Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Ethics of money - part 2

A few hours after I wrote the previous post on alternative payment methods, I receive the news that the New York Times has an article on what SOE plans for the future. Chrismue is also referring to it in the comment section. Quote:
“Right now our revenue is almost all subscriptions,” John Smedley, the unit’s president, said in an interview. “In two years, we would like to see no more than 50 percent of our revenue coming from subscriptions, and five years from now we think less than 10 percent of our revenue will come from subscription sources.”

In general, Mr. Smedley wants to replace subscriptions with a combination of microtransactions, advertising and what he calls the “velvet rope” approach. All three concepts may come to bear in Free Realms, which the company hopes to release on PCs this coming winter and on the PlayStation 3 next summer.

While the company’s traditional fantasy and science-fiction games have been aimed at a hard-core male audience, Free Realms is basically aimed at children, especially girls. The game will be free to play in general, but will require paid membership for access to special zones and activities (hence the term “velvet rope”). In terms of microtransactions, players will be able to buy virtual in-game items like pets and clothing à la carte. And there may also be advertising inside the game.
This is probably going to be very similar to Hotel Habbo or Club Penguin, but maybe with better graphics. Nothing like Everquest at all. But maybe one day we will see Everquest 3 with no monthly fee and micropayments, who knows.
Only $1 to enter the Raid Zone for a chance at $30 worth of gear!

Or just save yourself the trouble and pay $30 now for guarenteed success!

/sarcasm off

God, help us if they try to make a micro transaction MMO.
How are they planning on getting paid -- by minor children?
Prompt them to type in mommy's credit card number?
Sounds like a legally-risky business model to me.
Aye. So much for the good old days when games were created with the idea that skill leads to advancement. Then came WoW, where time played lead to advancement. Then came Second Life where money spent allowed you to ... umm ... spend more money.

All I can say is hooray for going outside. If I want to spend real life dollars to invest in improvements, I think I'll spend them on my house, thanks.
I'm in between MMORPG's right now and am having lots of fun with Club Pogo. You pay a very small yearly fee and then you need to buy gems to participate in special events and too take on special quests/challenges in various solitarire/casino type games. You can play most of the games for free if you want to, but you then don't get the quests, mini-avatar, badges,... etc.

Personally I welcome more creative cost structures in games like WoW. If people are only using the game to hang out with friends, chat, ... etc, then the monthly cost should be very low (even free). Or for people like myself (married with children), I shouldn't have to pay the full monthly fee so I can play my 30minutes/day.

The 'micro-fees' should be for bandwith and content, not to directly enhance your character. Something like charging by the hour online and charges for entering a zone that you have never entered before.
It seems not a week goes by these days without my linking to Richard Aihoshi's Escapist Article: The Future Of Massively Multiplayer Isn't You. The suits have figured out that there are far far more kids who like dressing up virtual dolls than there are dweebs who get our kicks out of slaying pixellated dragons.

Face it people we are but a glitch on the MMO highway and the type of game we enjoy playing will soon become a laughable relic of MMO's quirky origins.

PS. Gratz to me for finally figuring out how to put a hyperlink in a comment.
I do agree that Mmo are evolving and fast. I'm really curious to see what they will look like in 2 or 3 years from now.

To answer Mbp I don't think Mmorpgs as we know them will disapear but more likely that they will become a genre in the broader Mmo world. Just like we have sport games, platformers and rpgs, the same will happen with mmos.

As far as the current type of Mmo future I believe the next big step will be fixing the end game. WoW fixed the leveling part of Mmorpgs and now every one of them have more or less the same approach. Who will find the right recipe for end game I have no idea but I'd bet on Blizzard with a new mmo. Simple reason is that so far only Blizzard seems to be dedicated enough to put the polish and take the risks to try something new in the genre.
Hellgate: London will be an interesting test for this type of model in a "traditional" game. Granted it's not an MMO but it is online and there is a tiered structure where those who pay get more out of the game.

Personally I hope the game bombs as I hate being nickled and dimed. If this sort of thing starts gaining steam the consumer will end up paying a lot more for the same entertainment they used to get for a flat monthly fee (or free).

Go go Guildwars 2 :p
Zigabob said: The 'micro-fees' should be for bandwith and content, not to directly enhance your character. Something like charging by the hour online and charges for entering a zone that you have never entered before.

I'll recant part of my diatribe and say that this isn't a bad idea. If, for example, you decided to be a raider, you'd pay a little more a month to get into raid instances, etc. Those not into raiding wouldn't have to pay, but wouldn't have access to the instances either. Casuals get what they like at a discount and raiders get what they like for premium pricing.

Paying for hours played is a good idea too. I think it was another thread here that lamented the idea that a casual actually gets a worse invenstment for a monthly fee than a "hardcore" gamer. Pay-to-play would allow casuals to play without feeling burned and hardcore to play and support their own bandwidth needs.

Sadly, I think the nickle-and-dime-them approach will end up winning: there's no need to create new raid encounters or interesting questlines or really much of anything because players can just buy stuff. Who would ever visit MC if all the loot were available for $20? All the devs would need to do is make sure the stores are open and that the players have public places where they can pose in their new virtual crap.
Can I just go ahead and buy my maxed out character, so I don't have to actually play?

The success of this scheme will be relative to the age group most likely to play.

Then again, quite a few EQ players
subscribed to Legends, so who knows.

There's a sucker born every minute and many of them will no doubt become very passionate mmo players.
I'm actually really surprised that we still pay as high subscriptions as we do especially for smash hits like WoW. Considering that WoW services what is the size of good size industrialized countries in Europe, with the added benefit of having a very clear demographics what the audience finds desirable. Targeted advertising should be easy and should rake in just about as much revenue as a TV add in Switzerland, Netherland, Belgium, Sweden or Austria should and all these have a mature advertising industry.

Really WoW should have no monthly subscription but ads on the loading screen and possibly elsewhere. Blizz might even make more money than they do now.

For smaller games (in the <500k section) I can see this idea being a problem, but oddly smaller MMOs seem to be pioneering the revenue models.
Keep the ads to loading screens and I won't mind, as long as I'm not having to wait just to see an advert.
As for MMOs aimed at young girls, sounds like a paedophile's paradise for one, and secondly I don't want my kids playimg MMOs anyway.
I play MMORGS, but I'm an adult and I've done all the RL stuff like family, house, sports etc; now I want to relax when I get home.
Paying to get into Raid instances? Tell you what, I will wait until it's on farm before I bother - I'm not going to pay to wipe 10 times in an hour and then have the raid disband, no thanks (and have to spend 20 gold on repairs ho hum).
I don't think that fairness is all that important but I was thinking about Guild Wars this morning and I realised that excessive convenience could actually damage the game experience. The real money market is all about buying convenience and a lot of thougt will be needed to prevent this convenience from devaluing a game.

Imagine if you could (legally) start a game at any level with any equipment just by paying the appropriate fee. In principle I amn't against the idea. It would be fabulous for busy people who want to be able to jump in and play with their friends. It would however require very clever game design to give others an incentive to work their way up through the levels.
Things to keep me out of playing a game:

1) In game advertising - unless it is a game based on the real world or near future and the ads are appropriate (like a driving game with billboards). Otherwise, I'll never touch it.
2) Micro-transactions. I'm sorry, but I have zero interest. The value add of a subscription game is that I can factor the cost of going to a movie and weight that against a subscription and see that I'm spending less per entertainment hour. As soon as you add the capability to just keep on spending, the value add is gone, and I'll just watch more movies. Games that require such transations, such as competitive, are even worse, since the market controls your ability to compete and therefore to spend. Each time you spend, you invest, further tying you down to the game. It is a n addiction cycle that every sane person would be wise to avoid.
If I ever walk through azeroth and see an add for toyota that is the day I quit wow for good. I'm sure that will never happen. I'm going to download and play SL tonight just to see what its about, but I'm guessing its not a competitive game. There is now PvE, or PvP, so therefore it really doesn't bother me if some chump pay money for a house or whatever. Games like WoW, GW, etc...those are competitive games. I don't want to play a game where I have to shell out money to play and additional money to compete.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool