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THQ: Console Gaming May Switch to Free-To-Play

THQ boss Brian Farrell said that new console games will eventually drop in price, costing around $29 to $39. After purchasing a title, gamers would then have the option to download extra content that could cost up to $100. There's even a possibility that console games could go free-to-play, taking on the microtransaction structure currently used with PC-based MMORPGs online, or offering bonus "chapters" for a price.

During the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in New York, Farrell noted that the MX Vs. ATV titles sell "reasonably well" when they hit the market packed with a $59.99 price tag--around one million to one million and a half units. But once the games are lowered to a mass market price range (meaning cheaper), sales suddenly spike.

"So what we're doing this time is we're coming out initially with a smaller game at a lower price point--the $29 to $39 range," he said, referring to the next MX Vs. ATV title due next year. "We're then doing a download model for different modes, different tracks, different vehicles. It's what we call a hybrid--it's a bit of the microtransaction and DLC model."

Farrell seems to firmly believe that this model will be the future of gaming whether it's the reduced-price model, or a take on the free-to-play mode. "It's where our industry is going and this is a very, very interesting experiment with one of our key brands," he said.

Sony has already introduced a similar model on the PSP with the release of ApeQuest, an RPG spinoff of Ape Escape. Gamers can download a "starter pack" for free, and then purchase the remaining three separate chapters (Gold, Blue and Red) for $9.99 each. Gamers can also purchase the entire bundle for $19.99.