You may remember versions of Far Cry and Psi-Ops being released a few years ago that were free-to-play and supported by advertisements. In the case of Psi-Ops, at the start of the game you were presented with a 30 second video ad, after which you were able to jump right into the full game. Far Cry also saw a similar ad-supported version for a time that made the game free.
GamersGate is looking to continue in a similar manner with their upcoming FreeGames service. This new service, which is set to release this fall, will allow gamers to “download, install, and play up to five titles at once” for free. These games will be preceded by a short advertisement before the game launches. Gamers will further have the option to add additional game slots, possibly for a monthly subscription fee according to the FreeGames website.
GamersGate CEO has been quoted by Tom’s Hardware as saying “the new service offers the best of both worlds for both gamers and publishers.” Further, he believes that the ad-supported free-to-play model will be a great way for gamers to test out a new game before they buy the non-ad-supported version as well as a cheap way to catch up on game series. The company expects that the majority of its current catalog will be available on the free-to-play ad-supported service in the fall. The website currently has a countdown timer to the launch as well as a beta sign up via email option.
GamersGate, and its FreeGames service’s popularity will largely depend on the catalog, ad relevance and ad length. If GamersGate can provide a wide selection of new PC and Mac games as legally free-to-play, I suspect that it will see a good amount of adoption and will likely replace the once popular but now rare demo. On the other hand, the long-term success of the service will depend on publisher cooperation and DRM. The service will need a fair bit of stable DRM in order to dissuade casual pirates from stripping out the ads, because if this happens than ad and game publishers will pull back from the service and legal gamers will lose out.
You can find more information by following PC Perspective as well as the FreeGames website itself. Do you feel that the service can succeed? Would you use it?