Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli believes the age of free-to-play games is just around the corner regardless of the current attitude of game industry giants such as Microsoft and Sony towards the new business model.
Executive of the European gaming giant that brought us gems like Crysis and Far Cry claimed that his company was boldly going along with the shifting trend instead of resisting it. Free-to-play games will definitely be the way to go in the future and this is something that the consoles will have to accept sooner or later.
“Why are free-to-play online games not widespread on consoles? You should ask Microsoft and Sony this question,” he said. “We see the future of consoles as free-to-play–ideally focused on free-to-play. That’s what I want to see in the future. But unfortunately not everybody shares this vision due to many other reasons.”
Yerli conceded that Crytek had met with Microsoft about 18 months ago to negotiate for publishing contracts for its first-ever first-person shooter Warface, but the response had not been great. They took another shot six months later and followed it up with yet another discussion after six months. However, Microsoft had still not warmed up to the idea. Sony and Nintendo did not show any faith in the project either.
This friction, Yerli explained, was primarily due to the fact that hardware manufacturers are heavily dependent on third-party distributors and retailers. Unlike Apple, these companies are hesitant to go digital because that is in direct conflict with the interest of retailers, who may refuse to sell consoles that offer little price margin unless they also get to sell games, which have a high price margin and contribute heavily to the profitability of their business. The on-going tug-of-war between the two channels is a grave issue, something that the game industry needs to urgently resolve in order to move forward and become more receptive to fresh business models.
Yerli further went on to state that while majority of the developers and publishers are busy speculating about the graphical and performance capabilities of the next-generation consoles, he firmly believes that next-generation tablets will be just as powerful as the current-generation consoles. If Microsoft and Sony wait too long to respond to the situation that seems to be arising, they may find themselves losing a large chunk of the market.
“That’s very clear. I’ve believed for about a year now that as soon as tablets can stream on to TVs, then there’s no reason why you should buy a console anymore. We’re still pushing the tablet game market ourselves, and you’ll see both casual and hardcore titles from us,” stated Yerli.
The game industry is indeed undergoing significant transformation since the advent of tablet devices and consequent emergence of casual gamers. The developers are looking to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the newly discovered market by making the most of digital channels and gradually moving towards the free-to-play business model.