Ubisoft's vice president of digital Chris Early believes that adjusting to new and changing business models is more difficult than developing for new platforms, reports GamesIndustry.
"It is a much more conscious effort to change the business model than it is to change platforms," Early said. "The business model is like that platform change, but on steroids. You have to start at the very beginning of the design cycle and design in the new business model. It's no longer just better graphics or better control features."
Early argues that whether a game is free-to-play or $60 at retail, the pressure is on to create quality content at all business model levels. The challenge of free-to-play games with additional content for purchase and pay-as-you-go episodic games is making them so that players want to continue paying – and playing.
Early places game value on an economic curve,with high price meaning low quality and low price meaning high quality. The free-to-play model can flexibly address this curve all at once.
"The people who are willing to spend $60 will still spend $60, in a free-to-play game that's interesting, properly constructed and designed," he added. "We've seen that in some games. We started going down this path by adding DLC, so people can buy DLC or a season pass. We've been going down this way for years by price protection and price drops, and the price waterfalling system to try to take advantage of this part of the curve."
Ubisoft published both Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online as free-to-play on PC and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier to consoles earlier this year. Spartacus Legends, the company's upcoming gladiator fighter based on the Starz TV show, will be the first third-party title to enter Microsoft's free-to-play library on Xbox Live.