The Free To Play/microtransactions market has been continually expanding over the last few years, to the point where many MMOs actually adopted the model and witnessed an increase in profits. However, social games publisher Ngmoco believes that we've barely scratched the surface of what free to play games can achieve - and reckons that we'll see F2P singleplayer games as big and commercially successful as Skyrim within the "next few years."
And once that happens, publishers could potentially wield development and marketing budgets of up to a billion dollars.
Speaking at the Free-2-Play Summit in London (as reported by GI.biz), Ngmoco boss Ben Cousins stated his case for F2P games cracking traditional singleplayer experiences.
I believe that single-player will be the next to be cracked in terms of freemium monetisation. And I'm talking about traditional, story-based, scripted, linear and non-linear single-player that we see on consoles.
I am totally 100 per cent confident - I will bet large amounts of money - that we will have, in the next few years, a free-to-play equivalent of Skyrim," Cousins continued. "A game like Skyrim, where you accrue skills and equipment over time, that you can play for hundreds of hours, is actually one of the easiest games to develop for a free-to-play model. That would be a big hit.
Cousins believes that the next wave of free to play games will have no upper limit to the amount players can potentially spend, while ensuring that every customer's tastes and budget are catered for. In the best case scenario, these games would have an average user spend of $60 (equivalent to a standard RRP and a massive increase from Zynga's $20 average) - but enjoy an audience numbering 200 million players, many of whom will hail from the emerging Indian and Chinese markets. This would potentially make publishers worth $10 billion net, and earn each game a $1 billion lifetime development/marketing budget.
Naturally this is all just supposition, and you'd expect a free to play publisher to be somewhat optimistic about their own platform. While speaking at a free to play convention. Either way, we want to get your take on it.