Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Ophelea explains cultural differences

Over at Gamersinfo Ophelea has a nice essay up on the cultural differences between east and west, regarding MMORPGs. Nice explanation on how the Asian culture of playing with friends in an internet café instead alone at home on your own computer changes the players requirements of game features and business models. You simply wouldn't want to pay a monthly fee if you didn't have a computer at home. Free-to-play games with microtransactions are the better business model for Asia, until PC ownership becomes a lot more widespread there.

This also makes it clear how hard it is to publish the same game with the same business model everywhere. Even World of Warcraft is paid for by the hour with game time cards in China. But microtransactions haven't quite jumped the cultural divide to the west yet, and are still regarded very sceptically here. As Ophelea points out, with the average income of people in the US and Europe, $15 a month looks like a very small amount of money, even if you belong to the half of the customers that play less than average and who are effectively financing the other half.
There are substantial differences between different Asian countries in cost and to some extent also payment models. Look for example at the earnings reports from NCSoft and the differences between the different Asian countries there. For Lineage 2 for example, both Japan and Korea has a substantial amount of revenue generated from personal accounts as opposed to time spent on Internet cafés. And monthly subscription rates are higher than in the West (around $30 per month) and one does not have to play a huge amount from hourly rates on personal accounts for the subscription rate to be better value than the hourly rate.

In countries like Thailand and China you get a lot more hours of play time before a subscription would be better value.
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