A Sign Of The Times

08 May
May 8, 2014

So. Wow.

This is a pretty huge deal.

To summarize – Epic are going to broadcast development of Unreal Tournament 4 from day 1, they plan to work in close collaboration with fans to build the game, which will itself be completely free, and Epic plan to make money by opening a mod marketplace and taking a cut of mod sales.

Hell’s bells. This is surely a sign of the brave new world we’re living in, of early access and the trend toward open development. Kudos to Epic for taking this brave step. Sure, when you’re earning licensing income from probably the most popular engine in the market, there is a nice financial cushion to fall back on, you’re not risking the farm. But still, it’s bold, it’s innovative, it’s experimental. I like it. Kudos to you, Epic.

The open community development is interesting, but so is the monetization model. We’re all well-aware that the various types of Free To Play models are big in the mobile space. But to have one of the AAA studios embrace that model in the development of a flagship product is quite the statement. Clearly, the industry is moving, and this is probably just the beginning.

And before someone says anything, this is F2P. I know, there aren’t any microtransactions. But F2P just means using the base game as a platform to sell other products to players of the game, in some manner. The game isn’t the thing you’re selling, it’s a platform that creates the desire for the things you’re actually selling.

All that said, this is, in my mind, probably the least exploitative type of F2P imaginable. In fact, like Unity’s Asset Store, it’s a great example of a mutually beneficial relationship. The ability to sell their product encourages modders, they benefit financially for their creative work. And the developers benefit, not just from the cut of sales they earn, but from the fact that these mods increase the value of the game platform for other players. Modders benefit from making mods, the developers benefit from giving modders a platform to make their mods. Win-win.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be an incredibly successful experiment for them. And if we didn’t see many other developers follow suite in the coming years. The Elder Scrolls, for example, is ripe for this. Forget the MMO, build this, Bethesda!

Anyway, I’ll be watching this play out with interest. It certainly is a brave, exciting new world out there! Gaming is such an exciting space to be in!

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9 replies
  1. Daniel says:

    If this came to the Elder scrolls modding scene I leave it immediately. Paying for mods is not right.

  2. Daniel says:

    Sorry about the knee-jerk reaction, but I started off in elderscrolls modding and believe me, the games as they are now, being sold rather then free-to-play, It would stifle the generous atmosphere of the community and make mod authors think they are entitled to monetary earnings on someone elses IP.

  3. Daniel says:

    I mean I don’t mind authors putting up maybe a donation link if people feel like rewarding them for their quality work. But out right paying for it? No. just no.

  4. Daniel says:

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    Anyway getting back on topic about free-to-play games and selling mods, I’d only pay for them if there quality was good. I’ve seen some pretty shitty mods made on the nexus and other sites over the years, and there’s no way I would hand over a cent for it.

    However really awesome mod makers like Gopher, Cypsis, Arthmoor and many others. Really deserve for their work to be recognised.

  5. gareth says:

    I dunno. I get what you’re saying about how it might stifle the community, sure. But I also think it could drive an increase in quality and quantity of the top-end mods.

    In the Unity asset store, there are people who make a full-time living making assets. Imagine if it was actually feasible for a dedicated modder, or even a team of modders, to make a living making quality content for TES.

    Neverwinter Nights almost got there, but didn’t quite achieve it. I’m quite interested in seeing one of the AAA studios experimenting in that way again, personally.

  6. Daniel says:

    That’s a fair point. however as a jaded community member, the way it is now(The elderscrolls modding scene), it’s not like the RPGCodex forums yet(Thank god), it’s quite hard to see the good through the layers and layers of internet Vitriol. That’s why I don’t post often in forums much anymore it’s a really draining experience.

    • gareth says:

      Yeah, that’s understandable. I’ve mostly withdrawn from online communities. Partly it’s that I’m busy and they suck time, partly because they often degenerate into draining arguments, yeah.

  7. Daniel says:

    Hey, does trying to fix a glitch make feel like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld5mycaFQUU After staying up all night with truck loads of coffee? I know I certainly do. 😉

  8. gareth says:

    Haha, sometimes, yes!

    But, conversely, sometimes you squash that bug that’s been causing you to tear your hair out for days and feel like this. 😉



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