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General: The Revenue Model Wars

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,580MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

In a new column that's sure to generate some...heated discussion, MMORPG.com's Adam Tingle takes a look at several big title games and their revenue models. Adam has a few things to say about 'bang for your buck' and other topics. See if you agree. Either way, leave us a comment or two when you're finished.

No one wants to use the word "subscription fee" anymore. It is a dirty word. Publishers much prefer the obnoxious phrase "F2P", even though under the trades-descriptions act, what they are doing is a felony. Nothing is free, we are just in the midst of new marketing strategies, and a rethink of just how more cash can be prized from your varied purses - but I've been thinking; are we in any better position with these new systems than with the old fashioned flat rate? In an effort to find out, today we are going to look over the varied subscription models and offer, and get to the bottom of this conundrum.

Read more of Adam Tingle's The Revenue Model Wars.


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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • atticusbcatticusbc Burlington, VTPosts: 1,069Member

    So you're not really going into these articles to analyze the pros and cons are you? You just want to make F2P games look bad.

    I notice how you conveniently forgot to mention that WoW still wants you to shell out $60 every time one of those content updates comes along. So $15 a month plus $60 every few years? No thanks.

    You're demonizing F2P for wanting to make money, yet you think the sun shines out of WoW's @** for making you pay right out the gate. WTF, mate? At least with F2P you have the choice. Of course they're not 100% free. If they were, they would be out of business. And if a game's F2P turns out to be a big huge trial? So what? It was free! When you hit the caps set in store for you, you have three choices: sub, leave, or keep playing because it's f***ing free!  No one's making you pay. You only have yourself to blame if you do. For my part, I've enjoyed every one of those F2P games without paying a cent (except that I subbed to RS when I was in grade school), so stick that in your holier-than-thou pipe and smoke it.

    Verdict: You're a bit of a [insert insult to the writer's chracter here].

    EDIT: And before anyone jumps down my throat for the "you don't have to pay" line (seriously though, you don't), I want to clarify that without coercion, someone's actions are their own fault, and these game companies are not coercing anyone.




  • bugse82bugse82 pernikPosts: 185Member

    i have no problem to pay montly fees, and i do it for the most f2p mmos out there. i've paid for fallen earth, ddo, lotro, runescape, etc... i have problem only when i have to pay for the box, than for the monthly fees (that is the reason why i play mostly f2p titles, but i always pay subs), or when i subscribe and i still have restrictions (eq2ex for example)...

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  • shakermaker0shakermaker0 SheffieldPosts: 194Member



    Originally posted by atticusbc

    So you're not really going into these articles to analyze the pros and cons are you? You just want to make F2P games look bad.





    Verdict: You're a bit of an @**.





    I notice how you conveniently forgot to mention that WoW still wants you to shell out $60 every time one of those content updates comes along. So $15 a month plus $60 every few years? No thanks.





    You're demonizing F2P for wanting to make money, yet you think the sun shines out of WoW's @** for making you pay right out the gate. WTF, mate? At least with F2P you have the choice. Of course they're not 100% free. If they were, they would be out of business. And if a game's F2P turns out to be a big huge trial? So what? It was free! When you hit the caps set in store for you, you have three choices: sub, leave, or keep playing because it's f***ing free!  No one's making you pay. You only have yourself to blame if you do. For my part, I've enjoyed every one of those F2P games without paying a cent (except that I subbed to RS when I was in grade school), so stick that in your holier-than-thou pipe and smoke it.










     

     

    I would direct you to the "Well yes it does. You know where you stand with a fixed monthly fee - there are no hidden payments or extras, and with the exception of periodic expansion packs, this subscription model still attracts through its simplicity." 

    I quite clearly expressed that this was my opinion, I explained why, and then asked for yours, theres no need for churlish name calling is there?

    I would also point out, the "World of Warcraft" model, does not reflect upon the game itself, just that it is the most popular of its subscription models. Perhaps I was silly for thinking that a mere mention of this game wasn't going to cause a red rag to a bull type reaction.



     

  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon

    I look at it like this: When Disneyland first opened, you bought tickets for rides. Each ride cost a varying amount of tickets. Same way State Fairs worked. This is F2P. Somewhere along the line they switched to a one large fee to enter, but all attractions were available once inside. This is P2P. I, personally, have always preferred the second option, whether it be amusement parks, cable access, or MMOs. I want to pay my lump sum and access all content.

    While I, personally, don't understand wanting to pay as you go, a little bit at a time, never knowing the full cost until the end, obviously there are those who prefer paying a certain number of tickets per ride.

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  • mrw0lfmrw0lf LondonPosts: 2,269Member

    Good artical, pretty much dead on. Btw nice to have a bit of balance on the editorials.

    Lets see if we can spot the poeple working on "f2p" games in the replies.

    -----
    “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.”

  • fansedefansede Raleigh, NCPosts: 960Member

    I am on Bugse82 side of the fence. I do not have any qualms paying a month to month service model. I will tolerate shortcomings of a game a little it because I know the game developer has a vested interest in keeping me in the game. However, If it is bug ridden and content weak, the game will lose. So what happens when a sub game loses customers? It doesn't usually close shop, the fall back plan is go free to play. Why? Because it attracts gamers more easily, yes. HOWEVER, if the game sucks, they will leave you in a drop of a hat. So the game better be vastly improved or it will die from starvation.

    The reall question I want to have answered is in free to play models (assuming the dev income is cash shops) how much would you put into a game you really like? I read Paragus blog about League of Legends and how he and his buddies spent cash on skins rather quickly. I have been playing it for about a month with my kids and we spent $25 on Riot points. I don't think I will spend any more though. We bought the CE of SWTOR and will likely be getting a CE of GW2 (if available). In the meantime, I will have dabbling in free to play games off and on as distractions, (I really failed in buying a beta game called Dawn of Fantasy, won't get suckered again)but I won't commit any funds to them.

  • GrayGhost79GrayGhost79 Webster, MAPosts: 4,813Member

    Actually I can go with one of the 3

     

    1) Anets business model: This is my most preffered. 

    2) Without Anets model as an option..... I'll take the monthly fee IF the games worth it. 

    3) If the games not worth the monthly fee then I will go the free to play route IF they don't handicap me to the point that I HAVE to pay to get enjoyment out of the game. I don't mind dropping a few dollars here and there if the game gives me enough enjoyment. I will not however spend an asinine amount to enjoy a game thats "Free to Play". 

     

     

     

  • hardiconhardicon jackson, MSPosts: 358Member

    i personally like the one lump fee per month.  you normally wind up spending way more than the cost of a box and a monthly fee just to be able to enjoy a free to play game so i dont understand why people are so upset about a box price for sub games.  but thats just me, im glad we got both, and neither have to take over the other imo.

  • CookieTimeCookieTime SomewherePosts: 353Member

    Sorry but only 10-year-olds (and apparently you) still use the "GW is not a true MMO" argument to counter the B2P model, while it's been proven numeous times, that the instanced nature of a MMO has almost nothing to do with server costs. At least not anymore.

    To me, this is hardly an objective article..

    Eat me!

  • Gel214thGel214th Miami, FLPosts: 180Member Common

    I much prefer the Free 2 Play system as I feel that as a customer I get more and I am able to enjoy the game more.

    I can pay for Experience potions to hasten leveling if I want, I can pay for faster movement if I want to. I can purchase the adventures I want in the areas I want. 

    THe Developers don't really have as much incentive to slow me down and to introduce long grinds to keep me paying a monthly subscription. Instead they have incentive to create new content for me to purchase. Whether this is new Adventures (Dungeons/Missions/Flashpoints whatever), new costume pieces, new powers, new areas etc. 

    On the flip side if a Company earns more money the longer I keep playing then it is a simple series of equations to figure out what the minimum amount of work they need to do in order to keep me playing in the same content for the longest period of time to maximise their profits.

    With Free 2 Play it's a different equation that is more on the side of the Player. If World of Warcraft was Free to Play I believe we would get content updates more frequently including new Pets, new mounts, new costume armor pieces, new battlegrounds etc. ,for example.

    Guild Wars was a Massively Multiplayer Game. And if one doesn't agree then no game that uses instancing is Massively Multiplayer (Including Star Wars the Old Republic which has Instanced Zones of an as yet unknown number of players in each instance). City of Heroes uses instanced missions as well, with an open world that also functions as a Hub.

    I believe Free to Play is the future of the MMORPG model. Free option (purchase content packs), with a Subscription if you want, and a Cash Shop for quality of life, vanity and novelty items. I think these options serve the customer best. I believe the Subscription model rewards the developer for what I consider to be anti-consumer gameplay such as artificially lengthening content by grinds, one dimensional end-game, and timed release of content based on financial targets that are themselves based on how long content can be strung out.

    For me City of Heroes' features, payment model and approach to gameplay is the best value in the MMO market today.

  • SenadinaSenadina San Diego, CAPosts: 896Member Uncommon

    I keep hearing how F2P is the future of gaming, but to me it seems like a step backwards. Before EQ and AC, with their subscription model, those playing MUDS, like Gemstone( which a few of my friends played), were paying hundreds of dollars a month, due mostly to dial-up fees true, but the point holds true. They were paying for minutes played, and it was very pricey.

    Those who are too young to remember that nightmare might think pay as you go is great new thing, but believe me, it costs waaaay more in the end.

    Of course, there are other F2P models. I am just pointing out that there was a reason MMOs adopted the subscription model in the first place, and some of these F2P ideas are not new.

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  • nerovipus32nerovipus32 dublinPosts: 2,735Member

    People are conditioned to pay monthly fees, ive even seen people beg guild wars 2 devs to take their 15 bucks a month, crazy really.

  • mrw0lfmrw0lf LondonPosts: 2,269Member

    Originally posted by Gel214th

    Guild Wars was a Massively Multiplayer Game. And if one doesn't agree then no game that uses instancing is Massively Multiplayer (Including Star Wars the Old Republic which has Instanced Zones of an as yet unknown number of players in each instance). City of Heroes uses instanced missions as well, with an open world that also functions as a Hub.



     

    So what's a co-op game then? What's the difference?

    -----
    “The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species.”

  • redpinsredpins Clovis, CAPosts: 147Member

    I don't full support a one time B2P without the form of a subscription option or a cash shop and expansions (expansions would generally be released on a time basis depending on original sales of the game for X percentage of original price to keep the servers running more). So what do I support? B2P + optional subscription + optional cash shop (can have some p2w items inside as long as they are community voted). My second support would be F2P + optional subscription (can bring greater exp and drop, and maybe some subscriber timed items such as mounts and pets, but let me choose what I want!!) + cash shop (community voted in items, even if they vote in p2w).

     

    Enough with this garbage that I pay someone $1.00 one time and that's it, I will never support them ever again. That kind of ignorance and just bland and bare naked GREED from players sickens me. I would much rather have more options on spending my money, than sit back and love a game and say "Well, I get what I want for $60, 300k hours of content, just looking for them to start paying my electric bill for me to." Real world trade, you work somewhere or you own something that is making you money. How fair would it be if I payed you $1.00 for your entire life, and the costs for me coming to you and taking your goods that you provided forever without charging me anything else was $2.00 a day? Doesn't feel very well does it, but yet in your ignorant backdoor mind, you think that this is logical. NO!! And I hope P2W grows even more, and more to just spite you in the face. I hope WoW and Titan and all the new games you start to love go F2P with extensive P2W cash shops just to spite you cynics soo hard that you litterally die from exposure to their Cash Shops.

    Now that is over, give me a company that won't turn into a turd after getting the amount of profit they want, then I'll give them what they want as for prices. I don't advocate for just any game, I advocate for games that have community driven cash shops, that strive to make more money. I advocate for games that catter to the players, not for just any money hungry pigs. I advocate against leechers and losers called "freemium" players, who think they are entitled to everything for free. These insects and turds of society are everywhere rampant on here. It sickens me to say it, but if you are this greedy with your money, then don't play games. Go draw stick figures on paper and you can save your "god" cough cough money that way.

    I struggle not with life, money, emotions, and world, but against old mindsets and selves to be proven obsolete in a age and time of rapid changes. Go create fun, so you can have fun.

  • SovrathSovrath Boston Area, MAPosts: 18,452Member Uncommon

    I prefer any system that's going to get me a good game, regular updates and full support and customer service.

    Is that buy to play?

    Free to play?

    Subscrtiptions?

    Soemthing else?

    Doesn't matter. I just want results. If that means paying more I'll pay more, no problme. Just - want - results!

  • DiovidiusDiovidius GoudaPosts: 1,025Member

    Originally posted by Gel214th

    Guild Wars was a Massively Multiplayer Game. And if one doesn't agree then no game that uses instancing is Massively Multiplayer (Including Star Wars the Old Republic which has Instanced Zones of an as yet unknown number of players in each instance). City of Heroes uses instanced missions as well, with an open world that also functions as a Hub.

    The difference between GW1 on the one hand and games like SWTOR and GW2 on the other is that GW1 only had persistent outposts and towns. None of the PvE and PvP content in GW1 is persistent. In SWTOR and GW2 there is instancing, sure, for dungeons, story and arena-based PvP but there is also a big open world where players can meet each other.

  • kaos78414kaos78414 South Texas, TXPosts: 8Member

    My only gripe with cash shops is ones that sell content that give players that pay, or pay more than you, an unfair advantage. Other than that, any payment model is fine by me. I go in assuming that I will have to pay at some point - these games provide months of entertainment, and for that, 15$ here and there is negligable.

  • davestr1zldavestr1zl MelbPosts: 218Member

    In general i hate f2p systems. If you genuinely get into the game and play it long-term you usually end up paying as much, if not more, than a standard subscription fee to get equivalent amounts of content.

    The only benefits f2p games have as are as a free trial essentially so you can judge whether you want to play it or not. If you end up playing short term (days/weeks) then f2p are usually better caus you dont spend anything, but most if not all subscription mmo's have a free trial anyway so its redundant.

    Another issue is when things are f2p but you have to pay for certain content then you massively split up the community as different people have different things, as opposed to everyone being able to play the same content together.

    If i plan to actuall play an MMO, give me a subscription any day of the week over f2p/b2p.

  • Mike-McQueenMike-McQueen Enfield, CTPosts: 243Member

    I'm a subscription fan through and through because it keeps everybody on the same playing field. I make plenty of money and could buy my way to the top of any cash shop game but its a tainted climb and when you look back down theres no feeling of triumph or accomplishment.

    I'm a unique and beautiful snowflake.

  • MMOtoGOMMOtoGO Freeland, MIPosts: 630Member
    One of the contributing factors of the animosity toward free to play is the companies that take an Asian mmo, convert it to English and then offer little or no support for the game once it's launched. They offer several free games that share a single game cash shop currency but the games are under funded and under manned. The result is a low quality and potentially expensive experience.

    My recent experience with Nexon is a prime example. I was playing Vindictus with my son when the server crashed (which isn't the problem). After the server came back up I was unable to access my account while my son could still access his.. My character was stuck in nowheresville. . . Not 1 hour, not one day, not 3 days ... But for 8 days! And yes, I followed the correct channels to resolve the issue. Thousands of other players experienced the same thing.

    That was it for me.
  • SkillCosbySkillCosby Trenton, MIPosts: 684Member

    Free 2 Play seems to work for those little asian MMOs. However, in most AAA games, it seems a player will most likely have to spend more than $15.00 per month just have default features.

     

    I think FTP will start to pick up steam. However, once companies start taking it too far with all the nickel & diming incentives, where people with cash have the supreme advantage, people will complain.

  • nuttobnuttob Plantation, FLPosts: 291Member

    I am playing eq2 extended and find that while I do pay some money to play the class and race I want, I find that I am paying no where near the $15 a month I used to pay to play the game.  Inventory space is not necessary unless your a packrat, just craft large capacity bags.  Mounts are readily available in the game.  The leaper mounts you get at lev 30 are awesome. Limitations on mail, cash, and broker?  So what. It doesn't affect getting decent gear for the most part.  If I get a character to level cap, for a small fee I can buy the right to epic gear or master spells.  All in all, it will never get as expensive as $15 a month.  Plus you can wait for double or even triple station cash purchases to make it even cheaper.  I do purchase the expansions when they come out, but at half or a third of the price when I buy them with station cash.

  • injenuinjenu miami, FLPosts: 142Member

    Look at it this way... What if Mw3 and BF3 were both F2P games - that you could buy basically any perk or even advantages not included in perks? 

    Look how bad Tribes: Ascend is now that it's F2P?

    F2P games are like interactive Spyware programs.

  • Gel214thGel214th Miami, FLPosts: 180Member Common







    Originally posted by mrw0lf

    So what's a co-op game then? What's the difference?














     

    Persistent server stored characters. Shared world environment where players can interact. Character development and the ability to fill various roles. Quests, missions, overarching storyline..all these things that we call Roleplaying.

    I'd say Co-Op is about 4 people.

    Once you get into potentially hundreds of players wandering hubs etc. then the lines become totally blurred to the point of being irrelevant. 

    So yeah, I would say that Diablo III depending on their implementation, drifts into MMO territory. With Free to Play I am also able to try out more than one game, and to play several of these games at the same time. If today I feel to play Rift, tomorrow I want to jump into a World of Warcraft Raid...what happens when SWTOR comes out?

    I need to have three subscriptions running?


    and if not then I need to make definite choices on which game I play?


    It restricts my choices and my options.This isn't good for the consumer, it's good for the development companies and the publishers who get to lock people into their little ecosystem at the expense of the rest of the market.


     

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by precious328

    Free 2 Play seems to work for those little asian MMOs. However, in most AAA games, it seems a player will most likely have to spend more than $15.00 per month just have default features.

    Can you give some examples of 'default features' that players would have to pay monthly to have/retain?

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

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