Journey studio cautiously considering free-to-play approach

Janova Chen ponders microtransactions, but insists priority is making players happy

The co-founder of acclaimed indie studio ThatGameCompany is considering a free-to-play model for his next game, but insists the monetisation method would be considered with care.


Janova Chen told Joystiq that he would "rather see a game where you play to feel happier, and to make other people like you, and make the people you care about happy".

He added: "That's something I've never seen in a [free-to-play] game."

Though it was hailed as the fastest-selling PSN game yet following its March 2012 release, Journey's huge dev budget pushed ThatGameCompany close to bankruptcy as the project released.

"When the game makes money, the money first goes back to pay back the money they've invested. So, that's going to take a while - Journey cost multiple millions of dollars to make. Once that money is recouped, then we will get royalties," Chen said.

"But for almost a year, we are not going to be relying on the money from Journey to keep the company going."

Following the release of Journey (a title which completed a three-game deal with Sony), ThatGameCompany secured a $5.6 million deal from venture capital firm Benchmark Company.

"We were at a spot where, if we couldn't figure out the next game, or find the next deal, then at the end of Journey we'd run out of money," Chen said.

In March, Journey cleaned up at the Game BAFTAs event in London, taking home five separate trophies.