Mercenary Kings dev doesn't regret being a PlayStation Plus PS4 freebie

Plus members were able to download the PS4 shoot-em-up for free as soon as it launched.

Metal Slug-inspired shoot-em-up Mercenary Kings launched on the PlayStation 4 earlier this month as a part of the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection. What that means is Plus subscribers were able to download the game from its first day of availability without paying a dime to developer Tribute Games, a decision the company says it doesn't regret.

"I'm happy we traded a bit of risk for a PS Plus deal," co-founder Jean-Francois Major told Gamasutra. "Maybe we could've done better on our own, but the PS Plus deal was a safe bet. We'll gamble a bit more on the next project!"

Mercenary Kings was originally released on PC as a Steam Early Access game last July. It was then officially released this past March, just prior to its launch on PlayStation 4 on April 1. The game takes clear cues from classic shoot-em-ups, but mixes in elements not typically seen in the genre like crafting and customization.

While the possibility of selling a game isn't completely removed while it's free on PlayStation Plus--not everyone is a Plus member, after all--it's not as if companies aren't compensated for participating. Other developers that have given away their games through Plus have been hesitant to share exact numbers, and with deals being worked out on a game-by-game basis (according to a previous Gamasutra report), they wouldn't necessarily reveal anything about Tribute's arrangement. But a number of them have said that, besides the money, they don't regret being included because doing so builds up their respective fan bases.

Despite that, Tribute still could have ended up unhappy due to Mercenary Kings being free right at launch, unlike many games, which aren't given away through Plus until months or years after release. Instead, Major sees the Instant Game Collection as serving a similar purpose to Steam sales. "While it may keep some from buying your game day one, in the end, it doesn't really kill sales - it allows you to reach a bigger audience that might not be willing to try your game at the premium price," he said.

Mercenary Kings remains a free download on the PlayStation 4 for PlayStation Plus members. A PlayStation Vita version is currently in development and will be a cross-buy title with the PS4 version upon release.

Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Twitter/Xbox Live/PSN/Nintendo Network: TheSmokingManX

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Discussion

81 comments
coolmanmick
coolmanmick

They made the right choice on their end cos I for one would never have bought this

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

The game is average at best, I rather play any Metal Slug than this. So yeah, I'm pretty sure they can be happy with the Plus deal

beerswagger
beerswagger

this game sucks ass its should be free without plus 100% shit

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

I'm thinking offering it free on PS+ got a lot more people to try it out who would have otherwise just overlooked it. Combining Metal Slug with Monster Hunter is a bold and ballsy move, and the result is a very interesting product that deserves a look,. even if you find it isn't you're thing.

blaze_boy30
blaze_boy30

But let the game make some money though.

RSM-HQ
RSM-HQ

This is a very fun game, reminds me of the Scott Pilgrim game for its art-style. Plays like Contra in my view. Love it.

camerlongo
camerlongo

i thought first they were kidding bioshock for ps3 and dumb games for ps4 really fair

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Thoroughly enjoying Mercanry Kings, playing it split screen with a mate an it's a blast.

I'll happily look into any future projects of theirs with the view to buy, will be more than keen to show my support :)

onixevil
onixevil

I think Wii U games is more attracted than most Indie games that made specially from new and unheard protagonists. Casualties usually hype into these games that kinda look like one of old classic games but not after clarifying it. 

wdma
wdma

umm they are not really giving it for free! Sony actually give them money to cover the development cost and what they could sell in PSN on advance

justerthought
justerthought

I totally agree with this dev. Participating in PSN Plus and letting your game go for free builds awareness and generates a fan base that you can sell to. Here's a good example. I never would have dreamed of buying Metro: Last Light. It was never on my radar as any good because I incorrectly assumed certain things about it based on the title. I played it free and loved it. Now that there is talk of a remaster coming to PS4 as a package with the previous game, I'm definitely going to buy it. They have hooked me as a fan with money waiting. That's a sale they never would have had without going free as a advertisement for the brand.

deathvisage
deathvisage

I liked the game but the time limit totally ruined it for me. It doesn't let me take my time and think how to get past some messy areas... It's way too difficult.

grenadehh
grenadehh

And none of those poor hipsters will ever buy the game because Sony "gave it to them for free". You'll realize that eventually. I pre-ordered that shit on Steam long before it released. Welcome to your actual customers.

oo7superdave
oo7superdave

this game is really really good, and the trophies are pretty tough also...adds to the fun


poksmote
poksmote

i played this today on splitscreen and that will be the last time i ever do that. with 2 players they still break the screen into 1/4's making everything small as fuck 

NTM23
NTM23

I like Scott Pilgrim more.

B-boy
B-boy

awsome another free game for vita

chrisb2313
chrisb2313

Without Ps+ I never would have purchased this game. I'm not too into it, but maybe it gets better if I play more. Its not really my type of game but I'll play now and again when I'm bored.

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

Mercenary Kings was pretty good but not amazing.  The gameplay is a little stiff in that the jumping is delayed for a fraction of a second and you can't shoot diagonally which is a pain when it comes to airborne enemies.  The game itself suffers from the trappings of an MMORPG when it comes to quest objectives and it gets old after awhile.  The crafting system is really good but it feels like some parts are never attainable as you never seem to come across some of them, and sometimes crafting a set involves playing the same mission multiple times because a boss drops a particular material that you need (which just adds to the monotony that's already there).  There's a lot of recycled enemies, and there's no purpose what so ever to having bosses run away mid-fight to appear somewhere else in the level other than to annoy you.  It's also weird that the bosses fight nothing if you happen to die and run back to the boss... it's attacking as if you're fighting it but nobody's in the arena.

It sounds like I'm ragging on the game but there's nothing wrong with the core gameplay itself and it's fun mixing and matching weapon parts and ammo.  The soundtrack is pretty good too.

mjonk2pc
mjonk2pc

Love mercenary kings. Great game, like most indies, to just have some old school fun. My brother, nephew and I have put about 40 hours into mercenary kings since it released. Will definitely keep an eye out for whatever Tribute releases next. Thank you for the kick ass free game

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

FYI, despite having a similar graphical look, Mercenary Kings doesn't play anything like Metal Slug.  There's no 8-way shooting, MK has a reload mechanic, more complex weapon customization, and quest objectives requiring roaming around rather than left to right start and finish.


If you're going to release a game free for PS4 via PS+, now is probably the time to do it.  Get people playing it, hopefully get good reviews, and then when more people get PS4s and are looking for things to play your game will hopefully be on top.  Or if your game sucks then at least you got money from Sony for participating.

force_user1975
force_user1975

Nothing says 50% more raw power than an 8-bit NES game....

coodyb
coodyb

Ps4 is the first console to LAUNCH with PS+ so just as I knew would be the case, it's gonna take a while for PS4s library to grow enough for it's PS+ offerings to be as good as it's PS3 and Vita titles.

Just look how unbelievable PS3 and Vitas games are in PS+ every month because they're not brand new systems and have plenty of games to offer.

I knew PS4s games wouldn't be up to PS+ usual high standards the second I heard PS4 would launch with it included and anybody that thinks otherwise is an idiot.

Ha2e
Ha2e

@camerlongo  Mercenary Kings is an awesome game. Beat it with almost 40 hours of game time put in and the gameplay is very good

jim_peterson
jim_peterson

Seriously? The PS4 is still new and you expect them to be giving away brand new AAA titles?

Man, people will bitch about anything.

Mr_Mark_Legion
Mr_Mark_Legion

@grenadehh they got paid by sony to put it on ps plus. and since u Xbox fans always say ps plus games arent free (which i agree) then that would only leave the money from ps plus memberships paid the devs. so for all intents and purposes everyone with a ps plus membership was a customer.

justerthought
justerthought

@grenadehh

Ok here's a lesson you need to learn. I got Metro: Last Light free, loved it and now I'm definitely going to buy the remaster on PS4 at full price. That's a sale the dev never would have had, so tell me again who is the customer and whether it was worth going free.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@poksmote  You'd think common ass sense would be something developers have, right.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@chrisb2313  Then clearly you're not the target audience so PS+ didn't actually do anyone any favor.

mjonk2pc
mjonk2pc

Nothing says whiny bitch more than you complaining

Sl4cka
Sl4cka

@Ha2e Shame about levels being reused so many times.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@Mr_Mark_Legion @grenadehh  Not really. Considering PS+ costs less than the $20 game, and that subscription money isn't going to the publishers/devs either. They're giving a sum of money to the party they need to give it to - that doesn't mean they're giving 5 bucks from every PS+ member in the world to the owner.

grenadehh
grenadehh

@justerthought  Remaster? Lol, good joke. Are they actually doing that? And yes, it's a sale the dev would have had, if you got off your ass and bought the game. You could just as easily have tried it on PS+ then said "Hey I'm a reasonable person with money who isn't a mooch, I like this game and I'm going to buy it so that I actually own it."


But you didn't do that. Instead you're holding out for Metro Redux.

force_user1975
force_user1975

@battlefront1943 @force_user1975  More of a complaint about the indie, indie, indie road that Sony is taking in general. Why taught this powerful machine if all it seems to be getting is indies and Free-2-Play? Where's the big AAA titles at? 

xOmniCloudx
xOmniCloudx

@grenadehh  Except you don't know that and are talking out your ass. If they had done that and made less money up front or even bombed sales wise, they'd have a major problem. Never go into business.

Mr_Mark_Legion
Mr_Mark_Legion

@grenadehh if devs arent getting money then why would they do this? if you pay into ps plus some fraction of that money is going to the markers of these games. and are you saying you are only a customer of something once you break a certain threshold of money

xOmniCloudx
xOmniCloudx

@grenadehh  Or's it's a sale the dev would not have had. They wouldn't intentionally miss out on sales they know they would get if they could prove there was more money that way than though Plus. They even just said it here and we all know they got paid to put it up anyway.  A new IP that caters to a niche audience had low chances of making bank as soon as it came out hence why they went the safe route getting money with PS PLus from Sony and using it to build their rep for the future. Get off your ass and read about business lol

lrdfancypants
lrdfancypants

AAA xb1 has ps4 doesn't. Forza, DR3, Ryse, Titanfall

AAA ps4 has xb1 doesn't killzone, knack, infamous, ffxiv, dcu online.

They both get the multiplats. Ps4 has a lot of indies the xb1 doesn't have as well.

Am I missing the AAAachine on xb1?

Did injustice ever do xb1 release? It's on ps4.

poopoohed
poopoohed

@force_user1975

Where all the big AAA titles at for the Brobox One?? Why is a 38 year old man complaining about video games on the internet??? WTF????????

justerthought
justerthought

@battlefront1943

The PS4 launch is already better than the PS3 one. I had to wait a year for Oblivion to show before there was something good enough for me to justify buying the console. But PS4 was a day one purchase with the excellent Assassin's Creed 4, followed by the awesome Tomb Raider DE. Added to that is the fact that this is the first crossover that does not make the previous gen obsolete. I still use PS3 for multimedia, backwards compatibility and playing the two free PSN Plus games I get each month. I'm really happy with Playstation eco system and the future looks bright on PS4.

C_A_G_E
C_A_G_E

@force_user1975 @battlefront1943  Big AAAs take time to devlop. there are plenty in the pipe for both systems....


This indie scene though allows for more games that actually try something different then the usual AAA game. It's a great trend and i am very happy that it is succeeding. This will lead to more mid level games with better visuals being released. 

battlefront1943
battlefront1943

@HowlPendragon @CrusaderForeverThe only reason there has been a slight issue with PS4 third party releases so far is...  Sony kept a lot of 3rd party devs out-of-the-loop pre-PS4 release on the exact PS4 specs.  Why?  Because they didn't want anything to get back to MS.  Great tactic, but it did keep TITANFALL from PS4 and slow down some devs with their PS4 work.  Still, there are a ton of AAA games coming to PS4...  and definitely more 1st party in the short term.  One year in, this release will be much better than last gen.  The constant Xbot screaming "PS4 has no games" is just ridiculous.  

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

@CrusaderForever To morons like him, indie games being put onto a console to offer some variety seem to automatically translate to: Guess they aren't making any AAA games.

CrusaderForever
CrusaderForever

@force_user1975 @battlefront1943Also, Warframe is an amazing game!  You should try it out.  I am on board for FtP and MMORPG after Warframe, DCUO, FFXIVARR and soon to be released Planetside 2!  Sony knows what they are doing.  You should get on board because there is a lot to look forward to in Playstation Nation.

CrusaderForever
CrusaderForever

@force_user1975 @battlefront1943Another gamer with no clue.  These Indie games have no effect on AAA game production.  These Indie games are in addition to the AAA games we receive.  You are actually complaining about more games and more options.  No one said you have to buy them.  Child of Light, Watch_Dogs and Wolfenstein The New Order are still coming out.