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FreeToPlay.biz is looking for an insightful industry commentator to join our team. FreeToPlay.biz covers social games, online games and virtual worlds for industry insiders. For more info on who we are, see the “Who is” section of this site.

Our selected writer will be capable of creating news with analysis, crafting fact-supported feature articles and conducting insightful interviews. The job can be done from your laptop anywhere in the world, but some paid travel (i.e. to cover conferences) may be involved.

Application criteria:

  • Please provide only one submission. Must be online game or core game business related, not a game review.
  • If you don’t have a submission directly related to the topic, submit your best piece of critical analysis and explain your background/knowledge of the online gaming or core game business.
  • Must have passion for business side of the game industry, be professional and articulate and available to post with consistency and meet editorial deadlines.
  • Regular online writing rates apply, with performance bonuses.

Please review some our most popular posts (here, here and here) to get an idea of what we’re looking for before applying.

Express your interest by sending the aforementioned materials to:

F2Pwriter@gmail.com

Only qualified applicants will be contacted.

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Is there a season for conferences? If so, it feels like it’s upon us.

GDC and SXSW went well. Here are some links to coverage of my talk at GDC and my panel at SXSW.

GDC
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    SXSW
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    Random local press
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    Next up for me is ICE 08 in Toronto.

    I’m on a panel there called “Worlds @ Play” moderated by Lucie Lalumière (VP Interactive, Earth Rangers) in discussion with Leigh Alexander (Editor, Worlds in Motion / Staff, Gamasutra.com), Matt Daly (Cofounder, Metaversatility.com) and Barbara Lippe (Art Director & VP International Relations, Avaloop). I’m only in Toronto from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon, but if you want to grab coffee at the conference, let me know!

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    I’ve been a bit remiss in putting general news stuff out there, so let me catch up in a quick and timely manner:

    1) I’ll be at GDC next week, Sunday the 17th to Friday the 22nd. I’m giving a talk called “The Power of Free-To-Play” (GDC chose the Anthony Robbins-esque title) at the Worlds in Motion Summit on Monday at 2pm. I’m up for coffee with any interested parties, so email me if you’re one of them.

    2) I’ll be at SXSW in Austin, March 8-11. Michael Smith (CEO of Mind Candy) was kind enough to invite me to be on a panel called Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues, along with Nabeel Hyatt (Conduit Labs), Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed Venture Partners) and Joe Hyrkin (Gaia Online).

    3) Lastly, I left Relic in early January after three great years with the company. Since then, I’ve been doing some design & production work on a variety of exciting free to play projects. So for the time being, you could call me a hired gun.

    I hope to see some familiar faces at GDC and SXSW. Take care!

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    Back in May, Chris Anderson, WIRED editor-in-chief and author of 2006’s much-buzzed-about “The Long Tail,” announced his next book. Due out in 2008, the book will be titled “FREE” with any one of the following subtitles:

    1) FREE: The story of a radical price (zero)

    2) FREE: How $0.00 changed the world

    3) FREE: How companies get rich by charging nothing

    4) FREE: The economics of abundance and the marketplace without money

    5) FREE: The past and future of a radical price.

    Having read Chris’s original Long Tail article in WIRED and being subjected to endless recitations from his book over the last year, I’ll wager a guess that “FREE” will be equally influential. Chris is writing “FREE” not only about games, but from a pan-industry perspective – which means by this time next year boardrooms the world over will be dreaming about how they might make more money by giving away their product free of charge.

    Since October, Chris has started using a “free” tag in his blog posts, which gives us a glimpse into the type of content that might be included in the book. It’s worth checking out.

    On a related note, I found an interesting post entitled “There’s No Money in The Long Tail of the Blogosphere” over on Read/Write Web today. It makes the excellent point that the long tail benefits the aggregators of long tail products much more than it does the makers of said products. Although the “products” discussed in the article are blogs and their associated authors, you can see the parallels for games.

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    For those of you who read F2P.biz regularly, you might recall an article I wrote about Asia’s virtual goods lead. In it, I talked about Brad and Kyle, my cousins aged 7 and 13 years old from the Southern Ontario city of London.

    During a visit, I chatted them up about their gaming habits and watched them play for a while. It was clear that free to play PC games had almost entirely usurped retail, pay-to-play products in their personal gaming library. Their favourite games were titles like Puzzle Pirates, Habbo Hotel and Runescape.

    Well check out the latest NPD study, “Kids and Gaming,” as reported over at Worlds in Motion. The most relevant stats for me were:

    • 91% of online gaming among kids ages 2 to 17 is free
    • 9% pay to play – these are primarily kids from higher income households
    • The likelihood of a child paying increases with their age and time spent gaming
    • Half of all kid gamers are “light users,” clocking five hours a week or less
    • The other half were medium, heavy or “super” users, at 6-16 or more hours/week
    • The average time spent playing online was statistically higher among females

    Look at that first stat.

    That is so incredible that it has to be wrong or misinterpreted by me. If that’s true, where is the retail, pay-to-play gaming industry headed as the next generation of kids comes of age? The study does say that eventually kids (males, mostly) graduate to consoles in their late teens, but as new free to play games start catering to a “new adult” demographic, fewer and fewer teenagers will make the jump from free to $59.95.

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    Start your engines!

    Finally, the game that captivated Korea – where a third of the populace have played it, allegedly – comes to North America.

    From Pimp My Wii:

    KartRider’s open beta will be open to anyone with an internet connection and the need for speed. With several distinct characters to choose from, open beta racers will compete on a multitude of elaborate race courses ranging from the smooth asphalt of Zoomtown to the scorching sands of Desert Drift. The open beta will additionally provide testers with two different karts, numerous paint and license plate modifications, a scenario/story mode, and a useful ‘My Garage’ feature. The ‘My Garage’ feature included in open beta allows users to hang out with friends, modify and show off karts, and try out new items if racers are in need of a pit stop.

    Open beta testers can also enjoy different single and team race modes including item mode, an anything-goes mode featuring the use of creative items used to gain an edge, and speed mode, a test of driving skill focusing solely on speed and drift. While item mode racing often results in humorous exchanges and unpredictable outcomes, speed mode rewards drivers for their drift technique. By combining the elements and weapons of a fantasy racer with the precision of drift, KartRider blends an optimal balance between racers who prefer either the spontaneity of item use or the driving skill required by drifting.

    Head over to Kart.Nexon.net to see what the hype is about.

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    From this post on NCsoft’s Dev Corner, Richard Garriot discusses NCsoft’s plan to build free to play console games.

    PS3 NCsoft games would incorporate “traditional subscription models, micropayment systems and free-to-play games with membership options,” according to the CEO.

    Elsewhere in the post, Garriot indicates we might see the first NCsoft PlayStation 3 game by Christmas of next year (2008) – a product that sounds likely to be a re-use of one of their existing IPs, i.e. City of Heroes, Guild Wars or Dungeon Runners. He notes that original IP console games will take 2-3 years (i.e. 2009/2010).

    Garriot also suggests that NCsoft intends to start a new studio to handle console development, but more likely is that the work will be farmed out to existing studios, not a new one.

    “…We are also looking at specific projects that we may house in other studios. This includes our Austin offices or our other currently existing studios. Console game development won’t just be at one single location,” he added.

    Garriot hints that Xbox 360/XBLA is not NCsoft’s first choice for their F2P products due to the restrictive nature of Microsoft’s Live infrastructure. Aspects of my earlier post, The Economics of a Free To Play Console Game, may be relevant here as I examined the feasibility of doing a F2P XBLA game.

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