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[Column] General: Can Revenue Models Be Too Complicated?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,619MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

As more and more games add in "free to play" options, developers and publishers keep trying out new definitions of what F2P means. In today's The Free Zone, we opine on whether or not these different models are simply too complicated. See what we've got to say before adding your ideas to the mix in the comments.

Last week, Gazillion released information about its pre-release Founders Program for its upcoming F2P offering, Marvel Heroes. As you may know, the title is being touted as combining an MMO world with action RPG-style play. The studio has made references to the latter having core gameplay elements from Diablo. This isn't exactly shocking since the team is headed by former Blizzard principal David Brevik. And while implementation is always critical, the overarching concept, which also incorporates the huge and immensely popular titular universe plus the ability to play as many of its familiar superheroes, has definite appeal. 

Read more of Richard Aihoshi's The Free Zone: Revenue Models Be Too Complicated?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,364MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon
    The main thing that makes me sad about Marvel Heroes' many packs? I can't get Symbiote Spider-man without spending 200$.  :(
  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,036Member Uncommon
    I am hoping those will be available in the cash shop.  If not,  at least you will know who to poke fun of for spending too much on a 'f2p'.
  • PsychowPsychow SF Giants Territory, CAPosts: 1,784Member

    The estimated value of the premium pack scared the bejezus out of me. $750 estimated value? Really? Worth more than 4 years of a $15/mo sub of other games?

     

    Come on man...lol

  • OzmodanOzmodan Hilliard, OHPosts: 7,189Member Uncommon

    Completely agree with you Richard,  someone in marketing should be shot for such a idiotic model.  People who have trouble following the KISS principle cause great difficulites in life.   I will bet the people who wrote and designed the game are not happy about it either.  

    Eventually some developer in china is going to release a fantastic game and it will preclude even Wow here in the western market.

  • JayFiveAliveJayFiveAlive Arvada, COPosts: 534Member Uncommon
    This is why I love subscription :( This crap is outrageous... Vanguard has one of the better F2P models out there IMO. Hopefully more will follow it if F2P really is the future of payment models :(
  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon

    When I read the title I thought you were not being serious.  How confusing can a revenue model be?  After reading it... They are completely insane.

    First of all how are they calculating the value of a game that hasn't even come out yet to determine 'estimated value' of 750 dollars?!?  Second of all what is the reason why I cant buy one slot and select whatever character I want?   Third of all why is having ONE character 19.99?!   Thats overtly expensive again for a game that doesnt even exist. 

    I'm trying to look at it objectively and each time I see It as highway robbery. I cant think of another game that has a model this convoluted?  I mean SWTOR was bad, but this takes the cake. If this is the actual model they put in place (without changing it) I wont be playing this game.   And to top it all off its just a diablo clone?

    No thank you

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  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by JayFiveAlive
    This is why I love subscription :( This crap is outrageous... Vanguard has one of the better F2P models out there IMO. Hopefully more will follow it if F2P really is the future of payment models :(
     

    This has nothing to do with F2P as a model.  It has to do with a hair-brained implementation of that model.  Subscription forces the user to pay for portions of the game they may not care for.  Why should I have to pay for end game raid content if all I will do is quest?  It makes more financial sense for me to pay for what I use.   As far as the CS I could care less.  I never use them (or even know they are there) - and in the rare instances that I do I have no issues spending to get larger bag space, etc.  But at least it was a COST I initiated as opposed to one thrust upon me.

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  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,036Member Uncommon

    This also reminds me of magic the gathering online, where people pay just as much for their fake online cards as they would for real ones.  It came out back when there wasn't really f2p and cash shops, and mmos (I know mtg isn't one, but it still seemed dumb) were all subscription based.

     

    MTGO would have been an awesome game to get access to any cards you wanted for a deck at 15 bucks a month, and sort of reminds me of this game where you are paying by the character instead.  But to reiterate another poster, this is why subscription model is better (okay I'm paraphrasing, but it's true).   The snowball effect has already begun with free2play cash shops. 

  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,036Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by darkhalf357x
    Originally posted by JayFiveAlive
    This is why I love subscription :( This crap is outrageous... Vanguard has one of the better F2P models out there IMO. Hopefully more will follow it if F2P really is the future of payment models :(
     

    This has nothing to do with F2P as a model.

     

    Yes and no.  You know why the tax code is convoluted?  Because if people paid all their taxes in one lump sum, they'd just revolt, that's what Isaac Asimov believed anyhoo.  The principle is that the more things you can charge for, the more you'll get without letting on that people are paying more than they ought to. 

     

    Because of this, these kinds of milk-you-dry models will almost always result from free to play.  I can't think of a game where this hasn't happened, though I'm sure some will defend their favorite game.  Mine was CoH for a while, and even I could tell that they were horribly overcharging for items and features.   So does DCUO, so does age of conan, so does SWTOR, etc. etc.  All of them I've played overcharge (the value of a service/item I'm weighing against what we used to get with an all-inclusive 15 dollar a month sub).

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,211Member Uncommon

    Another good article Richard.  Thanks.

    Like you, as a consumer, I don't really care to make excuses for why it's complex or horrible to navigate.  I just care that I can understand how I'm paying for my game.

    LotRO is another game where the cash shop has gotten way out of control.  I'm not talking about pricing here, although that could be looked at too.  I'm talking the sheer volume of crap in the store and offering nearly everything under the sun in that shop along with their various tiers and types.

    On the other hand there are clean simple models like the STO store or the cash shops in TSW or GW2.  All easy to navigate.  All easy to understand how they're monetizing.  I spend less time in them and more time playing.

    Making a guess here, but I think stores with more complex revenue models are working overtime to squeeze every last cent they can.  There is a team or committee that makes spread sheets and analyzes every angle and confusion is part of their equation.  If the store is confusing then they can try and bilk their players out of more cash.  That has been one of my long standing criticisms of the Turbine store, it feels like they actively look for a way to charge for anything and everything they think they can get away with.

  • TerranahTerranah Stockton, CAPosts: 3,605Member

    I like GW2's cash shop design, I just wish they'd add more stuff to it. 

     

    I like how you can trade gold for gems, especially as I make more gold.  I like how you really don't ever need to buy anything in the cash shop.  The game is complete and fun without it.  The cash shop then becomes just a way to add some extra functionality, like more inventory space, cosmetic changes, etc.

     

    For some reason though they are not really utilyzing their cash shop to the fullest though.  I think if they did it could be a very lucrative business for them, apart from box sales which is up to 3 million now?  Impressive.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,211Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Terranah

    I like GW2's cash shop design, I just wish they'd add more stuff to it. 

    I like how you can trade gold for gems, especially as I make more gold.  I like how you really don't ever need to buy anything in the cash shop.  The game is complete and fun without it.  The cash shop then becomes just a way to add some extra functionality, like more inventory space, cosmetic changes, etc.

    For some reason though they are not really utilyzing their cash shop to the fullest though.  I think if they did it could be a very lucrative business for them, apart from box sales which is up to 3 million now?  Impressive.

    I agree.  If I had a single criticism for GW2 cash shop it would be that there isn't much interesting stuff in there.  The only extra I can see paying for in the game are storage spaces, inventory slots, character slots, and maybe buffs, but I doubt even the latter since I don't care to accelerate my progress.

  • Aela_DelphiAela_Delphi Friendswood, TXPosts: 5Member

    In my opinion, it isn't the fact that F2P is flawed, it is the current market's implementation of F2P that is the real issue.   

     

    Ryahl (EorzeaReborn FFXIV Columnist here at MMORPG) spent some time a few months ago looking into the topic, and this is what he came up with.  TSW ended up using this has a basis for their model (it isn't simple, however.

    TLDR for his article:  If your free to play option does not allow for full product access (via small a la carte transactions), you don’t have a free to play option.  You have a subscription teaser.

    Anari Delphi -- Co-owner and author of EorzeaReborn.com
    Check out Ry's MMORPG.com FFXIV Column -- EorzeaReborn
    Follow Ry and I on Twitter: @EorzeaReborn

  • bbbb42bbbb42 none, FLPosts: 297Member Uncommon

     I don't have a problem with what they did with the packs. With that said, Showing off how inflated item mall prices are by putting the 750$ or more value is crazy thats terrible bad marketting. Who was the genius who thought drawing attention to Item mall inflation was a good idea.

    :| 

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  • VolkanikVolkanik DOVERPosts: 8Member
    The more I read about the Marvel MMO the sadder i become. Fantastic IP absolutely ruined.
  • evilastroevilastro EdinburghPosts: 4,270Member
    Originally posted by bbbb42

     I don't have a problem with what they did with the packs. With that said, Showing off how inflated item mall prices are by putting the 750$ or more value is crazy thats terrible bad marketting. Who was the genius who thought drawing attention to Item mall inflation was a good idea.

    :| 

    I love how they have the 'Estimated Value' underneath. Its a digital product, the value is what you price it at. Meaning the 'Estimated Value' is the same as the actual value. Not $750.

    Also I was under the impression that most of these characters and costumes could be unlocked via regular gameplay? Or is that now not the case?

  • sapphensapphen Madison, NCPosts: 911Member Common
    Originally posted by Volkanik
    The more I read about the Marvel MMO the sadder i become. Fantastic IP absolutely ruined.

    Maybe, but at least they had enough sense to make it different than rest of the MMO garble being released.

    As far as payment models I think they could be somewhat complex.  There should be multiple opitons for players to pay for a service.  Having a low end investment and an expensive one is a good idea imo. 

  • Cod_EyeCod_Eye jarrowPosts: 1,016Member
    *deleted*    oops wrong thread
  • DauzqulDauzqul Detroit, MIPosts: 1,406Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BillMurphy
    The main thing that makes me sad about Marvel Heroes' many packs? I can't get Symbiote Spider-man without spending 200$.  :(

    That's exactly what I said.

    I'm going to take this example as a warning and avoid this game. It's probably just going to get worse.

  • aslan132aslan132 Tampa, FLPosts: 378Member Uncommon

    The saddest part of all, Im pretty sure i read that all the characters are unlockable just from playing. So yes, maybe the 4 or 5 you can choose from (for free) arent your favorites, but the question is, is 20 bucks worth an hour of your time? 2 hours?

     

    We dont know what it will take to unlock other characters yet. But just knowing that they are unlockable through play is enough to make me not spend the money. I would be willing to maybe drop 5 bucks each for one or two i like, but definately not 20 just for one.

  • fallen5fallen5 Penn Valley, CAPosts: 70Member Uncommon

    Aion/Lineage 2 best free to play that used to be pay to play. as in no payin to chat or sell on auction. theres NO restrictions at all. everyones playin every part of the game. and what about all the free to play games that were always free to play. payin for parts of the game isnt true free to play

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