27 May

Online distribution service Direct2Drive is getting into the Free2Play market with their recently announced “starter packs.” The package includes a free download of games priced normally up to $19.95, with discounted rates for virtual items. These differing versions of the game will still be developed by the game’s developers, and should help Direct2Drive (who only makes money on items purchased directly from their site) compete with other digital-download platforms like Steam.

“We saw a unique way to offer free-to-play content and help the consumer add value immediately,” Direct2Drive content VP Sutton Trout told Gamasutra. “In the same way an MMO is an online game, a free-to-play is an online game. The monetization might be slightly different, but at the end of the day, [gamers are] playing online. We named it that [way] for a reason. It would be very confusing to tell our users, ‘free to play channel,’ and then ask for money… Just like any game we sell on Direct2Drive, they become part of the community,” Trout explained. “They’re not our user. The relationship becomes a direct one with the publisher.”

He adds, “Quite honestly, we’re the first to market with it. What does that mean? Will the rest of the market follow? I hope if they do, they take a long time. It’s a big market, we see tremendous growth for digital. With Xbox Live and the guys on the console side, I think the industry and the market understand digital is real, and it’s becoming more so. There are still a lot more people who haven’t done it yet but will.”