The free to play model has been an up and coming player in the PC gaming market for years now. Valve’s Team Fortress 2, Riot’s League of Legends, and my personal favorite, Wargaming’s World of Tanks, are all top notch games. They all have huge fan-bases, quality development standards, and incredible replay-ability. They receive much better support than their console competitors: World of Tanks just received a massive graphical overhaul and completely revamped physics engine, League of Legends is implementing an honor system that rewards players who receive positive feedback from others, and Team Fortress 2 has one of the best anti-cheat programs in gaming protecting it. Some of these things are not feasible without a constant internet connection, but the next generation of consoles will see an even higher percentage of online users than our current generation. It would be more than within reason to expect this type of thing from console games within the next 10-20 years.
Discs are becoming relics. The idea that your rights to use a piece of intellectual property is dependent upon keeping a highly fragile piece of metal and plastic in perfect condition will seem barbaric in the year 2027. With the price of a gigabyte steadily declining, and internet speeds constantly increasing, we can expect downloadable games to become the norm very soon. Gamestop and other used-game retailers will hate it, perhaps this is the reason for Gamestop’s foray into vintage games. Developers and publishers, on the other hand, love this because the money from their sales doesn’t pass through a middle-man and they get revenue from every single purchase made. Despite the inevitable collapse of your local video game store, we should be celebrating the future of gaming.
Imagine being able to play the basic features of any game without paying a penny, to become a top ranked player in a game that only costs you money if you choose to give it money, to never worry about which game to choose because you only have enough for one. Stop thinking of free games as nothing more than flash games from addictinggames and embrace that you can get a quality game for free.
I play League and TF2 without paying a dime, but I do pay for premium service on World of Tanks. The only advantage this gives me is access to better tanks faster, but even that is not truly an advantage because those tanks are placed into equally ranked tanks. If anything, it is a mild disadvantage because doing this places me in games with more experienced players than myself. I support the game financially without unbalancing the game against free-to-play players. It is a viable business model for developers, and a wonderful revolution for players.