The upcoming Quake Champions [official site] will indeed by free-to-play, id Software have confirmed. Champions, to refresh your memory, is a multiplayer-only arena shooter starring different characters with unique abilities. One champ will be free for all and sundry, Ian ‘Ranger’ Quake, though folks who just want to buy a video game will be able to buy the whole lot in one pack. Free-to-players will need to rent others with currency earned by playing, so it almost sounds like the F2P version is an extended demo. That, or it’s being monetised in a ghastly way. At this point, who knows!
“At its core, it’s a free-to-play game with the option to buy the Champion Pack and just get in and play with all the Champions,” creative director Tim Willits told Polygon.
“There are a number of Quake players that just want to play their Quake, right? And they are familiar with the business model of our previous games, and they are totally fine. ‘I want to buy the game. I want to start playing. I want to have access to all the Champions.’
“But then we also understand that we want to get as many people into the game as possible, especially outside of North America and Western Europe, where we have a massive fan base. So we want to have the flexibility to have a free-to-play option for those people.”
So it’ll have the option to buy all the launch champions in one lot or to spend ‘favor’ — a currency earned by playing — “to have access to them for a limited amount of time.”
If they do think of this as free-to-play, their ideas are either poorly-communicated or awful. Renting anything in a free-to-play game is deeply unfun. It makes me think of South Korean free-to-play games from the mid-noughties, back before games realised that selling permanent unlocks and cosmetic costumes for real money could be plenty profitable.
Also sounding outdated is making one fixed hero free, the champ based on Ian Quake out of Quake. Modern F2P games using rotating lineups of several free characters, which stop everyone from becoming sick of seeing — and being — the same one all the time. Polygon do also talk about spending favour on ‘backpacks’, which let players take on ‘rune challenges’, and beating those gives ‘reliquaries’ which can contain new champions and new skins. Are those permanent? Dunno! This is one problem of relying on second-hand knowledge.
It’s so weird that Quake Champions is taking this path. It sounds so silly that I’ve re-read Polygon’s interview several times to make sure but nope, those are the words it has.
Suggestion: a rotating lineup of two free champs, an option to buy the whole lot, and microtransactions for permanent character unlocks and — tapping into the Quake modding history — community-made skins and cosmetic items (giving makers a cut, obvs). If this is going to be a F2P game, such an approach would be far more palatable.
Anyway. Quake Champions beta signups are now open.
As much as I know it wouldn’t work, I am still charmed by John Carmack’s old QuakeWorld plan to let everyone play anonymously for free but charge them to have a name and access to stats.