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Take-Two Boss On Why Free-To-Play Isn't A Great Model

It's a hot trend in the gaming industry today, but one executive doesn't think too highly of the model.

Speaking during the Credit Suisse Annual Technology Conference (as cited by GameSpot), Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick addressed the free-to-play craze. Needless to say, he isn't all that impressed.

One of the biggest problems is the lack of revenue. It works in some instances but for Take-Two, they prefer the fact that 100 percent of those who play Take-Two games pay the company something for their services. As opposed to:

"The problem with the free-to-play model is 95-97 percent of people who engage with your content don't pay for it. 3-5 percent do; on a good day, 10 percent. One of the reasons that free-to-play companies like Zynga did so well for a period of time is they had zero acquisition costs because they could use Facebook as a free acquisition platform. Then Facebook changed that, and Zynga changed."

On top of which, Zelnick says that F2P games simply aren't that good. This is oftentimes the elephant in the room that some industry peeps don't like to address. However, as all core gamers know, it's the absolute truth:

"The other thing that's problematic with free-to-play games is in many instances, although not all, they're vastly less engaging. And if you look at the history of the entertainment business across all media, the only entertainment companies that really succeed over a long period of time are those that surprise and delight consumers with incredibly high quality content.

Most free-to-play games aren't really high quality content at the end of the day. Certain competitors in that space have stated strategies of not making high quality content. And I've never seen an entertainment company--ever, ever, ever--succeed that didn't have a stated strategy of making high quality content. Not everyone can actually achieve it, but you need to at least try."

Do you agree with Zelnick's analysis and comments?

Tags: free to play, freemium, f2p, gaming industry, take two interactive

12/3/2014 9:44:41 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (7 posts)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 @ 10:42:27 PM

Damn straight, he's onto something that man ;).

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 @ 2:57:24 AM

Well he's not lying. At least that's how I feel about most of the things he said. Of all the free to play games I've played, quality was never exactly AAA and I spend little to nothing on them.. Most I've spent was 5 bucks but that was just a small tip for the many hours I've played on the game, not necessity or want.

Last edited by daus26 on 12/4/2014 2:58:18 AM

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 @ 3:37:01 AM

Take-Two's got a boss with a good head on his shoulders. The company will be safe from evil hands.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 @ 4:51:05 AM

F2P is a good model for mediocre games that I'd otherwise not even consider. Now I can give it a good run and see if it's something for me.
But they are definitely "second rate citizens" in the land of gaming.

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 @ 5:19:47 AM

Agree 100% with him. Free to Play works well as a quick time waster on mobile phones, not consoles or PC (Disregarding browser-based or social media-based platforms of course)

That bubble popped pretty quickly when people either:

A) Realized they had to pay to progress

B) Realized that Free-to-Play often times meant poor quality or repetitive gameplay, or

C) Kept getting notifications from friends 20 times a day asking them to play as well. (I had to delete an old friend from Facebook who kept sending me notifications to play Diamond Digger Saga, or Pet Rescue Saga, or some other bloody stupid Saga game. Hate King so much right now)

The saying is true, you get what you pay for. $80 for GTA V in Australia, or a free puzzle game that requests you pay or have your "friends" help you progress.

... I'll pay $80 for a good game over free crap any day. Quality food can wait a few days to pay for it. LOL

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Thursday, December 04, 2014 @ 6:58:43 AM

Free2Play aka Pay2Win games are a cancer to gaming.

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Sunday, December 07, 2014 @ 6:26:32 PM

yeah he makes some good comments and points and i've said for a long time F2P isn't for most games just some and thats how it should be all no would make any money cos no many people would pay just play

happy gaming

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