The Hytale price is a recurring question, and is prone to much speculation. You yourself may have your own preference on the matter.
In this blog post, I will first explain why the "Free 2 Play" model is a realistic option for Hytale and then I will present 5 alternative monetization ways that Hytale could use.
But first, what are the odds that Hytale will be free?
Will Hytale be free?
Officially, nothing has been announced: nobody knows if Hytale will be free or paid for. This hasn't stopped many players from sharing their opinions on the subject. Looking through the opinions on Reddit and various Community Discord, we can see that a large majority is favorable to Hytale being paid for. This may also be your opinion: by paying once for the game, you would be exempted from the micro-transactions and the questionable "Pay 2 Win" model.
However, I think this view is a bit too simplistic. Indeed, I think that everyone (both the community and HyPixel Studios) would benefit if Hytale was free. Actually, the Free 2 Play model has some undeniable advantages that I will introduce right away!
The Hypixel Store is the Hypixel's current income
Pros of the Free to Play model
First of all, offering Hytale for free would give the game a much greater reach. The game would be accessible to as many people as possible and the community would be huge. Hytale position itself, among others, as a Minecraft challenger, and offering its game for free would give it an important advantage over Minecraft (without putting Minecraft on the back burner, remember that the philosophies of the two games are different).
This first argument is strongly supported by an other one: The Hytale community has a strong interest in... the community to be large ! Why is that ? Well, Hytale focuses on modding and content creation: the bigger the community is, the more content will be created (mods, maps, models), the more the game will generate interest and the more people will join in: a virtuous circle that would be all the more powerful if the game was free.
Finally, let's recall that often, the free model is more profitable for the game editor than a paid model... Hey well, keep in mind that the main goal of a company is to make money, and Hypixel Studios is no exception in this regard.
I could find other points but I think these three are enough to realize that the "Free 2 Play" model is a credible option, even if you would be against it. But then, how could Hytale be monetized if it were free? I'll stop you right there: Free doesn't necessarily imply Pay 2 Win, neither in-game micro-transactions. Let's look at this together.
What are possible business models if Hytale were free?
I looked for you for alternatives in terms of monetization if Hytale opted for the Free 2 Play route. There are at least 5 of them, I introduce them to you here after, starting with the most obvious one:
1. Selling cosmetics and other visual effects
This possibility has been raised by the community many times, so I'm not going to dwell on it. Basically, a first option for Hytale would be to include an in-game store.
In that store, you could buy cosmetic accessories and other visual effects via micro-transactions. These effects could be visible both on the official Hytale servers and also, why not, on third party servers.
Hytale Character Editor: A harbinger of an in-game cosmetics shop?
If Hytale goes for the shop option, they will have to be careful that the game doesn't turn into a "Pay 2 Win" game, which might be poorly accepted by the community.
This business model has proven itself, and is already used by almost all Minecraft servers, including Hypixel, and by popular games like Fortnite and League of Legends. But once again, don't worry, this is not the only way to monetize the game! Fortunately!
2. Free multiplayer mode, but paid adventures
We all know that Hytale will feature at least two game modes: the adventure mode (single-player and co-op) and the multiplayer mode, powered by both official and community servers. The multiplayer mode is likely to be the most popular, thanks to the numerous Hytale servers, each one offering a wide range of gameplay styles, enabled by the game's endless modding capabilities.
Given this logic, Hytale's multiplayer should be very attractive. Imagine: future players who will discover the game on YouTube, could install it for free, and test Hytale's servers seen in the video, or discover new ones. Most players will be more than happy with that, because the multiplayer gameplay will in itself be very diverse and fun. But another segment of players will be interested in the Hytale storyline, the story behind the factions and characters. These players will be very interested in the adventure mode, and might be willing to pay for it if it wasn't included. Under this hypothesis, adventures would be likely charged a premium price (>$35).
StarCraft II has free multiplayer but paid for campaigns
If this business model is retained, one could very well imagine that other adventures will emerge in the form of paid extensions within the next few years following the release of Hytale. Each new adventure would bring a new scenario with new missions and new areas to explore, and why not new factions. This model would of course have no impact on the multiplayer experience, which would always be free.
This model is not new, as it is currently used by Blizzard for StarCraft II. In Starcraft II, facing an opponent online is free, but you'll have to pay to play the single-player campaigns.
3. Offer a « Hytale Realms » service
If you're an avid Minecraft player, you must be familiar with Minecraft Realms. In a nutshell: it's a service that lets you invite up to 10 of your friends to play in your Minecraft world via Internet. It's a bit like setting up your own server, except that you don't have to deal with any technical aspects, and you can manage it all right from within the game. That makes it very easy to use, but it still costs $7.99 a month.
Hytale could very well be inspired by this model and offer a similar service: that is, offer to host your Hytale world to allow your friends to join it, in exchange for a monthly subscription. This server rental service would have the advantage of being very easy to use compared to third party hosting providers. Minecraft Realms has the disadvantage of being very limited. For example, you can't install your own plugins. On the other hand, nothing pushes Hypixel Studios to take the same path: advanced features such as live-scripting could still be present in "Hytale Realms".
Minecraft Realms: The simplest option for playing Minecraft with friends.
This model is feasible for a reason: Hypixel Studios has experience in infrastructure management, already managing a network of several hundred machines for the Minecraft Hypixel server. Therefore it is not much more complex for them to start their own hosting service.
4. Sell or rent the Hytale server license
The Minecraft server software is free: anyone can download it and host their own server from home without paying a single cent to Mojang. In addition, many alternative open-source servers have emerged such as CraftBukkit or Spigot.
On the other hand, as I pointed out on Twitter, the Hytale server license might not be free. We're not talking about the hosting cost here. We are talking about the license to operate the server which could be a paying service (unlike Minecraft).
For example, Hytale could charge a perpetual license to run a server, or offer the server software as a service, on a subscription basis, where the price would depend on the number of players you have. All this is again separate from the hosting costs, which will obviously have to be added later on.
Alternatively, Hytale may charge for the server license only to commercial servers with an in-game store. This way, it would still be possible to create a server "among friends" by paying only the hosting fee, while more ambitious servers would have to pay a license fee.
5. Offer a marketplace for community content
The Minecraft Marketplace contains both first-party and community content
It seems only logical for Hytale to open a marketplace, allowing creators to share their content. Each creator could then offer their content for free, or alternatively sell it. Hypixel Studios could then take a commission on each sale (generally between 15 and 30% if we compare to existing platforms).
Towards an hybrid business model?
Those were the five possible alternative business models!
Remember that even if this article was based on the assumption that Hytale will be free (and that this has not been confirmed), it is likely that one or more of these ideas will emerge. Indeed, nothing prevents Hypixel Studios from diversifying its sources of income for Hytale. That's what Minecraft is doing: the game is paid for, but also has a Realms service, a marketplace for creators, and a merchandising shop.
Which of those ideas do you like best for Hytale? Share your opinion in the comments!