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Free-to-play on PS3 'is huge', says Sony Online Entertainment boss

"Free-to-play is the ultimate expression of a free market in video gaming"

Free-to-play games are 'thriving' on the PS3, according to Sony Online Entertainment boss John Smedley, who's claimed that seventy per cent of DC Universe Online players are on Sony's console.


Speaking to GamesIndustry International Smedley said the success of SOE's own titles, along with upcoming F2P games such as CCP's EVE Online spin-off Dust 514, will prove the freemium business model is viable on home consoles.

"It's 70 per cent of the audience. Free-to-play on PlayStation 3 is huge," he said. "In fact, right now, it's us with DCUO and Free Realms and our friends at CCP with Dust 514 that are going to prove that this market really works."

According to the exec one of the big strengths of the model is that it provides players with a frictionless way to purchase and consume content.

"There's a lot of people that go through that store and it's so easy to find and download these games that it's a great business model. A lot of people have already stored their credit card information so it's very frictionless if they do want to buy something.

"We can put out thousands of items and it feels very frictionless. The remarkable thing is with a game like Free Realms where there's literally thousands of items to buy it, has to be a solid platform to begin with to support that. It's no small thing to be able to that. It's a business model of the future."

Smedly admitted free-to-play was initially a tough sell at Sony, but the numbers did the talking.

"I admit there was a mindset where when you use the word 'free' people pause. 'Wait a minute, what do you mean by free?' But even then people want to see the results. With DC Universe Online the split that we're seeing ended the debate right there."

"Free-to-play is the ultimate expression of a free market in video gaming," added Smedley. "It's completely about quality, there's no purer way to see whether you have a good game or not than by saying 'this is free, do you want to play it?' I would argue that free-to-play is much more pure than regular games because with those marketing can determine who picks up the game."

DC Universe Online transitioned into F2P in November last year, in the week following it attracted a million new players.