The end of the year is a great time to look back at where we’ve been, but also a time to look forward. Yesterday we talked about Screen Digest’s predictions for Move and Kinect, and today free-to-play publisher GamersFirst has published their views on the upcoming state of play. They point to the success of the free-to-play industry, but also expect the format to overtake the status quo, and become the defacto form in 2011.
Looking at a DFC report, GamersFirst points to a 35% growth rate per annum in the free-to-play sector, resulting in a massive gain in free-to-play momentum. Based on these figures, and presumably a few of their own internals., GamersFirst is predicting that the free-to-play market will overtake traditional formats in 2011. They foresee a massive onslaught of free-to-play MMO’s, but also point to the potential headache for marketers everywhere who will be competing for gamers’ attention (and hard earned dollars).
More triple A in free-to-play. As we’ve seen with Turbine, converting your AAA title to free-to-play can have significant results. Based on this strategy, GamersFirst is calling 2011 to be the year of the AAA free-to-play. They see more competitive top shelf titles to engage with players via free-to-play, and that these gamers will eventually shift away from traditional subscription and box models in favor of online and free-to-play.
Digital distribution FTW! GamersFirst acknowledges the not-so-hot sales figures coming out of the traditional retail outlets (note: the depends on who’s figures you’re looking at), they’re calling 2011 to be the year of digital distribution. Based on previous and current digital distribution figures, this one isn’t that hard to swallow, as EA’s head John Riccitiello has even gone on record stating that the company will be scaling back on boxed options.
Rise of the Niche. Rounding out their predictions, GamersFirst recognizes the growing number of small(er) and independent gaming studios popping up around the globe. To this end, they see these indy developers as a driving force in 2011. Whether it comes to mobile gaming or desktop, these developers will be pushing out deeper and deeper niche games to the point where 2011 will see “something for everyone.”