Namco Bandai: Free-to-play 'can't be high quality'

Social and mobile have devalued games in the eyes of the consumer, and free-to-play titles are limited by nature, says Namco Bandai Europe VP.

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Speaking at Cloud Gaming Europe, Namco Bandai's senior vice president for Europe Olivier Comte, lambasted the free-to-play sector, and he suggested that recent changes to the gaming market were potentially very damaging to the industry in the long run.

"Free-to-play games can't be high quality," Comte said when discussing different ways of charging for games. While he said he was willing to consider all funding models for Namco's games, the free-to-play route did not lend itself to high-quality game development.

"We need to put certain value on certain work," says Comte.

He also said that very low price iPhone games and free social games had changed consumer expectations significantly. Getting hold of games for such a low price, he said, meant that the perceived value of all games was currently much lower than it had been in the past. Publishers need to address this over the next few years to avoid their revenue collapsing.

"We have 2,000 or 3,000 developers," Comte said. And according to Comte, it's just not possible to switch to a business model that relies on giving their work away for nothing. "We need to put certain value on certain work," he said. "When you're a big company… you can't take risks too quickly, you can't make a change just because there's a fashion for a couple of years; you want to be there in 20 or 30 years."

Discussion

94 comments
VilandasUK
VilandasUK

@ColdExistence well it didn't seem that way.

JimmeyBurrows
JimmeyBurrows

league of legends is the only game i've noticed is free to play and doesn't require you to pay for anything... but because of that and the fact it's a fun and addictive game, people effectively donate them money... Games that basically demand you buy a load of crap to stand a chance at playing it properly (instead of a monthly fee) tend to be rubbish, because they become about finding ways to screw people out of their money instead of actually developing the game. It's okay to say it brings in more people if the game's free to play, but other than most of those people not paying anything, most of them are annoying (which detracts from the game a bit ) and it allows people to easily cheat with multiple accounts. ~Either way, it's better to just offer a free trial for download, that gets more people trying the game and potentially getting hooked, while still allowing the developers free to work on making a great game and not a pure cash cow.

damo320
damo320

Free to play lol. Anyone who has downloaded or played a F2P game realises you either have to be bombarded with highly annoying advertising, be asked to upgrade to a fiull version or you will find various aspects of the game heavily encourage you to make micro transactions. Free to play is a myth which helps to expose people to advertising or sucker money out of people on the sly. The tease method of drawing people in to playing may become a trend for all games in future once the world moves to 100% digital transactions rather than games on physical media like discs or cartridges. So while we will have to accept this will become the developers and producers normal method of attracting players / gamers in future... we can never truly say these games are genuinely free to play.

tachsniper
tachsniper

@ilikepandas Every game that has gone to a F2P model has reported a dramatic increase in player base (some up to a 1000% increase) At the very least a F2P model brings more people in to at least sample the game. Team Fortress, Lord of the Rings Online, D&D online, Champions online among may others have had dramatic and sustained increases to their player base. Does it make it a better game? maybe, maybe not but the indisputable fact is more people are playing it since it went F2P

gorillaboy058
gorillaboy058

lazygamerx seems to have it figured out. i mean, who do they think they are, wanting more money for harder efforts!!!

J_Dangerously
J_Dangerously

You get what you pay for. There are exceptions to every rule, but I've found this to be true for the most part. Pay nothing, get nothing.

Sigil-otaku
Sigil-otaku

@nurnberg P2P is a horrible method. The only reason he says it's good is because it costs people more. For example I've been playing league of legends for about 1 and a half, I've spent over 100 gbp so I HAVE spent more than 2 and a half times the cost of a normal game, at release (on consoles, on PC it's over 3 times traditional 30 gbp RRP) but if it was P2P I'd have not bothered, I'd have not wanted to spend money since it's stupid paying for a game when you might not play it. Brand new awesome game comes out, want to play it but that means not playing the game you constantly pay for. Want to play the game in a years time? I've lost everything unless I pay just to have access and guess what that means next month and the month after too. P2P is a horrible system and often enough it doesn't even mean you get all the features as they hold back on the biggest features and additions to put into expansion packs like warcraft cataclysm.

BenFireFox
BenFireFox

playing f2p for 2 years now my game still lives grows and makes money not like some p2p games which passed in that time cause none wanna pay for the "high" quality they got for there money. The point is if the game has no quality no ppl will play it if it has it will be profitable through microtransqactions

nurnberg
nurnberg

This man is right. The free-2-play model is really bad. I hate it! I prefer to pay a fixed amount and have access to all the games' features.

LazyGamerX
LazyGamerX

This is just an excuse to keep from changing with the times. And the whole F2P model dosent mean the game cant be high quality its just that the developers who make these games are working off the base of greed. They want to crank out these little F2P games to make more money off of people (quantity over quality) If they actually made a full mmo like their supposed to then they'd make more money in the long run. But this is bandai we're talking about, they haven't actually made anything good in a LONG time so I wouldn't be taking advice from them.

deviant74
deviant74

F2P are crap just so they can get people with 10 year old computer playing. Soon they are going to want to get hardcore gamers money. There is that tank game that has some guys at work playing it. They are trying to get everyone to give it a try. Should I join the Rebellion or stay with my Sith masters is what there really saying to me. But what is really going on is these guys who over spent on there house, cars, 5 kids are trying to get people with a little money to start playing there not so F2P game. So who are the sneaky Sith lords now.

NoodleFighter
NoodleFighter

What free to play games has he been looking at because Tribes Ascend is awesome!

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

thenerd64
thenerd64

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

well I guess B2P games can't be high quality either since Namco Bandai has barely made any this generation. I mean make not Publish like the did with dark souls.

thenerd64
thenerd64

Sounds Like soul calibur release tomorow isnt going to be cheap. btw Does anyone know what time the soul calibur game will release tomoreow on the app store?

TrueIori
TrueIori

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

charlieboomboom
charlieboomboom

Its like when Sega launched the dreamcast and hired an american action and adventure team todo nuttin. The japs say they are interested in the marked but really lying their pants/kimono off!!

ColdExistence
ColdExistence

@VilandasUK I don't think. I am. Always will be.

JeePeeDee_basic
JeePeeDee_basic

Finally someone understand this. Social games and Free-to-play game are not real quality games. Its just games for ultra casual gamers.

ilikepandas
ilikepandas

@tachsniper Citing two F2P titles that were decent or profitable means nothing at all. One only has to name two titles that were crap and we are back to square one. Runes of Magic and Combat Arms. See? I've reset your argument to 0. Using your logic, all I have to do now is name one more ( Fantasy Earth Zero, perhaps) and I have proven that all F2P are crap. I won't do that, however, because I understand that exceptions do not automatically disprove a general rule.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

These are the comments of a traditional developer that can't see how this new approach fits with his thinking. You can't suddenly shift 2-3,000 developers onto F2P, but that doesn't mean smaller teams can't make a success of this model. F2P is not a traditional model, so traditional ways of working won't necessarily work. A few years ago the likes of Twitter was not a traditional site. Zynga were virtually unheard of, and now have some huge valuation when they floated on the stock market. TF2, Age of Conan, Fallen Earth and a few others that have been mentioned are not F2P games. They were pay to play games or MMOs, and in the case of the latter 2, games that struggled to sustain a viable audience and turned to F2P to keep them going. A true F2P is made to be that from the start.

VilandasUK
VilandasUK

@ColdExistence And you, what? call yourself a REAL gamer???

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

In years of trying out various F2P games on my own and via recommendations, I have yet to find one that even approaches the quality and content of a half decent paid game. It's theoretically possible for a F2P game to be high quality, but I've yet to see it, and considering all the attention the model has been getting, that's not a good sign. Yeah, something like Angry Birds is fun, but it's a different type of experience from quality, paid content. It's not much ado about nothing either--some big publishers like EA are actively shifting resources from "real" games into these F2P and social games in an attempt to cash in on the fad, and that directly affects the games that the gamers who would actually visit a site like this would play. This is to say nothing of how F2P also represents the "games as service" model that is actively trying to nickel and dime consumers at every turn. I say no thanks to this trend, and yes to games as product that gives good value for money and rewards good games with profit, rather than rewarding addiction to minor adjustments and cosmetic upgrades with profit.

tachsniper
tachsniper

Team Fortress 2 and Lord of the Rings online. There Namco your argument has been defeated. and people wonder why Japanese developers are stuck in a rut

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

@Henrique2324 LoL is a Moba , there no need for more than 3 maps. If you playing LoL for maps your doing it wrong -_-.

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

some one link this nimrod the guild wars 2 site -_-.

suprsolider
suprsolider

Screw you Namco. I am sick of hearing your crap, and after what you did to Splatterhouse 2010, you will never ever get another dollar out of me. I hope you go bankrupt and someone buys the IP rights to Splatterhouse and deliver us another amazing Splatterhouse title.

santinegrete
santinegrete

What about Team Fortress 2? He talks like Namco releases and develops high quality products actually. ha! You just had the publishing rights for good games like Dark Souls and The Witcher (EU), but I can't name a single one from Namco Bandai that was actually worth the full price. At least those prices descend with good timing.

huskerman34
huskerman34

Totally disagree. Im a fan of f2p games.Having been a p2p user for years, ive gone through all the bull crap. 1. not being able to log on. 2. Billing issues 3. your out 15 plus bucks if this game really sucks. There is no real difference in F2p compared to p2p other than people feel cheated when a P2p game becomes a F2P, I agree with some of these people. Quit trying to live in the past and start bringing out some new stuff.

Master_2K4
Master_2K4

I think that this new fad of talking about the growing social and casual gaming----------- with "byte"-sized games on portable devices, and free-to-play games with its sub-par experiences--------- sometimes fails to realize, that the vast majority of this market would have never focused on a traditional (which now is commonly referred to as "hardcore") gaming experience in the first place. Its an ilusion considering that a 50 something year old with an iPhone that plays Angry Birds (e.g. my father) to kill some time, would ever pick up a GTA/Metal Gear/Halo, etc....Same goes for other types of "social-gamers" (farmville addicts, etc....). Sure it may marginally hamper some traditional game sales, but they should be viewed, analyzed and approached on completely different levels... There's the "I-dont-give-a-s***-about-game-quality-need-to-kill-time/have-nothing-better-to-do-market" and the true "Gaming market"... That actually spends time playing quality games, reading gaming sites, and posts ;)

Barighm
Barighm

Wait a minute...this isn't about game quality, it's about pricing. Namco just doesn't want people to start thinking lower priced games is a good thing when they could be paying $60 or more. Big publishers want to inflate game prices. Lower priced games is creating a demand for deflated prices. And really, some F2P games can be bad, but if the only difference between "good" quality is uber realistic graphics vs. Playstation/SNES era graphics, than that's not a problem. Heck, one of the most addicting games I'm playing right now is a low budget, reduced graphical quality game.

maxwellsdemon13
maxwellsdemon13

Right on Cage, when fans of F2P can only site the same game over and over despite thousands of terrible games in the market makes the point for me.

CraigB
CraigB

As someone who has worked in the f2p industry for years, I disagree completely. As one commenter stated, f2p is limited only by the developer, not the model itself. Yes, a lot of f2p games are limited, but that's due to either 1) the audience doesn't demand a lot of content, or 2) poor implementation of f2p mechanics. But many f2p games are high quality for their platform. There is room in the gaming community for both paid and f2p games.

CageMidwell
CageMidwell

The fact those who support F2P can only bring up one or two games out of a market of thousands of games says enough.

megakick
megakick

3 maps is enough for LOL. Players have hard enuff time playing the game. LOL is not COD.

megakick
megakick

F2P is only limited by the developer.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Couldn't agree more with the man! I hate social games with a passion! And free-to-play only ever ends up being pay for everything else. Unless you're planning on playing the games long-term than there's no point to them as the developer won't make any money.

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

@xshadowzz TF2 was p2p for a long time League of Legends has 3 maps. 3 freaking maps!!

Henrique2324
Henrique2324

EA's free to play titles are f****** bull****. I would rather play Zumba Fitness than spend 1 dollars like most assh*les out there who pay for horrible games like Need for Speed world, Battlefield free-to-play, etc. However, the only f2p title that i've fully enjoyed was Team Fortress 2. Sadly, it's because it wasn't always f2p.

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

League of Legends is one of the biggest, most played tournament RTS games ever, behind starcraft and that's a free-to-play business model. Before you start bashing other business models, stop re--releasing older games and trying to revive series that have already died. I can live with your re-release of Tales of the Abyss, but WORK ON SOMETHING NEW.

SDBusDriver1979
SDBusDriver1979

Says the company that only releases rehashes of their former glory titles while Valve is making more profit on hats than probably all of Namco's titles of last year. Its this kind of mind set that will leave these developers out of touch with new tends, doesn't experiment, and becomes a stagnate cesspit that just releases yet another Soul Caliber, another Naruto, another Tekken, another Katamari, and heaven forbid we can't go on without another Ridge Racer. You know a very bright future for this highly experimental company who doesn't mind taking a risk here or there.

Wandrian
Wandrian

@mellow09: You are correct, sir! Like many Japanese game publishers, Bamco too is falling into the self-destructive spiral of increasingly conservative business practices delivering increasingly small market share, prompting more increasingly conservative business practices...Of course Japanese publishers aren't going to be in favor of the F2P business model, they're scared s***less and afraid to take risks or innovate things because of the risk involved. The business strategies of a company whose market share is declining should not be valued as much as those whose market shares are on the rise; though it's a shame the "same crap every year" business strategy of Activision and other companies is equally as much an issue for the industry as self-destructive spirals Japanese publishers are falling victim to. If the industry over the world wants to maintain the profitability it currently has, it needs to cease acting like the bloated dinosaurs of other media industries(Viacom, Clear Channel, et cetera) and encourage innovation instead of stifling it in favor of short-term profit.

GamerLegend10
GamerLegend10

I completely agree free-to-play games suck...anyway ordered dark souls yesterday, should arrive in a day or two :)

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

@xshadowzz more idle servers for hatting than actual servers. The F2P move just took it that one step over the edge into Hat Fortress 2 ...