Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley has outlined in greater detail the approach to monetisation that the company will be taking with upcoming free-to-play zombie survival title H1Z1.
As we reported yesterday, the game will be free when it launches, although players will be able to get stuck into Early Access for $19.99. But the announcement whipped up a little bit of confusion and anxiety, as do most ambitious F2P titles when they're announced, and familiar questions began to pop up: will it be pay to win? What sort of things can your money buy in-game? How will the game be balanced to ensure a good experience for those who don't want to drop a penny while still managing to make some money?
"You will be surprised to hear we have intentionally left the decisions about what to monetize until we can hear from you," wrote Smedley in a second Reddit update. "This isn't some contrived thing. I'm being serious. It is a nearly blank slate."
SOE are seeking feedback, then, from the community on how to best proceed on this front, but Smedley did lead off with five pointers that'll underpin the basic monetisation mechanisms of H1Z1.
1) This will be a F2P game (after early access). During early access it's going to cost $19.99 to play.
2) We are not interested in selling weapons. Weapons are only acquired by crafting or exploring and finding one. We are not selling power.
3) The game at it's core is about survival. Our preference is not to sell ANYTHING that can help with that. If this game is too hard for you play another one. We don't want to give shortcuts for our core mechanic.
4) Wearables - we DO see wearables as an obvious "heck yes" kind of thing. I think it's perfectly reasonable to have most wearables be purchaseable. Of course we will still have plenty to craft, find and wear for free.
5) We made this game because we love making games and entertaining our players is why we exist. That being said, we do need to make money. Your ideas are appreciated greatly but if we can avoid the "hey give us everything for free because you owe it to us since you're a big company and we should get free games" commentary it would help a lot.
Points 2, 3, and 4 should come as a little bit of a relief to initial sceptics, though it's impossible to tell exactly how this will balance out until we get the final version in our hands to see for ourselves. But SOE have pedigree in this department, and they've managed to leverage the F2P model excellently for the likes of PlanetSide 2.
Smedley went on to provide further tidbits of information as the discussion unfolded (via Dualshockers):
- Camping has just been added to the game by the developer.
- It’s closer to Planetside 2′s terrain system plus a lot of modifications for destructability.
- There will be horses.
- There will be no leveling or XP. Some type of simple advancement system in the Play as a Zombie mode has been discussed. but that’s down the line.
- In-game advertising is not very likely as it doesn’t net much revenue at all. Plus licensors can get very anxious about how their brands are used in apocalyptic games.
- The team “likes pets” and Smedley says to stay tuned on that front.
- You will keep what you buy for real money, so whatever looting there will be, other players won’t be able to steal it.
- If they sell Camos there will “absolutely” be free versions in the game, maybe alternates.
- The game can be played in first and third person. Ground vehicles are third person.
- There will be different weathers conditions.
- There will be mechanics to encourage hostage taking instead of just killing other players.
- Ammo or weapons won’t be sold for real money.
- What you can buy for real money won’t affect survival in any way.
- You can go back and find what you dropped when you die, but your corpse may be a zombie by then.
The SOE pres also took to Twitter to acknowledge the debt H1Z1 owes to DayZ:
@DarrickSmith I happen to think Day Z is an incredible game. H1Z1 wouldn't exist if not for Day Z. I don't want to run from that.
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) April 10, 2014
He also suggested that the game won't be "for the weak," comparing H1Z1 to Dark Souls.
@SteveJackn111 yeah this isn't a game for the weak. If you liked Dark Souls you'll like our game.
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) April 10, 2014
Intriguing stuff indeed. We've been in contact with SOE and hopefully, fingers crossed, we'll be able to bring you some first-hand coverage of this pretty soon. In the interim, however, we'll be posting more details as they emerge. Let us know what you make of it all in the comments below.