On a recent trip to Germany for GamesCom 2012 I bumped into David Rose CEO and CO Founder of We R Interactive, the guys behind I Am Playr a football sim game with a difference. In I Am Playr you play the game through the eyes of a top tier footballer. Part football manager sim, part RPG and heavily social network supported via facebook.
David Rose is a name that any mature gamer should and will know. He has been around for a long time since the start of console gaming. Cutting his teeth at Psygnosis in 1993 working on WipeOut for PS1 before becoming Studio Manager, then moving onto IO Interactive (later Eidos) the guys behind the first Hitman Game. David’s CV is one of the best in the business and I guarantee that if you’re a true gamer you would have played at least one of his games if not all of them.
I got talking to David in a bar while waiting for our late night flight back to the UK. We got talking about the future of gaming and more importantly mobile gaming, something he is passionate about, and he believes that mobile gaming is the future of gaming as we know it. I told him about my dislike for so called “Freemium Games” and how I hope that this not the future of the gaming industry. His reply came straight out of left field “Well” he said “You’re going to hate our game then”. You see I Am Playr is not just a “Freemium Game” but also uses product placement (albeit as I found out later the placement is a benefit to the game).
I Am Playr itself is a sound game for any football fan and I recommend you give it a try. After all it’s free! Plus you will then be able to follow the points I am talking about here, but be careful it sucks you in and really is well put together.
I Am Playr has the basics of any Freemium Game. It gives you a taste of the game but everything you need to do to progress cost energy points which soon run out meaning you need to buy more. You also have other options. For example you can buy branded boots and equipment that have a RPG style effect upon your player, making you pass better and giving you a higher shooting XP. But what makes this game stand out from the crowd is the real world sponsors that you would expect to see if you were a top tier footballer.
When you start your first game one of your fellow team mate is drinking a high profile energy drink, you will also soon meet real life top flight football stars that are sponsored by a big sporting brand (the one with the tick). Now even though this is blatant product placement (which I am generally against) and the studio has been paid for this I have to agree that it works for the better of the game. All of the featured products are relevant to the footballing theme of the game, if you were a real life top division football player you would meet these players and use these sponsored brands. When speaking to David he revealed that he turned down a leading male skincare brand as it would not fit with the game. Maybe it is because the featured products do not impact upon the quality of the game that I really enjoyed playing it.
So is the future of video gaming a mix of paid for and and ad supported content? Above I have taken I Am Playr for an example, from a small start up studio where I believe this is acceptable. But what if a larger studio did it; not only a larger studio but a studio that is having its game published by Microsoft? Well last wednesday this happened, Hybrid came out. Hybrid by 5th Cell and published by Microsoft Studios is a XBLA game and part of the summer of arcade programme. Costing 1200 Microsoft Points, around $15, you would expect to have all the content free. Well Hybrid is different. You can play the game and unlock content as you progress or you can buy weapons, armor, perks etc.. from day one. If like me you decide not to pay for the premium content and work at unlocking them you will instantly find yourself at a disadvantage as many of the other players will have already bought the top items and can dominate the map. Hybrid is set up in a way that leaves you with little choice but to buy a better gun just so you can put up a good fight for your chosen side. Even though a gun in Hybrid will only cost you 30 microsoft points to buy you have to transfer a minimum of 100 points into the game meaning, you inevitably spend more money on shit you don’t need, it also means the game as just cost you 1300 microsoft points and counting.
The game industry is changing, the way we play games is changing and to recoup some of the costs developers are looking into new revenue streams, from monthly subscriptions to paid for in-game product placement. Like it or not Freemium and ad supported gaming is here and it looks like it is here to stay.
What are your thoughts on Freemium and Product Placement? Let us know below or on our Facebook Page www.Facebook.com/MasonicGamers
If you are into football you should try out I Am Playr for free and let us know your thoughts.