Forbes recently had the opportunity to grill Cryptic Studios' Jack Emmert about the "explosive" rise of the free-to-play business model, and how it has impacted the decisions they've made over the years with City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and now Neverwinter. A couple of questions and their answers:
Is free-to-play (the) model? Will there be something after this?
There always will be something after; it's just a matter of what it will be and what form it will take. I can tell you that free-to-play is going to be a greater business model that gaming follows across the board more and more. That doesn't mean that traditional box products and games sales won't exist, but I think you'll see fewer of them. Free-to-play will tend to dominate. My hunch is that these things change over time and someone will find something other than free-to-play and it will be just as good.
Do you think the current MMORPG model is sustainable? Can new products continue to enter the market and compete with titles that have years of content updates already on deck?
I think so. Neverwinter has shattered all of our expectations so far. People like MMOs, but they do tend to get tired of them after a while. Even the most successful show a decline over time. For example look at Ultima Online, EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, players that like that kind of game are still out there. I would argue that there's only room in any calendar for so many MMOs and that's why it can be difficult. We're all competing for a certain amount of people and unlike a console game where someone can play it over a weekend. That's not really possible for a MMORPG player. They're going to choose a few.