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How Can MMOs Be Monetized Fairly? a Column at MMORPG.com

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  • sayuusayuu Member RarePosts: 745
    In regards to the article:


    while I understand that this is a MT Everest sized issue to some, to me it is not even a molehill.


    In ye olden days when there were a handful of MMORPGs on the market and only one payment model I was having the time of my life playing these games.

    Fast forward to today with the plethora of MMORPGs and their multiple monetization  setups available and I'm still having the time of my life.

    Because I still play games for fun, and if I'm having fun I dont care if others pay less or more  or we all pay the same. It's my money, it's my time and it's my fun. . .

    . . .and if people come and tell me "you're the reason this genre is going to hell in a hand-basket." Well  ok, I'll just ignore you and continue what I've always done. . play games and have fun.
  • NikaasNikaas Member UncommonPosts: 135
    I think there is a pretty simple system that will both 1) have zero influence on the game play and 2) player will have huge incentive to buy. And its not something new, some non-MMOs use similar systems with extreme success. Games like LOL, Dota2 and TF2 use similar systems.

    All game items (and i mean ALL) share same basic view model. For relatively small fee (say from .05$ up to say 0.5$ depending on the rarity/strength) players buy the "real" view of that new upgrade item they just got dropped.

    Every cosmetic only shop will do the job. It is just the out-of-the-box thinking that's needed to make those cosmetics highly desirable. There are infinite ways to achieve that if they don't stick to cookie cutter models out of fear of the unknown.
  • GdemamiGdemami Member EpicPosts: 11,687
    Quizzical said:
    Most MMORPG players agree on what the business model should be:  only someone else should have to pay, but they shouldn't get any advantage from doing so.
    Spot on.
  • n3xxn3xx Member UncommonPosts: 36
    Path of exile was my favourtie monitization to date.... You can play everything just fine for free. You have sufficent bag and bank space for free but after serveral characters your gonna wanna buy some bank tabs and but 5-10$ and your good to go again. The store only offers cosmetics and when the game first launched the armour in game was pretty bland but they soon fixed that and now the armour in game is super cool. You have to pay for transmogs that are called skin transfers but I'm cool with that especially seeing how you can get a bunch for like 1$ and they have all kinds of sales where you can get a bunch of cool stuff for cheap and sometimes buying items gives you free boxes that can roll for some expensive items. Every expansion there supporter packs but it doesn't lock any thing just all cosmetic but they are limited time so I usually grab the bottom or mid tier ones. All in all I think it's a great system and it feels really fair so fair that it makes you want to support the company and I've actually spent more money on that game then almost any other... with the exception of maybe LOL way back when.
  • R3d.GallowsR3d.Gallows Member UncommonPosts: 155
    edited August 2016
    Gdemami said:
    Quizzical said:
    Most MMORPG players agree on what the business model should be:  only someone else should have to pay, but they shouldn't get any advantage from doing so.
    Spot on.
    Not my view. Everyone should pay the same, and they should get no power / feature advantages apart of getting access to the game. Sub works best if you have a game good enough to keep people playing. I dont mind if name change, race change, and other services like that have to be paid for. You can even sell cosmetic items as long as theres a wide, constantly increasing choice of cool cosmetic options already obtainable by everyone in game (kind of like it is with mounts in WoW). 
  • GdemamiGdemami Member EpicPosts: 11,687
    edited August 2016
    R3d.Gallows said:
    Not my view. Everyone should pay the same, and they should get no power / feature advantages apart of getting access to the game.
    But you are reinforcing his point completely - you are proposing an unsustainable model where developers, or someone else, would need to keep funding the game to keep it going.

    Sub model worked back in the days when there were just few titles on the market, it does not work today. With more titles to chose from, people want to hop from one game to another, playing different games depending on their mood and subscription is huge obstacle with that.

    There is no point debating how players should behave and how they should treat games. You won't change them, you can't force them.

    All you can do is follow them and provide them a service or goods that fit their needs and desires - currently the best option we have now is F2P and micro-transactions.
  • MitaraMitara Member UncommonPosts: 755
    If you actually make a game that is WORTH playing, then paying for it should not be any problem.
  • IncomparableIncomparable Member UncommonPosts: 1,112
    edited August 2016


    Separate monetization from game play. After that, charge a fair price for the service.
    It's not hard.....really, it's not.

    What seems to be hard is creating a game where players want to keep returning to.



    I think the problem is that development is not making enough content for certain games that have customers that want to pay for a sub or in their cash shop.

    So part of the problem seems to be in development, and it could be mmo engine related or just that its not that easy for developers and it does take too much time and money, and only big games like WoW can push enough content to keep players as 'content locusts' and generate enough revenue.

    For me subbing is being part of an alive world - and sure players add to that with pvp, and even pve at a basic level,

    but i find that pve, or npcs, or AI, are not advanced enough to have a game that feels alive. there should be NPC politics, mods as dms creating events, and from that even have different server types with conquests that allow for certain escalations of the game to come to a conclusion in a short duration.

    So while more content is needed in general, i think, the worlds in mmos need more interaction and consequence and a mod or dm, rather, can add to that experience, and it doesnt just have to be a raid which would be a similar exp, but the whole mmo/game. so to sum up, imo, mmos lack something extra to justify that monthly sub with it being more engaging content or just more content. And just having more content, doesnt compare to something like WoW.

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • R3d.GallowsR3d.Gallows Member UncommonPosts: 155
    edited August 2016
    Gdemami said:
    R3d.Gallows said:
    Not my view. Everyone should pay the same, and they should get no power / feature advantages apart of getting access to the game.
    But you are reinforcing his point completely - you are proposing a unsustainable model where developers, or someone else, would need to keep funding the game to keep it going.

    Sub model worked back in the days when there were just few titles on the market, it does not work today. With more titles to chose from, people want to hop from one game to another, playing different games depending on their mood and subscription is huge obstacle with that.

    There is no point debating how players should behave and how they should treat games. You won't change them, you can't force them.
    Unless you make a game good enough for them to want to play it regardless of the sub. Hell, I rarely pay for games but after playing through Witcher 3 I went and bought it and the following DLCs. 
  • GdemamiGdemami Member EpicPosts: 11,687
    edited August 2016
    R3d.Gallows said:
    Unless you make a game good enough for them to want to play it regardless of the sub.
    That is not how it works.

    Just look at your own reply above - a game you would pay for is sub+cosmetics only cash shop and plenty of cosmetics in the game.

    Apparently even you are price sensitive and you won't pay just any price - ie. items affecting game play, because the game is "good enough", right?

    People are always considering the price and it only goes back full circle to point being made there.
  • ShaighShaigh Member RarePosts: 2,007
    If we change the question to what players can do I wish people would do informed choices instead of getting stuck on the hype.

    #1 Don't buy founder's pack for early access until the full extent of the cash shop has been revealed. You are giving them money even before you know if you will hate the cash shop or not.

    #2. Stop buying games where publishers say they might add more to the cash shop, read #1.

    #3. If you are paying a subscription and publishers make a change you hate make sure to cancel your subscription immediately and write that change as your reason for cancelling the subscription. Publishers listen to money and unlike your forum posts someone will read that message. You can always renew your subscription later anyway.

    #4. Stop defending everything developers and publishers do just because you currently enjoy the game. You aren't doing yourself any favors by blindly supporting anything.

    #5. Who am I kidding, you will do the same mistakes for next game anyway.
    The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
  • R3d.GallowsR3d.Gallows Member UncommonPosts: 155
    edited August 2016
    Gdemami said:
    R3d.Gallows said:
    Unless you make a game good enough for them to want to play it regardless of the sub.
    That is not how it works.

    Just look at your own reply above - a game you would pay for is sub+cosmetics only cash shop and plenty of cosmetics in the game.

    Apparently even you are price sensitive and you won't pay just any price - ie. items affecting game play, because the game is "worthy", right?
    For the game to be worthy it has to be fun. Lets look at the statement you singled out from my reply:

    Just look at your own reply above - a game you would pay for is sub+cosmetics only cash shop and plenty of cosmetics in the game.

    This is not price related. This is fun related. Its pretty damn obvious there has to be plenty of cosmetics obtainable in game and the cash shop should be a source of extra fluff only, otherwise youre starting down the road of devs designing parts of the game with the sole purpose of making people miserable, just to manipulate them into buying stuff. In this case it would be removing cosmetic items from the game so that the ones in the cash shop sell better. This kills players' joy of visual progression and visual rewards just because the publisher wants to sell shit. Its removing fun from the game. The same goes for any other feature that would sell well in the cash shop - to maximise the sales you have remove that feature from the game or make it so hard to obtain it becomes ubearably boring/annoying. Problem is most of those features are either sources of fun themselves or desirable rewards that would motivate people to play for extended periods of time. Thus youre removing fun and motivation to play from the game. 


    Post edited by R3d.Gallows on
  • R3d.GallowsR3d.Gallows Member UncommonPosts: 155
    Shaigh said:
    If we change the question to what players can do I wish people would do informed choices instead of getting stuck on the hype.

    #1 Don't buy founder's pack for early access until the full extent of the cash shop has been revealed. You are giving them money even before you know if you will hate the cash shop or not.

    #2. Stop buying games where publishers say they might add more to the cash shop, read #1.

    #3. If you are paying a subscription and publishers make a change you hate make sure to cancel your subscription immediately and write that change as your reason for cancelling the subscription. Publishers listen to money and unlike your forum posts someone will read that message. You can always renew your subscription later anyway.

    #4. Stop defending everything developers and publishers do just because you currently enjoy the game. You aren't doing yourself any favors by blindly supporting anything.

    #5. Who am I kidding, you will do the same mistakes for next game anyway.
    Very good set of rules but you need a healthy dose of jaded and disillusioned in your gaming experience to follow them. Took me a while to get there myself. 
  • Gobstopper3DGobstopper3D Member RarePosts: 842
    Sub for me all the way. With any payment model other than sub (w/o cash shop), you are going to divert some resources to your cash shop as well as design game play around monetization. Even games that offer several different payment models have this same limitation to make up for those who don't use the sub method.

    I'm aware that WoW has a cash shop for mounts/pets and charge for some services, but I have never had to use any service and don't feel at all that I need to purchase any pets/mounts, so I never have. I can't say the same about any B2P or F2P game.

    I'm not an IT Specialist, Game Developer, or Clairvoyant in real life, but like others on here, I play one on the internet.

  • cameltosiscameltosis Member EpicPosts: 2,176
    I'm personally a fan of subscription only as a monetisation model, but I recognise the problems with subscriptions. 

    1) Cultural - The west likes subscriptions but the east doesn't. This is often overlooked on these boards but is at the heart of why we have f2p in the west now. The Asian market has been using F2P for a very long time and prefers it over p2p. This meant that many developers had to develop 2 separate payment models for the same game to please both markets and it wasn't really worth the effort

    2) Casuals - Subscriptions are fine for dedicated gamers, but casuals don't feel its worth the money. This meant that subs were a big barrier to entry for many casual gamers as well as a solid reason to quit after casuals had played the main story for a few weeks. 

    3) Income - Sub prices haven't really changed in 15-20 years, but development costs have. Typical subscription prices haven't been able to cover development + running costs for a long time. 



    My preferred monetisation model is as follows: hybrid sub + dlc. 

    So, primary payment method would be subscription. Drop the price to £5 a month so that it is less of a barrier to entry and is also more in line with typical content release schedule. £5 isn't much, so more affordable. 

    However, to cater to casuals who may not want to commit, as well as the Asian market, also have a DLC option. Players can download the game for free but can only access like the first 10 levels. After that, they have to purchase each new zone / instance cluster / whatever as they go. This removes the cost barrier to entry and also puts the players in charge of what they spend and when. 


    For a hardcore player, subscription would be the best option - for £60, they can play everything the game has to offer for a year, inclusive of all new content releases as well as the base game. For a casual player, they get the game for free but pay, say, £5 per DLC. If they wanted all the content, it may cost them £120 (but they would have permanent access) but if they were more selective then they might not bother purchasing instance clusters or pvp, so could work out cheaper. Also, if they are just playing slowly, they might only purchase a few DLCs, so it would work out cheaper over the year. 
  • Slapshot1188Slapshot1188 Member LegendaryPosts: 11,063
    acidblood said:
    acidblood said:
    Not sure there will ever be a 'fair' system... even before WoW had a cosmetics shop / account services the $15 a month didn't seem fair as a non-raider (a lot of the updates were raid-only content). And the problem with anything but a pure sub is that you start to negatively affect gameplay / in-game content.

    I don't know... maybe a sub model (i.e. $15 a month) but you can 'refund' certain content (like the latest raid instance you have no interest in). Also, I really think expansions (e.g. WoW style major content update expansions) should come with a month of game time.

    Are you kidding me? Divide $15 by the number of hours you played WoW in an average month. That is somewhere between a low and ridiculously low cost per hour of entertainment.  And you want some kind of refund system for any content you don't like?
    Not saying I didn't enjoy it for the time that I played, but the main reason I finally quit was because $15 a month was simply too much for the privilege of being able to login occasionally... if the cost was lower (refund for 'dead on arrival' content was just an idea off the top of my head) then I would have hung around a bit longer, helped friends (of which I had quite a few IRL friends still playing), leveled an alt past 30, etc.
    A mere one hour playtime a week is $3.75 an hour.

    A mere 4 hours a week is $0.94 an hour.

    If either scenario is "simply too much", you are in the wrong hobby. 

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  • AsariashaAsariasha Member UncommonPosts: 239
    Interesting article.

    In my opinion, we should first clarify what the term "fair" actually means. Fair for the gamer? Fair for the developer? The perspective matters and in the end a solution is needed that is fair for both - developers and gamers.

    An appropriate monetization model should add value to both sides. Developers should earn enough money to make a living, to maintain and further develop the game and to economically grow so that they may continuously invest in new technologies or employees which then help to improve the game further.
    Gamers, on the other hand, should be presented a reasonable pricing model. Personally, I believe in the subscription model for MMOs in combination with a shop for cosmetic items. This model comes closest to what we experience in other hobbies, e.g. membership fee in a soccer club, swimming club, and so on plus the occasional purchase of new soccer shoes, swimming equip, etc. pp.

    The main issue is that the drift towards the free-2-play monetization model leaves only a few options to implement a "fair" system, and as far as I can see, there are only a few companies that managed to come up with a good solution that feels like a win-win for both. Example: Riots League of Legends, Bethesdas Elder Scrolls Online.


  • holdenhamletholdenhamlet Member EpicPosts: 3,756
    edited August 2016
    Iselin said:
    I want to play the game and be rewarded for it, not by spending money in the cash shop, even cosmetics are part of the reward for playing the game. I'll take a game designed to be fun with a regular charge over one designed to manipulate you with roadblocks and addiction mechanics that break immersion and shove the cash shop in your face.
    I just saw an article in Forbes about Overwatch loot boxes from a writer, Paul Tassi, I don't usually like but this time I think he got it right:

    "The main counter-argument to all this is that all of these unlocks are cosmetic, that they don’t affect the game at all. This is true, and if it wasn’t, if you could “buy power,” we would be having a very different conversation. It wouldn’t even be a debate, as that would be a thousand percent wrong and Overwatch may have bombed outright if that system was in place.

    And yet I don’t really buy the argument that cosmetics are “meaningless” either. Jim Sterling did a good video on this recently where he talks about when they only “goal” in Overwatch other than just winning is to level up and get loot crates, that is a hugely important part of the game. And we have to stop pretending that cosmetics aren’t “important,” at least psychologically, as players love dressing up their characters in every kind of title from shooters to RPGs. Cosmetics do matter, and unlocking them is an important part of the player experience."

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/06/10/the-math-behind-why-overwatchs-loot-boxes-are-exhausting-to-unlock/#662e5a5074fd

    I agree cosmetics matter, but Overwatch gives you quite a few loot boxes for free.  I get like 2-3 a day since I play quite a bit.  And there's a currency system so you can buy your favorite ones if you don't luck into them.

    I'm willing to compromise a little and allow an extra avenue for income for online games since they require content updates and server upkeep.

    I think Overwatch is about as good a monetized game as we're going to get nowadays, and it also proves that you don't need to make an insidious cash shop to make a metric-shit-ton of money.  You just need to make a good game.

    It also shows that an insidious cash shop is probably a hindrance for wild success.  Clearly you can make some quick bucks and have some parties at the Trion dev office if you go with insidious p2w pricing models, but you'll never come even remotely close to the success Blizzard has had with their fair and player-friendly monetization models.

    It reminds me of an article I read on this site awhile back from some financial analyst (who mimicked many of the p2w champions on this site) who looked at the billion RIOT was making with LOL and said they should make the game p2w because that would mean more money.

    That analyst like some on this forum, completely ignored the fact that LOL would not have the playerbase it has nor would it retain it if the game was p2w.  The wild success the game was having was in-part because it has a fair monetization model, and if that were to change, overall profits would very likely dramatically decrease.

  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,195
    edited August 2016
    Iselin said:
    I want to play the game and be rewarded for it, not by spending money in the cash shop, even cosmetics are part of the reward for playing the game. I'll take a game designed to be fun with a regular charge over one designed to manipulate you with roadblocks and addiction mechanics that break immersion and shove the cash shop in your face.
    I just saw an article in Forbes about Overwatch loot boxes from a writer, Paul Tassi, I don't usually like but this time I think he got it right:

    "The main counter-argument to all this is that all of these unlocks are cosmetic, that they don’t affect the game at all. This is true, and if it wasn’t, if you could “buy power,” we would be having a very different conversation. It wouldn’t even be a debate, as that would be a thousand percent wrong and Overwatch may have bombed outright if that system was in place.

    And yet I don’t really buy the argument that cosmetics are “meaningless” either. Jim Sterling did a good video on this recently where he talks about when they only “goal” in Overwatch other than just winning is to level up and get loot crates, that is a hugely important part of the game. And we have to stop pretending that cosmetics aren’t “important,” at least psychologically, as players love dressing up their characters in every kind of title from shooters to RPGs. Cosmetics do matter, and unlocking them is an important part of the player experience."

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2016/06/10/the-math-behind-why-overwatchs-loot-boxes-are-exhausting-to-unlock/#662e5a5074fd

    I agree cosmetics matter, but Overwatch gives you quite a few loot boxes for free.  I get like 2-3 a day since I play quite a bit.  And there's a currency system so you can buy your favorite ones if you don't luck into them.

    I'm willing to compromise a little and allow an extra avenue for income for online games since they require content updates and server upkeep.

    I think Overwatch is about as good a monetized game as we're going to get nowadays, and it also proves that you don't need to make an insidious cash shop to make money.  You just need to make a good game.




    And the cost of making a good game like Overwatch + all the marketing + cost of failed project Titan that was the source of most character assets = easily over 300 million dollars.


    So "just make a good game" is beyond the budget of vast majority of video game studios.

    Also need I mention that Blizzard as a 5000+ employee billion+ dollar company is about 20 times the size and 100x the cash flow that pretty much none can match?

    Also need I mention that having over 10 million users of Battle net every day means any product you put on that launcher is instantly seen by a HUGE audience? 


    Suddenly this "just make a good game" becomes clear as far as how it's pretty much a 1 in 1000 shot for small companies, because even if they make a great game they don't have the marketing power nor huge battle net user base that is ready to try out a new game.


    So before using ANY Blizzard game as an example consider how comparing that to the vast majority of other dev studio that is just ludicrous. 

    Kind of like comparing NFL to some tiny regional that can't even afford jerseys for their teams.


  • holdenhamletholdenhamlet Member EpicPosts: 3,756
    edited August 2016
    "Also need I mention that Blizzard as a 5000+ employee billion+ dollar company is about 20 times the size and 100x the cash flow that pretty much none can match?"

    How did Blizzard get that big?

    I can tell you one thing- it wasn't from selling earing slots in the cash shop for WoW (cough Trion cough).
  • GdemamiGdemami Member EpicPosts: 11,687
    edited August 2016
    R3d.Gallows said:
    This is not price related.
    Of course it is price related, we are talking about what and how much would you pay for - subscription and cash shops.

    You are the one claiming people will pay "anything" for "good enough game", yet once there is something people should pay for - it is manipulation and company selling "shit".

    You just again reinforced the point.
  • DMKanoDMKano Member LegendaryPosts: 21,195
    "Also need I mention that Blizzard as a 5000+ employee billion+ dollar company is about 20 times the size and 100x the cash flow that pretty much none can match?"

    How did Blizzard get that big?

    I can tell you one thing- it wasn't from selling earing slots in the cash shop for WoW (cough Trion cough).

    It was through a decade+ of selling excellent single/multiplayer games before MMOs even existed.

    Blizzard made money fron Diablo, Star craft and Warcraft before 2004.

    After 2004 WoW made them huge.


    Again you are comparing a 5000 billion dollar established company to Lulz Trion who has less than 300 employees and a tiny fraction of revenue.

    Trion didn't even exist when WoW came out..... hello?

    Trion launched Rift in 2011, Blizzard at that point was already a billion dollar company.


    Do you not recognize the absurdity of your comparison? 

    Hey lets compare a local hardware store to Home Depot..... yeah!

  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer Member EpicPosts: 8,767
    edited August 2016
    DMKano said:
    I think fairness is completely subjective - so IMO you find a game that is "fair for you" and you play that.

    Adapt to reality of now, don't expect the world to change for you.

    If you can't find anything to suit you - move on.


    There is fairness and there is equality.
    Someone can say "Hey! That's not fair!" to anything they want. But equality can be measured. I want to play a game where I pay to gain entry. What I pay is equal to what everyone else pays to gain entry. From there, the only thing everybody gets for the fee, is the same amount of time. 

    Traditionally, we'd all pay $15.00 in exchange for 30 days access. That's what EVERYONE pays, that's what EVERYONE gets. 30 day. How people choose to use that time is on them. 

    Subjective:
    "It's not fair! That person spends 12hrs a day in the game, and I can only spend 4!"

    Equality:
    You both paid for 30 days access, you both recieved 30 days access.

    The arrangements one makes in their own life in order to use what they were given is entirely on them and should not be foisted on the rest of the player base in the form of "Convenience Items". Otherwise known as "Fairness", which it seems can be bought.
  • IncomparableIncomparable Member UncommonPosts: 1,112
    "Also need I mention that Blizzard as a 5000+ employee billion+ dollar company is about 20 times the size and 100x the cash flow that pretty much none can match?"

    How did Blizzard get that big?

    I can tell you one thing- it wasn't from selling earing slots in the cash shop for WoW (cough Trion cough).
    The market was also different, but yea, its possible but i guess a different way to look at it is another mmo makes their mmo different enough that its not part of the same market so to speak. kind of like WoW at the time.

    “Write bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble”

  • GitmixGitmix Member UncommonPosts: 603
    The subscription model was always the best and fairest IMO.
    It works fine. WoW started with a box price AND a sub but that
    didn't stop it from becoming the biggest MMO success to date.
    It's only later, when the market was flooded with new MMOs that people
    became 'creative' with their monetization to lure people into their mediocre games.
    I think most people agree that if a game is great it'll do just fine with a sub and no P2W cash shop.
    However I do agree that 15 dollars or euros a month seems too much. I'd keep it under 10.
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