Deep Down Will to be Free-to-Play on PS4
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 18:09
Capcom surprised a lot of people at Sony’s reveal of the PlayStation 4 earlier this year with a game called Deep Down. Not only was the game completely unexpected, but it looked like the first truly next-gen experience to come out from the big three console manufacturers.
Apparently, Capcom is not yet done surprising us, as Deep Down will not only be a PlayStation 4 exclusive, but a free-to-play one at that.
It makes sense, under certain logic. Capcom has lost money hand over fist chasing the very “Western” style of development. That is, by white washing its most popular franchises with overblown budgets to “appeal to a wider audience,’ it has found itself with remarkably well-selling games losing money. Lest we forget Resident Evil 6’s multi-million selling “failure.”
Meanwhile, Electronic Arts is finding itself in the same predicament (I’m looking at you, Dead Space 3). However, EA has realigned its corporate interests to focus on free-to-play experiences on mobile phones (I didn’t forget about you, Plants vs. Zombies 2 and Real Racing). As disgustingly predatory and alienating as those attempts may be, it’s become the company’s primary source of income in recent months.
So, Capcom, after emulating the failing methods and results of its competitors, is once again emulating the methods of its competitors.
The term “race to the bottom” has been bandied about quite a bit lately in relation to free-to-play games. There was a time, a scant few years ago, when games journalists thought the mobile market was on its way to kill traditional gaming. Now, however, the aforementioned race has coagulated the free-to-play market into a half-dozen cash cows while most other games fail completely to find purchase (or purchasers).
Capcom chasing the free-to-play model two years too late to become one of its major players is worrisome. It screams of the “me too” style of business that has put the publisher into the position it is already in: the same mistakes made in all-new ways.
That said, free-to-play can work exceptionally well in the proper hands. Tribes: Ascend, one of the earliest examples of a console-quality game using that particular business model, was well liked by both critics and fans of the franchise. Not only that, but it was profitable.
A more recent example might be Warframe. The game’s business model is easygoing, and has been well received, but still manages to be in the top 10 or 20 most-played games on Steam month to month. It’s also coming as a launch title to PlayStation 4 later this year, and most fans seem genuinely excited.
The question then becomes, how will Capcom design Deep Down’s business model? Will it be a frustrating, antagonistic grind for progression like Plants vs. Zombies 2, or a largely cosmetic affair for diehard fans like Valve’s Dota 2?
Unfortunately, we won’t find out when the PlayStation 4 launches this November. The game is scheduled for open beta testing in Japan around the time of the console’s launch in that country, Feb. 22, 2014, but there is no real release date as of yet.