Never one to shy controversial topics in the video game industry, Mark Jacobs is expecting the free-to-play genre to get hit hard soon. The lead designer to every Mythic Entertainment game worth mentioning, Jacobs explained to VG247 that the popular F2P business model is just that, another option. He took the analysis further, essentially calling the model an ever-increasing bubble. A bubble, that like the housing market in 2008 and Dot Com bubble in 1999-2000 and everyone before them, is bound to burst.
Again, like those aforementioned bubbles Jacobs expects a catastrophic failure of the F2P model in three to five years due to unsustainable practices. The results? Developer closures and substantial losses for publishers.
You’re going to see a lot of developers shutting down, and you’re going to see a lot of publishers going, oh yeah maybe spending $20 million on a free-to-play game wasn’t the best idea ever. That’s part of the reason, but the other reason is equally as important, that if you go free-to-play, you really have to compete with every other free-to-play game out there.
Jacobs believe that Camelot Unchained, his spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot, will fare better by targeting his specific niche of gamers with a (potentially lower) subscription title developed for them. This follows numerous basic business principles of delivering the right unique product to the right target market.
That doesn’t make F2P incorrect or subscription correct. Simply different. To follow the basic business analogy, F2P games are essentially consumer packaged goods that approach a wide market with low margins covered by high volumes.
What’s your take on the potential of a F2P bubble? Could even World of Warcraft launch today and be the same success it was in 2004?
Camelot Unchained is currently over halfway to its $2 million Kickstarter goal with 16 days remaining.