More and more these days, developers are embracing the 'Free to play' business model and it seems that this trend is only set to grow. Now this isn't exactly breaking news but I bring it up now because I believe we are somewhat on the tip of the wave as far as the 'free' ride goes. An example of what I mean is League of Legends, they have been pumping out a steady stream of champions to keep the money flowing in but have produced very little (one extra map at the moment) in the way of extra content and they are not the only ones using microtransactions to produce an income. There is at least half a dozen MMORPG's that are in the same boat.
My concern is that with more and more free to play games every day are we about to see a flood of spam, normally reserved for the retail sector, in our beloved games? I fear that we are already past the point of no return and very soon game developers will be in a position where it's more profitable to pump out monetised upgrades in games then it will be to make a really good game in the first place. We have to look no further than Battlefield 3 to see this in action and very soon Call of Duty will have a subscription service available.
There is many 'arcade' style websites that have free flash games, with ads plastered all over them as well.
The list goes on and on. So, how long will this trend continue and where is it leading?
I believe that blizzard has already given us a glimpse of what is to come. Instead of taking the time and effort to continue pumping out add ons and then charge people for it they are simply going to let the people do all the work for them, in sense. Diablo 3 is set to have a 'real money' action house, where player can use money to purchase in game items from other players. Basically they are going to make an in game "eBay" and i'm sure there is already a number of other developers drooling over the idea right now.
So is it all doom and gloom? Probably not, but don't expect these so called 'free' games to actually be free any time soon!