An old and relatively “meh” game went absolutely free via Steam recently. That middle of the road game now seeing a slight rise in playerbase is Brink. It happened completely out of nowhere, and the gaming community was left wondering, “Why?” The answer to this came to us during QuakeCon via publisher Bethesda's Vice President of Marketing, Pete Hines, who responded with, “Like, why not?”
To elaborate a little on this hilariously short reasoning, Hines mentioned that Brink had dropped to a meager $0.99 recently. Bethesda had a moment of clarity where they realized they weren't making much money on this game anymore. Brink's time had come and gone. Rather than charging people for the experience, they might as well just give it away. Blizzard has done something similar to this with StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War. StarCraft II has been out for seven years now, so they probably figured, “Why not?” when it came to the original.
My hope with these recent gone free games is that other publishers and developers will take note. If you're really not making much money off a title any more, why not make them free to everyone who would still love to play them? You'll garner more publicity for the game than you would still trying to sell it, and you'd gain more fans too. Here's a great example, Tomb Raider has been out since 1996, and the reboots have been doing absolutely stellar. Square Enix could release the originalTomb Raider game for free, and bolster sales of the reboot even higher. It's still up on Steam for $6.99, but there are so many other places online that you could play it for free. Just release it from its chains and everyone will say why not and give it a play.
If this practice became more common, it would be so much easier for companies to gain new fans using old titles. Imagine if Bethesda put up Fallout or Fallout 2 for free permanently. Whether that be through their website, Steam, GOG, or all of the above. If they released these stellar retro games for free, it would attract fans of the series and new players. I know when I have the opportunity to try a game for free, I almost always do. Even though I know I won't like Syberia, I would definitely download it if it popped up on Games with Gold or PlayStation Plus. Some miracle might happen and I could actually end up liking the game. Or maybe an even better version of Syberia comes out as a reboot some day. Having played the old, crappy version, I might say, “Like, why not?” Then I'd grab the new one.
This is true for the Fallout or Fallout 2 analogy as well. Say someone wants to give Fallout a try because they know their significant other really likes the new games, but they don't want to shell out the cash. They could then grab the original Fallout for free via Bethesda to give it a no-risk try. At that point, if they end up liking the series, they'll buy the new ones to play. If they didn't enjoy it, then at least they'll have a positive outlook on Bethesda as a company. They might say, “Like, why not?” to some of their other games.
It's really a win-win situation. The developers and the publishers look good to the public, because they seem like they care. Older games get newer players that might not have given the titles a second glance before. And new games, reboots, or remasters get even higher sales from the “free” marketing that happened before. While Brink might not have been the greatest game, Bethesda's “Like, why not?” mindset shows they have their heart in the right place. Hopefully other companies take note of this and we start seeing some other neat old games going up for free too. I'll say why not and give anything a try if its free.
Image Credit: legendg85