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Zombie Studios wants to break free-to-play stigma with next-gen Blacklight: Retribution

With its free-to-play first-person shooter Blacklight: Retribution, Zombie Studios hopes to break the stigma that all free-to-play games feature a pay-to-win model and that they can also offer a core experience, studio director Jared Gerritzen told Polygon.

Speaking to Polygon at a PlayStation 4 event in New York today, Gerritzen explained that the studio built the next-gen version of the game based on 2012's Windows PC release from the ground up with a new monetization pipeline.

Gerritzen's idea is to teach players that free-to-play games don't involve spending "hundreds and hundreds" of dollars. He went on to say that the transactions involved are lot smaller and offer the player a level of convenience, such as skipping the amount of time it takes to do something.

As Blacklight: Retribution doesn't require a monthly subscription and players aren't forced to buy in-game content, Gerritzen said that here is no reason not to download it. With free-to-play, Gerritzen said, the game launches and evolves until the player base dissipates, as opposed to playing a retail game where "it is retail game, DLC, DLC, DLC, next game."

"When you think of free-to-play, there has only been a handful of Western games — a lot of them are from other territories — where they are very much OK with the free-to-play mentality," he said. "It is not as openly complained about; you don't have massive forums calling it pay-to-win."

Gerritzen mentioned that the launch of upcoming next-generation free-to-play titles such as Warface and PlanetSide 2 will change game developers' perceptions of how they release and provide content to players.

"You are going to see these [games] come and they are going to be big and everyone else is going to be like, 'We cannot keep making pay-to-wins now,'" he said. "You are also going to see a lot of other bigger companies that really rest on the yearly content see a completely new marketplace."

Revealed in March as headed to PlayStation 4, Blacklight: Retribution will launch in beta alongside the console this week on Nov. 15.

"Anytime you ship a downloadable game, unless you have $100,000 worth of play testing or thousands of people coming online, you are always going to find something," he said. "So that is why we are considering it a beta, and we'll be able to get more content on to the PlayStation, constantly evolving it."

Samit Sarkar contributed to this report.

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