Pros and Cons of Free Online Gaming

by Jonas Bell

As game developers try to appeal to new players and broader audiences, more and more online games are boasting themselves as ‘free-to-play’.

In lieu of high sticker prices, these games tend to use a combination of advertising, downloadable content and/or optional subscription services as revenue sources.

Many video game developers in Korea and Japan have been using this marketing method for years, but the idea is becoming more popular in Western markets. More and more companies are adopting it, including more casual game developers such as Disney.

One of the marketing advantages of this approach is the ability of ‘free-to-play’ games to reach bigger gaming audiences. Players hesitant to purchase expensive games are more likely to play a game that is at least free to try out. Parents are more inclined to let their children play a game that doesn’t cost upwards of $70.

Players are usually given the option whether or not they want to spend any money towards the game. Optional downloads, pay-based upgrades and expansion packs all allow players the ability to play the free version or to invest money for optional content.

Unfortunately, this tends to be the downfall of ‘free-to-play’ games as well. The fact that two players playing the same online game, one playing the bare-bones free version and the other playing a version laced with extra content, means that, in actuality, they will not be playing the same game.

Players with the monetary resources to invest in these games have an unfair advantage over players who don’t. Better weapons, characters and abilities means that players are rewarded for their monetary investment, rather than their actual gaming ability.

The bottom line is that free-to-play online games aren’t perfect, but they are a good alternative for more casual gamers or people not willing to pay so much for their online games.

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