Free-to-play not the future - Sony exec

Jack Tretton says freemium, social gaming more an "additive diversion," will not replace current business models.

by

Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO Jack Tretton is not so enamored with free-to-play and social gaming. Tretton spoke to GamesIndustry International about why he thinks many companies overestimate the trend toward free-to-play models and social connectivity, and why the PlayStation Vita's sales have been "acceptable" so far and will pay off in coming years.

Don't expect Sony to vacate the dedicated console business any time soon.

"[Free-to-play and social] is a business I think a lot of companies are learning is difficult to sustain for the long term," Tretton said. "It's an adjunct or it's an add-on, but it's not where gaming is headed. It's an additive diversion. There's a place for social and freemium, but it's not going to replace the business models that are out there." Tretton's free-to-play doubt goes against sentiments from several other game industry executives, including higher-ups at Electronic Arts.

Despite worries that smartphones and tablets could soon replace dedicated gaming hardware, Tretton said "the opportunity to be in the console business is greater than ever before." Sony expects the Vita to sell 10 million units in its current fiscal year, mostly owing to a holiday lineup boasting titles like Assassin's Creed III: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified.

Selling hardware is always a long game, one which Tretton said he is confident will pay off for the Vita. "We felt if the tech was there, and the game support was there, then the audience would be there … I feel much better about it now than I did four months ago."

Discussion

0 comments
Kiigora_LoP
Kiigora_LoP

A CEO getting things right, this hasn't happened in a while. Free to Play can work for MMOs, that's it.

Iamtrent424
Iamtrent424

Dc universe is the only free to play game worth playing

aryanbrar
aryanbrar

most f2p games are pay to win eg: combat arms, world of tanks, battlefield heroes, battlefield play for free and etc.

mat989
mat989

Of course they wouldn't support this.  Why should Sony invest heavily in F2P games when the majority of their income is from game sales?

snake63
snake63

Jack Tretton is incompetent and should be fired over the disaster that is the Vita,

NinjaGaz
NinjaGaz

I prefer to just buy a game and know its all done. Sometimes I will waste £20 or £30 but there's something inside of me that hates the free to play model where you are buying things in game.

 

I cannot help but feel I'm not getting value for money - even if, technically, I am if I don't really enjoy the game. If I do enjoy it, I don't want to be shredding cash to play it.

 

Stick with the old model!

deadruler08
deadruler08

Farmville, Mafia Wars, Words with Friends... all came and went.  Call of Duty will live on forever.  /thread

tgwolf
tgwolf

The sad fact is that games CAN still be sold because they are an 'addictive diversion,' without mentioning the specifics I have mentioned elsewhere 8 billion times. I'm just glad that we don't have to live in that dark sadistic world.

unaminous
unaminous

I'll play a free-to-play game until I pay more than 60$ on it. Then it's quits for me.

iluvOP
iluvOP

Whaat. A man with a working a brain? Maybe gaming isnt doomed afterall.

dgnr82cool
dgnr82cool

and this comes from the guy whose vision has led PS3 to the top of the pile... that Xbox and Wii aren't in.

sora123455
sora123455

Has he been living under a rock these past few years? SWTOR is going F2P, and the sales increased. DCU went F2P and the sales went THROUGH THE ROOF. See what I'm saying?

 

suplax
suplax

Hmmm... I don't know.F2P games are better for a short time fun , because if you aren't inclined to pay for some stuff on the long run you will probably lose ground to players who invest their money on the game , so it's not equal to everyone. On the other hand P2P games with montly fee are more balanced , because everyone starts equal and progress along the way depending mostly on your skill and/or time invested on the game.

 

And btw i don't think tablets or portables will ever be able to *REPLACE* actual home consoles. It's cheaper for sure , and more people have acess to it.But they don't have the same hardware power , and hardly will be able to match a home console on hardware level.

cirugo
cirugo

When I see free-to-play associated with a game I just move along.

JasPlun
JasPlun

If Sony keeps going this route they will have won me back as a loyal customer,I have been against Sony in every way ever since they screwed me hard on a Sony Vaio PC purchase years ago.I still own a PS2 and play their games,but all used items and for exclusive games only back then.I have been a Xbox/Nintendo fan ever since and loyal customer to boot.I see Microsoft going in the direction of freemium models,diskless drives etc... If they do Sony will have my loyalty back I like what they are saying as of late and love that they are making the PS4 easier for devs to make games for by shedding the cell processor:P

_DeadlyFred_
_DeadlyFred_

F2P is rubbish, anyhow. So few companies actually know how to do it right it ends up being nothing but extortion most of the time. Funny thing is, people love to shell out cash for it.

eyeball2452
eyeball2452

Either Jack is not very bright or this quote was taken out of context. 

 

While I'm not a fan of Sony, GS has posted a few stories that have misrepresented the the context of the original statement recently.  There's been some very poor journalism here, in terms of reporting news, that really needs to be reviewed by GS management.

JMLert
JMLert

Gamespot, you forgot to include the final minutes where Tretton admitted that the press release was a suggestion made by his psychologist to help mitigate the mental damage caused by waking up night after night in cold sweat caused the fact that his company is losing market share to F2P games at a ridiculous pace.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

Hmm after reading so many comments after my last comment i am amused at how many of you don't realize only 5% of F2P games are Pay2Win.

 

Most F2P are very cosmetic when it comes to money and at most you pay for xp boosters which don't mean jack shit to be honest.

 

Most military shooters are not P2Win.Cept for World of Tanks.

Most MMORPGS are not Pay2Win.At worst you pay a one time fee to be near on par with gold subscribers and still enjoy a great time.FYI that fee is usually only 10 dollars.

 

And so on and so forth. I probably have more than 100 F2P games under my belt from over the years so this is from experience and research.

Rat_King
Rat_King

Agreed.

 

 

Just because they're working on Planetside doesn't mean they think it's the future of gaming. He clearly isn't saying there's anything wrong with it, it's just not going to become the norm to the extent of today's gaming business model like many other companies are claiming. Makes sense to me.

blackothh
blackothh

how can you say that and at the same time be working on planetside 2 as a free to play????

makryu
makryu

It all comes down to how much money can companies make with each model. So far, I don't believe F2P has come close to surpass traditional selling strategies.

 

It is also troubling that F2P developers get their profit from the 1% that spend money on their games (like a Zynga guy confessed). You can only drain so much money from such a person, and alienating 99% of your audience from being spenders seems to be a huge drawback of the strategy, overall.

 

In the end, remember when people declared the end of single-player with the advent of online multiplayer and MMOs? I guess everyone agrees that prediction backfired.

IanDef
IanDef

F2P games are a new niche for games, it won't replace the common way. It work great for multiplayer, although it can became quite unbalanced for players whom don't want to spend a dime in the game. But games that are single player focused will follow the traditional method. The same happens with the smartphones/ tablet, it's a new platform, it gives the developers new place to work, but it wont replace a home console or a pc any time soon.

Falru
Falru

 @NinjaGaz Really the only free-to-play model I'm totally okay with is something like DotA 2. They sell nothing but aesthetic bits of equipment you can use to make your heroes look unique, but they have 0 effect on actual gameplay. Now they've expanded it to selling spectator tickets to live tournaments and such but there again, no effect on game balance/gameplay whatsoever.

Davimus518
Davimus518

 @sora123455 I also don't believe he is talking about MMO's, but games in general.  MMO's are alright with free to play, as long as you have to purchase the initial game, but what I think the main buzz is about, would be any & all titles being free to play, aka just imagine Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty if it were free to download and stream on your system, but you paid for extras like combat boots or fluff, etc...

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

 @sora123455 And you missed what he is saying, he said that sustaining these games long-term is hard to do. 

deadruler08
deadruler08

 @JasPlun so the whole kinect is the future thing didn't already turn you off?

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

 @eyeball2452 Good point. Rupert Murdock just found out that not knowing is no defence against what your journalists are doing.

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

 @eyeball2452 I feel sorry for journalists these days.  News is about how much you can sensationalize stories to get traffic to help generate advertising $ for the parent corporation.  Rarely is it about being fair, honest, accurate or true, especially when there is bias in favor of advertisers. TV news is the worst, I stopped watching it years ago.

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

 @buccomatic um, this has been the longest, by far, cycle of consoles....  The 360 came out in 05 and the PS3 and WII in 06.... 

 

On the other hand, I totally agree about EA :)  Effffff EM!!!!!

horizonwriter
horizonwriter

 @buccomatic  Every couple of years?  Try every 5 at the least.  And I'm sorry but how much are an iPad, smart phone or any mobile gaming device that you'll have to replace every two years (sometimes sooner) running these days?

ShadoViper
ShadoViper

 @Rat_King except their whole mmo division is embracing this model right now and quite a few huge players in the industry because they cant compete with the top games resulting in many mmo's failing because of that sub model.  I don't think it's very smart for a man to speak out against his own companies decisions that they(other important figures in soe) view is right, especially not when other sections of the company aren't in the best financial positions and clearly making greeeat decisions on other things (Vita). It really leaves a bad taste in your mouth when the company in question that is trying to sell you an idea has another member dismissing it.

XxTheEvilxX
XxTheEvilxX

 @IanDef Amen Brother! You have more business sense in a few sentences then some CEOs at major publishers have in essay after essay of comments they send to the press. Mobile/Tablet games are great for what they are. In the car, on a plane, during a meeting; it is a great way to play a game on the go. When I come home from work after a hard day, I am not looking to pick up my IPad and play a major AAA title. HALO, COD, Battlefield, Skyrim, Dark Souls, Mass Effect, Borderlands, whatever your flavor, nothing beats a BIG TV with surround sound cranked to "disturbing the peace" levels. I have no desire to play the biggest AAA titles on a little screen with headphones for audio. That is why a game like Angry Birds is the all-time seller in the mobile/tablet market. It is perfect for the on-the-go gamer.

 

Yes... some people will want to play Call of Duty on their tablet while they are away from home. Nothing wrong with that. But like IanDef said, it is a niche market. Just because somebody wants to play AAA titles on their Ipad or Droid phone, doesn't mean it will replace the console. If you have a big TV with awesome surround, you will still want to play your console. A tablet to a console is like that of an apple to an orange. Two different things altogether.

Falru
Falru

 @Davimus518 THE pile. It's a philosophical thing I believe.

 

You will only understand it once you understand yourself.

bakagami
bakagami

 @Davimus518  @sora123455 depends on how it was done.  This concept isn't new,  games used to be released as "shareware" , a free version that was shorter and limited. The original Doom was like that.  Then if you liked it and wanted to have the full version, you paid for it and downloaded/unlocked the rest of the game.  I know that is not what we are talking about here but it could be handled that way. I miss it because you could always have something to play, even when you had no money.

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

 @aussiemuscle  @eyeball2452 Right.... Rupert didn't know about any of the truly evil things his corporation was doing since he started... I'll be sure to discuss that with the Sasquatch tonight....

schesak
schesak

 @TheSorrow66666 Well, in Buccomatic's defense, he did say "every couple years".   Apple tries to get you to do it EVERY YEAR.  totally different, you see? :-)

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @ShadoViper I think you're missing the "bigger picture" message here. At no point does this guy simply dismiss f2p gaming, which, off topic, is something many Gamespot members seem to interpret as "mmo" when in reality about 90% of f2p is based around small-time developers.

 

Having said that, let me share a quote FROM THE FREAKIN' ARTICLE...

 

""It's an adjunct or it's an add-on, but it's not where gaming is headed. It's an additive diversion. There's a place for social and freemium, but it's not going to replace the business models that are out there."

 

There's a place for social and freemium. But it will not replace current business models. This I agree with. I simply do not see f2p becoming the industry standard, but I do think it will persist until the end, probably through the mobile market.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @ShadoViper Sorry if reading is difficult for you, it really shows with your last (and first) sentence, so I'll try and keep it simple. Read closely this time...He doesn't dismiss f2p as an industry. He's saying f2p games in and of themselves do not have longevity, but the f2p model will stay, just not become the industry norm.

 

Though I see what you're saying, he's clearly not speaking about f2p as a genre, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THE PROJECTS HE'S INVOLVED IN, just f2p games in general. They will always come and go, and thats how it will stay. It will probably move almost completely to hand helds, to make it easier for kids to spend their $5 allowance right away instead of saving up for something with more longevity.

ShadoViper
ShadoViper

 @Rat_King Yikes, such a waste of a reply. I'm sorry but that conversation doesn't appear like its going to move anymore. You have clearly missed my points of what i was saying by accident or through ignorance.

 

The bigger picture is this. He is saying a model, "f2p" does'nt seem to have much longevity in the industry. It's ironic that one of their departments (SOE) are clinging onto it for dear life to save their asses and actually continue doing  business because of it. If you to try and dispute this, please refer to DCUO.

 

Once again, I find it a little odd that a subscription model that is giving them (SOE) a leg to stand on and many other companies (League of Legends for example) is being dsimissed by this guy. It's a mixed message and almost misinformed. As is your opinion if you think this only applies to "social and freemium" games.  

 

.