Quake Champions will be free-to-play

id Software call her Nyx but that's no Nerubian.

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Also sounding outdated is making one fixed hero free, the champ based on Ian Quake out of Quake.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.

22 Comments

  1. ran93r says:

    I think people would get tired of Ian very quickly when they are getting their arse handed to them by the invisible one, so they will throw down cash to unlock the rest of the roster.

    I can’t imagine that you would earn a lot of favour quickly and I think I read somewhere that champions unlocked with the in-game currency were essentially “rented” only for a set period of time.
    Then you revert back to your Ian Quaking ways.

    • Lord_Mordja says:

      Personally I’ll be sticking to the mode without Champion abilities. Problem solved!

      • ran93r says:

        It will be interesting to see if they even add such a mode.
        Lets say they do and everyone can play as free Ian Quake, why would anyone really pay for the rest of the game at all?
        There has been a lot of Champion ability backlash since the very first teasers came out and as much as the hardcore fans want vanilla only, I suspect that iD are “all in” on the Champions and if there is a powerless mode, it won’t be free.

  2. The First Door says:

    Well, I guess Quake Champions can bugger right off then, at least after the beta! That’s a real shame, I was still holding out hope.

    Does make the whole ‘champion’ aspect make more sense though. Why just sell a balanced a game when you can monetise it, eh? Ah well, fingers crossed the UT devs fix the issues with the current pre-alpha so I can go back to playing that!

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      Hope you’ve got good hand strength, those fingers are going to be crossed for a long time. UT is nowhere near completion, every patch comes out glacially, and most of the changes are near-universally disliked by the community. We have hear that there are very few people working on the UT reboot because Epic is aware that their f2p MOBA and their not-minecraft/left4dead are going to be way more profitable.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Well, it’s a stupid sort of way to do unlocks. Temporary unlocking? Weird.

    But I guess I can see why they’d want to make it F2P. It’s a profitable style.

    Plus, it’ll serve as a demo, so what the heck.

  4. PseudoKnight says:

    Can’t help but read “free-to-play” as “hot-garbage”. People do love being sold things in their games, though, if player counts are any indication.

  5. thelastpointer says:

    “F2P as a demo” is not a bad idea on paper, but I’ve never seen anyone pull it off nicely.

  6. Vandelay says:

    Are there actually people that see the phrase F2P and are more interested than seeing the word demo?

    I read the heading to this article and lost almost all my interest in Quake Champions. Im sure most of the readership here had much the same reaction. Reading the actual article and realising that this is really just a demo or trial makes me tempted to at least give it a go.

    I’m still not sure about bringing classes into an old school arena shooter, but after DOOM I’m willing to give the next id game a bash.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Ack, that leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.

    Guess we can say goodbye to the idea of community maps enriching the game too, although I suspect they’ll use some updated version of Snap Map and claim it’s just as good as community maps.

    And this may be assuming too much, but I’m guessing they won’t allow unsanctioned dedicated servers either.

    Still, all the original Quakes are playable and supported by a wealth of community content.

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      I can’t think of any free-to-play games that are supported by a wealth of community content except TF2, and there’s a reason for this: when the company controlling the game lets the community do whatever they want, the community inevitably wants either the things that the company wishes they’d pay money for, or they create free stuff that competes with the things the company is offering. Even in rare games like TF2 where community content is allowed, it’s limited, and the game heavily pushes matchmaking and whitelisted servers to make sure that if you’re not playing in a way that makes the most money, you’re going to be playing with relatively few other people.

      What little community content there is will probably be packaged and sold like in TF2 and CSGO, where community maps are rarely played except when Valve releases packs of content they didn’t make and takes most of the money.

  8. eeguest says:

    My barge pole is soo ready for this.

  9. Plank says:

    Alice said Suggestion: microtransactions for permanent character unlocks and — tapping into the Quake modding history — community-made skins and cosmetic items

    So TF2 dressed as Quake? No thanks.

    • Kasjer says:

      Dude, I feel you. Stopped playing TF2 some time after it went F2P and Steam workshop market emerged.

  10. Earl-Grey says:

    But how does she aim that thing with all that bright, green hair draped over her face?

  11. Kasjer says:

    I’d consider paying full price for this if the game will be good and if they will include “pure” modes without all of that special abilities poo. Quake (all of them up to the 4) for me was always about several things:

    -movement
    -map control
    -timing items, weapons and ammo
    -using right weapon in roght situation
    -outsmarting your opponent

    For me, introduction of universal ammo in QL kind of broke the game to some degree. Starving opponent’s best guns was a very common tactic and made wise ammo management required. Honestly I don’t think special abilities and F2P mechanics can improve formula in any way.

  12. bfar says:

    This just sounds like another Overwatch except with an annoying f2p model. Quake should stick to what it does best – fast fluid skillful arena fps that you can get into fast.

  13. StAUG says:

    Free-to-partially-play, more like. I’ll keep an open mind for when it comes out, but it’s looking like it can fuck right off.

  14. Faults says:

    Watching the grandaddy of FPS trying to chase F2P coat-tail is kind of tragic. It’s like watching a childhood musical hero making an embarrassing dubstep comeback to pay off their rehab bills.

  15. SaintAn says:

    Looks like I’ll be sticking to older games and Overwatch then.

  16. Herzog says:

    It’s funny that the concensus on the die hard Quake sites is more positive. Arena Fps is an ultra niche genre. The recent gameplay videos from pax showed that the game is very fast paced. Getting more people into it seems like a good idea.

  17. Pizzzahut says:

    This game appears to encompass everything that could possibly be wrong with a competitive shooter sequel in one go. Impressive.