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General: The Best MMO Business Models

MikeBMikeB MMORPG.com Community ManagerQueens, NYPosts: 5,718Administrator Uncommon

It’s true; the MMORPG.com community is a decidedly subscription-based crowd. But with the advent of many different MMO business models appearing in mainstream titles these days, we thought it’d be prudent to round up some of the more prevalent types and break down our favorites in this week’s The List.

The classic tried-and-true subscription model is a great fire-and-forget model for most MMO players. If you’re enjoying what you’re playing you simply have to drop your monthly fee and you’re given full access to the game for the duration of your subscription. Great! This is my preferred method as it’s the most hassle-free and I don’t tend to agonize over my $15. There are far more expensive activities one can get involved with. $15 for a whole month of gameplay whenever I want it is almost always a great deal to me.

Read more of Michael Bitton's The List: The Best MMO Business Models.

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Michael "MikeB" Bitton
Community Manager
Twitter: @eMikeB

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Comments

  • staranstaran ottawa, ONPosts: 83Member Uncommon
    Cryptics model is ridiculous. They said f2p will bring more story content into the game.
    All it brought was more Lockboxes.
    It all comes down to the company. There are good and bad companies and cryptic is a bad company.
  • WhiteLanternWhiteLantern Nevada, MOPosts: 2,732Member

    In my opinion, the buy-to-play with cash-shop option is the best way to go. It still offers an initial RoI for the devs and publisher and offers trickle-in cash flow in the long term. DLC content packs and/or paid expansions then round out that offering.

    I want a mmorpg where people have gone through misery, have gone through school stuff and actually have had sex even. -sagil

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 17,962Member Uncommon

    I am not so sure about that hybrid model, while DDO had a nice version of it other games like EQ2 hace showed us that the model easily can be used for evil cashgrabs as well. Playing EQ2 in the endgame actually got more expensive after the change.

    I think I prefer B2P myself, I can´t wait for the B2P Zombie MMO "Class 4" :)

  • JerYnkFanJerYnkFan Kenilworth, NJPosts: 339Member Uncommon

    I prefer the subscription model where I pay a set fee and that's it.  I didn't mind the Turbine hybrid LOTRO plan until WB bought them and is now starting to get greedy. (IE charging you to fix your inventory slots )

  • UsulDaNeriakUsulDaNeriak SindelfingenPosts: 640Member

    You already named the bad boy of the F2P model, which is the P2W type.

    Also in the freemium-hybrid model, there is a bad type. Its a bad model, if you cant get everything via the cash-shop. Some games force you to subscribe or never get a certain function. We saw that from SoE and others. In the hybrid model, we should be able to buy or rent everything from the cash-shop, what a subscriber gets. Its just a different method to pay and price-structure.

     

    played: Everquest I (6 years), EVE (3 years)
    months: EQII, Vanguard, Siedler Online, SWTOR, Guild Wars 2
    weeks: WoW, Shaiya, Darkfall, Florensia, Entropia, Aion, Lotro, Fallen Earth, Uncharted Waters
    days: DDO, RoM, FFXIV, STO, Atlantica, PotBS, Maestia, WAR, AoC, Gods&Heroes, Cultures, RIFT, Forsaken World, Allodds

  • drbaltazardrbaltazar drummondville, QCPosts: 7,987Member

    very good article:1 model i hate the most are hybrid!and a lot of game want in that market!

    f2p gained a lot because the games are better then before!ok this one was a lie lol.a huge chunck went to league of legend

    this game alone raised the market share of f2p!it has shown it is possible to be success in america and in f2p ,one of the limited few game to do so!

    if not the only aaa f2p success in america!

    but it opened the door!and i cant wait to see the new f2p title !

  • KilsinKilsin NSWPosts: 343Member Uncommon

    100% subscription all the way.

    I would actually pay a higher sub per month ($30-$50) to support a company that gave me a game like UO/EQ/VG wrapped in a 2012 technological blanket and was open and honest with its community!

    I have fist fulls of cash waiting to throw at my screen for the first company to do this, so far Arche Age and Embers of Caerus are the two MMORPGs that I am following with the most anticipation to see if they can deliver the goods.

    If not, I may just create a kick starter fund and make my bloody own.

     

    Community & Web Manager | Visionary Realms, Inc.
    Visit our Development Website.

  • FadedbombFadedbomb Aiken, SCPosts: 2,081Member

    Subscription is the best way to go with ZERO cash shop.

     

    -Flat rate of $15/month

    -You pay for ALL content added to the game via that flat rate, rather than being nickle & dimed

    -You're given a level playing field for which you cannot advance further than another player by spending more $$$ than them.

    -Content isn't locked in a cash-shop that was developed with the $15 you already paid to access it under the guise of "cosmetic cash shop". You paid for it already, why should you have to pay AGAIN? Nickle and diming....

     

    "FreeToPlay" isn't free, and BuyToPlay requires a cash shop to be a successful & sustainable business model anymore.

     

    Subscription remains king.

    The Theory of Conservative Conservation of Ignorant Stupidity:
    Having a different opinion must mean you're a troll.

  • FadedbombFadedbomb Aiken, SCPosts: 2,081Member

    @MikeB,

     

    That reminds me, you forgot the "EvE" business model. Flat-Rate subscription model with no cash-shop (they abandoned it, it sits there with stock items since it was added), and give expansions away for free.

     

    Best Business model ever, just a boring game :)!

    The Theory of Conservative Conservation of Ignorant Stupidity:
    Having a different opinion must mean you're a troll.

  • Master10KMaster10K LondonPosts: 3,065Member

    I don't like the subscription model much because I feel like I'm forced to play more then usual, just to get the most out of that £9 a month and after that month, I feel somewhat burnt out. It's why I could only play Rift, 1 month out of every 3, constantly subscribing and unsubscribing between.

     

    F2P and B2P are more my forte but only when done well and I like not feeling obligated to play a game. League of Legends is what I consider the best F2P game so far, but it's a MOBA so it doesn't really count in this case. Here's hoping that Planetside 2's F2P model will work. Already pre-purchased my copy of GW2 and all I'd have to worry about spending my extra money on, is on character slots & expansions, because the Item Shop in that game is currently very fair. Those that say it's Pay 2 Win have no idea what Pay 2 Win means.

    image

  • KamatariPLKamatariPL OlsztynPosts: 7Member

    Hybrid model is the worst of course. 

    Having many options is not always a way to make things fair. What is choice of hybrid? A bad item shop or monthly fee? Yep, that's it. You're going to end up with subscription and maybe playing for free if you know you wont have enought time for play.

     

    B2P option is not the best thing for Developers. Those guys need to pay for server, make new content, get back production cost and make some profit. 

    When people end up paying only once for the game box...it's not that easy thing to archive. 

    But so far it is the nicest model of payment for the consumer, you dont need to worry for your time, you may support devs with little item shop like in guild wars. And you dont need to worry that you end up spending over $200 in item shop before end of the year becouse that's the only way to advence.

     

    I wonder why there is no PayPerMinute included in here? It's a pretty good model as long as the prices are fine. You buy yourself a week of play and time goes down only when you are logged in. Sure it may seem like you are going to pay more than per monthly subscription, but that only depends on how much time do you have. If you're a busy person, that would be what you want if B2P is not avaible.

  • VannorVannor YorkshirePosts: 2,970Member Uncommon

    Hmmm  I find D&Ds and LOTROs hybid models to be the worst thing in MMO history. They created the content cash shop grind for those who don't want to pay, it's not a good thing.

    BTP is clearly the best when done properly. I paid £15 for my GW1: Complete edition and havn't spent another penny on it. I've experienced all the content (except those 4? lore missions in the cash shop, big deal) and got years of gaming for £15.

  • Master10KMaster10K LondonPosts: 3,065Member
    Originally posted by Fadedbomb

    Subscription is the best way to go with ZERO cash shop.

    -Flat rate of $15/month

    -You pay for ALL content added to the game via that flat rate, rather than being nickle & dimed

    -You're given a level playing field for which you cannot advance further than another player by spending more $$$ than them.

    -Content isn't locked in a cash-shop that was developed with the $15 you already paid to access it under the guise of "cosmetic cash shop". You paid for it already, why should you have to pay AGAIN? Nickle and diming....

     

    "FreeToPlay" isn't free, and BuyToPlay requires a cash shop to be a successful & sustainable business model anymore.

    Subscription remains king.

    You do realize that most sub-based games lock items away in the cash shop now. Even though it's mostly cosmetics, that's basically preventing some customizable options for some players.

    image

  • unknown769unknown769 buford, GAPosts: 45Member

    even subs game  is not really get you expantion-like wow expantion need to be paying to have it plus paying month subs wish is another way to steal more your money all game are really make equal in sort of ways  aslong they have a way to get money there is not problem to them

     

  • mCalvertmCalvert Tallahassee, FLPosts: 1,283Member

    I think the price you pay relates directly to the quality of the game you get. Which is why people willinging pay $15 a month for AAA mmos, and most f2p games suck. You get what you pay for.

  • drchocapicdrchocapic ParisPosts: 27Member

    I know most people don't like them but I really love lifetime subscriptions.

    They allow me to get into or out of the game whenever I feel like it without ever feeling the "need" to play that I sometime used to have with regular subs. This way when I get bored or burned out of a game I can just hop out for a while until I they add something new or I feel like playing again.

    I wish more games would offer this option to be honest.

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

    I'd like my initial purchase (box price) to give me the *complete* game, like it used to. I like the subscription model if updates occur regularly, maybe every other month with an expansion pack maybe once or twice a year. My $15/month ($180/year) should be quite enough to pay for this and then some. This, of course, only works in games that want to be around awhile.

    Most games now I don't think plan on having much longevity. This model won't work for the flash-in-the-pan type games we see today. The leveling goes much too fast, with many players reaching max level in a matter of weeks. There is not a lot of depth or abundance of other activities to keep a player occupied today.

    In a business sense, I, too, would grab all the cash I can by starting out with buy + sub + cash shop and go to a F2P model once subs drop off. How can anyone fault publishers for doing so? So in a business sense, F2P would be the way to go. I would not be surprised if many games come out F2P right off the bat very soon. I think that most players game jump now, so retention is a lost cause, even though many players seek a "home" to stay in awhile.

    I miss the days of buying the game. The whole game. Not worrying what else I need to buy in the cash shop to enjoy the game I already bought.

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • RoxtarrRoxtarr Freeland, MI, MIPosts: 1,122Member

    Hybrid model is a big turn-off.  It's like giving a sample of a cake but if you want frosting, you have to pay.  You might as well charge me for the piece of cake since I don't get the full flavor anyway.  B2P is much better, and to me, a much more ethical model.  Most of these Hybrid games keep changing what's included for "free" and what isn't.  Plus, the worlds/races/classes get unbalanced since the free stuff is overutilized and the pay stuff isn't.  Let me buy the box and give me the whole game. 

    If in 1982 we played with the current mentality, we would have burned down all the pac man games since the red ghost was clearly OP. Instead we just got better at the game.
    image

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,275Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by WhiteLantern

    In my opinion, the buy-to-play with cash-shop option is the best way to go. It still offers an initial RoI for the devs and publisher and offers trickle-in cash flow in the long term. DLC content packs and/or paid expansions then round out that offering.

    Buy to play is no different than F2P other than the devs of B2P games may be greedier getting 60 bucks upfront (4 months up front) then balancing questing around cash shop XP pots.

     

    No thank you b2p/f2p I will pay my $15 per month.

  • uncletomauncletoma Santa Margherita LigurePosts: 159Member

    Box 2 Play is great, real F2P is cool, Lifetime is awesome if you realy like and should play the game for a long, long time.

  • elockeelocke Manassas, VAPosts: 4,205Member Uncommon

    I prefer Buy to play first and then Hybrid.  B2P, just because it's nice to buy a game the size of GW2 and not have to worry about monthly fees or whether I can play something.  Never liked having to fork over money just to access a game per month.  

    That being said, hybrid is sweet because it gives you the option to pay per month, with the caveat that you get an "allowance" of the cash shop's currency to spend.  But it's nice for more a la carte choices and you pay when you get to it, if you want to.  

    image
  • RohnRohn Saint Peters, MOPosts: 3,740Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GrumpyCharr

    Hybrid model is a big turn-off.  It's like giving a sample of a cake but if you want frosting, you have to pay.  You might as well charge me for the piece of cake since I don't get the full flavor anyway.  B2P is much better, and to me, a much more ethical model.  Most of these Hybrid games keep changing what's included for "free" and what isn't.  Plus, the worlds/races/classes get unbalanced since the free stuff is overutilized and the pay stuff isn't.  Let me buy the box and give me the whole game. 

     

    Except you don't get the whole game.

    Buy to Play has become the same model as Free to Play, except they charge you for the client, too.  Both models are reliant on a cash shop.

    Personally, I still prefer the flat subscription-based model.  Relatively speaking, $15 per month is nothing compared to most other forms of entertainment.

    Hell hath no fury like an MMORPG player scorned.

  • dageezadageeza london, KYPosts: 578Member

    I prefer B2P and you would think most reputable AAA devs would prefer the B2P with CS route over the f2p route as well being that they would recoup their investment back plus some right off the top if the game is truly promising..

    TSWs and lotro (time limited) lifetime subs imho are just $250 versions of the B2P option and i harbor nothing against this model other than the buyer needs to be as sure as is possible the game is worth it to them....

    I have nothing against subs to be sure but the introduction of CS has cheapened this models overall value imho because when you pay a monthly sub everything in the game should be available without having to have a CS..

    It will be unlikely that i personally will ever sub to a game again unless its totally incredible and i see nothing on the horizon that would even remotely make me want to pull out my wallet every month..

    Playing GW2..

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon

    I think they all have merit:

    • I played WoW for 6 years without a break and thought it was really cheap entertainment, including all the expansions and buying pets and a sparkle pony from the store.
    • I have multiple LOTRO accounts: one sub and the rest F2P. I wish I'd purchased the lifetime account back when I created the first account, but it was $300-400 and that seemed outrageous at the time. I rarely buy anything from the store but I have purchased all of the expansions.
    • I am currently playing The Secret World, and purchased the lifetime account. I don't expect to buy anything from the store, as it's all cosmetic.
  • bubalubabubaluba LjubljanaPosts: 434Member

    Hybrid all the way. It is even stupid to choose single option if you can have more

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