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Read this on the ESO subreddit this morning. I thought it was very interesting.
I am not the author of this post:
So I was reading through a lot of comments on ESO being Pay to Play instead of the (surprisingly) popular free to play model. First things first, I work in the free to play business as a "product optimization manager" which can be translated to "monetization maximizer".
Yes f2p games are basically free to play, but let's be honest, if the companies behind them wouldn't make money the model would simply not exist.
The problem I have with f2p games is that I know the drive behind developing patches and content for one. You are no longer concerned with what your users actually want or what would be cool to add to the game, you are only concerned with how to get their money by pretending to give them what they want.
All f2p games strive to maximize their ARPU which is the average revenue per user. Whether you earn money with a free to play game or not is a simple equotation:
If your ARPU is Higher than your CPL you have basically won. CPL means cost per lead, it's the cost of acquiring a new user for your game with marketing, cooperations or other "user generating activities"
For MMOs the calculation is a bit trickier, because you have higher running costs on the serverside and for support as, for example, a Clash of Clans or Candy Crush Saga. So you have to get the ARPU even higher to become profitable.
That's when the so called ARPPU maximization comes in. ARPPU means, some might have guessed it, average revenue per paying user. This is how much a paying user spends in your game over a certain period of time. And you can increase this by adding stuff like those hated boxes in tera, mounts, vanity- and status-items. Stuff that (from a normal gamers' perspective) nobody even needs. If working in the field has told me one thing it is that if you just get enough people in your game, one person will buy that 1000$ Item.
It's not just that I don't like being thought of as a random number in a product optimizers' eyes (ironical I know), I also don't like the stuff f2p companies do to maximize their revenue.
They run ab tests, they will basically tweak the game for everybody who is not paying and try to make them pay. A lot of work during patch-cycles goes just into that, thinking of ways to make more people play. Fun becomes what I call a "secondary KPI", KPI meaning "key performance indicator".
Of course some of you might raise their voices and point out that companies like Wargaming, Riot, even the much hated EA are running free to play games and they are not pay to win.
But their games were either directly made to be f2p or, as in swtors' case, had to go f2p in order to earn their production cost back to a certain degree. Had SWTOR and LOTR not cost what they did, the companies behind them might just have shut them down, instead of reworking them into f2p.
And even if you think LoL is not pay 2 win, consider the casual players. Riot doesn't make their money off core gamers, they earn most on the casual. The guy who can't just grind all those points.
But enough hating on the business model that pays my bills...
If you think about the pay 2 play model ESO is employing and the megaserver the are using there are some interesting insights to be gained:
Finally I would like to break down, what ZO has to earn back per user: Lets assume ESO cost 150million up to now, which in my opinion is a nice estimate. The 200+ that were mentioned in this one post might also be possible and maybe even likely if you consider this game has been worked on for over five years now.
First: I never worked in the US and am not familiar with their business plans, or how they do their accounting. This are mostly guesses and estimates I think can add up to realistic numbers
Yes we will pay 75$ or something around that just for getting the game. Now for an MMO sales are something really, really funny. ZO will maybe get 20$ of those 75$ after tax, box production cost, shipping and distribution.
So let's assume 4 million people buy the game on launch-day. Yes Skyrim sold 7 million, and a healthy 20 million across all platforms. Zenimax online would make a whooping 120million with that. But
So let's say Zenimax has earned 80 million back with the sales, some more sales coming in over the next couple of months. Of those 4 million players maybe, just maybe, 3 million will stay and continue playing. That's another 45 million $ the next month, right? Wrong:
So of those 45 million there are, worst case, only 8.45 million left. Do the math, that's why EA decided to rework SWTOR. The problem with MMOs is the work only starts on release day. And it never ends.
TL;DR:I like p2p more than f2p and 15$ a month is nothing compared to going to the cinema or ordering food.
So let the hate-rain begin XD
Edits: because I suck at grammar and not seeing typos... Edit 2: salary dimension was not fitting thanks u/r4gzz