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Next generation: free to play games

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Nathaniel Rioux

Staff writer

As of Tuesday Sony Online Entertainment announced that DC Universe Online will be free to play. This means that a monthly fee will no longer be required to play. “What does this mean?” one might ask and “Why is this a big deal?” The big deal is that in previous year’s games that became no longer profitable due to lack of subscription would simply be canceled.  Games like The Matrix Online were cancelled within the first few years of the game’s history. Now games are becoming free to play instead of the scrap heap. This concept came from when Guild Wars by NC Studios launched as free to play. Since games like this are being contently updated the way they keep making profits off these games is to have subscribers who pay a monthly fee to play. Even now games like World of Warcraft, considered being the King of Massive Multiplayer Online games has gone to free to play for the first twenty levels. In fact Sony Online just announced that Planetside 2 which is currently in development will launch as free to play.

Most people are pointing out that the economy has not been favorable for games such as MMO.  And with sales of MMO games are sold almost exclusively to the PC it’s had to make a profit on such a different type of platform.

Since most small developers are launching their games free to play the big game developers need something to match the competition.  Lots of games has been creative in coming up with ways to make a game profitable after they are released. In response a lot of these games have developed an in game currency that people use to purchase special items such as character upgrades or items.  This has even gone to the extreme in the case of Value’s new trading system. Although Value, the creator of the popular PC digital distribution soft where Steam, is not a massive multiplayer game. The company is looking into trading virtual items for actual items like games.

As we look at the growing trend of free to play games, the gaming industry and consumers are very interested in this progression. With massive games like Star Wars, The Old Republic both consumers and game developers are interested in the future of games.