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Box Bait and Switch

Twilight33Twilight33 San Marcos, TXPosts: 36Member
so a thought came to me today that a found slightly worrying. do you forsee companies launching as Box + P2P for the initial cash flow and then in short order switching to a Hybrid model to draw in those unwilling to pay the upfront costs. we are seeing more and more games make this kind of switch and earlier in their lifecycles then ever before.

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Comments

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,770Member Uncommon

    Not only do they do this, but they should do this in order to provide the best possible experience to customers.

    Some games have a pretty flexible server architecture that can open and close copies of zones to adjust with the player population.  But many don't, and even for those that do, there are limits to how far it can go.  It's much easier to maintain a suitable player density if your number of active players remains roughly constant as time passes.

    In order to do that, you don't want for everyone who will ever play your game to pick it up on the first day.  Rather, you want for players to stream in over time, and ideally roughly replace those who naturally quit as time passes.  But players won't do this if there's no advantage to waiting.  Indeed, if players think the game is going to be mostly deserted in the year, that provides additional pressure to jump in on launch day.

    So how do you spread players out?  That there will be more content and more polished content later is enough to convince the less impulsive among your future players to wait.  But that isn't necessarily that large of a chunk of the playerbase, and even for half of the players you'll ever have to jump in on launch day is a problem.

    So you need to provide some artificial incentives for players to wait.  And how do you do that?  The longer you wait to pick up the game, the cheaper it will be to do so.  Maybe people who prepurchase your game get into the beta and get a head start on the normal launch.  Maybe people who pay extra for the collectors edition get a larger head start on the launch.  And then a while after launch day, you have a sale that "temporarily" reduces the box price.  Soon your temporary "sale" price becomes the normal price.  Then you soon have a bigger sale.  And after a while, you basically nix the box price entirely, but just let people play if they subscribe.

    And then a while after that, you have a limited free trial.  Then eventually a more generous free trial.  And finally, you announce that the game is going "free to play", by which you mean, "It's still a subscription game, but now with an extra generous free trial."  But all that you can get if you don't pay is still very much a free trial, and not the full game.

    The idea is that at every step, you pick up some more players.  Some people will pick up your game on their own timing rather than coinciding with your promotions, and that's very much a welcome thing.  But this at least spreads out when players join, in order to keep the player population somewhat steady for as long as you possibly can.  Because a steady player population is what's best for your paying customers.

  • mikecacklemikecackle City, ILPosts: 151Member

    I think its nothing short of fraud if done within at the very minimum of 1 year from launch date... I think a change should be presented that at least a minimum of 6 months must pass to be viable and even more rules if the company is publically traded or profiting and I think, if you purchased the game within the past 90 days, then you should be entitled to a refund..

    I would think it would be in the companies best interest to support those original buyers and grant them some token of a discount or something, such as 2% off cash shop coins, etc depending on game, to remove that negative vibe

    And if any retailers have this stuff on their shelves, i bet they are getting refunded if the product becomes worthless...

  • NovusodNovusod Lakewood, NJPosts: 892Member Uncommon
    Game companies have been doing this for the last 2 years and you are only just catching on now. Pretty much every game is developed now with Free 2 Play conversion some time after launch. Believe the first bait and switch was STO when they were puching lifetime memberships and then a few months later went fully free 2 play. If you don't think that was planned that way then I have a certain bridge to sell you. Ever since then it has been open season on planned Free 2 Play conversions from a paid box launch. If you want to discourage this type of marketing then stop falling for it. Don't jump into a game on release day and wait for it go free 2 play.
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Novusod
    Game companies have been doing this for the last 2 years and you are only just catching on now. Pretty much every game is developed now with Free 2 Play conversion some time after launch.

    Exactly. I (and probably countless others) gave up trying to explain this years ago. People were too busy gloating over how the games they felt slighted by were "failing" and had to go F2P, more than likely as a reaction to the many less than stellar 2008/2009 releases. The separation between hatred for F2P and reality has gotten so bad that, with a little bit of awesomely-worded spin, ArenaNet was able to slap a 60 dollar box fee in front of a free to play game, and everyone was so busy kowtowing at a shrine to an out of context Jeff Strain quote that they never saw it coming. 

     

     

     

    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

  • stayontargetstayontarget Tacoma, WAPosts: 6,068Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Twilight33
    so a thought came to me today that a found slightly worrying. do you forsee companies launching as Box + P2P for the initial cash flow and then in short order switching to a Hybrid model to draw in those unwilling to pay the upfront costs. we are seeing more and more games make this kind of switch and earlier in their lifecycles then ever before.

    Nice theory there,  too bad its flawed.  For one thing a BOX+P2P is going to draw far less intrest at launch compared to a B2P or F2P,  so initial cash flow will be far less than a straight up b2p.  P2P is all about the long term and maintaining your core customers.

     

     

    Velika: City of Wheels: Among the mortal races, the humans were the only one that never built cities or great empires; a curse laid upon them by their creator, Gidd, forced them to wander as nomads for twenty centuries...

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,638Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by stayontarget
    Originally posted by Twilight33
    so a thought came to me today that a found slightly worrying. do you forsee companies launching as Box + P2P for the initial cash flow and then in short order switching to a Hybrid model to draw in those unwilling to pay the upfront costs. we are seeing more and more games make this kind of switch and earlier in their lifecycles then ever before.

    Nice theory there,  too bad its flawed.  For one thing a BOX+P2P is going to draw far less intrest at launch compared to a B2P or F2P,  so initial cash flow will be far less than a straight up b2p.  P2P is all about the long term and maintaining your core customers.

    What are the B2P MMOs you are comparing this to, and what F2P MMOs have sold a box other than GW2? I get the feeling you really don't get what Twilight is saying. Twilight just described how several MMOs have been doing their releases for the past two to three years.

     

     Is it that you're another that buys into the theory that they spend tens of millions of dollars and five years to make an MMO just to 'cash out' in a year and repeat the cycle?

    Or are you saying that developers are offering these lifetime plans with ZERO PLANS for follow up revenue?

     

    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

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Twilight33
    so a thought came to me today that a found slightly worrying. do you forsee companies launching as Box + P2P for the initial cash flow and then in short order switching to a Hybrid model to draw in those unwilling to pay the upfront costs. we are seeing more and more games make this kind of switch and earlier in their lifecycles then ever before.

    Very simple .. given most MMOs are now F2P .. just refuse to play anything P2P .. or at least without a trial.

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