Here’s something I was not expecting to write about today: Free-to-Play wargames! 2021 was going far too well…
I think it’s safe to say Game Labs is the darling pretty of Strategy and Wargaming afficionados all around. Ultimate General Gettysburg was an instant sucess, Ultimate General: Civil War is a classic (at least in my book), Ultimate Admiral: Age of Sail is fucking phenomenal and I’ve been putting hours and hours into Ultimate Admiral: Dreadnoughts, having paid full-price to get early access to it and I would go as far as to say this is the best naval wargame of all time in it’s time period of late 19th to early 20th centuries.
Now here’s the ugly bit: Game Labs was adquired by Stillfront , a free-to-play publishing company. A press release, available at Stillfront Group website reads as follows: “Stillfront Group AB (publ) (“Stillfront”) has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares in Game Labs Inc., a Delaware corporation, (“Game Labs”). The acquisition was announced earlier today on 7 May 2021 and the sellers are the joint founders and management of Game Labs.”
Those of you wondering what Stillfront is, they themselves do an amazing game of letting us know: “Stillfront is a leading free-to-play powerhouse of gaming studios. Our diverse and exciting games portfolio has two common themes; loyal users and long lifecycle games.”
Now here’s the bit that has me, and probably everybody reading this worried for the future of a beloved wargame developer whose games actually managed to tap into the ever elusive mainstream audience: “As a part of the Stillfront Group, the studio will continue expanding and improving its portfolio of premium games, but also expand into GaaS (games as a service) and free-to-play, with a clear focus on historical strategy and battle themes.” – If you want to read the whole thing you can do it here. Get a bucket if corporate mumbo-jumbo makes you sick because you’re going to need it.
Usually, I don’t have a problem with Free-to-Play games, even mobile games for that matter. Heck, I play War Thunder fairly often and just yesterday I was trying out Enlisted, their new F2P shooter and those are good enough games. Sometimes I spend way too much time playing Dokkan Battle when cool events come along but I can’t phantom playing Strategy games as live-service bullshit.
I can’t blame Stillfront, I trully can’t. Just imagine playing with a Desert Fox skin for Rommel. You know what, I’ll save you the trouble, you’re welcome.