For PC Gaming Week, Kotaku has invited top creators to predict the future of computer gaming. Today, Cevat Yerli, CEO of Crytek, makers of legendary PC-only first-person shooter Crysis and 2011's PC and console Crysis 2.
When I started developing games for the PC nearly 20 years ago, both the Commodore 64 and the Schneider CPC 6128 were incredibly popular. Since then, the PC platform and its market have totally changed and I saw several trends coming and going.
Within the next five years, the PC market is in my opinion growing and declining at the same time. While the market for Online PC Games (I mean Free-2-Play Games, Social Games and Casual Games) is continuously growing, the retail PC Games market is declining. Over the past two years it became apparent that more and more people play all kinds of online games and lots of the former retail PC Gamers switched to console games. By changing their consumption attitudes, the consumers "force" developers to rethink their strategies, thus, to some degree.
For me, the business model of the future is "free-2-play" since consumers in the future won't be willing any longer to spend $50 or more for a AAA PC Game. So developers will start offering more and more free to play online PC games that at the same time allow for premium content.
All leading PC game developers will serve the free-to-play market and turn their backs on the retail market.
The current online games are characterized by low development costs (only about one tenth of the costs for a AAA title) and comparatively low quality. But, at the same time, they have fun gameplay. In contrast to the traditional retail PC Games, the pressure for initial quality is much lower with an online PC game. This means, that developers release an online game with a certain quality and then improve it over the time, bit by bit, together with the community. This is incredibly customer-friendly and so it is what the whole market become.
The user is king. Over the next years a significant number of online PC Games will enter the market and due to that big amount of games, the quality pressure is going to rise in these markets, as it is now in the PC retail Market. The current price competition between retail and F2P Market will evolve into a content/ quality competition within the F2P Market only – similar to today's retail market. Consequently both, the costs and the quality will reach a AAA level. Since gamers thus basically get AAA games for free, the complete traditional retail PC Game market breaks down. After a while gamers will then see a major progress in gaming quality overall again in the PC Gaming Market.
The community is key to the success, specifically the amount of free-to-play users that a developer is able to transform into buyers. An average 5-10% of all online PC game users buy premium content in the form of special items, boosters, etc. via micro transactions. "Non-monetized" consumers, on the other hand, will be turned into revenue contributors through community-driven advertisement that is experienced through social media networks supporting these games.
To sum it all up: I am convinced that in the medium term, all leading PC game developers will serve the free-to-play market and turn their backs on the retail market.
Cevat Yerli is president and CEO of Germany-based game development studio Crytek. His first games and development experiences go back to the 1980s with the Commodore 64 and the Schneider CPC 6128, where he worked on simulation games. His passion has always been creating and playing games. While studying economics, he began working towards his dream of founding a game development company. The dream became reality in 1999 when he founded Crytek with his two brothers. Cevat gives creative direction for all Crytek products.