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[Column] General: Some Year-End Wondering

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,614MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

As 2013 dawns, many of us take a look ahead and speculate about what is to come, something akin to looking into the crystal ball. In The Free Zone today, we take a look at a few topics that are sure to be big discussion items throughout 2013. Check it out!

As I write this, a couple of days still remain in what has been yet another very interesting year in the global MMOG space. This makes it pretty easy to do some form of retrospective or look forward. As it happens, some of the things on my mind these days take the form of questions involving aspects of both the past 12 months and the future. 

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: Some Year-End Wondering.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • thinktank001thinktank001 oasisPosts: 2,027Member Uncommon

    What will the Old Republic's full impact on the market and the industry be?

     

    The game flopped.  It's switch to the P2W business model is just to cover maintence costs, and to finish whatever content they had been working on before release. 

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,209Member Uncommon

    Of course these are just my opinions:

    TOR will affect the industry in how it gets big backing.  I think studios and publishers saw a limit to the value of high budget flash versus the risk involved.  I don't think its transition to Freemium will affect the rest of the industry at all.

    Subscription Free and B2P - This is the new F2P.  Since there are so many ways to setup a cash shop and blend it with free access or sub-only, there are also many ways a sub-free game can present itself.  Traditionally we've had F2P and then Sub-Only.  With B2P showing success for GW2 and possibly TSW (time will tell), it has shown other sub-free publishers that they can charge an up front fee for greater access to the game, guaranteeing an initial revenue bump along with the cash shop supplement.  It has also shown at least one sub-only publisher that they can bring in a larger audience and generate more revenue with that option while still offering a subscription and premium status for an additional fee.

    One of my biggest curiousities over the next year or so will be how subscription only games fare.  I think Trion should be a clear warning marker for the makers of ESO and FFXIV.  Rift: Storm Legion was popular, especially with the dedicated fans, but even with modest pricing didn't seem to make the splash and generate the success that was anticipated.  I think if Trion had moved over to B2P with an optional sub and cash shop they would have been much more successful.  I think this will be true for ESO and FFXIV (and Wildstar or whatever else is coming out as sub-only).  Those games will likely see some measure of success just for the IP and existing fanbase, but will be limiting their potential, potential that could be realized through a more hybrid payment option like you described in an earlier column.

    In order for the hybrid models to succeed they will have to overcome a tricky hurdle.  That is they need to make subscription players feel like they're playing a sub game with all the benefits while offering a play experience for the sub-free cash shop player that doesn't funnel them into a subscription or place them at a permanent disadvantage.  They need to do all that while pricing themselves competitvely yet maximizing revenue.  It's not an easy position to be in.

    One thing I expect to see is a blending of revenue models, continuing to muddy and blur the clean definitions we've established.  I also expect to see a slow move away from traditional fees across all publishers as they try and implement the more complex models I described.

    I didn't mean to be so long winded, but some topics here can't be captured in 3 word soundbites.

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    Of course these are just my opinions:

    TOR will affect the industry in how it gets big backing.  I think studios and publishers saw a limit to the value of high budget flash versus the risk involved.  I don't think its transition to Freemium will affect the rest of the industry at all.

    Subscription Free and B2P - This is the new F2P.  Since there are so many ways to setup a cash shop and blend it with free access or sub-only, there are also many ways a sub-free game can present itself.  Traditionally we've had F2P and then Sub-Only.  With B2P showing success for GW2 and possibly TSW (time will tell), it has shown other sub-free publishers that they can charge an up front fee for greater access to the game, guaranteeing an initial revenue bump along with the cash shop supplement.  It has also shown at least one sub-only publisher that they can bring in a larger audience and generate more revenue with that option while still offering a subscription and premium status for an additional fee.

    One of my biggest curiousities over the next year or so will be how subscription only games fare.  I think Trion should be a clear warning marker for the makers of ESO and FFXIV.  Rift: Storm Legion was popular, especially with the dedicated fans, but even with modest pricing didn't seem to make the splash and generate the success that was anticipated.  I think if Trion had moved over to B2P with an optional sub and cash shop they would have been much more successful.  I think this will be true for ESO and FFXIV (and Wildstar or whatever else is coming out as sub-only).  Those games will likely see some measure of success just for the IP and existing fanbase, but will be limiting their potential, potential that could be realized through a more hybrid payment option like you described in an earlier column.

    In order for the hybrid models to succeed they will have to overcome a tricky hurdle.  That is they need to make subscription players feel like they're playing a sub game with all the benefits while offering a play experience for the sub-free cash shop player that doesn't funnel them into a subscription or place them at a permanent disadvantage.  They need to do all that while pricing themselves competitvely yet maximizing revenue.  It's not an easy position to be in.

    One thing I expect to see is a blending of revenue models, continuing to muddy and blur the clean definitions we've established.  I also expect to see a slow move away from traditional fees across all publishers as they try and implement the more complex models I described.

    I didn't mean to be so long winded, but some topics here can't be captured in 3 word soundbites.

    As to Trion, there was nothing modest about the Storm Legion pricing, at $50 it was well above the norm for expansions.  It is not a wonder it did not do as well as some thought it would.    You should look at Lotro's hybrid, it is pretty similar to what you are describing.  We will see more hybrid models, but I don't think that the sololy subscription game is finished either.  

    I do not think you need huge amounts of money to make a MMO.  SWTOR and the failed 38 studios adventure were examples of projects with little fiscal control.  Both studios were so into fluff like voice overs, cut scenes which don't add cashflow to a game.  How 38 studios thought they needed 400 people for a MMO is ludicrous.  You can make a decent MMO today with far less people, mainly because the tools are so much better.   If you think about it, both studios had little experience in MMO design at the upper levels.  Add in no one watching expenditures verses financing and you have a receipe for disasters.  The only thing that saved SWTOR was EA's deep pockets, which I am sure they regret now.

    When it comes to LucasArts, who knows what direction the new owner will take them.  Could be they will get into the MMO business themselves.

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member

    RE: SWTOR: Did you see this thread in The Pub: Theme Park Trap ? EA-Bioware & 38-Studios spent tons of crafted content = most expensive area/best way to push the dev budget up.

    On Kickstarter: eg Topia Online - sandbox lower budget, more niche, and other sandboxes - dedication of players - better fit for a sub maybe?

  • niceguy3978niceguy3978 Gainesville, FLPosts: 2,000Member
    Originally posted by Ozmodan
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    Of course these are just my opinions:

    TOR will affect the industry in how it gets big backing.  I think studios and publishers saw a limit to the value of high budget flash versus the risk involved.  I don't think its transition to Freemium will affect the rest of the industry at all.

    Subscription Free and B2P - This is the new F2P.  Since there are so many ways to setup a cash shop and blend it with free access or sub-only, there are also many ways a sub-free game can present itself.  Traditionally we've had F2P and then Sub-Only.  With B2P showing success for GW2 and possibly TSW (time will tell), it has shown other sub-free publishers that they can charge an up front fee for greater access to the game, guaranteeing an initial revenue bump along with the cash shop supplement.  It has also shown at least one sub-only publisher that they can bring in a larger audience and generate more revenue with that option while still offering a subscription and premium status for an additional fee.

    One of my biggest curiousities over the next year or so will be how subscription only games fare.  I think Trion should be a clear warning marker for the makers of ESO and FFXIV.  Rift: Storm Legion was popular, especially with the dedicated fans, but even with modest pricing didn't seem to make the splash and generate the success that was anticipated.  I think if Trion had moved over to B2P with an optional sub and cash shop they would have been much more successful.  I think this will be true for ESO and FFXIV (and Wildstar or whatever else is coming out as sub-only).  Those games will likely see some measure of success just for the IP and existing fanbase, but will be limiting their potential, potential that could be realized through a more hybrid payment option like you described in an earlier column.

    In order for the hybrid models to succeed they will have to overcome a tricky hurdle.  That is they need to make subscription players feel like they're playing a sub game with all the benefits while offering a play experience for the sub-free cash shop player that doesn't funnel them into a subscription or place them at a permanent disadvantage.  They need to do all that while pricing themselves competitvely yet maximizing revenue.  It's not an easy position to be in.

    One thing I expect to see is a blending of revenue models, continuing to muddy and blur the clean definitions we've established.  I also expect to see a slow move away from traditional fees across all publishers as they try and implement the more complex models I described.

    I didn't mean to be so long winded, but some topics here can't be captured in 3 word soundbites.

    As to Trion, there was nothing modest about the Storm Legion pricing, at $50 it was well above the norm for expansions.  It is not a wonder it did not do as well as some thought it would.    You should look at Lotro's hybrid, it is pretty similar to what you are describing.  We will see more hybrid models, but I don't think that the sololy subscription game is finished either.  

    I do not think you need huge amounts of money to make a MMO.  SWTOR and the failed 38 studios adventure were examples of projects with little fiscal control.  Both studios were so into fluff like voice overs, cut scenes which don't add cashflow to a game.  How 38 studios thought they needed 400 people for a MMO is ludicrous.  You can make a decent MMO today with far less people, mainly because the tools are so much better.   If you think about it, both studios had little experience in MMO design at the upper levels.  Add in no one watching expenditures verses financing and you have a receipe for disasters.  The only thing that saved SWTOR was EA's deep pockets, which I am sure they regret now.

    When it comes to LucasArts, who knows what direction the new owner will take them.  Could be they will get into the MMO business themselves.

    The 49.99 version was for the base game plus the xpac.  For those that already owned the game, it was the traditional 39.99, at least everywhere I saw it (gamestop, amazon, etc.).

  • CoolitCoolit FalkirkPosts: 468Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by niceguy3978
    Originally posted by Ozmodan
    Originally posted by Torvaldr

    Of course these are just my opinions:

    TOR will affect the industry in how it gets big backing.  I think studios and publishers saw a limit to the value of high budget flash versus the risk involved.  I don't think its transition to Freemium will affect the rest of the industry at all.

    Subscription Free and B2P - This is the new F2P.  Since there are so many ways to setup a cash shop and blend it with free access or sub-only, there are also many ways a sub-free game can present itself.  Traditionally we've had F2P and then Sub-Only.  With B2P showing success for GW2 and possibly TSW (time will tell), it has shown other sub-free publishers that they can charge an up front fee for greater access to the game, guaranteeing an initial revenue bump along with the cash shop supplement.  It has also shown at least one sub-only publisher that they can bring in a larger audience and generate more revenue with that option while still offering a subscription and premium status for an additional fee.

    One of my biggest curiousities over the next year or so will be how subscription only games fare.  I think Trion should be a clear warning marker for the makers of ESO and FFXIV.  Rift: Storm Legion was popular, especially with the dedicated fans, but even with modest pricing didn't seem to make the splash and generate the success that was anticipated.  I think if Trion had moved over to B2P with an optional sub and cash shop they would have been much more successful.  I think this will be true for ESO and FFXIV (and Wildstar or whatever else is coming out as sub-only).  Those games will likely see some measure of success just for the IP and existing fanbase, but will be limiting their potential, potential that could be realized through a more hybrid payment option like you described in an earlier column.

    In order for the hybrid models to succeed they will have to overcome a tricky hurdle.  That is they need to make subscription players feel like they're playing a sub game with all the benefits while offering a play experience for the sub-free cash shop player that doesn't funnel them into a subscription or place them at a permanent disadvantage.  They need to do all that while pricing themselves competitvely yet maximizing revenue.  It's not an easy position to be in.

    One thing I expect to see is a blending of revenue models, continuing to muddy and blur the clean definitions we've established.  I also expect to see a slow move away from traditional fees across all publishers as they try and implement the more complex models I described.

    I didn't mean to be so long winded, but some topics here can't be captured in 3 word soundbites.

    As to Trion, there was nothing modest about the Storm Legion pricing, at $50 it was well above the norm for expansions.  It is not a wonder it did not do as well as some thought it would.    You should look at Lotro's hybrid, it is pretty similar to what you are describing.  We will see more hybrid models, but I don't think that the sololy subscription game is finished either.  

    I do not think you need huge amounts of money to make a MMO.  SWTOR and the failed 38 studios adventure were examples of projects with little fiscal control.  Both studios were so into fluff like voice overs, cut scenes which don't add cashflow to a game.  How 38 studios thought they needed 400 people for a MMO is ludicrous.  You can make a decent MMO today with far less people, mainly because the tools are so much better.   If you think about it, both studios had little experience in MMO design at the upper levels.  Add in no one watching expenditures verses financing and you have a receipe for disasters.  The only thing that saved SWTOR was EA's deep pockets, which I am sure they regret now.

    When it comes to LucasArts, who knows what direction the new owner will take them.  Could be they will get into the MMO business themselves.

    The 49.99 version was for the base game plus the xpac.  For those that already owned the game, it was the traditional 39.99, at least everywhere I saw it (gamestop, amazon, etc.).

    Storm Legion actually sold far more than Trion were expecting.

    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-11-14-rift-storm-legion-early-sales-beyond-expectations-says-trion

    That being said it will be interesting to see if they move to another model this year.

  • erictlewiserictlewis Cottondale, ALPosts: 3,026Member Uncommon

    most of the crowd funding games have flopped in getting the actual cash. I only know of one that got double of what they were asking and that was star citizen.

    As far as swtor looks they failed.

  • Beatnik59Beatnik59 Chicago, ILPosts: 2,233Member Uncommon

    I think Zynga's anouncement of the closure of thirteen games is a taste of what is to come.

    I can see massive F2P--and even some P2P--closures.

    __________________________
    "Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."
    --Arcken

    "...when it comes to pimping EVE I have little restraints."
    --Hellmar, CEO of CCP.

    "It's like they took a gun, put it to their nugget sack and pulled the trigger over and over again, each time telling us how great it was that they were shooting themselves in the balls."
    --Exar_Kun on SWG's NGE

  • MeriliremMerilirem Port AugustaPosts: 77Member
    Personally I'd pay 100 bucks a month with a smile on my face if the game was actually worth playing.

    ESO should do great but that's barring the many stupid stupid mistakes I'm almost sure they are going to make due to common misconceptions 90% or more of the population seem to have about what an game is and what people want, not to mention how many people don't know themselves what makes them happy. So good luck I say and may I learn from everyone else's inevitably absent minded actions.

    If a butterfly learnt to speak, to live in human society, paid its bills, had a job, lived in a fancy house and married a human, is it human?

    Now what if that same butterfly knew how to write code better than any human and had years of experience in the game industry, would that make it a game designer?

    If u wouldn't let a construction worker design your house, then why let a programmer design your world?

  • AndonSageAndonSage Hilliard, OHPosts: 6Member Uncommon

    The author said: "Given the time required to make even a small MMOG, it seems unlikely we'll actually see a crowdfunded one reach the market in 2013."

     

    Actually, I know of two MMORPGs that were funded in 2012 with 2013 release dates: Shadowrun Online and The Repopulation. Now, whether they make those dates is another matter :)

     

    The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all it's eggs in - Robert A. Heinlein

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