Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Squeezing more money out of your players
One of the complaints about Free2Play games is that developers would on purpose design the game mechanics in a way that makes buying stuff from the item shop more desirable. Like slowing down leveling and then selling you scrolls of faster leveling. That is indeed a possibility, but it isn't limited to Free2Play games. It is perfectly possible to imagine a monthly fee game in which game mechanics prevent you from leveling alts, so that people go out and buy a second account for dual-boxing.
You don't believe me? Well, EVE Online recently sent out a new Power of 2 offer, encouraging their existing players to open a second account for leveling alts, as their game mechanics have on purpose been designed to only let one character per account gain skills. And you could claim that the World of Warcraft Recruit-a-Friend triple xp deal isn't much different from buying a scroll of faster leveling in an item shop either. Many people rather recruit-an-alt than a friend.
So MMORPG companies squeezing more money of their players has been around for a lot longer than the Free2Play business model. And to some extent getting more value out of spending more money is certainly justified. How good or bad that becomes is then a matter of game design, of how much players feel that they *must* spend more money to get ahead. I've played Free2Play games which were quite well designed, where every purchase was completely optional, and I played others where just keeping you with the most necessary stuff would cost more per month than a monthly fee game. Dual-boxing in World of Warcraft isn't all that common, because the recruit-a-friend program doesn't help with the end game. In EVE I hear a larger percentage of players are dual-boxing, but I can't say how big of a "must have" advantage that really is.