Warframe developers on why microtransactions work in this game


Clearly one of the most successful free-to-play games ever made and frequently seen in the top 10 of the most played games on Steam, Warframe must have something going for it. Digital Extremes knows what it is, and that thing is ultimately tied to the game quality as much as it is to microtransactions, or MTX.

Speaking to GI.biz, Meridith Braun, VP of Publishing for Digital Extremes, says that many players “[…] told us Warframe looks, feels and plays like a AAA game, but they are blown away by the fact that it's free.” She continues: “The fact that we constantly update, fix, and improve Warframe means something to our players. And often, in the same sentence, they say they are blown away by the fact that we aren't a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We're looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers.”

In fact, Warframe is often seen as one of the best examples of the free-to-play business model, along with Path of Exile, for example. Star Wars Battlefront II this isn't:

“You can earn nearly everything in Warframe for free over time without game or content progression walls,” Braun continues. “There's also a trading market where players can trade items for premium currency along with a few other MTX-related systems that feel natural to the game. Those are significant choices that, from a business sense, can seem very risky. We realized early on that players hate being boxed in. They value and champion fairness and transparency — which seems like common sense. But building that common sense into your game is much more difficult than it seems. In my opinion, the industry must learn to fight superficial MTX integration into their business models that ultimately destroy a player's sense of choice within the game and their perception of what is fair. Earning players' respect and respecting their interests will reflect in the bottom line.”

Warframe recently received the Plains of Eidolon expansion, also on PS4 and Xbox One, which for many players feel like an actual revamp or sequel, with the new open world areas. This update brought a huge boost to Warframe's player base, and – guess what – the game remains free-to-play, unlike other full-priced games with shameless MTX.

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