Wednesday, January 14, 2009

MMO Subscription Monetization

Yesterday I left up a post about how people feel regarding the $15 monthly fee, and if it

1. Makes them decide on how many games to have in their subscription kennel due to the current economic crisis
2. If there are alternatives they would be interested in.

A few commenters agreed on the aspect of "Time limited" gaming, which could offer lower prices, and then limited hours to play. Anywhere from 10-15 hours a month I think is a feasible start.
Why is it that in Asian countries they can set the time limits, but in the Western countries, not so much.
Or maybe they do not want to? Who does not like a steady cash flow each month?
But, thanks to some shoddy work out there, some games do not deserve all that time to play them.
What I mean to say is, if Tabula Rasa had a 10 hour system, for say 5 bucks, imagine how many people would have jumped into that fray.

Another commenter suggested the pay once, pay never again (and not like Guild Wars). Along the lines of say...LOTRO, and the $199 fee.
I still have an issue with this one, as for myself, I could NEVER put that much time into the game to pay such a high fee.
Same with Hellgate.
I think this is why Hellgate bombed out as well. The price was too high. 5 bucks a month for the server access would have been a dream.
The pay once and never again deal was not a hit.
This may help developers get an initial influx of cash...but otherwise...forget it.
We never know if that game will last beyond 6 months, a year, so why pay out the nose all in one lump sum.
I still think of Tobold here, who paid the founders fee, or Tipa who paid the big ole fee for LOTRO, yet have put as much time into the game as a single player RPG...lol.

Guild Wars still has the best model. Make the game have an END. Charge one fee. Have SOME fun things to do after someone completes the game. But, make them salivate for that next chapter as well..
That next box is what will make the money for them.
Think of how many developers right now, still create content on a regular basis. What if they released that content all at once in a box instead. Say charge 29-39 bucks.

Right now, the proven fact is no one can compete with WoW. Why try to price like WoW.

Lars was inspired to write a great post on his feelings on the subject
. He has some other ideas on pricing. Also, some of the major blogs have attached to this subject as well, so make sure to look them over.
Someone needs to make the right moves here to change this atmosphere of "All you can eat, one price" MMO dining. I prefer a well made meal of RPG goodness ladled over with fun, inventive mechanics and gameplay.

Anyways....I can't eat that much at those buffets...can you? And have you smelled some of those places? YUCK!!!

Laters all.

7 comments:

Hudson said...

I hate to say it but if WoW offered a lifetimer, I would do it. I cannot tell you how many times I have returned and left and returned for huge stretches of time.

Well, you know...

brenda said...

Clearing up something -- I never paid the $200 fee for LotRO. Founder's pricing ($10/month or $200 forever) is offered to everyone who registered in the first month. I never actually played past the free month. Until now.

I had considered doing the $200 thing but decided not to when I realized it was unlikely I would ever spend 14 months playing the game.

Openedge1 said...

@Brenda
Gotcha. I thought you mentioned paying Founders in one of the LOTRO posts.
You just meant the monthly I assume.

@Hudson
WoW is a whole other beast, and if they offered a lifetime scrip now, they would make out like bandits.
My issue is with HG:L or LOTRO offering this from the beginning. It not only hurts the player who may not play beyond that first month or 3 (like myself or Tipa) but also, the developer not having that constant "cash" flow could make content development a sideline (and by content, I mean the regular free stuff,...you know, the stuff that LOTRO has now let fall to the wayside...the stuff they released once a month, turned into every 3, and who knows when they will add new content now after Moria)...

Cheers

Tesh said...

Regarding WoW doing a lifer's pricing now, I quite like the idea that's been floated about (I heard it first from Chris of IHasPC) to convert people who have subbed for so long into lifers automatically, with no further cost. Someone who has already spent $300 (too high for my taste, but a number that I suspect longtime players have already passed) on WoW shouldn't have to pony up another few hundred.

As for me, I prefer the Guild Wars "lifetime sub" option, or even the more granular Wizard101 "Access Pass" model. (Effectively a piecemeal GW model, where each "expansion" town is segmented in several pieces that can be purchased individually or at a discount in bulk; the discount comes from their dual currency model and greater efficiency buying Crowns in bulk.)

adingworld said...

Games like Lineage 2 can in South Korea be played with a subscription fee, by buying time per hour to play on your own computer or play it at a local PC Bang.

On top of that, if you have a subscription you can choose to either play for unlimited hours, or a limited number of hours and some extra in-game items.

A problem here is that the games that have been around a few years and that are doing reasonably well have no incentive to change. They are likely making a good profit and just need to make enough effort to not lose too many subscriber with new updates.

Blizzard won't change their pricing unless a lot of the competition also do it and they may risk to lose a large number of players. They make enough money that they could likely cut costs to a significantly smaller fee and still make a good profit, but why would they if everyone else settled at some fixed subscription rate? They are probably quite happy that most other MMOs stick with the fixed subscription rate that other games uses.

I think we will see more diversity and that more options will be provided, but it will take time.

Hopefully with more of the "free-to-play":ish games going mainstream it may start to change. I do have high hopes that GW2 will help change this, but also hopefully not the first game to make a significant change among "MMO purists".

Danshir said...

I highly doubt World of Warcraft will change their financial model anytime soon. While many of us predict that RMT will soon be more mainstream in the West, at the moment any game with it is instantly demonized, hated, and given a nice lil slap in the face.

On a side note. *looks at what you're reading*

Be True ur-lord Thomas Covenant , you need not fail.

Crimson Starfire said...

Question: Why should gamers be restricted to playing one MMO? I'd happily play WAR, EQ2, CoX and WoW (maybe not happily) if it meant only having to pay one subscription fee. It's the whole having to commit and then the mess of unsubscribing that really annoys me. There are solutions out there, we just need to wait for for someone great to make them happen.