Sony: Free-to-play is "the most powerful form of democracy in gaming"

"Because they can vote with their feet and they don't have to pay us a dime," SOE boss John Smedley says.

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The free-to-play business model is one of the best examples of democracy in gaming because if players don't like what they're getting, they'll walk away, never spending a dime. That's according to Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley, who gave us his thoughts about the controversial business model.

"We believe very strongly in this idea that if you open it up so that anybody can play it, it is the most powerful form of democracy in gaming that there is," Smedley told GameSpot about the free-to-play business model. "Because they can vote with their feet and they don't have to pay us a dime. So it really keeps you on top of your game."

Though platform holders like Microsoft and Sony do offer some free-to-play games on their consoles, the PC and mobile markets undoubtedly host more free-to-play games. Why hasn't free-to-play become more commonplace on consoles? "I don't quite know the answer to that. And I hope it takes them a really long time to figure out," Smedley joked.

While some in the industry have suggested that the free-to-play model will one day take over traditional business models, Smedley isn't in that camp. "The reason that I don't think that's going to be the case is because you're seeing games evolve very strongly into a games as a service model. "

Games as a service is the phrase used to describe the way in which many games today, even traditional $60 disc-based games, live on well beyond their initial release dates through digital expansions. For instance, Electronic Arts is still releasing new content for Battlefield 4 (released in November 2013), and Rockstar Games isn't anywhere near finished supporting Grand Theft Auto V, which was released in September 2013.

"I think it's just going to be all about taking time to see the market develop. I don't think [free-to-play] will ever completely replace it at all," Smedley said.

Sony has a significant free-to-play game portfolio for PC and PlayStation consoles, the most recent of which is open-world zombie game H1Z1.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

333 comments
UNCStriker88
UNCStriker88

Sony is losing people, you can only push the "let's be cheap about everything" idea so far, pushing free to play and indies...?, we all have cell phones with plenty of that garbage

129260
129260

Democracy isn't what these people need. It's not even what we want. Hell, America's been trying to install democracy in nations for a century and it hasn't worked one time. 

Joking aside, I think free to play is a good strategy when done right.

DEATH775
DEATH775

So far I have played F2P game from Sony which is Destiny of Spirit. The whole damn game is free. I have been playing it for all most 2 months now and I have not payed a single dime. If the F2P games that Sony is putting in the market are like Destiny of Spirit then yes I will play. Still I want to pay $5 to this game to show my support because I truly enjoy playing it. 

CmdAtino
CmdAtino

The only issue with free to play is the BAD free to play games, the ones that outright try to steal your money for an extra life or level, like many on the app store. SOE's only free to play game at the moment is Planetside 2, now if any of you has actually played the damn game you would be amazed by the fact you have access to the WHOLE game for free, there is nothing you CAN'T get, I've spent NO MONEY and have 500 hours of game time, by then I thought "Damn this game is good, why not spend $5? 500 HOURS! for $5! 

When you people will pay $60 for an AAA game that will probably not provide you 500 hours of game time? and then pay $20 extra for a DLC to get a different outfit, or 3-4 new guns? Give me a break, the free to play model has changed radically with Warthunder, Planetside 2, Team fortess 2, you should at least try those out before commenting any further...
I guarantee I will never pay $60 for a game ever again, for the amount of content I got for free? You would have to be deluded to spend that much money on a game.


Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

There's nothing democratic in being allowed to taste a product before you buy it. It's just a sales strategy to hook you up. If there's any political statement behind F2P, is that "everything goes" in terms of captivating your voters (consumers). 

A real "democracy" in games would result in giving free, prior and informed participation and say in early game design, allow for feedback during production, and then let consumers vote with bitcoins on the matter.

sooty1987
sooty1987

they have FREE games on sony?? 

TalesOfGod
TalesOfGod

Well.


That's it.


I'm switching to communism.

MrStygian
MrStygian

The problem I see is that Sony Online Entertainment likes to kill MMOs, but I'll keep an eye on this one.

kirbymaster5
kirbymaster5

Free to play is a sham. Developers will always boast how great it is that players don't have to actually pay for anything in their free to play game, but if all of their players were playing and not paying, they'd pull the plug immediately. They really love it because idiots get to make virtually unlimited purchases in a game now instead of a one-time-only initial paywall.

VR_Verdugo
VR_Verdugo

Democracy sounds nice and everything, but there's also that old saying: "There's a sucker born every minute."

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

He makes a fair point, but I don't think it's quite working out how it's supposed to. There's probably less people that can actually tolerate the F2P format, but those that do more than likely spend more money on them than the rest of us do on the traditional format.

Alecmrhand
Alecmrhand

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on whats for dinner.


Its a pet peeve of mine when "Democracy" is thrown out as some kind of golden calf to be worshiped without question.


There is a reason America was set up as a representative Constitutional Republic. not a democracy.


Sony is just throwing out words in hopes you will have an instant positive visceral reaction......i didnt.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I like Sony, but god I get embarrassed when they open their mouth about Free-to-Play.

You're trying to tell us it's what we should do because it's "democracy"?  You *absolutely sure* it's not because it's what makes you the most money in the long run?

Free-to-play results in unsatisfactory gaming experiences in general.  It may take you a few days/weeks to realise it, but even with the best games, the realisation sinks in eventually.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Oh shut the F up Sony! You've got to be out of your friggin mind to play F2P or someone who absolutely has no value of actually getting something of real value for your money!

We need to get through and past the F2P model ASAP folks cuz we are killing what could be as long as it's around! So, we may be looking at losing a whole generation of gaming here, 10 years or so of our lives gone, wasted, missing! That's not good considering how long, or short, we live.

VegasDawg
VegasDawg

Man Sony sure does have a great PR department, can't believe all these fanBOYs fall for this B.S. These games are pay to win and ultimately if your dumb enough you will pay more, just sickens me.


On a side note most of you don't want DRM which protects the consumer who pays for the games and the Company that makes them, just so you know these are the kind of games they will have to go to (pay to win) if you don't give into it because I"m sure piracy will never stop.

MAD_AI
MAD_AI

So is F2P now cool since Sony is backing it up?

cratecruncher
cratecruncher

Free-to-Play is "the most powerful form of democracy in gaming".


Hmm, that sounds familiar:

"lotto tickets help the children"

"payday loans are serving the working poor"

"individuals should have a right to work"

"chattel slavery benefits the Southern negro"


Democracy spelled e-x-p-l-o-I-t-a-t-I-o-n.


abcdefgabcdefgz
abcdefgabcdefgz

Yeah the cash shop starts out with cosmetic stuff then later on after your invested into it then they toss up game changing items over time. Not to mention end game crap always costs a lot more then pay per month. Its not some magic answer to everything. Not to mention SP games are better and cheaper

Blackened_Halo
Blackened_Halo

well..so Beast Souls (Demons Souls II) as a free to play game expected ..

Pupchu
Pupchu

Sounds like propaganda. Not very democratic of you, Sony.

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

Someone said democracy isn't a good style of government. It might be the best people have thought of so far, but why the heck would they settle for that in gaming. I absolutely hate having to have my wallet ready and it absolutely destroys the enjoyment factor. It's like if I went to movies and thorough the entire film people were coming to sell me popcorn, extra chapters, headphones, cushions etc. distracting me from watching the darn thing. I don't think anyone actually enjoys giving money away so that part should be minimal in time and completely seperate from the entertainment service part

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

It's not a democracy, it's communism. They say everyone get's the same and it's not pay to win. But in the end all the people that play for free suffer while the rich peope just buy there way through the game and get all the good stuff.

You should never let money decide what you can and can't do in a game. This happens all the time in the real world, please don't let it intertwine with the game world. It will destroy the whole reason why we gamers game, to get out of the real world. A place where we can become awesome even tough we don't have tons of money. And the F2P mode totally destroys this idea.

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

lets face it, people don't want free to play games because they don't like that some people won't be on a level playing field as them because they have paid. that basically amounts to saying "hey i suck and i dont like it, im not having fun as this is too hard, this is not fair you paid to be ahead of me" whining about not being good. 

CmdAtino
CmdAtino

@PlatinumPaladin  I have just passed 600 hours of game time in Planetside 2 (The SOE game talked about in this article), I spent a grant total of $5, and that was after playing so much I thought I would support the company for making one of the most fantastic games I've ever played.
How is paying $60 upfront + $15 DLC for a reskin, because the game got boring after what, 20-30 hours of playing saving any more money? 

I'm not intending to personally attack you, I think a lot of people haven't given some of the good free to play games out there and have a very wrong opinion of what is actually offered for free. (That is, in the case of Planetside 2 for FPSes, a better game than BF, CoD, Titanfall combined, without spending a dime...)


hastati4
hastati4

@Alecmrhand  Totally going to use that first line of yours at some point, and totally not going to give you credit.

Kinguard73
Kinguard73

@naryanrobinson Well John Smedley is who spoke. Seriously Sony needs to hide him as he is too stupid to speak dn ahs been ever since EQ2.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

What the hell are you saying? We should give into less freedom, more rules! Get the F outta here!

blackbetty1974
blackbetty1974

@ScottOakley It's free market capitalism. The choice is up to the consumer. The ftp model only works as long as people are willing to support it. Just like any business model, it will ultimately fail if the majority of consumers aren't willing to embrace it. While I think that comparing the model to democracy was a failed attempt at PR, it was a lot less of a stretch than comparing it to communism.

charlieholmes
charlieholmes

Good point about being on a level playing field. Imagine if I pay $20 in game bucks and I get the explosive on impact bullets for my COD/BF4 soldier. Once again, those who have win! Those without, lose! What a philosophy to have to live by if you are the have nots!!! Be a real bad feeling and life!

SNESNOSTALGIA2
SNESNOSTALGIA2

Lol no...it's because F2P games suck. If they were actually worth it people would pay to play.

jack00
jack00

@neowarrior793 It's not people whining about not being good. Being good or not has little to do with anything for I am pretty good at any shooter you can name, but still I could end up struggling when I am just starting and getting my ass handed to me by some prick who just bought the ultimate premium goty BBQ sauce pack. And yes, that wouldn't entice me to play a game, where most of the players bought their way to better weapons/features.

F2P is more often than not pay to win OR spent a ridiculous amount of time to even start being on par to other players who might have bought unlocks.


Another reason why people don't like F2P is because that model, in the end, could make you pay more than what you would of have paid for a regular 59.99$ game. And the publishers ain't stupid, they know that. They want to grind as much money as they can from you. So saying people complaining about f2p is because they suck, i'm sorry but you're gonna have to find something else.

VegasDawg
VegasDawg

@charlieholmes  Ummm I'm sorry your so shortsighted but if we took out the thieves and the middle men (Gamestop) games would be much cheaper and MS had a policy of giving away your games to your friends for free.


That there is freedom my brainwashed friend, but hey if you like paying thieves .playing pay to win games and getting pennies on the dollar at GameStop that is your choice. All I know is we all lose in the system we have now, look at Steam for an example, DRM all the way, do you see anybody complaining? No your just a follower and doing the cool thing on the internet hating DRM, lol. Good Day

ScottOakley
ScottOakley

@blackbetty1974 @ScottOakley Free market is a part of Capitalism. Since the game is owned by one corperation (state) and the system is totalitarian because only the corperation that owns the game has all the power, its more communism then capitalism. I'm not free to do in this game as i wan't because i'm restricted to rules the game has made without making a choice. I don't see the stretch? The stretch I do see is democracy. We can't vote for any changes in a game that is F2P? We don not choose who makes the game.

Anyway the only real reason I was comparing it to communism is because the F2P sucks and I want it gone. I dont really care what politcal view the F2P model has.

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

@charlieholmes  oww so because someone has something better then you, you complain that you can't win. i use to play cod killing people with just a pistole all day. 

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

@SNESNOSTALGIA2  that makes no sense, they're free, they're worth it to everyone because its FREE. paying would make it less worth it then not paying and getting enjoyment means you get practically something for nothing. last time i checked when something's free i dont get disapointed when its not what i want, rather then paying £60 on something that i did get disappointed with. 


Rooten
Rooten

@jack00 @neowarrior793  F2P is a marketing stuff!! ....but some F2P model are not P2W, like I didn't play a lot of Path of Exile and I think this game is really F2P but if a huge company is making a F2P model, it is going to be P2W (like WoW going F2P would be P2W)

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

@VegasDawg @neowarrior793 @charlieholmes  omg are you stupid (if you are directing that at me) im using the very example against someone to prove a point. the very point beng equipment in games don't always make the winner even if the pay for it. the very fact that your missing the points out of everything im saying shows you are very dumb to not get the hints. 

blackbetty1974
blackbetty1974

@neowarrior793 @blackbetty1974 @SNESNOSTALGIA2  You know what? Your absolutely right. After rereading the comments, I realize that I got derailed. I meant to reinforce your statement. I'm going to chalk it up to not enough coffee. I apologize. Please excuse my retarded moment.

neowarrior793
neowarrior793

@blackbetty1974 @SNESNOSTALGIA2  oww so when people are shouting and spouting anger at lets say hmm aliens:colonial marines that was just because of something else then buying the game and getting disappointed.  free to play games, get it free, FREE to play the only thing you invest in a game is time, games like WOW and ESO right now are failing and are NOT doing well because there fan base have lost interest as well as bugs and glitches, the stupidity you are displaying is beyond belief, you practically saying " who would breathe air when you can buy oxygen" a games a game last time i checked there more poor people in this world then rich people, its more appealing to make a free to play game because it would appeal to more people.