Free-to-Play Games: Professionals’ Perspectives

This paper investigates the free-to-play revenue model from the perspective of game professionals. To court larger player audiences and to address their wide willingness-to-pay spectrum, game developers have increasingly adopted the free-to-play revenue model. However, at the same, worrying concerns over the revenue model have been voiced. For example, free-to-play games have been deemed as exploitative and unethical. We investigated this contrast by conducting a thematic interview study. We employed grounded theory in the analysis of the data containing 14 game professionals’ interviews about their views on the free-to-play model. The results show, that the free-to-play model is something that the developers view favorably while the public writing about the games can even be hostile. The games have evolved, while the voiced opinions still talk about games of the beginning of the model. Relatively few ethical problems were seen that would address the whole model, and the future of the free-to-play games was seen bright.

By: Kati Alha, Elina Koskinen, Janne Paavilainen, Juho Hamari and Jani Kinnunen