What if next year we have as many “sandboxes” springing up as we now have “free to play” models – who wants to bet half will be pvpsandboxnothingnew, and the other half will be sandboxes with hardly any sand – as in: the slightest deviation from linear questing will = “Sandbox!”
I can see it happening very easily. While a debate rages about what a sandbox game is, a few more options are dropped into games here and there to claim the name. Just as happened with “free to play”. While people distract themselves haggling over the definition, any smidgeon of free content, even on an obviously sub game, is good enough for the industry to slap a “free to play” label on.
I somehow don’t think anyone need worry about getting too much sand of any description in any uncomfortable places. Probably “sandbox” will be a cosmetic distinction, much as “free to play” often means “we still expect you to sub” or (my favorit) “Yes! the crippleware is totally free!” It defies belief, when the whole point of the model is to get people in and comfortable and wanting to pay for more and spreading the magic wildfire word that the game has no entry barrier and is good and fun to play, so there’s a buzz and loads of people checking it out, exploring and wanting to buy stuff they see in action – but … ah well why have all that when you can stick to the old (failed) payment model under a thin disguise eh?
Themeparks with a few extra choices is what I think we’ll get.
Hope I’m wrong.