Are you psyched for Crossfire 2? Probably not. You’ve most likely never heard of Crossfire, but its sequel just became one of the biggest-budget games ever, as Chinese publisher ‘The9’ sunk the equivalent of $500 million into it. To put things into perspective, that’s almost double the entire budget of GTA V and more than the combined budget of Modern Warfare 2, Destiny and Red Dead Redemption.
But what exactly is Crossfire? Well, as it turns out, it’s a very basic Counter Strike 1.6 clone with a free-to-play model, based around the sale of weapon skins and cosmetic items. Having spent some time with the game, I can confirm that it sucks. It was released in 2010 and feels like it came out in about 2002, the controls are smooth enough but the animations are jerky and the mechanics are just lifted entirely from classic Counter Strike. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing (after all Counter Strike is a fun game) it certainly isn’t anything to write home about.
Nevertheless, due to its low hardware requirements, it has found huge success in China, a country where large-scale spending is still a novel idea and the populace is perhaps much more willing to spend money on a cosmetic item for a free game than they are to drop loads of cash into a high-end gaming PC. Consequently, the game makes over $1 billion per year. That figure is truly insane when you take a look at what they’re actually playing.
I suppose it’s easy to poke fun at Crossfire, being the proverbial low-hanging fruit that it is. But this game is evidence of the fact that China is still a burgeoning games market, packed full of gamers who essentially want the same things that Western gamers want. Furthermore, there are a bunch of developers out there who are capitalizing on that. China, as a nation, is predicted to spend $22.2 billion on games this year, which is vastly more than any other country in the World and when you realize that this kind of money is being spent in a nation which generally frowns on gaming as a frivolous and wasteful pastime, you have to wonder just what is in store as the country becomes less and less conservative.