GDC Austin: 'Greater diversity coming to online games'

GDC Austin: 'Greater diversity coming to online games'
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

October 10th 2012 at 6:50AM

Free-to-play won't just be strategy games and RPGs, says Kongregate co-founder

For years free-to-play games have been dominated by strategy and role-playing games, but that's about to change says Emily Greer.

Greer, the co-founder of webgame portal Kongregate, believes the Industry is witnessing a trend of diversification in online games.

Speaking to Gamasutra at GDC Online, Greer says she expects, "more variety in terms of the type of game and monetization method."

"So far, it's been a lot of RPGs and strategy games. Now that a lot of people understand how to make free-to-play work in those contexts, [people will bring it] to other genres."

"I'd love to see more experimentation and drive in how to make free-to-play work in other situations," she continued.

"I think that's going on, and will continue to develop. People are also getting smarter, and learning the dynamics of free-to-play game design."

Greer says one of the barriers to a deeper appreciation of what makes free-to-play customers tick is the tendency to copy mechanics before they are properly understood.

"There's been, initially, a lot of fast-following, where people are copying a mechanic that they saw in an Asian game and bringing that to Facebook, and taking things from other people without necessarily understanding what the underlying factors are that make people behave a certain way."

But free-to-play has been around long enough for developers to see the patterns, and it's changing the way they make money.

"Virtual goods really dominate our revenue stream," Greer said.

"We get probably about 30 percent from ads and 70 percent from virtual goods. It's 200 out of 60,000. It's a really powerful business model, and we've seen tremendous growth over it over the last few years. Ads have been growing, traffic has been growing, but virtual goods have completely skyrocketed."