Gree: The free-to-play argument is over

Gree: The free-to-play argument is over
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

July 30th 2012 at 12:15PM

Freemium model will force changes to conventional games in future, says David McCarthy

Mobile developers must embrace free-to-play to succeed, according to Japanese mobile gaming service Gree.

The publisher's head of EMEA developer relations, David McCarthy, made the assertion at a UKIE-backed event last week, as reported by Edge.

“It requires a very, very different mind-set and business model to conventional boxed product gaming. The decision on whether to go free-to-play, certainly on mobile, is dead,” he said.

“There’s no argument – free-to-play is the model that the industry is moving towards. If you look at the [games in the] top grossing charts the vast majority of them are free-to-play, and it’s very few people who can make pay-per-download work as well for them as free-to-play in the mobile space.”

Gree now has over 23m users in its home country of Japan, and since its acquisition of mobile social platform OpenFeint it now claims to reach over 200m users worldwide.

McCarthy’s comments come as the debate about how to monetise mobile games continues to divide developers and publishers. Particularly in-app purchases, which have dogged the developer of CSR Racing.

However, McCarthy is more concerned with the impact free-to-play mobile gaming will have on traditional publishers: “I think that’s going to have consequences for the boxed product business as well.

“Companies like Konami and Capcom are now deriving a huge amount of revenue from these kind of games and I think that the things that they learn in this space are going to affect the way that they make conventional games in the future as well.”

Just last week, Gree welcomed four new game developers to its roster of development partners. The Japanese social mobile company is moving to expand its reach rapidly.

But it also faces completion from another Japanese mobile competitor, DeNA, which is also attempting to gain a foothold in the Western market.