While the Welcome Back titles offered by Sony for almost a month long PSN outage was initially thought to be a way to generate good will between the publisher and its consumers, it may have actually yielded another unforeseen response. Though the titles offered were a bit on the “old” side, some of them, namely inFamous and LittleBigPlanet, actually had sequels released this year.
As it turns out, by releasing those previous iterations for free, Sony may have stimulated the sales of their sequels. Gamers who were unfamiliar with the story of Cole McGrath — who were treated to a free romp through the streets Empire City thanks to Sony — were actually now interested in picking up McGrath’s New Marais adventure in inFamous 2.
According to EEDAR, Sony may have stumbled upon an entirely new business model, one where a previous title is made free in order to generate greater sales for its sequel. While EEDAR claims that a certain number of units would need to be sold of the sequel in order for this free offering to be worthwhile, they believe it is entirely possible, but only for certain properties.
For example, a game franchise that relies heavily on its storyline progression across multiple iterations wouldn’t see the benefit of this free model, since previous iterations typically sell well pre and post-release of their sequel.
So, while the offering of free games to stimulate sales of a sequel does have some viability in today’s market, as proven by the PSN Welcome Back package, it isn’t a slam-dunk. We may see Sony, or even Microsoft, make a pass at this little experiment again, but not any time soon considering some heavy story-driven content like Uncharted 3 and Gears of War 3 are on the way. If, however, this model does allow gamers to experience new IPs and stimulate sales for their sequels we are all for it.
Do you think this business model is viable? Would you be more interested in picking up a sequel to a title if you had access to its previous iteration for free?