According to game director Dustin Browder, there are no plans to make StarCraft II free-to-play. The comment on the matter came on a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. Browder said that the free-to-play model may work for some games, such as Team Fortress 2, but it is not for StarCraft II. ”We have no plans to go free-to-play in the traditional sense. We do have a trial version that allows players to check out the game but it isn’t like Team Fortress 2,” Browder said.
Browder seems to like Team Fortress 2, and for good reason. In Summer of 2011, Team Fortress 2 became free-to-play while supporting micro-transactions. Since then, the game’s total player base has increased 5 times. ”Valve did make a lot of changes to Team Fortress 2 to make that game work for free-to-play,” he added. “We have not yet found design choices for StarCraft II that we would be happy with to make it free-to-play, so we aren’t going to do it.”
Apparently, Blizzard has reached a conclusion on this matter since Browder mentioned that they were “looking at” the free-to-play model for StarCraft 2 back in September. Personally, I am still skeptical of the free-to-play model as I think that it is misleading and the player usually ends up spending as much money on it as a normal game when it is all said and done. CD Projekt Red, developer of The Witcher, recently said the free-to-play model was strange and awkward. The head of studio, Adam Badowski, said that there may be money to be made, but the system is still “far from perfect.”
I think the larger developers should leave the free-to-play model to the smartphones. I do not want to put down the small developers who are trying to get there stuff out there, but to me it makes the larger companies look kind of cheap. I give Valve a pass on this, however, because Team Fortress 2 was out for four years before switching over and Valve loves the longevity of their shooters. Hopefully micro-transactions do not take over the industry. It won’t end very well and will end up making the industry look greedy instead of looking creative.
Original Reddit Ask Me Anything session here