Can free-to-play games come to consoles?

The developer behind the world’s most popular free MMO is in discussion with the main platform holders in a bid to bring the free-to-play model to consoles.

RuneScape developer Jagex is aiming to turn console digital distribution services such as WiiWare, XBLA and PSN into platforms that can host free games.

But, speaking to Develop in an interview published today, Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard (pictured) added that it’s likely that a nominal fee” will be charged for such downloadable titles.

My aim is that there will be a completely free game on all the consoles out there where we preserve the current free-to-play model,” he said.

I think this is where the industry should go, but I don’t think that’s where they want it to go, given that everything that goes on WiiWare, PSN and XBLA has a price tag on it in some form.”

Gerhard went on to suggest that – while discussions with the platform holders were still ongoing – it is likely that free-to-play games will arrive on consoles with a price-tag attached.

I think that the free-to-play games will probably be charged at a nominal fee, so you pay to download it and, if you want, pay to receive the premium version of the game," he said. That’s the thinking at the moment, though things are very much up in the air.”

But of course, my preference will be to lobby these companies, to tell them that they need to catch up with today’s tastes and provide free games if you want to compete in this area.”

Jagex, which is headquartered in Cambridge, England, has enjoyed immense popularity with its free-to-play MMO RuneScape. Currently the game boasts 8.5 million accounts.

Develop’s interview with Mark Gerhard can be found here.

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