Crysis developer Crytek has offered a projection of where the console industry could be headed in the future. Company CEO Cevat Yerli told CVG that he believes free-to-play is the future, but at present, feels this is the minority belief.
"Why are free-to-play online games not widespread on consoles? You should ask Microsoft and Sony this question," he said. "We see the future of consoles as free-to-play--ideally focussed on free-to-play. That's what I want to see in the future. But unfortunately not everybody shares this vision due to many other reasons."
Yerli explained that Crytek was in discussions with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo regarding a publishing deal for its new free-to-play shooter Warface, but these partnerships never came to fruition. According to Yerli, these companies depend on the retail business and are wary to go full-on digital. Yerli calls the tussle between digital and retail "the biggest issue in the industry right now."
"Hardware manufacturers are reliant on distribution and retail businesses, and those companies who are not reliant on third-party retail business such as Apple can go 100 percent digital," he said. "They don't have the problem of retailers saying, 'I will not sell your hardware if you do not give me boxed games too'. That is the culprit of the problem."
Yerli later said that he believes there is immediacy to the situation. He claimed next-generation tablet devices will boast technical power near current-generation hardware, making future consoles from Microsoft and Sony needed sooner rather than later.
"I believe firmly that the next-generation of tablets are going to be close to current-generation consoles. So if the next-generation consoles don't ship very soon, the tablets are just going to run over them," he said. "That's very clear. I've believed for about a year now that as soon as tablets can stream on to TVs, then there's no reason why you should buy a console anymore. We're still pushing the tablet game market ourselves, and you'll see both casual and hardcore titles from us."
If the reckoning of industry analysts is to be believed, new consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be on store shelves at the end of next year.
Earlier this month, Yerli revealed that all future Crytek games would boast a free-to-play business model. At the time, he also said packaged goods strategies like downloadable content and premium services are "milking customers to death."
Yerli is not alone in his estimation that the industry's future will be oriented around a free-to-play business model. Last week, Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore said he believes in five to 10 years, all games will be available for free, with users able to purchase content via microtransactions.
Crytek's first free-to-play game--Warface--is in development at the company's Kiev outfit and runs on the CryEngine 3. A military shooter set in the near future, the game claims to offer a cinematic experience with next-gen visuals, artificial intelligence, and physics. It is expected to be released in 2012.