Illustration for article titled Will Paying For Video Games Become a Weird Thing To Do?

I happily pay for video games. You might, too. But so many people enjoy the increasingly popular free-to-play model of video games. So many people don't pay to play. Is gaming going to be reaching a moment when many, many potential gamers just don't want to pay.


I tossed this idea into a conversation I've been having with some other gaming critics at The New York Times as part of the paper's year-ending Game Theory roundtable. I wrote:

There is no common price tag for great video games anymore. The year's best ranged from free to $60. That initial $0 tag is becoming more popular and is affixed to a model of gaming that cajoles players to pay more for more content or to make progress more quickly or more easily. The year saw a rise in games like this and growing momentum for so-called free-to-play games. That is the money-related topic worth considering for all gamers and game critics out there — not how much the gaming industry made, but how much each game should cost and whether gamers in the years to come will still have a zeal to pay for them.

The sales of the $60 GTA V this past fall certainly support the argument that people will still happily pay for video games. But when I look at all the free games doing so well on iTunes and when I see the stats showing the millions of people who play the likes of League of Legends and DOTA 2 and so many other free or "free" games, I wonder...

When do we reach a point when it becomes weirder to be one of those people who pays to play than to be one of those who does not?


To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. Image via Shutterstock.

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