Since GamersGate made the announcement of their upcoming FreeGames platform at E3 2011, the internet has been full of theories and speculation on the platform and how it will actually work. We had the opportunity to speak with GamersGate CEO Theodore Bergquist earlier this week and get the real answers.
Game Guide World: Let’s say I’m new to GamersGate and to the FreeGames platform. I just made my account; can you walk me through the process of what happens if I wanted to play a free game?
Theodore Bergquist: It’s pretty simple. As a member you get access to a number of “game slots” depending on how loyal you are on GamersGate, or how many other members you have referred to the FreeGames service. Every month you fill your slots with games, download them, watch the ads, and then play them. Next month you have the option of choosing the same games if you want to continue playing them, or changing them if you’d like to try new ones.
GGW: What sort of advertisements and commercials should we expect to see when using this service? Are they targeted at all, or just general ads? Are you using a certain platform or network to run the ads or using your own?
Theo: We have three formats. Banners will be run on the website, ads to be shown when downloading the game, and rich media full screen ads before you start playing the game. Some of them will be targeted, and some will not. We have our own platform and are also partly using 3rd party ads.
GGW: I believe you said that “Users will be able to select up to five games at a time to play for free on their accounts, and be able to add more titles to the limit.” I have two questions regarding this statement:
A. When you say “at a time”, does that mean these five games can be changed? If so, how? Is it a quick easy switch, a paid service, etc.?
Theo: In general one slot is for one month, but some of them will be customized with Blue Coins (GamersGate virtual currency) and as rewards for user loyalty and referrals.
B. How does one add more titles to that limit?
Theo: A beginner will have one slot while a loyal and very active member will have five slots. On top of that we’ll also have promotional and branded slots as well.
GGW: The announcement said gamers will be able to “try a game out before they buy”. I assume this means only a certain length or portion of the game is able to be played? Can you give more details on how long a user can actually play a game using the service?
Theo: The try-out model is if you don’t want to watch the ads but choose to buy and own the game once you have played it and find that you enjoy it. No other try-before-buy service is built in right now.
GGW: If a game is available for purchase on FreeGames, why should I buy it rather than play it free?
Theo: If you want to own the game and/or do not want to watch ads every time you want to play the game, purchasing the game will be the better option for you.
GGW: I know you said you expected a large portion of GamersGate’s catalog to be included in the FreeGames service, but are there any types of games we should or should not expect such as Indie titles, AAA titles, etc.?
Theo: It’s a variety of titles. We can’t disclose specific games or publishers at the moment though.
GGW: What has been the publisher feedback when you’ve introduced this new service to them?
Theo: We’ve been working on FreeGames for two years now, but I think most of the publishers have been very positive about the entire service.
GGW: Why do you think that the ‘F2P’ model is becoming more prevalent in this industry?
Theo: I think a hybrid of free-to-play and pay-and-download is what we will see in the future. A lot of the free-to-play games out there are not making any money and are funded by venture capital. Once they pull the plug those games will die, unfortunately.
GGW: What sort of advantages do you see from adding this ‘F2P’ model to the GamersGate platform?
Theo: Oh, there are so many advantages. For gamers it’s the possibility to play more games, to try more concepts and dig deeper into the gaming experience. For publishers it’s a great opportunity to reach a massive amount of new players, increase installment base on franchises, and to try out new concepts. For advertisers it’s a very powerful format.
GGW: Do you plan to add more titles to the FreeGames in the future if you experience success with the service?
Theo: Yes of course! More games to the gamers!
GGW: At the time of this writing the countdown is at around 78 days. Once that hits 0 what should we expect to see, and will the service be completetly ready bt then?
Theo: If the beta goes well we will open up the gates for everyone in the US and Sweden to register. Even if we have only managed to prepare 50 games by then we will go live. Hopefully we’ll have roughly 200 games at start. Obviously we have a lot of stuff in the pipeline as well. This kind of service is never completed.
“I think we have ourselves a Steam killer here, so let the battle begin! :)”
GGW: Thanks so much for your time Theo, and keep up the great work on creating one of the best game distribution platforms available!
So what do you guys think? GamersGate seems to have a very powerful platform here in the FreeGames service. And while calling it a “Steam killer” is a very bold statement, I certainly think it’s a realistic one. It should be fun to see how things develop over the coming months and years!