Cevat Yerli says free-to-play is definitely the future of the industry, but that doesn’t preclude the possibility of retail games.
Earlier this year, the Crytek CEO revealed his company was transitioning to an "entirely free-to-play experience."
Since then, the company announced its first free-to-play first person shooter, Warface, but this doesn’t mean you won’t see Crytek games on store shelves anymore, says Yerli.
"I don’t think F2P’s a mutually exclusive way of looking at things," he told RockPaperShotgun.
"I mean, the future is definitely free-to-play, but likewise, retail can co-exist with it."
This might seem odd coming from a man who spoke out so strongly in defence of the new business model, but Yerli appears to be recognising the place in the market a full-priced boxed game can have.
"When I said free-to-play’s gonna be our future, I meant that and I hold to it. But I didn’t mean it for tomorrow," he explained.
"When I say there will inevitably be only free-to-play games, I mean that there might be ones where you can just download them with a free-to-play business model, or you can go to the store and buy it for $60.
"So that’s what I meant: there’s gonna be free-to-play available, which brings the entry level down to zero from a price perspective."
Yerli seems to be talking about some sort of hybrid model like that of Killzone 3, where free-to-play fans can try out the game’s multiplayer for free and pay to unlock new content or simply purchase the game on a shelf.
Boxed special editions will still be around for quite a while and the end of the free-to-play transition is still five years off, says Yerli, but fewer and fewer are buying packaged goods.
"At some point, it’ll just be people downloading games and streaming them," said Yerli.
When asked about Crysis and free-to-play, Yerli said his company considered a multiplayer standalone that took advantage of the model for Crysis 2 and 3.
"My desire is that everybody can just play Crysis and don’t have to spend money from day one. So people don’t have to think, ‘Oh, do I really want to pay $50 for that game?’" he said.
"I don’t want that question to be asked. I just want them to be able to give it a try. And then they can make their choices about spending money."
For Yerli, providing a free-to-play option for games is about that choice; players shouldn’t have to pay 60 dollars for a game they know little to nothing about.
From the perspective of a company that has taken big hits from internet pirates, this is also about bringing some gamers back into the fold.
"…And if somebody pirates a game, it’s because they don’t want to pay for it," said Yerli.
"I’d rather have those guys turn into legal users and be part of the community – become part of the progression and the competition – but be fair to each other.
He added: "That’s really what I want: for the community to be connected into one ecosystem. There’s no reason to pirate at that point. Why would you pirate a free game? At least, so long as you can play for free forever."