Mark Kern, the CEO of Red 5 Studios, told Eurogamer that that he believes that the age of Publisher driven console games as the primary format is coming to an end.
“They don’t need the distributor to succeed, so a lot more money goes into the game rather than to marketing and you get to grow organically with your players. And as there’s no barrier to entry for players you can start to compete on fun instead of marketing, which is really the area that we as developers should be in.
“We should be competing on the strength of our ideas and the fun of our gameplay, not the IP, or the license behind the title, or the size of the marketing push.”
He does a lot of talking about how consoles are on the way out, and publishers are no longer needed, but this all amounts to a belief in the Free to Play model that has become so prevalent in gaming today. I don’t necessarily agree that the new Free to Play model does away with the need to market your game (or really does much to reduce the marketing budget), but what it does do is eliminate any barrier to entry to the game.
The fact is: Free to Play works. It’s a functional business model that some companies are entirely founded on. Mark references Riot Games, and he’s right. They’re a great example of a company that sustains itself off of nothing but the Free to Play model.
In the end, Free to Play games have the ability to succeed off of word of mouth far more easily than purchased games, simply because new players have nothing to lose. This is the crux of his statement, and I can’t really disagree with it. We’re truly entering an era that will be owned by the designers and the players.