Molyneux: Free-to-play must be part of original design

Industry veteran says free-to-play business model "can't just be crammed in" six months after launch.

Former Fable designer and Microsoft manager Peter Molyneux believes free-to-play games should be developed with the business model in mind from the onset.

Speaking during the F2P Summit conference in London today, as reported by The Guardian, Molyneux said it is unwise to introduce free-to-play features after launch.

"You can't introduce free-to-play mechanics to a title six months after it's released," he said. "It's got to be part of the design. It can't just be crammed in there later on."

BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic launched in December 2011 as a subscription-based game before going free-to-play less than a year later. Since the switch, more than two million new players have registered.

Lord of the Rings Online introduced a free-to-play option during September 2011, more than three years after the game originally launched. This business model switch led to monthly revenue increasing three times over.

Regarding the form and approach for console games and free-to-play experiences, Molyneux said the former is a one-time deal, while the latter is an ongoing production, similar to TV.

"If you think of console games as the equivalent of films--you go to the cinema, you watch it, consume it, you're done with it--that's what I think console games are like," Molyneux said.

"I think free-to-play games are more like TV series. You watch a TV series for half an hour or 40 minutes, wait for a period of time, then watch another one," he added. "That's more like what free-to-play is."

The developer is wary of potential downsides for free-to-play games, criticizing some developers of "trying to squeeze more money out of consumers" through in-app purchases.

Molyneux and his new independent studio 22Cans are currently working on the Kickstarter-funded Godus, a free-to-play "reinvention" of the god game genre. The game is currently in development for PC and Mac, as well as iOS and Android devices.

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Discussion

92 comments
edinko
edinko

F2p is a plague. GAmes are crippled with it cause they simply must  annoy players and artificially slow progress so it is behind a paywall. Its a despicable business practice. nothing else. Pure exploitation in many f2p games

bluefox755
bluefox755

Does anyone still care what this guy has to say?

tonyukuk
tonyukuk

He may made mistake and people are rightly angry about them but dismissing this guy means you don't really know who he is. 

As for F2P business, he has made very good point. All mentioned games that became more succesful after being F2P are virtually endless (STO, DDO etc) Thus implementing F2P was not hard thing. What he is talking about is single play games or more liner games. Like fallout games.

Companies want share of F2P and what he points out is simply "this is not that easy"

Divedude
Divedude

Yea, I think this guy has been out of the industry to long

redness19
redness19

Oh Peter, if only your development skills were on par with your salesmanship. 


Does anyone take Peter M. seriously anymore? The guy who thought the dog in Fable 2 was the emotional anchor a player needed to be invested in a game. How about Fable 3, where touching and hand-holding were biggest innovation of the franchise. I know I really enjoyed playing patty-cake with the blacksmith. 


I hope Lionhead Studios can reboot the Fable franchise, it sorely needs it.

Justforvisit
Justforvisit

"The developer is wary of potential downsides for free-to-play games, criticizing some developers of "trying to squeeze more money out of consumers" through in-app purchases."

And THIS, dear kids, is coming from a man that had a 50.000 $ DLC in an App game for a Smartphone.

Anyways, F2P for MMO's: Sure. F2P Models in ANY Singleplayer / Disc / Console / PC / whatever game: GO AND LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB BUT NOT IN THE GAMING INDUSTRY!

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

Never trust balding gentlemen, they don't have the follicles to back up their statements.

hadlee73
hadlee73

Going free-to-play late probably saved both DDO and Middle-Earth Online (albeit possibly temporarily). However at that point it was quite a novelty for well-known MMOs to go Free to Play, but with Guild Wars showing everyone how it was done they took the gamble and it worked. Nowadays free-to-play is starting to become an expectation among gamers, and so companies really do need to think about starting that way on release.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

He's absolutely right.  Only on very rare occasions (read: TF2) has it worked after being slapped on afterwards.

With MMOs, it never works.  TOR is dead.  Guild Wars, which built it in from the beginning, is not.

Dovahkyon
Dovahkyon

why do people care what this guy says. he lies all the time

slefo29
slefo29

Why is this idiot still be covered. He makes bold statements that are either A) not true or B) lies.

Snake oil salesman at best. YOU RUINED FABLE!

CaptWaffle
CaptWaffle

I'm not sure if Fallout: New Vegas' "Gunrunner's Arsenal" was considered a "Microtransaction" (think it was $3), but it was what I'd consider to be the perfect DLC in a way.  For $3 you got a whole truckload of new weapons available all around the world, new ammo types, new weapon upgrades.... for a game that's all about exploration and choice it sure added a huge reason for the first and a lot of the second.  It's wasn't necessary and you really weren't at a disadvantage if you didn't pick it up, but it GREATLY added replay value and gave new reasons to revisit old areas/merchants.  If that's a micro-transaction: i suppose I like them.  

Dead Space had something where you just got new skins for existing weapons.... thought that was kinda weak... but if they came out with a pack where they added 6 new weapons for 4-5 bucks, I'd be all over that: it'd be a reason to replay the classic Dead Space 1 and try out new ways of killing/cooking/melting some necromorphs.  I'm very much in favor of stuff like that, being able to pay a very small sum and be given, in exchange, a reason to revisit some old favorites.  Are these examples of "Micro-transactions"?  Is a micro-transaction simply a low-cost DLC of some sort?  I suppose I don't fully understand the argument for or against given that I'm not sure exactly what a Microtransaction is...

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

Am I the only one to constantly misread his name as Moneylux?

Tripwolf
Tripwolf

As much as I dislike the F2P model, he's right. It needs to be in the game from the start if you're going that route.

GERMANY21
GERMANY21

FREE TO PLAY IS A REALLY GOOD THING . GAMES SHOULD BE EASY TO PLAY ... 

dussan2
dussan2

Look at Star Trek Online.

By rights that game should have been dead years ago.  It went F2P and it's doing very well.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

Molyneux is a guy with great thoughts and zero proper implementation of these thoughts. He's way ahead of his time, too far ahead. Maybe one day we'll be able to develop games with zero coding and just machines that process our thoughts. In that case, he'll probably make GOTY's.

starcrafthenry
starcrafthenry

I'm not really a F2P fan, but I totally disagree with this guy. Look at Team Fortress 2. It was originally $20 (I think) or included as part of the Orange Box. How many years after it launched before it went F2P? I'm sure Valve was making money selling it for a while, and then once sales started to stagnate, they made it F2P and introduced microtransactions for (mostly) useless crap. I would bet they make even more money on it now that it is F2P, than they did before it was.

deadpeasant
deadpeasant

I was questioning why he was saying all this until the last paragraph, then it all became clear. He's marketing his own game. Everyone has their own agendas.

Deadly_Nemesis
Deadly_Nemesis

oooh fuck, hell must be freezing over because I actually agree with Molyneux.

Spartan_418
Spartan_418

In this post-WoW era, I think the only model that can work really well for an MMO is "buy once, then, down the line, pay for expansions".

No subscriptions, no microtransactions, no F2P (at least for big-budget, high-quality MMOs).

yerg3
yerg3

Who cares what Peter Molyneux says? Does anybody even like him?

Verityrant
Verityrant

I would suggest that evidence says otherwise.  Not only is there counter evidence to Molyneaux's claim listed above in the article, but also DDO went free to play after launching as a subscription and did better.  Champions Online as well. If he wants to assert that games that are built from the ground up to be free to play might be starting off better, then sure, I will grant that.  It is nearly always better when things go according to plan than  having to adapt on the fly, but there are enough MMO's out there that thrived on the free to play transition to refute his claim.  


MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

He is right, you can't just make a game work one way then change is 6 months later because you weren't making money off the game.....

making a game F2P that was originally Pay 2 Play usually results in the game being somewhat playable but an ultimately limiting experience.

Take Guild Wars 2 and Defiance, both launched as games that were F2P after you pay the $60 to own the games. Once you get setup in the game there's nothing that you must buy, it's all optional.

So far I've enjoyed Defiance more than I have any other MMO in the past mainly because the game plays like a shooter and not like a MMO.

vicsrealms
vicsrealms

I prefer single player games, over most mp game.  So far, my F2P experience hasn't been all that great.  Of course, SWTOR was already a flop as far as I was concerned.  I preferred it more as a SP experience.  EA/Bioware turned the F2P into a confusing mess that I just uninstalled it and went back to Fallout/Elder Scrolls/Borderlands series.  Borderlands co-op is much more fun anyway.

Arcturuss
Arcturuss

From what i've heard most failed MMO's that went F2P became slightly less failed?


Also Peter still needs to be hit in the head with a stick that has "Don't fix what aint broke" on it..  

Yes i'm bitter...

thegroveman
thegroveman

I've been using the Film versus TV Series analogy ever since F2P became prevalent.  My biggest concern is that the "finish it and you're done" style of game will be going away and every game will be an "endless" experience full of nickel and diming.

danielwd
danielwd

What about gotham city imposters? That's a really good game, and on pc it's free to play.

obsequies
obsequies

I think that the only good f2plays are either from extremely large devs or generous indies

Hayasmez
Hayasmez

Excuse me Molynuex, but look at SOE's, Turbine (even though i hate their model) and Cryptic's libary of F2P conversions then come back and tell me that they were crammed in there. They work very well infact.

Total_mischief
Total_mischief

@redness19 The best part about Fable 3 was playing patty-cake AFTER a wanna be dark and grim storyline cut scene with your brother.

TheEveryMan
TheEveryMan

@Dovahkyon

You need to look past the reputation bestowed upon him by the gaming community. He's made bold statements, but he has been in the gaming industry long, with plenty of experience. He's right in this instance, F2P shouldn't be a secondary objective.

Tripwolf
Tripwolf

@slefo29 Fable 1 and 2 were great for their time. I pretend the others don't exist.

dussan2
dussan2

@vicsrealms  

How so?  The F2P for SWTOR is pretty much standard.  You have a limited number of character slots active at one time.  You have limited inventory space.  But it's been a great success.  The only problem is that F2P during the initial phase tends to attract a "disruptive" element.  It's like a free message board where someone just pops on and starts shouting out random questions, or rollling Need on EVERYTHING.  Basically these guys tend to be new to the MMO ettiquette.  I am positive that SWTOR will have great success just as LOTRO is.

decoy1978
decoy1978

@Arcturuss YES! Someone who understands! These so-called WoW Killers were all SUBS before they became F2P. The time and money it costs to make these games were extravagant, and because they didn't receive enough sustained users they had to go to F2P route to recoup SOME of the losses with hopes of MAYBE making some profit...

hadlee73
hadlee73

@elanbg @hadlee73 True that. I forgot we were talking F2P, not F2P subscription models. I stand corrected :)

Dovahkyon
Dovahkyon

@TheEveryMan @Dovahkyon what good things has he done for the gameing industry? besides having good hindsight.witch everyone  has.

Total_mischief
Total_mischief

@Tripwolf @slefo29 Fable 1 was amazing, Fable 2 had some cool new stuff and improvements, but still failed to be nearly as good as Fable 1. As for the other Fables...yes, let's not mention them, I agree.

Greyfeld
Greyfeld

@decoy1978 @Arcturuss This has less to do with F2P being a good sub model and more to do with F2P being the last-ditch effort of avoiding pulling the plug on their game altogether.

danielwd
danielwd

@Gamer-Geek @danielwd Yes indeed you used to have to pay. That's actually the entire point of the article.

OldKye
OldKye

@Dovahkyon He's actually done a lot Populous was the father of god games and the precursors to games like sims and simcity.

He also has been there hand and hand pushing the growth of what gaming "could be" and supporting that growth.

Peter Molyneux is like the grandpa of gaming he's too old and often makes outlandish claims but like your grandfather you kinda just go "Oh Peter".

So like a grandfather he may not always make sense, and he might not understand how the young world works as well anymore, but his story's are fun to listen too.

Total_mischief
Total_mischief

@alpha_unit97 No, it's not a matter of not getting him, it's a matter of being over ambitious and making promises you can't keep. He can't really be held to his word anymore, and whatever he says can pretty much instantly be classified as BS until a time we're proven otherwise.

alpha_unit97
alpha_unit97

@Dovahkyon Fable 1? That game's comsidered somewhat revolutionary by some... Also he's a very intelligent man, people just don't get him.