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General: The Best MMO Business Models

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Comments

  • JenuvielJenuviel Seattle, WAPosts: 960Member

    Subscriptions for me. I could theoretically tolerate a hybrid system if one ever came out that didn't bash subscribers over the head with cash shop advertisements around every corner. If I'm subscribing, I want everything in the game to be available to me, including those vanity items you now want to charge me for.

     

    Occasionally, hybrid games do make that cash shop stuff "available," but it's implemented with an intentionally brutal grind attached whose sole purpose is to drive you to the cash shop. I hate that. I really, really hate that. When developers make hybrid games, they should ask themselves why the people who prefer the subscription model chose that model in the first place.

     

    For me, it's because it's all-inclusive and I never have to think about real world money while I'm playing. I set my subscription and forget about it. Cash shops exist to remind you of your bank account at every opportunity. If developers want the subscription end of any hybrid model to appeal to subscription players, they need to remove anything having to do with a cash shop from the subscriber's game. What they should not do is chuck cash shop currency at them each month as bait. Charge us our monthly fee, sell us the expansions too big to fit in the monthly dev cycle, then leave us the heck alone.

  • EsLafielEsLafiel Radford, VAPosts: 92Member
    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.

    No Sub is nothing but a scam, esp since when ever a major expansion comes around you got to pay for it to.

    Now if expansions was free and subs went down to like 10 dollars, then I might be okay with it.

    btp works the best that I seen, you buy the game and buy the major expansions. However patches and updated are free. Which gw1 added in a  ton of new events/quest and so on even today every month for free. 

    The cash shop is a jk, other then character slots. It almost no use, unless you love vanity items and lvling up a small amount quicker.

    Play gw1 since 2006 and WoW from 2005-2009. In gw1 I brought teh game and all the expansions, and some character slots. All together is still just a bit over 200 dollars.

    Now in WoW, ive spent over 1,000.

    So sorry but if gw2 keeps the same cash shop as gw1. Then it will be the best model, ive seen yet.

     

  • LordOfPitLordOfPit North Bay, ONPosts: 86Member

    I think we will soon see a new way to make Subscription Based MMO's. First off, the Developer will develop and introduce a Single Player game. Later on, multiplayer modes would be added to the same framework. Then, persistant zones and corridors that allow travel between the zones would be added as well as persistant grouping. Then the developer would simply need to charge a subscription fee for acccess through the multiplayer pathways and any who won't pay would remain isolated in their own single-player bubble and simple multiplayer modes.

    Then, the real party begins when the developer starts include group-based content with gear that's better than the normal gear players can get in the single-player game.

    Just watch the people complain it's a Pay-To-Win model, and yet still play because after all they already paid for the original game and who can tolerate their buddy bragging about the cool item they got last night and OH if only you were there... you just needed to pay $15 per month but you didn't... pfft. You suck! ;)

  • MadKingMadKing Pompano Beach, FLPosts: 173Member
    Originally posted by LordOfPit

    I think we will soon see a new way to make Subscription Based MMO's. First off, the Developer will develop and introduce a Single Player game. Later on, multiplayer modes would be added to the same framework. Then, persistant zones and corridors that allow travel between the zones would be added as well as persistant grouping. Then the developer would simply need to charge a subscription fee for acccess through the multiplayer pathways and any who won't pay would remain isolated in their own single-player bubble and simple multiplayer modes.

    Then, the real party begins when the developer starts include group-based content with gear that's better than the normal gear players can get in the single-player game.

    Just watch the people complain it's a Pay-To-Win model, and yet still play because after all they already paid for the original game and who can tolerate their buddy bragging about the cool item they got last night and OH if only you were there... you just needed to pay $15 per month but you didn't... pfft. You suck! ;)

    I can see EA and Activision doing this and to be honest if it comes down to that, I'll find a nother hobby, maybe fishing...

  • aesperusaesperus Hamshire, NVPosts: 5,128Member Uncommon

    What a lot of people haven't seemed to quite realize yet, is none of the business models guaruntee good content. Not a single one.

    What's good about F2P, is that it allows you to first test it out before commiting to the game, which is nice. However, it will always come down to the company to determine whether or not the game is a cashgrab or offers good content. Even though I think F2P is a step forward, it won't guaruntee better games, but it will give companies a stronger incentive to make better games. Subscriptions just don't do that anymore.

  • LordOfPitLordOfPit North Bay, ONPosts: 86Member
    Originally posted by MadKing

    I can see EA and Activision doing this and to be honest if it comes down to that, I'll find a nother hobby, maybe fishing...

    You can go find another hobby, but at least if Game Developers do it like that, no one could complain about the business model because it will finally be clear what the costumer would be paying for in a subscription model!

    Not to mention that if the Game were to be built like that, at least both the Developer and their Customers would know that the Game wouldn't be in risk of being shut down if there aren't enough subscribers because the Game didn't start out as an MMO but naturally grew into it, while more DLC would still be developed for the Single Player game!

    By the way, Blizzard has already done worse with Diablo III with their auction house and taking out the fun of finding l00t that's meaningful for your class when you're actually in need of the gear you could find. And I wouldn't be surprised if EA/BioWare were grooming the multiplayer in ME3 into the model I described.

    Originally posted by aesperus

    What a lot of people haven't seemed to quite realize yet, is none of the business models guaruntee good content. Not a single one.

    As I see it, at least where MMO's are concerned, the connection between the business model and the quality of the content was always in the mind of the consumer and perhaps implied by Marketing.

  • xpiherxpiher Indianapolis, INPosts: 3,311Member
    Originally posted by thinktank001

    Originally posted by xpiher   have you even looked at gw2's cash shop? It is not p2w. Everything in the shop is attainable in game. Buying items do not make your chapter better than a b2p player. Furthermore, you can buy crystals for in game gold.

     

    Many if not all P2W games allow players to buy/sell the items in their cash shops for in game currency.  Why would a publisher limit the availability of those items only to players that spend money in their cash shops?   Allowing for trade increases their customer base 10 fold if you consider the general rule that 10% of a P2W population actually spends money.

     

    P2W is a business model.  It has nothing to do with how " fair " a player perceives the cash shop.  

     

    proving you havent looked at gw2 cash shop. There isn't anything on there that gives a player more power. In fact spvp let's you create a character that can instantly create max items and has skills unlocked

    image
    Games:
    Currently playing:Nothing
    Will play: Darkfall: Unholy Wars
    Past games:
    Guild Wars 2 - Xpiher Duminous
    Xpiher's GW2
    GW 1 - Xpiher Duminous
    Darkfall - Xpiher Duminous (NA) retired
    AoC - Xpiher (Tyranny) retired
    Warhammer - Xpiher

  • xpiherxpiher Indianapolis, INPosts: 3,311Member
    Subs pay to maintain servers and "free" up dates. The reason anet can do b2p is because they own their servers. I can't believe that we have nearly 20 years of mmo history and people still think subs net profit in most games. What subs actually do for a company is serve as an indicator for investors and to predict future product sales predictions (expansions). As I said earlier, Inital sales and investment are how most companies survive. Just look at FC's AoC. Bleed subs to below 150k but initial sales netted 2mill profit!

    "Best option is B2P with NO ITEM SHOP

    Instead there would be yearly boxed expansions for all new content.

    No to little new content would be free between expansions, but of course there would be constant balancing and patching and maybe some holiday events like any other MMO.

    Didn't see this option listed for some reason?"

    the original guild wars was like this before development stopped to work on gw2

    image
    Games:
    Currently playing:Nothing
    Will play: Darkfall: Unholy Wars
    Past games:
    Guild Wars 2 - Xpiher Duminous
    Xpiher's GW2
    GW 1 - Xpiher Duminous
    Darkfall - Xpiher Duminous (NA) retired
    AoC - Xpiher (Tyranny) retired
    Warhammer - Xpiher

  • freegamesfreegames san gabriel, CAPosts: 158Member
    My favorite is buy-to-play with a cash-shop so items that simply make you look differenet in game. Guild Wars is my favorite example as it was a game I could play all I want and even get to the far end gear items that simply look different, but are not much stronger though binding items does give a huge advantage (I almost never bound items though except for warrior and ranger)
  • paulocafallipaulocafalli Sampa, CAPosts: 256Member

    I also think B2P with cash-shop only for appearance is the best model. I would prefer F2P but almost always it turns into P2W so with only a few exceptions I don't like this model very much.

    I like subscription too but if you want to play many games it becomes quite expensive, besides if you play many games that means you don't have time to play all of them a lot so you are wasting a lot of cash.

  • RemianenRemianen Brooklyn, NYPosts: 37Member
    Originally posted by Fadedbomb

    @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 :)!

    Actually it doesn't. They've released new items into the Noble Exchange since Incarna. But I wouldn't expect you to know that since you don't play. :)

     

    My personal favorite is the lifetime subscription since, generally speaking, it works in my favor. I only have three (LOTRO, Champions, DCUO) but they've been well worth the money I spent, if only as landing spots when I get bored elsewhere. Other than that, I go subscription where possible. Honestly, I think if spending $15 (or even $150)  would give me pause, I need to re-evaluate my life choices.

  • VaultarVaultar adelaidePosts: 339Member

    B2P for me all the way similar to GW2 with a cash shop that has pretty much worthless stuff and where CS currency can be turned for ingame currency and vice versa.

    I will only go with f2p only if all the content is unlocked, the items in CS are cosmetic, account based (more storage, character slots) and with short-time boosts (simply coz I couldn't care much for them) and that none of the items are required to enjoy the game. 

    Since the latter is non-existant, B2P all the way.

    Looking forward to EQL and EQN.

  • HrimnirHrimnir Qeynos, COPosts: 1,597Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
     

    With subscription, the game needs people to pay the sub otherwise it dies. The game doesn't die because it has no people playing but because it has no money coming in.

    Free to Play is no different. The game needs people to pay for items otherwise the it dies. If millions of people play but no one pays, the game dies.

     

    With entertainment services:

    • People pay for what they feel is of value to them.
    • People choose the payment model that best suits them when such an option is present.
     
    The reason more F2P MMOs exist and why most MMOs are switching to F2P is simple: it is the payment model most people prefer currently. It is also the payment model that currently works best for an entertainment service that offers greater enjoyment the more participants there are.
     
    This is nothing new. Skype, TeamSpeak, Ventrillo... you have been using (and probably enjoying) this model for years but since you're not the 10% that pays, you probably don't realize it.  
     
    As for the free participants as product, this is 'Ladies Drink Free Night' at the club or "College Thursday' at the bar. Again, nothing new.
     
    A crap game, like a crap club or crap bar closes down no matter what the model. Free doesn't magically keep a failung venture alive because free doesn't keep the lights on.
     

    You're putting the cart before the horse.

    F2P is becoming more prevalent not because people want it, but because producers want it.  The average F2P person pays something like $27/mo.  The MMORPG genre and the gaming genre in general has been taken over by producers whose only concern is the almighty dollar.  Gone are the days when the developer was the end point for any decision regarding their products.  Now the control rests with the producer because games have become so expensive to produce that 90% or better of the game developers dont have the money in house to finance these huge projects.

    The ones that do are producing shorter and shorter games.  Look at bioware before they got bought out.  Baldur's Gate 2 had a 60+ hour main storyline, and easily 125+ hours of content if you did the side stuff.  The original KOTOR was something like 40 hours if you did the main storyline and over 75 if you did all the side quests.  Now you have games like Mass Effect which could be done in 8-9 hours for the main storyline.

    "The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

    - Friedrich Nietzsche

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,633Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Hrimnir
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
     

    With subscription, the game needs people to pay the sub otherwise it dies. The game doesn't die because it has no people playing but because it has no money coming in.

    Free to Play is no different. The game needs people to pay for items otherwise the it dies. If millions of people play but no one pays, the game dies.

     

    With entertainment services:

    • People pay for what they feel is of value to them.
    • People choose the payment model that best suits them when such an option is present.
     
    The reason more F2P MMOs exist and why most MMOs are switching to F2P is simple: it is the payment model most people prefer currently. It is also the payment model that currently works best for an entertainment service that offers greater enjoyment the more participants there are.
     
    This is nothing new. Skype, TeamSpeak, Ventrillo... you have been using (and probably enjoying) this model for years but since you're not the 10% that pays, you probably don't realize it.  
     
    As for the free participants as product, this is 'Ladies Drink Free Night' at the club or "College Thursday' at the bar. Again, nothing new.
     
    A crap game, like a crap club or crap bar closes down no matter what the model. Free doesn't magically keep a failung venture alive because free doesn't keep the lights on.
     

    You're putting the cart before the horse.

    F2P is becoming more prevalent not because people want it, but because producers want it. 

    If we were talking about utilities, I'd say there's the slight possibility that's true. However, this is the entertainment industry, and people will pay what they want and how they want to do it. That's why MMOs go out of their way to make payment as accessible as possible for its players, especially in a genre where the consumer has hundreds of other choices to go with.

    I know it's cool to hate on The Man and all, so take that hate and apply it logically - wouldn't a greedy corporation use the business model that the target audience finds most palatable? Doesn't it seem contradictory to claim that their "only concern is the almighty dollar" and then suggest they would  use a payment model that would get them less buyers?

    The average F2P person pays something like $27/mo.

    Not going to read the rest if you're just going to make up numbers, especially numbers as off-the-wall as that one.

     

    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

  • verenovverenov Crossville, TNPosts: 64Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Master10K

    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.

    Nice post. I agree. I also pre-purchased GW2, played a couple betas, and can honestly say that this is the BEST damn game I've played. Already logged over 30 hours and have a countdown timer widget counting down the days to this release. I like ANet's cash shop. I like Turbine's Cash Shop in LotRO. These two companies, for me, have done excellent jobs in their paying models, with GW2 being my favorite. Friend and I have agreed that we'll periodically buy stuff from GW2 cash shop just to support the company that we both enjoy playing for so much.

    "I am handicapped...I'm psychotic."

  • heartlessheartless Brooklyn, NYPosts: 4,993Member

    Subscription model is outdated and as it currently priced is a bit of a rip off. When MMOs first became popular, a subscription fee was justified because of the server and bandwith costs, which were pretty high at that time. Now, these costs are so little that most companies bunch them up with the misc. expenses on their financial reports and very rarely list them as a separate line.

    They aren't even justified for content patches, which we typically get every 3-4 months. And what's in the usual content update? A few quests and an instance or a raid. Consider than in the span of 4 months, you paid about $60, which is a cost of a brand new game but instead of a new game all you got a new instance and some quests.

    Then on top of a subscription fee and of course the box price, most MMOs have cash shops. Which is ridiculous, if you ask me.

    The thing is that we expect to be charged a subscription fee for these games and the publishers glady oblige. I mean, who's going to say no to free money, right?

    I think that a B2P model is the future for these games. Hopefully GW2 is going to make a lot of players reconsider the worthiness of a subscription fee, which will make publishers and developers reconsider their pricing plans.

    image

  • DrakxiiDrakxii Waxahachie, TXPosts: 594Member

    Ooo.. magic chart, with no mention of profit, number of games, revenue/profit per person, number of players, life span of games, etc...  

     

    Also anyone that says that subs were just for server costs, is an idiot and they don't get sub costs are there to pay for quick bug fixing, content patches, community devs, CSRs, and in game events. 

     

    Also IMO all forms of cash shops are EVIL.  I liked grinding for that special mount, or working with crafters to get that outfit I wanted, I don't want to have to buy clothes/looks from a cash shop.

    I will not play a game with a cash shop ever again. A dev job should be to make the game better not make me pay so it sucks less.

  • tomato_kwantomato_kwan calgary, ABPosts: 44Member
    Even if it means you recieve minimized support?
    Subscription based or hybrid games means more contents, a richer game instead games you can abandon within 3 months.
    MMORPG is never meant for  "initial purchase for complete game".
     
    Originally posted by AlBQuirky

    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.

     

  • MoonDevilMoonDevil atlanta, GAPosts: 1Member

    To me, Hybrid is the best model...simply because it does not have to adhere to any specific model, not even what so many seem to define what a Hybrid model is or is not. There is no actual Hybrid, only model types used ...some more than others, which seems to define it most times. A game like Star Trek Online is Hybrid with a good model...can pay for a sub, F2P, or use cash shop...is your choice if or any version. They also combine an in game currency hybrid...where you can buy Zen, to buy ingame items at the shop or put the Zen you bought up for sale to be bought with ingame acquired Dilithium, used for most high value items in game. All you have to do is grind to get huge stockpiles of Dilithium, and trade for real money currency. And there are many who play Stock market with it primarily. 

    DCUO is another Hybrid....pay for a sub, F2P, or buy individual content and items via the shop...with n P2Win items. And once you contribute more than $5 to the game...say buy an item in the store, youkeep it for life, plus get a bonus to your ingame utilities structure ( I.e. Bank, slots for items, etc) oer what a F2P gets. Buy any DLC, typically $9-10 and you keep it for life...a couple that contain newPower Attributes along with content, and if you sub for a month and create a character with that Power set but decide to go back to F2P- that Charcter retains that Power set for life. Can create 16 sub characters total, but can only have 6 via F2P...deactivate all but 6, decide to sub again, they all exist again. Staying F2P, but have over 16 and can't decide....play a while, then deactivate one...reacivate another. 

    Hybrid isn't just cash shop....it is a combo of several models in one, and doesn't have to be exactly th same as another game using a Hybrid (using IT'S model)  can be of its own design. Typically it benfits both player and Dev. Dev gets money streams of a variety of ways. Players get choices in a vriety of ways...is up to them.  Just depends on the type of Hybrid incorporated. But just as with any mdel, some are better than others in how they incorporate them. 

  • Ambros123Ambros123 Neverneverland, TNPosts: 877Member
    Originally posted by verenov
    Originally posted by Master10K

    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.

    Nice post. I agree. I also pre-purchased GW2, played a couple betas, and can honestly say that this is the BEST damn game I've played. Already logged over 30 hours and have a countdown timer widget counting down the days to this release. I like ANet's cash shop. I like Turbine's Cash Shop in LotRO. These two companies, for me, have done excellent jobs in their paying models, with GW2 being my favorite. Friend and I have agreed that we'll periodically buy stuff from GW2 cash shop just to support the company that we both enjoy playing for so much.

    Same here, P2P limits me to one MMO and I try to get the most for my buck.

    I hate Turbine's model as it nickel and dimes the player for content not to mention all the other stuff like tomes and classes and races.  You end up spending an aweful amount of money to get access to content through their adventure packs.  While you can earn TP for em you still have to do a god aweful amount of farming from months which sucks the enjoyment out of the game.  So I play a game to grind repetitive content so I can purchase more content?  Not fun at all.  Maybe LotRO did a better job but DDO has an autrocious system.  And the VIP option is a complete rip off where in other games you get so much higher quality that it's ridiculous.  Now if the VIP was like 5 or 8 bucks sure, but 15 bucks... thats just plain highway robbery for the quality of the game you get in return.  Which brings up that P2P MMOs need to adjust their price sub suitable to the game.  Like DDO for VIP should be 5 bucks, SWTOR 8 bucks, only those that provide a very high quality experience should be charging 15 bucks.

    B2P is my preferred method.  Let me make a one time payment for the available content at that time so I can enjoy it at my leisure which is the least stressful method for the player.

  • NyhmNyhm Canton, OHPosts: 82Member
    Great article. Island Forge (I'm the sole developer) uses a traditional subscription, but I'm making a Kickstarter campaign right now (to be announced at islandforge.com soon) with a goal of supporting a free-play option for players. Once the community comes together, I would love to be able to sustain a free-play mode, and the concepts in this article are a great rundown of the possibilities.

    Island Forge: Create Islands with Stories for Others to Explore!
    Free-to-Play with Membership and Upgrade options!

  • thinktank001thinktank001 oasisPosts: 2,027Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by xpiher

     

    proving you havent looked at gw2 cash shop. There isn't anything on there that gives a player more power. In fact spvp let's you create a character that can instantly create max items and has skills unlocked

     

    We will just ignore the fact that golems cost in game currency, and the experience upgrades that players can buy.   What will do you in 6 months when they had potion buffs or weapon/armor enchancements?   Every P2W game doesn't had them right away.   They slowly add them so players can get accustomed to them.

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