Total War Lead Designer: Multiplayer Games Must Be Free-To-Play To Be Good

Total War: Arena lead designer, James Russell, believes that all new multiplayer games have to be free to play or risk ruining the experience for their players.

“Fundamentally if we want to take multiplayer to the next level we need a massive userbase,” he explained. “One reason for that is to make matchmaking better. Matchmaking is faster and you get into battles quicker the more players you have. Because we want these team-based battles [in Total War: Arena] – up to 10 versus 10 – it needs a huge player population.”

Free-to-play multiplayer games have a reputation of being “pay-to-win” games as they rely on micro-transactions to earn their revenues. But Russell reassures that this won’t be the case with Total War: Arena.

“The first is the reason why we’re doing this is to make this great multiplayer experience…to have a player population on a different level,” he asserted. “What I should emphasize on the sort of monetization philosophy that we want to follow is that we really want to focus on what we call ‘accelerators’. So we could have loads of premium content, consumables that help you win battles, but that is not what we want to focus on.”

“What we want to focus on is accelerators that help, let you level-up your character faster so you get to high-level content more quickly,” he added. “Just to be really clear: our intention is to make the vast majority of content available to everyone for free as long as they earn it. The focus of monetization is really around enhancing the speed at which you get access.”

It’s too early to judge, but we feel that those accelerators would still imbalance the game. What do you think?

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