Console ecosystem must adopt free-to-play, says former Xbox exec

Ed Fries discusses the future of the industry

The co-creator of Xbox, Ed Fries, believes console manufactures must change the way they think about game monetisation models.


Fries, who is also on the advisory board for open Android console Ouya, told GameInformer that "it's getting harder and harder for the traditional consoles to ignore the Apple kind of experience. Anybody can develop for the platform, certification is a relatively cheap and painless thing, and in the old days of consoles there are all sorts of myths and legends that say that's a bad thing to do."

It's these 'myths and legends,' which the industry doesn't seem to want to let go of, that Fries believes to be the reason why "the game business melted down in '84."

Fries uses Fez as an example on how the industry needs to seriously consider the Apple way of doing business. "You've got guys who make games like Fez who can't do an update to their game because it costs too much, if that game was on iOS that wouldn't be a problem, but because it's on XBLA, it's a problem."

According to Fries, these issues need to disappear with the next generation. He says "they'll go away with Ouya, they'll go away if Apple brings some kind of product into this space, the console makers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, they have to respond to that, it's just the future."

Fries sees that the industry is heading towards a free-to-play market, and console manufactures need to be aware of that. "Likewise they'll have to respond to the free-to-play game model, the world is changing, people want this free-to-play experience, game developers want to build free-to-play experiences and the console ecosystem has to adapt to that."