The biggest worry with any free-to-play title, when you dive into it, is that the game usually requires a ton of cash in order to out fight, out maneuver or play your competition. This is usually called “paying to win”. For Adhesive Games, the developers behind the big-budget, AAA mech-shooter Hawken, they're changing the layout of the cash shop model from pay-to-win to pay-to-be-fabulous.
From the interview with Beef Jack, Adhesive Games co-founder Chris Lalli stated that...
In Hawken people will pay for variety, or for aesthetic changes that don’t affect gameplay. I like the term “pay-to-be-fabulous”. Items or weapons that might affect gameplay will also be available just by playing the game and earning or unlocking them. So you can choose to spend time or money to progress in the game, which allows non-paying players to compete on level ground.
The main idea is that a game is free-to-play while charging for other aspects of the game. Hawken sounds like it's doing it right. However, a lot of other online, free-to-play titles don't do it right, like Combat Arms or Alliance of Valiant Arms or Suddent Attack or APB: Reloaded, where you can spend real-life money for better equipment, high level gear or a greater advantage during battle. It creates an uneven landscape where the players who can afford to spend more will have a greater advantage.
Lalli goes on to say that...
“...by teaming up with Meteor Entertainment and using the free-to-play model we’ve really been able to expand the game and the universe, and offer an experience that can grow and evolve with the community. The original dev team couldn’t have done anything like that on its own.”
Well, hopefully Adhesive Games uses that $10 million well for Hawken. The game is scheduled to release this December for PC and may receive a console release shortly thereafter. A live-action web mini-series is in the works and due out in 2013, followed by a big-budget movie. You can learn more by paying a visit to the game's Official Website.