Crytek is not what it used to be. What started as a German studio making some of the most impressive video game technology in the world, utilized by some forward thinking shooters like Far Cry and Crysis, has expanded dramatically over the past six years. There are now eight studios under the Crytek umbrella, located across multiple continents. Spreading its proverbial wings has meant more than just bringing on more manpower for Crytek. In 2012, the company started doing a whole new type of business with its Crytek Kieve-developed Warface. Unlike the Crysis series, Warface is fully free-to-play. According to Crytek chief Cevat Yerli, that game represents the future of the studio: Crytek wants all of its games free-to-play.
“We decided five or six years ago that we want to marry the quality of triple-A games with the business model of free-to-play,” Yerli told Venture Beat, “And out of that position Gface (Crytek’s free-to-play platform) and Warface were born. And at that time, we decided some other games, in some of our other studios, would head in this direction. But we kept pushing the quality bar higher on our console business, which is the main dominating business for the Western world, but we are observing, plainly—and we see this already with Warface—that the free-to-play market is on the rise. I think over the next two to three years, free-to-play is going to rival retail with quality games like Warface.”
“[Our] primary goal is to make triple-A free-to-play games for the world market and transition entirely to that.”
Warface still hasn’t officially opened for business around the world, but in Russia the game already has 5 million registered players. Crytek hasn’t disclosed how much revenue Warface has generated since opening for business. This much is true: During the summer quarter in 2012, when Warface released, the free-to-play games account for almost 50 percent of the entire European video game market, approximately $565 million.
What does this mean for fans of Crytek’s single-player games? What about some of Crytek’s more recently opened studios like Crytek UK and Crytek USA, best known as Free Radical (TimeSplitters) and a studio staffed by former Vigil Games (Darksiders) designers. The bulk of the wealth in free-to-play gaming is in casual single-player titles with social features like FarmVille and large multiplayer games like Warface or the new Hawken. Time will tell if Crytek can adapt its popular solo games to this model or if it will abandon the form entirely.