Microsoft and Sony could struggle next-gen if they fail to embrace free-to-play

"They have to make radical calls," says Crytek's Yerli.

Microsoft and Sony's next generation of consoles could struggle if they don't fully embrace free-to-play gaming, says Crytek's Cevat Yerli - although he admits the two platform holders face some tough decisions if they're to pursue such a model.

Yerli has bullishly stated that Crytek is itself embracing a free-to-play future, an area it's testing with some degree of success with Warface. After production has completed on Crysis 3, Ryse and Homefront 2 - the game being developed by Crytek's UK studio - all of the company's games will utilise the business model.

"I hope for them that they do," Yerli said when asked if a free-to-play model would be at the heart of Microsoft and Sony's next consoles. "If they don't then it's going to be a tough time for them.

"It's quite a challenge for those companies logically because they rely so heavily on retail to sell the hardware and to sell the games where the margin for retail really is," Yerli continued. "If they would forgo their entire retail business and go digital free-to-play, then they would not be selling any more Xboxes as well. There's a chicken and egg thing there. And they have to make radical calls."

Microsoft has resisted introducing free-to-play games on the Xbox 360 in the past, while Sony, with the likes of CCP's Dust 514, has proven more receptive to the idea. Yerli's already said that he's in talks with both platform holders about getting Warface, the free-to-play first person shooter, to consoles, although he acknowledges the perception that such games have.

"We know that free-to-play games have a bad image," he said. "They have a bad reputation - it's pay to win, it's low quality. I completely get that, but we are making free-to-play that's high quality. It's CryEngine 3, it's a big investment."

Yerli's beliefs hold up - Digital Foundry recently investigated Warface and came away impressed with a free-to-play game that boasted triple-A production values.

And Yerli's adamant that Crytek will stick to its guns when it comes to free-to-play - and that the kind of social gaming that implies would, for example, be a part of any future instalments in the Crysis series beyond the one that's planned for early next year.

"We will do a single-player esque experience," Yerli said when asked if Crytek would produce another single-player experience. "But it will be for you and your friends together. Single player with two players! Story-rich experiences for at least two people. The premise I can say clearly is that free-to-play is going to be part of any business model we have going forward."

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