The F2P model on PS3 "is huge," and it's DCUO, Free Realms and CCP's Dust 514 "that are going to prove that this market really works," boasted the SOE boss. 'It's the future'.
You can't get much more free market than through the free-to-play model, argues Smedley, saying there's "no purer way" to see if your product has quality and in that regard it beats regular games.
"It's 70 per cent of the audience," he declared, talking of PS3's share of DCUO traffic. "Free-to-play on PlayStation 3 is huge. In fact, right now, it's us with DCUO and Free Realms and our friends at CCP with Dust 514 that are going to prove that this market really works." Dust 514 is CCP's action shooter tie-in to EVE Online.
"There's a lot of people that go through that store and it's so easy to find and download these games that it's a great business model. A lot of people have already stored their credit card information so it's very frictionless if they do want to buy something," continued Smedley. It seems past failings of PSN security are almost forgotten.
"We can put out thousands of items and it feels very frictionless. The remarkable thing is with a game like Free Realms where's there's literally thousands of items to buy it has to be a solid platform to begin with to support that. It's no small thing to be able to that. It's a business model of the future."
The SOE boss admits it was difficult to get PlayStation execs to buy into the whole free-to-play model. "I admit there was a mindset where when you use the word 'free' people pause. 'Wait a minute, what do you mean by free?' But even then people want to see the results. With DC Universe Online the split that we're seeing ended the debate right there."
"DC Universe Online adopted free-to-play last October and saw a surge in players. "Free-to-play is the ultimate of expression of a free market in video gaming," he remarked.
"It's completely about quality, there's no purer way to see whether you have a good game or not than by saying 'this is free, do you want to play it?' I would argue that free-to-play is much more pure than regular games because with those marketing can determine who picks up the game."
SOE keeps a close eye on rival releases to see what impact they have on their own online communities.
"When another MMO launches we track very carefully how many players we lose to it. We can tell when the bad ones come out because they might have a lot of hype up front and we lose players for a couple of days, but they come right back so we immediately know if something is not good," said Smedley.
"Then again with a game like Diablo III we'll see them go away for weeks. I was one of them! It's right in front of us when that happens," he added. "If you know where to look he data is right there in front of you. Look at Steam players and you can see what games are popular, we watch that, we track that carefully."