Crysis 3 Prophet bow

Crytek is over retail games. In two to five years the Crysis developer plans to move entirely to the free-to-play model. This has some gamers worried about the studio’s future releases.

Crytek chief executive officer Cevat Yerli doesn’t want you to worry. It’s not gonna make Facebook games or anything.

“The free-to-play business model allows us to operate game services that evolve over time and thus it can deliver the content our community wants to see,” Yerli told GamesBeat. “It is a fair business model that enables us as a developer to keep on working on new content and fine tune our game experience. Isn’t that what you want from your favorite game?”

Some gamers definitely want that. Valve’s Team Fortress 2 is evidence that consumers are ready to support free-to-play multiplayer titles, but what about single-player campaigns?

Well, according to Yerli, single-player will have to evolve.

“I believe that single-player modes will have to transform to blockbuster quality co-op gameplay experiences that are on par with current single-player campaigns, but much more fun,” said Yerli. “This opens up new opportunities for creative storytelling, but there’s no doubt it will also become a challenge when it comes to production of such content.”

It also sounds less lucrative than adding some new hats to a multiplayer game that people are playing for hundreds of hours.

A barrier too high

“For some classical retail games, you have to pay up to $120 if you still want to be able to play together with your friends after the third or fourth DLC pack,” said Yerli. “We believe that any investment upfront is an entry barrier that should be removed. In our upcoming shooter Warface, you can play without spending any money at all. If you really like the game and you want to progress faster or you want any items to individualize your character you can spend money on it.”

In many free-to-play games, consumers can actually spend more than $120, but Yerli is right — spending that money in a free-to-play game won’t cordon players off from their friends that don’t pay. That introduces a different problem called “pay to win.” It’s the unofficial terminology gamers use to reference the concept that those who pay the most in some free-to-play games always win. Team Fortress 2 is an example of how that isn’t always the case. Crytek claims the same is true of Warface.

In the immediate future, Crytek still has shooter Homefront 2 and its motion-controlled Kinect game Ryse in the works. Those titles will both have full single-player campaigns. After that, it’s possible all Crytek games could feature co-op and multiplayer modes only.