Play for Free Review
Play for Free was held Nov. 19th at the Danish Film Institute, organized by MEDIA Desk and DADIU. Different perspectives on the game industry regarding the rise of online free games were discussed. The concept is that while the games are basically free, often the users generate contents and the users can select to pay – for special items, or add-ons to games or even to pay to turn off ads. For example, Habbo Hotel by Sudake (which is more of a virtual world than a game) offers rare items for purchase.
The delivery and distribution is different in play for free games, meaning that instead of buying a game “off the shelf” or paying for a subscription to an online game, a free game has to build in a chain of distribution and motivation for playing – and potential spending. It also requires a close monitoring of user behaviour and metrics and ongoing design and development. Ethics and copyright of user generated contents was also discussed as a complex issue.
Various speakers discussed the design of free games and the impact on the industry, including: the economics of game design that is free, the limitations of current platforms and the dominance of “mainstream” games in style and content.
It surprised me to learn about the demographics of free games – they are very popular in developing countries where people cannot afford consoles or computers of their own – so they often play in internet cafes and prefer free, online games.
I found Catherine Warren the most interesting speaker because of her critical attitude toward virtual economies and games and sociological point of view.