30 years,” he added.



  1. absolutezero



    #1 3 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    @1 Which originally started out as a full price retail title.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. LOLshock94

    @1 tf2 doesnt count
    @2 couldnt of put it any better me sell

    #3 3 years ago
  4. absolutezero

    Its a free to play game.

    Its high quality.

    Pedantics work both ways.

    Also LoL and HoN.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    @4 See, those are much better examples, as they were conceived as free-to-play.

    The argument doesn’t really hold up when you use previous retail games, as they were originally created under full-budget release with full budget expectations. So the quality in general is going to be higher.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. absolutezero

    Well HoN was a full priced game aswell until they noticed how many more people were playing LoL because it was free.

    TF2 is still the perfect refutal to such a stupid blanket statement. Heres some more though just in case: Tribes Ascend and Firefall.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. DSB

    I’d have to agree with absolutezero. I’m pretty sure Valve would still have made more money off of TF2 if it had been F2P from the start.

    In my opinion that’s enough to refute his argument. If you can make money off an investment in a game that isn’t just “free”, but quality, then he’s quite arguably wrong, and TF2 was a different game before it went F2P in my opinion. It’s a lot more versatile and fun these days.

    World of Tanks is another game that deserves a mention, and that was always on a freemium model.

    Even some of the EA games are very decent, including Battlefield Heroes.

    I get pretty annoyed at the word “free” though. It’s free to play, but what you get for your “no money down” differs a hell of a lot. To me a game that puts you at a grotesque disadvantage isn’t a free game, it’s an incentivized game, that’s free to play.

    I think games like League of Legends, Team Fortress 2 and World of Tanks go a lot further than the average to actually offer a free game, with incentives as a bonus feature, rather than the sole product.

    Although World of Tanks is still very open to wallet warriors, I didn’t feel as disadvantaged as I usually have in an incentivized game.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. shogoz

    first rule after starting off small and becoming a bigger company: discredit other people who are attracted to something better than you’re offering

    #8 3 years ago
  9. absolutezero

    Actually thinking about it, what Mr Namco meant to say should have gone something like this :

    “Microsft wont let us put a free to play game on the Xbox so they are all shit and low quality, you should stay well away from them and continue to buy our full price releases and DLC. Thanks.”

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Virginityrocks

    The same people who discredit F2P business model are the same types of people who want you to resubscribe to cable television and take all content off of the internet, because adapting to an evolving industry and consumer interests is haaaard. SOPA and PIPA wouldn’t be an issue if rocks like these could look at the way they do business, and say, ‘we can do better’ by offering a service that makes torrenting and storing files on your hard drive look inconvenient and time consuming by comparison. F2P has a place in the future, a big one. These cooks can either recognize that and adapt or be left behind in a penniless future.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. revolting

    I think this is mostly just a case of poor wording on Mr Comte’s part.

    The quote “Free-to-play games can’t be high quality,” reads like he’s saying “it is impossible for F2P games to be any good, our games are simply better by virtue of being full retail releases,” which is obviously both incredibly arrogant and grossly inaccurate, and no will doubt cause a knee-jerk reaction amongst the affronted fans of any F2P title. (Which is also why it’s the title of the article, because out of context inflammatory bait makes good internet.)

    Reading the rest of what he said, though, it seems more like what he meant was “F2P games MUST NOT be high quality, or they undermine the value of our full retail releases.” Which is quite true; why pay for a shit game when you can play a better one for free?

    Obviously there are and will continue to be many fine examples of great free games whether Namco like it or not, but all they’re saying here is that they won’t be taking part in it, at least not with games that rival their retail releases. And why would they? No business in its right mind willingly and knowingly destroys its own renevue stream with a free alternative. Big budget studios who do participate in the free game arena only do so with free games that do not challenge their retail earners.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Froseidon

    League of Legends, there’s one high quality game.

    TF2 technically does count as it is free-to-play, even if it was retail to begin with.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. endgame

    also, Tribes! :D

    #13 3 years ago

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