Should consoles go free-to-play?

The next generation of consoles may be loaded with revamped hardware, but one industry insider believes the current software model is also in dire need of an upgrade.

According to Nexon America CEO Daniel Kim, console developers need to take a giant leap of faith into the free-to-play market or risk irrelevancy. 

“Console developers are starting to realize that unless they make accommodations or think about changing their own business model they’re going to quickly go the way of the dinosaurs,” Kim told GamesIndustry International.

“Free-to-play is kind of like the Indiana Jones, taking that leap of faith – unless you do it there’s no other way to continue to grow.”

Kim also noted that consoles struggled to find a viable economic model in Korea due to rampant piracy – prompting local devs (PC and console) to adopt more of a free-to-play model than their American counterparts.

“I know it’s tough for them to just cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to say ‘OK, we’re going to go free-to-play and make our bed here’ because that’s going to piss off a lot of people who they already have an existing business relationship with.

“[Yes], I understand the challenge but unless they’re being aggressively proactive about making that leap – it’s kind of like the Indiana Jones, taking that leap of faith – [but] unless you do it there’s no other way to continue to grow,” he opined.

It should be noted that the Japanese-based Nintendo is indeed hedging its bets with a free-to-play gaming paradigm, as the next-gen Wii U iwill support such a model. 

“With respect to the Wii U system, when we began working on it, one of our goals was to have a variety of purchase options and additional e-commerce options available at its launch,” Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata confirmed in a recent interview.

“And because of that, we have prepared a Digital Rights Management system. We have designed the system from a technical standpoint to allow developers to freely take advantage of things like free to play and micro transactions.”

Iwata also noted that Nintendo wouldn’t rule out the possibility of exploring “other types of games,” but was not interested in coding an indigenous F2P title unless it was suitable as an F2P experience.