Free-to-play is not a magic bullet, says Wildstar producer

By Sherif Saed, Monday, 23 September 2013 16:17 GMT

Contrary to what seems to be the norm for MMO launches these days, Wildstar producer Jeremy Gaffney of Carbine Studios doesn’t believe that going free-to-play is the answer.

Gaffney recently spoke with PCGamesN about the best way for Carbine to monetize its upcoming MMORPG, Wildstar, and why he thinks free-to-play is not the answer.

“There’s variability as a player because you don’t know if you’re going to get sucked in and pay $1,000 a month, because some people do. As a publisher it’s a juggling act because most the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that one or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free.

“As a publisher [that variability] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?” he added.

Citing City of Heroes’ smaller user base; a subscription-based MMO which he produced, versus Guild Wars; which is not, as an example.

Gaffney said, “Different games with different business models work in a very different fashion, If you look at City of Heroes compared to Guild Wars, it looks like City of Heroes is a smaller game.

“And it is, fewer people play City of Heroes, they peaked out at – I don’t know the numbers – something like 200,000. But 200,000 subscribers paying $15 a month, if you do the math, that makes about as much money as selling 6 million boxes [Guild Wars], if they last long enough.”

Wildstar will be a subscription-based MMO, but with some free-to-play elements. The game will be using a system similar to EVE Online’s PLEX, dubbed CREDD (Certificate of Research, Exploration, Destruction and Development).

Are you a free-to-play or subscription only advocate?

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