As a sign of the industry once again shifting in an unexpected way, Ubisoft has announced that their upcoming action brawler Spartacus Legends will be a free-to-play title. The forthcoming tie-in game for the hit Starz series Spartacus was announced back in July and now it’ll be completely free-to-play on both the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. So thanks to Ubisoft literally anyone can become a gladiator and feel the rush that’s to be had from decapitating an enemy.
The new business model for Spartacus Legends is rather interesting since it’s the first 3rd party game to go the free-to-play route on Xbox Live and it’s the first free-to-play fighting game to appear on the HD consoles. These days more and more games are going the free-to-play route, but it’s still rare to see such a thing appear on the consoles, especially when it’s related to a relatively popular series such as Spartacus.
Ubisoft aren’t entirely mental to be giving gamers a fighting game for free as there are a few things to keep in mind. While specific business plans haven’t been announced, it’s likely that many of the weapons/armor in the game, of which there are tons, will either be locked and require massive grinding or will have a $1 price tag associated with it – thus Ubisoft makes a profit on the game. Also, one would assume that making a Spartacus game available for free ought to serve as good advertising for the forthcoming final season of the series which is set to air in early 2013.
The free-to-play nature of Spartacus Legends may make it seem like an admission of the “low quality” it has due to being a licensed game, but based on the new gameplay trailer Ubisoft released the game looks rather good. Despite not having any hands-on time with the game I am impressed with how the tone of the battles are accurate to that of the show – right down to the chunky blood effects and somewhat sudden dismemberment.
If developer Kung Fu Factory manages to deliver the goods by providing era appropriate action that has a modern day spark to it then I think Spartacus Legends could end up being a huge surprise. Having the game be free-to-play ought to tear down any barriers gamers may have to it since there’s no risk in downloading the game and in turn that could spread the buzz if it’s actually fun to play.
Spartacus Legends will be released on the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in early 2013.