Tobold's Blog
Thursday, September 06, 2012

I am reading with interest about the Save City of Heroes campaign, in which a lot of people who couldn't be bothered to play City of Heroes in 2012 or spend any money on it are now organizing online petitions and letter-writing campaigns. I am not sure whether Mr. Taek Jin Kim, Chief Executive Officer of NCsoft Corporation will be impressed by receiving a lot of letters from people who have no skin in the game.

This, plus the Kickstarter trend of this year, led me to a great invention: The Kickstopper site! It works exactly like Kickstarter, but instead of people pledging money to start a new game, they pledge money to stop an old game from being closed down. Instead of announcing that City of Heroes will be closed, NCSoft would launch a Kickstopper campaign, where the game will be closed if players don't pledge at least 1 million dollar in the next 30 days. If players manage to raise the money, the game deserves to live on, and the pledgers receive in-game item shop credits and special titles for the money they gave.

What do you think?

I'm afraid the name is already taken.
That's a great idea!
I think its a good idea that might be abused. Imagine Steve Perlman (now ex)CEO of onlive using a service like that to keep burning through money instead of simply striking deals with companies that wanted to do business with them. You'd have to find ways of keeping companies from abusing that service for "moneybombs".

I like that Heroes is getting a buzz from fans. I never played the game but I was saddened to see it might end.
This already exists, it's called a monthly subscription.
If not enough people pay up the company stops developing and hosting the game.
Yeah, imagine my surprise to hear the news. It turns out a relatively lack-lustre/niche MMO was getting shut down and its vocal community is upset enough to start an online petition which they hope will get executives to change their minds.

...Stop me if you've heard this one before, but the punchline is: No. It doesn't.
Unfortunately, sounds too much like Vinnie the mobster shaking down store owners for "insurance money".

HPWB is spot on. What you propose Tobold is exactly what the subscription model is and even more so what the micro transaction model is.
Sneering aside, I sympathize a little.
Look, I’ve experienced this with a few games, Tabula Rasa hitting especially hard since it had developed into an amazing game before Garriott unapologetically abandoned it to focus on his dream of space travel.

Developing an IP and related art/engine/environment assets takes time and money, and is the primary barrier to entry for any company interested in making a MMO.

“Sure, but we’ll find someone who will compensate them for that!”

See, actually, that’s what they don’t want. If NCSoft were to sell the IP and the assets to recover their costs and maybe then some, that’s fine… but what they just did was remove a barrier to entry for a competitor. A competitor who might steal a share of their notoriously fickle playerbase/market. Most companies – especially ones as ruthless in their pursuit of the bottom line as NCSoft – aren’t in the habit of giving a leg-up to their competitors.

“Other games have managed it! Look at APB!”

Yes. Because the company which owned APB was in administration and shutting down due to bankruptcy. At that point, the company didn’t really own its IP or assets anymore… its creditors did. And the folks in charge of getting money back to those who were owed it decided that selling the assets would work. Not that the RTW would have minded… because they weren’t going to exist anymore. Therefore they didn’t really care about what they were doing to advantage their competition.

The only time you’ll ever see games like Auto-Assault, Tabula Rasa, Exsteel, Dungeon Runners or City of Heroes/Villains ever see the light of day is on pirate emulation servers through ‘leaked’ server tech, (which NCSoft guards more carefully against than certain other recently-shut-down games) or if NCSoft goes bankrupt and has to sell off all its assets, including IP.

Of course, if NCSoft goes bankrupt while suckling on the teat of GW2, the industry will have so many other problems that those rules may no longer apply.
Shhh... you'll give them ideas.
I think that the idea would be workable. If I am not mistaken, for instance, 'Iron Sky' movie production was at least party financed by third-party private enthusiasts. Why not to extrapolate it on games?

Probably, my suggestion was already implied in the post and discussion, but the next step would be to officially recognize public significance of virtual worlds and get some state financing to support games. Nothing special, if we take movies as analogy.

I believe that a very strong initial outline of this idea was expressed in Edward Castronova's "The Right to Play" article published a while ago in New York Schoold of Law Review. This article is available on SSRN:
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