Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios are ambitiously working on two car games at the moment, the second one being World of Speed, an MMO racer. And it’s free-to-play.
“We’re doing nice free-to-play instead of evil free-to-play,” lead producer Pete Morrish promises. “Free-to-play kind of gets a bad rap in the industry and rightly so because a lot of free to play games are nothing more than highly optimised systems that are made to optimise the removal of money from your wallet into the developers’ wallets. It’s quite cynical, nothing more than a slash and burn as far as I’m concerned.”
So what is it that World of Speed is doing differently? “It’s about building a long-term community,” says Morrish. That’s a priority for any online game that expects to be around for longer than a month, of course. More specifically, it’s about building a community that can play without being coerced into dropping money just to compete.
“We’re not just free to play, we’re free to compete, and free to win.”
Not needing to pay to win normally implies a parity between players who spend and those who not, usually by limiting microtransactions and premium bonuses to cosmetic content and things that won’t give them an edge in the game. This isn’t the case in World of Speed.
Instead, the matchmaking system splits up paying and free players. “It’s to make sure that people who paid to upgrade their cars in certain ways, or to get unique upgrades aren’t just buying an advantage over people who haven't paid,” explains Morrish.
Monetisation in World of Speed is still hush-hush, so what upgrades paying players can get isn’t clear, though Morrish does say that they won’t “put them at an advantage over people who haven’t paid and don’t get those things”. That might be a bit of a moot point, however, if both groups are split up in matchmaking.
Free-to-play systems are funny old things, aren’t they? Have you lovely lot found any that you can tolerate?