Palm: Free-to-play and VR are compatible

Former Candy Crush Saga senior also predicts ‘completely immersive’ VR games may not emerge as the medium’s dominant genres
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Speaking on-stage at today’s F2P Summit conference, Resolution Games CEO Tommy Palm asserted his belief that VR games and the free-to-play monetisation model are utterly compatible.

Free archetypically thrives on ‘dip in’ mobile experiences; games where players return frequently for brief gaming experiences. It’s a model seen in success stories like Clash of Clans and Candy Crush Saga, the latter of which Palm provided a pivotal role on during his time as ‘Games Guru’ at King. Virtual reality experiences, meanwhile, are often presented as a deeply immersive, and by the nature of the hardware require the player to commit in a way not typical of many free experiences.

However, asked during the opening keynote if Palm believed free-to-play and VR were compatible, he replied: “Yes, definitely. Free games are here to stay, obviously. There’s an interesting economic theory – and I’m a tech guy so I don’t know a lot about this – but I read that somebody said that products, as they mature; the price of the product grows closer and closer to the cost of the distribution, because the margins – if you have competition – go down.

"Distribution is obviously free now when it comes to a lot of games. I think it’s very logical, and it’s a better consumer experience, if you can try out games for free before you decide if you love it and want to spend money on it.”

And Palm believes VR is set to become a ubiquitous consumer experience, and as such a natural partner to free business models.

“Looking at [VR] now you can really see that, okay, there is no consumer product today, but within a short period of time we are going to have that," stated Palm.

"And there are so many fields where this is applicable; where we can do fantastic things with software, including not only games. Games is my passion and where I want to be."

He later added: “I think it is going to be mass market rather soon, [even though] obviously it isn’t today.”

Palm recently departed King to establish his own studio, Resolution Games, which will initially work on VR games, though details about the studio and its output remain in short supply. Today, Palm confirmed the team would be a ‘small, multi-talented one’, with a flat hierarchical structure. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is the mobile-based VR headsets that interest Palm the most for now, though he stated an enthusiasm for the full range of headset and hardware types.

The CEO also confirmed Hearthstone’s monetisation mechanics as one of the free-to-play models he admires most, and revealed a soft spot for the VR titles that re-imagine traditionally two-dimensional genres for virtual reality experiences, including those that use a third-person perspective within VR to view the playing area.

He also put forward a belief that the most immersive VR games may not in time serve as part of the most popular, successful genres.

“It’s still very early,” offered Palm. “We’re going to see a lot of interesting developments in this field when it comes to controllers and game design. We’re going to see many different types of games. The first thing that strikes people [in terms of] having a good VR experience is that they want to have a completely immersive world where you would be in the centre of a world and run around and shoot things or whatever you do. But I think that that is not maybe going to be the dominant genre."

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