Free-to-play beats retail, says Epic's Sweeney

Epic planning a more diverse market this console cycle
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The free-to-play revolution is going to be a major factor in determining who succeeds on the next generation of consoles, says Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney.

While retail reigned as king with console titles leading the charts for the release of the current generation, those days are over, and as a result Epic is changing tacks.

The biggest change is free-to-play, and Sweeney says it's a winner.

"In offering a consumer a free-to-play game via download or web, versus a $60 game available only in a store, the free-to-play game is going to win," he told an audience at the Montreal International Game Summit attended by Gamasutra.

Sweeney believes this is one of the "major interesting trends to watch as we go to the next console generation", and the ability of developers to adapt will be a big factor "in whether they are going to succeed or not."

Of course, this doesn't necessarily apply to "hardcore" gamers, and Sweeney says keeping those customers from feeling ripped off and left behind is "going to require a lot of development and iteration."

The company chose to target consoles with the release of Gears of War as an Xbox 360 exclusive, but new business and distribution models means Epic won't be putting all its eggs in one basket again.

Epic plans to "build some games for PC, some games for mobile, and some for console," said Sweeney. "And any time we make something for one, we're going to explore how it fits on other platforms ... we are going to be building a lot of multi-platform experiences."