I think I've made it clear that I'm fine with the idea of free-to-play popping up in games, if it's done right. There's a way to make free-to-play games without nickle-and-diming fans or bugging them incessantly. Games like Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World do it right, while titles like Marvel Heroes do it very wrong. Free-to-play is just another brick in the foundation of a good or bad game; the model in and of itself isn't a problem.
The flipside to this is the fact that not every game benefits from the inclusion of free-to-play or online modes. Sometimes a good single-player game is just that: a good game for a sole solitary player. So, statements like the ones made to Engadget by EA chief operating officer Peter Moore throw up red flags in my head.
"The ability for you to be able to interact with [Battlefield, FIFA, and Madden] on a free-to-play basis is going to be part-and-parcel with every major franchise we do now," Moore said. "We don't ship a game at EA that is offline. It just doesn't happen. And gamers either want to be connected so their stats and achievements reflect who they are, or you want the full multiplayer experience on top of that. We don't deliver offline experiences anymore."
While I'm looking forward to online modes in EA games like Need for Speed: Rivals, the inclusion of online and microtransactions into Dead Space completely killed any sense of horror the series had left. It was a solid game and I finished it, but it wasn't what I wanted from the franchise that began with Dead Space.
It's a fine line. Mass Effect 3's multiplayer actually worked and made thematic sense in the larger conflict the game presented. Adding that same multiplayer mode to Ni no Kuni would feel out of place. Card battle games like Hearthstone lend themselves very well to free-to-play and microtransactions, but a story-driven single-player game like The Last of Us would not.
Developers and publishers need to be cognizant of what they're trying to build with a game. Every game is different, and you do an idea a disservice by not presenting it in the correct manner. Having a character lament the death of a loved one only for a banner to flash and say, "story continued in DLC pack 1" doesn't do that story justice. "How" matters as much as "what". Blanket statements on what will be included in every game seems to run counter to the idea that you're letting your teams build what's right for their game worlds. I love Ubisoft's open-world games, but not every Ubisoft game needs to be open-world.
So I'm hoping EA rethinks Moore's statement, or perhaps he wasn't thinking of that awesome single-player Star Wars game they have Visceral working on. (Please be working on an awesome single-player Star Wars game.
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