Crytek plans to go exclusively free-to-play

Crysis developer Crytek is looking to break away from the boxed model of video games and forge a free-to-play future for itself. CEO Cevat Yerli explained at E3 that once Crytek's completed its contracted boxed games, it'll only make free-to-play games.

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Crysis developer Crytek is looking to break away from the boxed model of video games and forge a free-to-play future for itself. Speaking at E3, CEO Cevat Yerli explained that once Crytek's completed its contracted boxed games, it'll only make free-to-play games.

"As we were developing console games we knew, very clearly, that the future is online and free-to-play," Yerli told VideoGamer. "Right now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience."

On top of finishing up Crysis 3, Crytek is working on Ryse for Kinect. Its first free-to-play game is PC FPS Warface, though it's dabbled in mobile too so that's another possible avenue.

Yerli explained that Crytek plans to make its free-to-play titles of "console game quality" so they stand out from the herd, which means hefty budgets of $10-30 million.

"I think this is a new breed of games that has to happen to change the landscape, and be the most user-friendly business model," he said, criticising the path traditional publisher have taken to monetise the online world. "If you look at what kind of games are done in the packaged goods market, with DLCs and premium services and whatnot, it's literally milking the customers to death."

Free-to-play is certainly still a tricky model, though. If players aren't invested enough in the game they won't buy microtransaction items, and if paid items are too powerful then you run the risk of alienating players. It can certainly be done; F2P games including Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, League of Legends and Tribes: Ascend seem to have struck a popular balance.

So how's Warface looking, anyway? Here's a little peek at some gameplay from E3:

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  • reply
    June 8, 2012 9:00 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Crytek plans to go exclusively free-to-play.

    Crysis developer Crytek is looking to break away from the boxed model of video games and forge a free-to-play future for itself. CEO Cevat Yerli explained at E3 that once Crytek's completed its contracted boxed games, it'll only make free-to-play games.

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      June 8, 2012 9:01 AM

      :'(

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      June 8, 2012 9:01 AM

      RIP

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      June 8, 2012 9:04 AM

      Has valve ever said how much they've made total off hats and accessories for TF2? I mean it must be astronomical for someone like Crytek to consider moving to that model.

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        June 8, 2012 9:12 AM

        i believe the term you are looking for is moneyhats

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        June 8, 2012 10:44 AM

        Whatever they make from their games pales in comparison to what they make from steam.

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      June 8, 2012 9:09 AM

      maximum hats

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      June 8, 2012 9:17 AM

      So... not to beat a dead horse here but this is the developer that was complaining about how much money they weren't making on the PC so they decided to go to consoles as well. Now they're going to go exclusively to a game model which only works on the PC and is impossible on consoles?

      The same developer whose stated proof of piracy rates of Crysis (1) was tied to the number of patch downloads (and not from within the game either).

      Could it be that either these guys have no real business sense at all or are just angry/delusional about how much money they should be making?

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        June 8, 2012 9:29 AM

        They do make an engine that's used in non-gaming applications; for example, the US Army licensed it to make a training sim. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/110452-U-S-Military-Using-CryEngine-3-to-Make-New-Training-Simulator

        What troubles me is that they're acting like babies, complaining that they MUST execute disruptive shifts in business practice in order to survive, but in reality, they're not 100% reliant on game revenue. I don't know if the majority of their revenue is from games; there might be a previous news article on that subject. Either way, Crytek are among the biggest, most annoying whiners in the game development industry. They have a great engine, but they act like pricks to consumers, publish through EA, badmouth entire platforms and business practices, and still make the same old tired mistakes in single-player campaign design that they've been making since Far Cry 1 and Crysis.

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        June 8, 2012 9:36 AM

        Why is free-to-play impossible on consoles?

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          June 8, 2012 9:50 AM

          If MMO's haven't taken hold, I rather doubt F2P anything will be able to

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            June 8, 2012 10:10 AM

            Well also, will the consoles even allow it?

            I see that Dust 514 is coming to PS3 since Microsoft won't allow them to do whatever it is they're doing.

            But I mean you're going to these console makers and saying "Hi, we want to put games on your users' systems, using your multiplayer network, and sent using your bandwidth, but we may or may not ever get paid by the player. And we can never put this on a disc and sell it." Can you see why console makers might object to that?

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              June 8, 2012 10:23 AM

              I imagine console makers would gladly take their cut of all those in-game transactions if the free-to-play business model proves to be as profitable as Crytek and others seem to think it will be. Console makers already take a cut of DLC and downloadable game sales, so why not maps, hats, guns, avatars, gold, or whatever else?

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                June 8, 2012 10:27 AM

                Because if they stray too far from the boxed product market the brick and mortar stores will kick them out.

                You will never see a major game console without removable media (yes I remember the PSP GO - it was a dud and the Vita has cartridges). Those optical drives everyone hates in their PC's? Yeah... get used to them on consoles.

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                  June 8, 2012 10:36 AM

                  Does Best Buy no longer sell iPods?

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                    June 8, 2012 10:45 AM

                    iPods have a profit margin. Consoles are sold at a near-loss in favor of game sales. Tell them that they have to sell the PS3 at damn near cost and you're going to take the games off their shelves and they'll boot you out real quick.

                    Same thing some stores did with the PSP Go

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                      June 8, 2012 10:48 AM

                      Gamestop sells plenty of DLC codes, XBL cards, etc already. They know what's coming.

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                        June 8, 2012 10:50 AM

                        What's coming is GameStop is going to go under. It's like Exxon - one day all of the oil will be gone, and they know it, but they want to make as much as they can until then (although Exxon could get into other forms of energy)

                        Maybe I'm wrong and people will keep going to GameStop because they like them but I think as soon as more people figure out they can just buy things from the consoles direct they'll stop going back. Just like what happened with the PC - Steamworks games mean you don't need to go back to GameStop and now GameStop carries almost no PC titles anymore outside of Blizzard stuff.

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                          June 8, 2012 10:59 AM

                          they're preparing in other ways, like trying their own streaming games service

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                  June 8, 2012 10:42 AM

                  (yes I remember the PSP GO - it was a dud and the Vita has cartridges)

                  And you think this isn't largely because of the fact that a download only portable with 16-32gb of storage doesn't work very well in the context of 1-4gb game downloads?

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                    June 8, 2012 10:48 AM

                    PSP GO did have other issues - like no compatibility with any existing UMD investment - but I think it's a sign that most of the console gaming public isn't interested in a no-physical-media console. The ability to loan your disc to a friend or sell it back to GameStop is often listed as a benefit - I don't think cutting that out will go over well.

                    Also whichever console maker tries it first will just be handing a huge advantage to their competition. Only way it could work is if all the console makers did it at the same time and that's unlikely.

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            June 8, 2012 10:31 AM

            that doesn't make any sense...

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          June 8, 2012 10:09 AM

          Because of Microsoft and Sony?

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          June 8, 2012 10:09 AM

          how well did Battlefield Heroes do?

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            June 8, 2012 10:31 AM

            that was PC only and it did really well as there were over 9 million subscribers (the game was fun while I played it)

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              June 8, 2012 10:56 AM

              oh wow, for some reason i thought that was console only all this time.

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            June 8, 2012 10:32 AM

            that's PC only. But, since you asked, it had 10 million registered users at one point.

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              June 8, 2012 11:41 AM

              Yea, and then most of them started realizing that it was a pay 2 win game, and that they got stomped by people that payed, so the numper of players decreases drastically, because that imbalance made the game not fun to play.

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                June 8, 2012 11:48 AM

                that's a failure of long term execution by the developer then, clearly the interest was there

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                  June 8, 2012 12:13 PM

                  Question: not knowing a lot about the long term business plans of these things, aren't all F2P games doomed to fail eventually?

                  I mean, at some point the popularity declines, the thing stops pulling in money (or: the company wants it to make more money - staying at the same plateau of earnings isn't enough, especially if you're a publicly owned company), so they raise prices and/or put in game mechanics to more strongly encourage people to spend money. This in turn pisses players off (especially, ironically, the ones who see themselves as customers even though they've never paid one red cent in the game), which then just exacerbates the problem. Repeat until there's not enough money coming in to keep the servers on.

                  Similar to how like 85% of all restaurants fail eventually (even if they have a long span of prosperity there's factors outside their control - like the state of the rest of the neighborhood) I would think most F2P games are just doomed to go to shit at some point.

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                    June 8, 2012 12:31 PM

                    By that time, they should have made back their money. I mean, you could argue the same thing happens to a boxed product shortly after it releases. People stop buying it eventually.

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                    June 8, 2012 12:32 PM

                    How is that different from other business models though? MMOs are exactly the same. And then a traditional boxed/digital singleplayer game has a sales graph that eventually tails off to essentially nothing. You just need to make as much money as you can for as long as you can.

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                    June 10, 2012 1:18 AM

                    All businesses fail eventually.

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                June 8, 2012 12:30 PM

                That is not true

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            June 8, 2012 12:29 PM

            quite well

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          June 8, 2012 10:26 AM

          Its not impossible, its just not very feasible on this current generation.

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            June 8, 2012 10:33 AM

            given that they've already shown Crysis 3 as their next thing I kind of doubt this F2P stuff they're talking about would be this console generation anyway

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          June 8, 2012 10:47 AM

          I believe for one thing Sony and especially MS will not allow it, as far as I know.

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            June 8, 2012 11:15 AM

            If the industry continues to move in that direction they will. They'll figure out deals to get their cuts from the developers who choose that approach.

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      June 8, 2012 9:18 AM

      So much for Single player games from Crytek. Their multiplayer has never been that compelling or popular so good luck to them. I wonder if THQ cancelled that Homefront sequel they farmed out to them.

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        June 8, 2012 9:23 AM

        My thoughts exactly, have never played the MP on 1 or 2, and most likely won't for 3 either....... DAMMIT!

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      June 8, 2012 9:24 AM

      titles of "console game quality"

      And that's the problem. Console quality isn't very high in my opinion. It sets the bar low in many aspects. It may be a poor choice of words, but too many favorite franchises have become watered down, aim assisted, slow paced, boring games because of this.

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        June 8, 2012 9:31 AM

        They're probably referring to graphics quality, but yeah, "console quality" in terms of user experience is terrible, since it's hindered by lumbering giants Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, who assume that they are the world's best experts in interface design, when in fact many of the standards they force on developers are counter-intuitive and make it harder to play a game or use a console.

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        June 8, 2012 10:49 AM

        They are referring to the budget..... jesus..

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      June 8, 2012 9:40 AM

      That's a phenomenally fast turnaround from "We need to charge money for our demos because everyone is playing those instead of buying our games."

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      June 8, 2012 10:01 AM

      My, how quickly they lose sight of why they make money.

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      June 8, 2012 10:07 AM

      Everyone doesn't just want MP!!! When they start making F2P single player games with great stories and production values, I'll be interested. It just seems like companies that can't hack it in the boxed game area think that somehow f2p is going to save them.

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        June 8, 2012 10:24 AM

        The problem is that building an SP experience to compete with a short, highly scripted experience like CoD or a big open world experience like Crysis/Far Cry/Skyrim is an order of magnitude more expensive then it was when Far Cry first came out. Because the ASP to the developer is somewhere less than $30 (huge price erosion for digital distribution due to steam sales), the breakeven point for an AAA SP game is north of 1 million copies. Look at what happened after KoA:R and they had millions in government support.

        So when looking at risk adjusted profitability, launching an F2P game that is cheaper to produce and has a sustained (unlimited?) revenue stream is a much better alternative.

        Everyone may not just want MP but not enough people are willing to pay enough for a high quality SP experience to make it sustainable or medium-sized dev teams. This has been a clear industry trend for several years, not sure why it is even being discussed - it's basically inevitable in the current state of the market.

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          June 8, 2012 10:50 AM

          Piracy is killing the offline game.

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          June 8, 2012 11:10 AM

          There's a problem that's not being taken into account here - the singleplayer or "consumable content" market supports the same player many times over, playing many different games. The subscription or extended play market has a limited base which moves from game to game. This is the same rush that happened when everyone assumed MMOs were a "growth market" and ran out to get their own 6+ million subscribers, and then found out that there's only so many MMO players and they're all playing WoW.

          If the market gets saturated with F2P games because everyone assumes that they're the best way to make money, inevtiably we're going to see a lot of high profile failures becuase there's only so many "whales" to offset the huge flood of people who play and don't pay anything.

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            June 8, 2012 11:27 AM

            Every market has its own maximum addressable size, and this goes along multiple axis, price and time. There's one maximum addressable market for a game that requires 10 hours a week, whether it's F2P or an MMO. There's another maximum addressable market for a game that requires a $60 up front purchase, another for games that require recurring subscriptions, and another for F2P, and various intersections. So while yes the F2P market has a limit in the same way the MMO market does (which as you note, people failed to predict the size properly), it's a much larger market due to the cost structure.

            We can compare various games to get a sense of the addressable markets. Starcraft 2 sold at $60 with a sp and mp component and did very well. But then Riot has done even better with no sp portion but F2P. So it would appear the ceiling on F2P is still pretty high.

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              June 8, 2012 12:25 PM

              I really don't think you can point at Riot as an example of what every company can be like - they got in very early and have built up a huge base of content and infrastructure. We're just at the beginning of seeing F2P as a AAA business model, and right now there's not a lot of selection. F2P probably has a higher cap than MMOs, but there's still definitely such a thing as market saturation.

              MP games rely a lot on a good community and having friends around. If everyone rushes to the market with F2P games at once you're going to see a huge number of them fall by the wayside as everyone congregates around the few most popular ones, just like in the MMO market. There'll be winners, for sure, and they'll win big. There'll also be a lot of Age of Conans and Tablua Rasas that tank very quickly when they don't achieve that necessary critical mass.

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                June 8, 2012 12:36 PM

                I'm not saying every company can be like Riot, I'm just pointing out their marketshare vs SC2 as an example of the F2P being bigger than a boxed copy, even for a hardcore multiplayer only game. The original thought was that SC2 surely would own the majority of the hardcore RTS players, but Riot has found a whole slew of similar people who weren't into spending $60 to see if they were hardcore enough for that genre. And we know that F2P social/casual stuff has a huge addressable market (Facebook and iOS games).

                Like I said, yes you're right that there's a point of saturation, I'm just saying at the moment it looks like that saturation point is a lot higher than where MMO saturation ended up being.

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                  June 8, 2012 3:05 PM

                  LoL is not a RTS. It's a single character TD team PVP game. Yes, I know the genre spawned inside of an RTS, but it's clearly not the same type of game and can stand alone. I have friends who won't touch a traditional RTS (or pay for them to play DOTA) but they would play DOTA or LoL.

                  Compare that to Crytek who seems to want to compete with BF and CoD in the multiplayer shooter arena, it's not comparable. Although it sounds like a big component of Warface is cooperative multiplayer, I'm sure there's a market for that, but will they be willing to pay?

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                    June 8, 2012 3:19 PM

                    The audience for a hardcore RTS and MOBA obviously overlap significantly, the distinction hardly seemed worth making. The point is they were both previously the domain of $60 boxed, PC, hardcore gamers, and now one has vastly outpaced the rest by going F2P but being just as hardcore as ever at the top of the skill curve.

                    I'm not sure how Crytek wanting to compete with FPS heavyweights isn't comparable to Riot wanting to compete with similar heavyweights in their genre (Blizzard, Valve and the original DotA)

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                      June 8, 2012 3:30 PM

                      The audience for a hardcore RTS and MOBA obviously overlap significantly

                      Not necessarily. An RTS player is likely to play a MOBA, but MOBA players in general don't necessarily play traditional RTS. The team aspect of a MOBA is very appealing to people who are intimidated by 1v1 gameplay, and there are a lot people who are afraid of pushing the "find match" button in something like Starcraft.

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            June 8, 2012 3:08 PM

            The problem with people trying to copy WoW is that they're trying to copy WoW. As you say, they're fighting for pretty much the same customers. However, there are different markets for different genres. There definitely is a market for a non-fantasy MMORPG or different kinds of games.

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              June 8, 2012 3:22 PM

              The actual results of those MMOs says otherwise. Bioware + Star Wars just fell on its face, no one else will be investing in that genre and business model anytime soon if they're smart.

              CCP has been successful by aiming for a niche, and budgeting accordingly, aiming for low 100,000s of players, not millions.

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      June 8, 2012 10:15 AM

      :( horrible news, are they having financial issues, why the shift? Oh all the companies I never thought I see them say this its mental.

      If this is the future I don't want it, personally.

      So then Crysis 4 will be F2P?

      I tell you if in the future we never actual own games and they come and go like TV series I will quit, this makes me sad.

      "Lets make a stand before there is no one left to go to the chopper!" we should blackball their first f2g to send a message.

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      June 8, 2012 10:44 AM

      "Milking the customer to death" is exactly what the free to play model is based on. Obviously they want money, and they don't plan to get it all from advertising, so they are going to nickel and dime players for as much as possible. The thinking behind free to play games is there is no cap on the price people will pay for your game like there is sort of with a boxed copy. A boxed copy people pay up front and they don't pay anymore, and with free to play, someone could pay 2,3,4 times the amount for your game than they would have if it was a boxed copy. The people who buy a lot of stuff are called "whales". Of course that is kind of silly because you can sell DLC just the same with a boxed copy as you could with free to play.

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        June 8, 2012 3:16 PM

        Unless you're a runaway hit I'm pretty sure it will all equal out anyway with all the leechers or people who charge $10 only once. The game still has to be compelling enough to have longevity so people keep playing and have an incentive to charge in the first place.

        Then again, people play a lot of shitty games just because they're free.

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          June 8, 2012 8:16 PM

          I am just saying though, the business plan behind free to play games is either advertising or milking the players as much as possible.

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            June 9, 2012 7:01 PM

            The game still has to be good or no one will play it. If the experience is good and people think the price is fair they'll stick around. Otherwise you'll lose potential customers and no one is going to play your game.

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      June 8, 2012 10:46 AM

      I love the Rodney King beat down interrupted by a well-placed frag at 1:06 :)

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      June 8, 2012 10:49 AM

      I just figured out what's weird about this game: No giant RED TEAM and BLUE TEAM tags on the screen. You just have to identify the opponent by how they look. Reminds me of my Rainbow Six days.

      I wonder if they'll keep that in the final version. Probably not. :(

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      June 8, 2012 11:31 AM

      nooooooooooooooo :( oh well. I enjoyed their products. I will miss the suit.

      thanks pirates!

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      June 8, 2012 11:55 AM

      And so endeth my relationship with those who made the excellent, future proof open world(ish) shooter Crysis.

      On the downward slope since....

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      June 8, 2012 12:01 PM

      they always struck me as entitled. Not making supermoney like CoD? We'll go to consoles! Oh, still not happening? uh.. f2p? Maybe they could try making a game without an atrocious second half with enemies everyone hates

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      June 8, 2012 12:34 PM

      I blame cheap people. Also the poor.

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      June 8, 2012 1:42 PM

      Cynical bunch here. I don't think the interview says they are going f2p because they aren't making enough money or want to make more. They are doing it because a big shift is happening in games. And he's right.

      The worst thing about F2P so far is the community. I actually want premium / exclusive games priced higher than most of you internet rabble so I can play with decent human beings and not a bunch of cunts.

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        June 8, 2012 3:13 PM

        For a company that is predicated on making single player experiences, there is no shift. Crytek isn't known for their MP aspect, and that's really where F2P shines as people customize their characters or P2W.

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          June 8, 2012 3:47 PM

          Well they weren't known for console games, either, were they? And they seem to adapt just fine to that.

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        June 8, 2012 3:51 PM

        To a certain degree that works but there are still quite a few turds in iRacing despite the 100$'s i've spent on it.

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          June 9, 2012 12:01 PM

          Yeah, but that's like $12 a month. I don't think that's premium. I'd pay $40 a month if I had access to a community that was 80% less cunty.

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      June 8, 2012 2:13 PM

      Maybe if they stopped stripping everything people liked from the first game out of sequels, they'd sell more games.

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      June 8, 2012 4:11 PM

      Yeah there's a reason Crytek plans to go exclusively f2p and not, say Epic or Treyarch. Crysis 2 was not that big a hit. They went to consoles expecting a blockbuster, and didn't get one. They got a mild success that despite superior reviews to the first game (lol games journalism is worth dick) never generated that much enthusiasm. Now this new thing has caught their eye. The problem is they don't realise that the common denominator in all their middling success is them.

      And anyone who DID like Crysis 2 and thought they would continue to serve those customers, when they dropped their more hardcore fans like a bad smell just to make that game, was kidding themselves.

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      June 8, 2012 8:44 PM

      Hijack how do you feel about the F2P model?

      For some reason I hate the idea of F2P. The basic concept of pay for items or you can grind away the hours to get the same items/content I find to be unappealing.

      I dont have all the time in the world grind for items and I don't like the idea of having to constantly pay for in game items I want.

      I just want to pay the $60 upfront and then play the game at my own pace and know that I'm not missing out on content.

      And this might not be the case, but the F2P model instantly causes me to consider a game to be of lesser quality than say a $60 game.

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        June 8, 2012 8:58 PM

        F2P does not require paying for items with a material effect on the gameplay or items that are objectively better than things that can be easily earned without spending

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        June 9, 2012 7:09 PM

        So you can pay 60 bucks for a COD game, and then grind for hours and hours to unlock the gun you want? I'm confused on how this is better.

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          June 12, 2012 2:13 AM

          The prices are FKing retarded in Free2play games like Combat arms (Ew) and Battlefield Play4free, it's almost $20 for a new gun that might not even last forever. While in games like CoD or Halo or Battlefield, you pay for whatever $60 up front (Except for maybe DLC which is STILL cheaper than those $20 guns) and all you have to do is play for a few hours and you're guaranteed everything there is to offer in the game without paying extra.

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      June 10, 2012 5:59 AM

      am i the only human being left in this planet that thinks F2P is garbage? I think when big devs make f2p games they take too many liberties and too many "oh, its f2p, don't worry we'll patch it later" attitude (with the exception of a few)

      That's not to say that I want to continue paying the current insane amount of money for games ($60+ for a console game here in Canada) but maybe what they should be looking at is a mixed model? (eg. $30/game + paid content.) has anyone tried this approach before?

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        June 12, 2012 2:06 AM

        Free to play is still in its shitty early stages. I think that in time they will start making higher quality F2P games actually worth paying for. Just about every big gaming company will probably make one semi good F2P that will eventually turn pay2win, and then keep that supporting that game while they get the big bucks from their box releases. Like Dice/EA and battlefield play4free

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          June 12, 2012 2:15 AM

          And Idk why but this game reminds me of Alliance of Valiant Arms, it's actually still a decent free2play

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