Article published on Monday, July 4th, 2011
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Recently, we have viewed many triple-A quality games implementing the F2P business model effectively as observed in The Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Global Agenda, APB Reloaded, Team Fortress 2, Age of Conan and more. Many did so with great achievements but exactly how effective can the free-to-play business be?

When Team Fortress 2 was released as a free-to-play game title about a week ago, the game surpassed Counter-Strike becoming the most played game on Steam. There was a big player increase from 30,000 to 70,000 players!

"The more players, the more available servers in your area, the wider variety of other players you’ll find, the greater the opportunity for new experiences, and so on," described Valve’s Robin Walker of multiplayer strategy.

Additionally, it didn’t take Hi-Rez Studios very long to decide on changing their subscription based game to F2P with their release of Global Agenda Free Agent. Inside a brief interview with Todd Harris, COO of Hi-Rez Studios recognized the potential of the business model which previously he admitted to be against.

“Philosophically, I probably wouldn’t have said this two years ago because I maybe had more a negative bias about free to play,” he added. “The way we look at it it lets us succeed based on the strength of the gameplay more than marketing and that probably to me is the biggest advertisement for it.”

"We have many, many more people creating accounts every day, many more people playing concurrently, our revenues are higher than they ever have been before which means we can develop content and put it into the game faster than ever before," he explained.

With the MMO industry gradually shifting to F2P, you will find several triple-A quality game titles which have mixed feelings concerning the F2P model and are implementing both business models or inching slowly towards F2P.

For example, World of Warcraft partly went F2P when they launched a patch that permitted new gamers to play forever up to level 20. There’s also DC Universe Online that recently opened an in-game marketplace which has raised some eyebrows. There is speculation that DCUO might go F2P later on but SOE hasn’t made any announcements about this rumor. Is F2P a positive thing for the industry? We don’t know yet but we can definitely say that it is raising the bar for new F2P games and subscription based games -- making them better quality and much more enjoyable!