'Soulcalibur Lost Swords' News: F2P Explained, Developer Namco Bandai Admits Pay-To-Win Model [VIDEO]

By Luke Caulfield , Updated May 20, 2014 01:28 PM EDT
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Following in the excellent reception of its first free to play fighter, Tekken Revolution, it was baffling when developer Namco Bandai announced that it would be going in an opposite direction with Soulcalibur: Lost Swords, and removing any multiplayer aspect for the game. Today, we learn why.

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords Launch Trailer is All Jiggles

Revolution is a great example of how to do a free to play game. It took a well known and familiar property with a built-in fan base and hit it out of the park. Sure, it watered down the experience a tad, but it was accessible, and the pay to play more model was a great reminder of being at the arcades. So it came as something of a shock when the developer took another smash hit and completely eliminated a giant part of what made Revolution so great, turning Lost Swords into a completely solo experience.

"The reason that we went singleplayer...well, originally, we were thinking about having a multiplayer option, but because we're going with a pay-to-win model, we were worried that by having online multiplayer, for all the new users that would be coming in experiencing the game for the first time, they might be immediately deterred by fighting against opponents who had superior equipment and gear-and we didn't want to have that kind of negative impact on new players," is what Lost Swords' producer Masaaki Hoshin told Siliconera.

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords Out Now Exclusively on PlayStation 3

We'll dissect Hoshin's logic in a moment, but first, please notice that he actually used the term "pay-to-win" in his explanation. "Pay to win" has never been an official term on the list of buzzwords for developers and publishers to describe their games. Never has been, never will be. It's actually a detraction for any number of "free to play" genre titles that offered players the choice to pay real money for better gear, thus immediately getting an upper hand against the competition.

Given that, provided there wasn't something lost in translation, I have to admire Hoshin for his outright honesty, alluding to Lost Swords as a fast cash grab for the developer. That being said, let's get back to the producer's response...

The motivation is understandable, after all, how many times have you tried some mobile game only to be promptly whooped by someone who shelled out a few real world bucks to gather up some of the best gear?

"In the singleplayer experience, having a pay-to-win structure won't impede the player's experience with the game," continued Hoshin. True, but the pay-to-win model is traditionally offered to games where competition is a general part of the experience. By abandoning multiplayer, the developer has kind of discouraged any incentive to buy additional equipment, leaving themselves very little room to make money.

As far as keeping deterrence at bay for new players, that could've easily been accomplished by having a ranking-matching system, so that players with similar skills and gear could face off against each other, instead of having one player completely and utterly dominating weaker players like Hoshin and Namco initially feared. That way the gamers get their multiplayer, and the developer stands a better chance at making a bit on the side as planned.

Whether that will happen remains to be seen. Lost Swords hasn't taken off nearly the same way that Revolution did, and with this model, it's not hard to see why. The game's out now exclusively on PS3 if you want to give it a try, but bear in mind, it's far from the fighter you remember.

You can check out the game's launch trailer below.

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