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How Warframe built a collaborative free to play economy

Warframe developers discuss how the relationship with their community helped to build a collaborative free to play economy.

"They decided they were going to support us, probably because we’ve been really community driven from the get-go.”

- Studio Manager of Digital Extremes Sheldon Carter on fostering a relationship with the Warframe community 

In an interview with Polygon, art director of the free-to-play game Warframe Geoff Crooks was joined by studio manager of Digital Extremes Sheldon Carter to discuss the development Warframe after its initial launch, which was met with mild success.

Once the game was released, the studio relied heavily on word of mouth from fans in order to survive. “I think that the real narrative is that the community and use worked hand-in-hand right from the start to build the game together," Explained Carter. 

Digital Extremes took what small fanbase existed around Warframe and used it to cultivate a relationship that relied heavily on feedback from its users in order to grow and reach a wider audience. Crooks admits that expectations were low at first.

But engaging with players eventually blossomed into the collaborative relationship the team shares with players now. "That weird relationship at the start naturally built this collaborative development relationship that we still have to this day with our community,” Said Crooks. 

Through this community engagement came the monetization system Warframe uses today. The game is cooperative, and players can enjoy the game without spending money. However if they choose to, its because the gear will help the team. 

“You want to work with other players to advance, you’re not against someone. So the feeling that someone has something that looks different than you, there’s no sting to that," Carter pointed out. "Our community turns into people who want to help each other achieve those goals. It really lends itself well to the type of monetization we do.” 

According to Carter, feedback from the community is what allows Digital Extremes to be able to monetize without alienating its players. “Our community loves the feeling of being able to get that super rare thing by playing the game, but first you have to have the game they love to play and you have to have those loops set up to get the feedback from the community.”

Check out the full interview available at Polygon. 

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