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Monetizing Free-To-Play Gaming Models

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the pay-eight-cents-to-leave-a-comment dept.

Businesses 164

eldavojohn writes "Last week, a game consultant named David J Edery gave his two cents on why free-to-play (F2P) game models aren't as prolific in the West as they seem to be in the East. Aside from a few unprovable cultural divides, he makes some interesting claims concerning conversion rates of non-paying players to paying players. Some customers pay hundreds for functional items and only a dollar on aesthetic items while other users might be the complete opposite. He also notes that converting a non-paying newbie into a paying customer is not the same as converting a non-paying salty dog. He defines 'aggressive monetization' to mean how much money will advance you 'unfairly' in the game. He focuses on two classes of items: those that provide performance-neutral aesthetics and those that provide performance enhancing or functional advancements. He claims to have access to ARPPU ('average revenue per paying user' per month) rates among several game developers and states that 'more aggressive monetization model and a loyal, niche userbase can hope to generate $50 per paying user per month, on average,' while 'a F2P game that limits itself to flat subscription revenue and/or non-functional items is generally more likely to fall somewhere between $5 and $10 per paying user per month.' Like any good consultant, he also gives ethics a footnote in an otherwise verbose post on monetizing free to play games. Has anyone here had experience pricing items and content in free-to-play games?"

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Internet connections are shitty in the West. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257552)

Internet connections in the West are extremely shitty compared to those of South Korea and Japan. They even lag behind those of China, in most major cities. Of course, that's what happens when you have a geographically-large area to cover, and all service is provided by a small oligopoly of companies that have basically no regulation and no incentive to compete against one another. Hell, in the US, most of them came from the same original company in the first place, before that monopoly was busted.

Re:Internet connections are shitty in the West. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257562)

Wait, what?

Re:Internet connections are shitty in the West. (0)

odies (1869886) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257596)

It's correct, for US at least. Europe is pretty good. I hope you aren't thinking Asian connections are shitty because they are slow to you? They obviously are fast for everyone living there and you can get up to 1 gbit connections in several countries.

However, other thing is while there are people with personal computers, most people use web cafes. It wouldn't make sense for them to buy games, nor would companies really like nor make the same amount of money if the web cafes just buy the games once. When all the items or game subscriptions are tied to individual accounts, players will spend money no matter if they play at home or web cafe.

Re:Internet connections are shitty in the West. (1)

Kvasio (127200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258986)


Internet connections in the West are extremely shitty compared to those of South Korea and Japan.

odies writes:

I hope you aren't thinking Asian connections are shitty because they are slow to you? They obviously are fast for everyone living there and you can get up to 1 gbit connections in several countries.

Reading with comprehensions still out of reach of masses.

Golf works like that (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257576)

Golfers spend considerable money on things which are supposed to improve their game. It's usually mediocre players buying stuff that won't help them. There's a lot of that in running shoes, too. (Much to the annoyance of Nike, their sponsor, the Stanford University track team trains running barefoot. [] )

Re:Golf works like that (1, Offtopic)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257910)

The only drawback to running barefoot is you can easily pickup hookworms running near dog droppings. Hookworms crawl about a foot a day from where they're first dropped so just being near poop can be enough to infect you.

Re:Golf works like that (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258014)

Dogs typically aren't allowed within 10-15m of good running tracks, for that exact reason.

With university-onwed track, the distance can easily go to 100m+.

Re:Golf works like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258270)

So stray dogs read, and then obey, the signs saying to keep dogs away?

Re:Golf works like that (3, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258354)

They do in Canada [] .

Re:Golf works like that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258046)

There are some uber-minimalist footware (such as Vibram FiveFingers) available which can give you all the feeling of barefooting, with protection against stones, small glass shards, etc.

I own a pair. Until you run in them, you don't know what you are missing.

Get a pair for like $50.

Re:Golf works like that (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258158)

So do Nike Free shoes. Those would be really great if Nike wouldn't make them for ridiculously slender feet only.

Re:Golf works like that (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258590)

Vibram five fingers are the best shoe ever in the history of the world. Barefoot its the best way to travel.In our urban world though you need some armor for your feet. Those shoes seriously changed my life. They caused me to get in to running. My feet are way stronger without the arch support. anyway, not to sound like a commercial but get those shoes.

Hookworm therapy (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258186)

The only drawback to running barefoot is you can easily pickup hookworms

It's not always a drawback. It can help people get over autoimmune disease [] .

Re:Golf works like that (0, Offtopic)

huizhi (1879318) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259736)

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It is a balancing act (1)

luvirini (753157) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257578)

If a game that is billed as f2p is too agressive in making things cost more people will be annoyed and leave, on the other hand make it opposite and you do not get enough money.

That balance is ofcourse modified by the way to "force" the user to buy things. For example if the grind without buying some items is way too slow the level of dissatisfied people will likely be higher, than if the grind normally is "slow" and the acceleration items for example change it to "medium"

Re:It is a balancing act (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257684)

If it is a game like the traditional fantasy MMO, then high end raiders and solid group dungeon runners will start resenting people who can just hit a store and buy with real-life currency items that are up to par with them. If the game wants to be another Second Life, that is one thing, but I'm sure the high end players in WoW would start leaving in droves if Blizzard had sets of armor for sale with stats that were equal to items earned in raids/groups.

Appearance stuff is different. People buying non-combat pets are looked at money wasters, but it doesn't affect the game. Mounts are iffish. In a way, they are a bargain for WoW players who have a lot of alts because it means all 50 chars on the account have some type of steed. This also goes for appearance armor. If someone wants to have their mage wear plate for $10, go for it, as long as the armor doesn't give a stat advantage.

When it gets over the line with traditional MMOs is when someone who spends lots of cash at the store starts having a PvE or PvP advantage. What would kill a MMO is an item that as significant as game play as journeyman's boots in the early days of EQ1 [1] being in the store. This means that one would have to purchase stuff in order to keep their membership in a raiding guild, or be on the top tier (and trust me, in some MMOs, having an item is as important if not more than having a decent gearscore in WoW [2].)

[1]: In the early, pre-Luclin days of EQ 1, jboots mean the difference between booking it to a zone if one got overwhelmed with mobs, versus certain death. Your membership in raiding guilds depended oftentimes on having this item.

[2]: Gearscore is probably the most critical thing people judge on in WoW. You can be a moron, but if you have a high enough GS, you had to at least have survived enough high end fights to earn good equipment, assuming the character was not ebayed.

Re:It is a balancing act (2, Interesting)

luvirini (753157) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258010)

Personally I think DDO gets it about right.

There is enough free content that you can make it to maximum level without paying anything, but you will have to run through the same quests way many more times than someone who pays the monthly subscription so it will be more boring in the long run.

Also you can buy things that speed up your level gain by 20% and items that help you to not have to grind to get certain things that people spend a lot of grinding time on like crafting ingredients.

Overall the option to spend money to speed up things that would take really many hours of repetition is fine, as they still allow you to do the grinding as option. This allows both people with little money and lot of time and lot of money and little time to particiapate. But still raid loot is way better than anything in the shop.

The number of people there again helps to keep people intrested as there are groups to adventure with.

Re:It is a balancing act (1)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257796)

I have known several of those types of games.

Sufficiently skilled players can operate without purchasing any items and amass quite a bit of wealth. Generally, I found the paid items merely increased the rate at which you would acquire items.

That said there were also two other types of players that were competitive without spending any amount of revenue.

Those would generate rigged matches with multiple other interested parties and pray on weaker newer characters.

Those would take whatever they could via illicit actions.

All in all there are basically five archetypes with only one actually paying. The three communities of thieves, pros and scum generally did not like the fourth archetype to any degree. The last category consisted of the newbs who didn't fit into any genre as of yet. They were the weakest and we feasted on their bones.

League of Legends (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258672)

A good example of a successful f2p game with a 'fair' system is League of Legends. The entire game is free, but they make most of their money by selling custom skins for different champions that players can control. It has no functional difference in the game, but somehow they manage to sell enough to keep the company going.

Anecdote (4, Interesting)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257590)

I've played numerous F2P MMORPGs (at least 20) that operate on a micro-transaction model. While many of them were not good enough games to justify payment of any kind, those that have gotten to my wallet have done so in varying degrees. I have sunk over $400 each into three separate games, and one of those three has exceeded $1000. If you take the $400 figure, even at a $15/mo subscription [above average for a subscription based game], I have paid the equivalent of over 2 years of subscription time to each of these three games. I am not an exception to the rule. I have met multitudes of people in each of these three games that have invested at least as much as I have, and no shortage of people who have invested at least an order of magnitude more into them. For each person who isn't paying, I can assure you, someone is making up for it enough to turn it into a major profit.

Re:Anecdote (4, Funny)

Cylix (55374) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257824)

My therapist once said I spend an overly healthy amount of cash on item transactions. To this I replied, "You are only saying that because you are a nub and wish you were as half as pro as me."

Re:Anecdote (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259344)

He then handed you a bill for more than you've ever paid for games and said "Same time next week then."

Maybe (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257906)

But your entire argument falls flat on ONE important point. Where is the F2P behemot? WHERE is the Blizzard equivalent?

This is the amusing thing in most MMO debates. People talk about how succesfull PvP is, but not a single PvP game is a financial success. And F2P games are surefire money machines, yet none of them do all that well.

Simply put, the number of idiots that spend as much as the parent on a single game are few. Ther is more money in the masses then the niche. And F2P payers are niche. You get F2P fans arguing about the success for their game with a whole 2 servers and a third might be coming any day now!!!

The real reason for the geographic difference is that original american MMO's were run by dumb americans unable to provide any other payment scheme then credit cards. SOE was the first to sign up with global payment companies to provide world wide payment solutions. No credit card, no Ultima Online or Meridian 59. And you could forget about localisation.

The asian MMO developers operated in a vacuum, they had an audience that wasn't being catered to.

This has changed and WoW is played around the world.

Even today, most western MMO subscription companies are horrible about payment solutions. Don't underestimate the difficulty of selling to customer who can't pay you money.

But in the end, F2P tends to be more expensive. For 1000 bucks you could have bought 3 lifetime editions of Lotro. Why pay more for lesser games?

F2P only appeals to the cheap skates and the mathematically challenged.

Re:Maybe (1)

TyFoN (12980) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258062)

You have Perfect World []
It seems to be the WoW of F2P

Re:Maybe (2, Insightful)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258106)

You're completely right about the difficulty in paying for most western MMOs. I recently started playing a relatively new one, and whenever I look at the help channel, multiple times a day I see people going "I wanna upgrade from my trial account, is there any way to pay without a credit card?" but for that game, there isn't (well, maybe paypal, I can't remember). And that's just when I'm online. That means this company's losing out on literally dozens of customers every week, just out of ones that mention it. How many more customers on trial accounts just poke around for payment, then give up? How many others research a bit, then when it's only CC payment, decide to not even try? Due to an anaemic payment method selection, they could be losing out on thousands of dollars a month in revenue. Considering it's a fairly small MMO right now (I think I heard about a 25,000 player base), that's not an amount I'd think they could afford to turn away from.

Re:Maybe (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258416)

The US needs to adopt the Canadian solution - Interac email money transfer [] .

No credit card required, so nobody can "steal" your credit card information - OR your banking info - it's all hidden. Think of your bank acting as an email payment escrow service. Flat fee per transaction.

Re:Maybe (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259178)

Actually, I've got unlimited transactions with my account. Never carry cash on me at all, thanks to it. And yeah, it'd be nice if the US started working with it that way. Unfortunately, thanks to the credit card companies in the US being the ones to issue debit cards, I really doubt it'll happen in some nicely compatible way with Canada's system.

Re:Maybe (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258122)

First of all, WoW is an anomaly in terms of subscribers. While there have been several hopefuls that have tried to duplicate WoW's numbers, nobody has achieved it. Not even the previous subscription MMO champion, EQ1, had anywhere close to number of subscribers. You do not need to have massive numbers like WoW for your MMO to be considered a "financial success." Unfortunately, a lot of companies nowadays see Blizzard's pile of cash and want in, so they sink a ton of capital into a supposed WoW-killer. However, trying to out-WoW Blizzard has proven folly for all of them.

As far as PvP, a PvP focused game will probably always be niche, but sustainable as long as the devs cater to that niche. A lot of former DOAC players tell me that they were happy with the game until the devs tried to release too much EQ-style PvE raiding content. In other words, when they ignored their niche and tried to go for more of EQ's players is when they had problems. Then again, DOAC is still running (barely) after all this time. I think Mythic was able to reverse some of what they did before completely destroying the game.

Right now I think the big niche games are Darkfall and EVE, which to my knowledge are in the black because they are doing a pretty good job of catering to their niches and not trying to WoW-ize themselves. They aren't going to have the subscriber numbers that WoW are, but they are going to be able to keep themselves going.

F2P, on the other hand, baffles me. I cannot fathom how these games are making money on the western market. Most of them I've tried are utter garbage, and in many you will end up having to sink close to the cost of a WoW subscription into them to remain competitive. Runes of Magic is at least playable, but it is a subpar WoW clone that is inferior in almost every way. Why start paying into it when you can just play WoW? Then again, it baffles me how some people can even consider sinking cash into all those shitty Facebook games.... so maybe the passable ones like RoM are able to stay afloat because a lot of people are suckers.

The F2P model is hot right now, but I suspect that it is going to crash hard once the Zynga fad wears off and people realize they just blew their money into a subpar game experience. After that, I expect that the hybrid model will be the one that sees the most success. One where you pay for a subscription to a game, and if you want to buy some bonuses once in a while, you can for a small fee. Blizzard already seems to be playing around with this model with pets and mounts.

Re:Maybe (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258278)

League of Legends is F2P / microtransaction, and by all accounts they're doing pretty well for themselves. Not an MMO, but MMOs.. at least, today's typical MMOs.. they're friggin weird beasts that I consider garbage, they're all PvE grinds and timesinks. Some people like that, but few people are going to shell out cash for $LEWT just to grind more. Unless it's WoW and they're spending the money for a super special mount... but WoW is a bit of an aberration. It's got some crazy obsessed fan(boy)s.

Re:Maybe (5, Insightful)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258268)

You are attempting to create an argument where there isn't one. There is no NEED for a 'behemoth' free-to-play game, and I don't see where anyone was saying that there needed to be one. Free-to-play games don't have to be massive to succeed at making money, which is the whole point.

In addition, you're making the assumption that WoW is successful because it isn't free to play -- instead of the fact that it had a marketing behemoth (worldwide), an extremely popular brand name (worldwide), and a very highly praised development team (worldwide) working behind it.

Furthermore, if you WANT to see sizable Free-To-Play games, they're out there if you look. You also mention 'lifetime' subscriptions to LotRO -- a game that is in the process of converting to free-to-play precisely because of the success of DDO's free-to-play conversion that the company already had.

>Why pay more for lesser games?

Who decides they're lesser? Subscription numbers are meaningless to personal tastes. I've had more fun playing free-to-play games than any retail subscription game - and not for lack of trying them. I've had active subscriptions at one point or another to approximately half of the mainstream subscription MMORPGs in the west.

Another benefit of free-to-play games: When I'm struggling financial, I can still play and just stop paying.

Re:Maybe (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259676)

I will leave WoW as soon as a better game comes along. Preferably one with some character customization and dev supported RP stuff. WoW, if it included dev supported RP(such as toon housing, closets, more bank space, better naming conventions like last names, family names etc)it would be pretty close to perfect. I would stay a subscriber and level alts and work on amassing the most gold possible. As it stands now, I might subscribe for a couple of months, then let it die, only to come back again later on. I don't raid, don't run instances, PvP only for leveling gear for alts, and to run alt after alt through the lowbie BGs to faceroll folks. The lore does not interest me. Farming and making gold is what I enjoy. But how many mechahogs do you need? Not enough gold sinks. Where if they would put player housing in, that would give me something to grind for and achieve. And no, I am not terribly anti-social, met some good folks playing WoW, just not into having a guild dictate when I am going to play.

your examples are obsolete (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259608)

if i remember the post from turbine correctly, lotro will be f2p in a month or two

btw there is also ddo, being f2p since last septembre ... i wouldnt call that a small f2p game, since they went f2p the content get updates roughly every 2 months, one more server had to be opened (7 total currently) and their player base counts in millions

you can still go the subscription path with ddo if you prefer, but you have the choice

Re:Anecdote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258244)

Just curious, what's the one that you found worth $1k?

Re:Anecdote (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258350)

Pangya. [ [] ] It's a golf game, so not technically an MMORPG in the traditional sense. It makes little to no attempt at realism (best well-known comparison I can think of is Hot Shots Golf, or Mario Golf), and contains RPG elements in character development.

It has fantastical shots, such as a Tomahawk shot that simply stops precisely where it lands, but travels an extra dozen or so yards to compensate. So yeah, realistic it is not.

The game has a VERY heavy skill element to it, as the game engine has no random factors added to your shots [every other online golf game I've found does this]. This is the aspect of the game that appeals to me the most -- You can never blame anyone but yourself for your losses. The learning curve is pretty easy [and the tutorial is fairly decent too], though learning all the various trick shots is more difficult for some than it is for others.

I regularly recommend that players invest a one-time $10 into the game if you play it past Beginner rank, as the Twin Feather club set, once upgraded (costs in-game currency to upgrade) will allow you to compete much better with other players, stat-wise. The clubs offer a very well-balanced amount of power, accuracy and control. They're probably the most-used purchasable equipment item.

The second-highest recommendation I could make for cash investment would be a set of clothes that you like that has a lot of control or control slots. They typically will run you between $10 and $20. Control doesn't technically raise your character's capabilities beyond those of other players, but it DOES slow down the speed of the shot bar, allowing a much higher level of precision in your play. It's the only stat that really increases your personal skill instead of your character's potential.

With both the clothes and the clubs as a Junior rank character [attainable in about 10-20 hours of play], the difference, statistically, between your character and a veteran who has played a couple years, will be about 8-16 yards on your drive.

Re:Anecdote (1)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258384)

A fair warning, however: While a $30 investment is sufficient to put yourself at a competitive level (with practice), investing further into the game is extremely helpful.

The majority of my cash invested into the game has been during scratch items that I really wanted, or invested into cards. These are both lottery items -- the scratch lottery tickets and card packs. Both items are earnable in-game, but are VERY difficult to get anything functional out of due to the fact that they're both essentially lotteries and you do not earn them in-game quickly. When items come up that I want in the scratch lottery and I can spare it, I'll sometimes drop $50 or so on tickets for it. I no longer invest into card packs, though that's because the only card left that I want is rare enough that I'm not going to try for it.

Things that come out of these lotteries can occasionally be superior to any other items obtainable in the game. There is a third lottery type more recently introduced as well that also contains superior items, but I haven't had the money recently to invest in it, so I'm not sure how good it's winning rates are. This last lottery type cannot be earned in-game and must be purchased.

You can spend a lot and get nothing, or you can spend a little and get lucky.

My final point, and this one is probably the most important of all: Beyond your initial $30 for clubs and clothes, that ultimate capability of your character is based more on your personal skill than anyone else's monetary investment. The edge you gain from most paid items is slight, and usually just makes it a bit easier to hit an accurate shot. Due to the lack of a random factor, personal skill trumps any gear.

Apparently I can rant about this game all day. I'll stop now.

Re:Anecdote (1)

admiral201 (562265) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259018)

Is there some reason you don't share what these three good games are with the rest of us who want to know which F2P games are good enough to actually play with real money?

They had free-to-play in arcades when I was a kid (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257592)

When I was a kid, they had free-to-play games in the arcades. This was where you stood in front of the machine and pressed buttons while the demo played.

Re:They had free-to-play in arcades when I was a k (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259588)

The best part as a kid was when you know the Galaga glitch to get a hold of the ship for free in demo mode.

I buy games, not items in games (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257598)

I like to buy my game, and immerse myself in the content to have fun. The painful part of parting with cash is complete.

Buying "items" in a game kills the fun, in the same way that paying for sex kills my boner.

Re:I buy games, not items in games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257614)

I like to buy my game, and immerse myself in the content to have fun. The painful part of parting with cash is complete.

Buying "items" in a game kills the fun, in the same way that paying for sex kills my boner.

You usually pay afterwards, so isn't that only good?

Re:I buy games, not items in games (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258642)

That is the western model for game sales. Its worked so far, but now the companies face more serious competition in fighting for customers dollars. In the MMO world there has been relatively little offered in the way of new games, probably because of the huge costs and development time required to produce a new major MMO. Of the titles coming out a few are seeking to do RMT monetization of items - the new Star Wars game coming from Bioware for instance. Why? Presumably because in Asia they have seen this model work well.
There are definitely tons of players of MMOs out there who are willing to fork over big bucks to get items that let them win more in PvP. I have seen it in a few games I have played. I view these people as pathetic cheats, but it doesn't change the fact that they get the top end items and can dominate in PvP. Either the companies decide to support this in game and profit from it themselves, or they let it happen as a blackmarket and lose out on the money changing hands. If there is a way to cheat in an MMO, players will find it and exploit it, and other players will find a way to make money from it. Very few players seem to be interested in playing a balanced and fair game. The experience of virtual victory over an opponent is too highly valued, no matter what needs to be done to acquire it.
I think companies need to strike a balance to keep their players from leaving in droves though. If "The Sword of PK Slaying" is available as an award from a large scale raid, and offers great bonuses in PvP it will be desirable. If its a very rare drop, it will be even more desirable since it confers a substantial advantage and most other players will not have it. If the company running the game then turns around and makes an equivalent item available in the Online store for the game for say $20, then the perceived value of the original item will drop considerably. Its no longer rare, it no longer confers the same advantage etc. If the 2 items are stats-wise the same, but the raid gained one has a distinct (and shinier) appearance, you can at least have the boasting rights for having won it in the raid, and that will help compensate a bit. If the company sells the equivalent item at $125 in the online store, the original will retain its value and the people who shell out the $125 to have the equivalent item (because they are too lazy to earn it the hard way) can still get the same item but with a much larger barrier to acquisition, then more of a balance is struck. The players who earn it by repeatedly doing a difficult raid until they win the item can feel like they have achieved something (and MMOs are in large part about the virtual sense of achieving a goal), while the people who lack the time but have the money can still get the item they want, but far fewer of them will do so.
The problems arise, IMHO, when the store starts selling items which confer a substantial advantage but which are not available in game, or for which the chance of obtaining the item is extreme to say the least.

Re:I buy games, not items in games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259398)

Thanks for sharing, gramps, but "I prefer the traditional paradigm for $some_activity" comments are about as interesting as talking about last night's dream. But by all means, continue to tell us all about how you "like to talk people in real life" and that's why you won't use facebook, or how you'd rather go to the nice bookstore down the street because you won't "trust a website with your credit card." We're listening, sort of, at least we're paying enough attention so we can use the next lull in the conversation to politely excuse ourselves and talk to someone more interesting.

Missing dimension: number of players (3, Insightful)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257608)

This is missing an important dimension. When he says aggressive monetization gives 5 times more money per player, he forgets to say that it also reduces the number of players, because some players are simply put off by the idea that the game is not fair.
Therefore it might not be more profitable.

Re:Missing dimension: number of players (1)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257648)

Without numbers on how many players actually "leave" as opposed to "simply don't go on to pay", you can't really tell how much of an impact that has. But, from my experience, nagging people (popunders, spam, etc) unfortunately in general does result in greater profit. I think Puzzle Pirates does a great job at making things free, while still trying to get people to buy premiums.

Re:Missing dimension: number of players (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257806)

I tend to stick to games that focus on selling people non-game changing items. And will even buy some of it myself. But once you can buy your way to the top.....

Why play?

Buy your way to the top of a virutal world? You're still a dork in a video game.
Buy your way to the top of the real world... You can pay hot chicks to be human furniture.

Far greater payoff. Same currency used.

Why are you playing that game again?

Re:Missing dimension: number of players (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257954)

World of Warcraft is generally a good example here. They're been selling aesthetic items that give no advantage gameplay-wise, such as various pets, and That Retarded Horse (google it).

They also sell leveling aid through recruit-a-friend program, which is more functional. But in the end, the real meat of the game, end-game is completely untouched by anything extra they sell. You can't get more powerful items by buying, or increase your drop chance or anything like that, and even recruit a friend experience bonus ends at level 60, while level cap is 80.

And there is a wide sentiment among players and officially acknowledged by blizzard that if any kind of gameplay-altering for-sale items enter endgame, blizzard could kiss them good bye.

Re:Missing dimension: number of players (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258750)

>>because some players are simply put off by the idea that the game is not fair.
Therefore it might not be more profitable.

Indeed. Stronghold Kingdoms is an awesome, awesome game. (You can join the alpha test at [] ) Think Stronghold, but in MMORPG form. Build up your village, build a castle, attack your neighbors, trade, etc.

However, it's a F2P game that allows you to buy "cards" which do things like tripling your production for a day. Right now the use of cards is unlimited (though because it's an alpha test, you're given an allowance of them instead of buying them with real money.) So the monetization advantage appears to be x3 or so, give or take. *However*, the game also allows you to cash in cards in order to get research points (the main benefit of leveling is that you get 3 research points with which to choose new technologies - think Civ.) Think around $20 per research point, though prices aren't fixed yet.

So for people with open wallets, you can essentially buy as many levels as you want in the game. If it is released in such a state, I refuse to play it since there literally will not be any way to compete professionally without spending just as much money as they do on the game. A person who starts the game by buying $320 of research points will have triple stone and wood production for the entire span of the campaign. A person who spends $480 dollars at launch will also have half-price buildings on everything. A person who spends $640 will have all his buildings constructed twice as fast. Then on top of that, he can play cards to triple again that production and building speed.

So a person with an open wallet will have about a 10x advantage over someone else.

If you've ever played an RTS, you know what a tremendous advantage this is. Worse, campaigns only last about 4 or 5 months, so you get to do this all over again once someone "wins" (by getting elected King of England, presumably.) Drop a K every so often? No thanks. I'd rather not play it at all. Right now, it's only fair because everyone is given an allowance of $80/week to play with.

Long time lurker, first time poster. (3, Insightful)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257644)

I created this account specifically to reply to this post. He defines 'aggressive monetization' to mean how much money will advance you 'unfairly' in the game. Does not accurately represent the linked article. In the first paragraph: For the purposes of this post, I'm defining "aggressive" as the sale of items that impact gameplay and/or speed up a player's progress, in addition to other, less controversial premium features like aesthetic items and account personalization. Nowhere does it mention the word 'fair' or any variation of the word in the entire article. I have no comment on the linked article's content, just that slashdot has been filled with crap like this more and more often lately. I won't be continuing to visit slashdot(and my brand new account will go to waste) if this sort of posting does not stop. That is all.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (5, Funny)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257676)

Dear god I didn't realize it would remove every newline I inserted manually.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257700)

Welcome to slashdot.

Next time hit "Options" and choose "Plain Old Text" posting style.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (0, Troll)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257904)

What's wrong with your enter key?

That's what I prefer to use.





Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (1)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258296)

I have no idea what is wrong with it. My comment was clearly formatted with lines inbetween before I posted. Pressing enter just sends an extra blank character, which tells the browser to render it the next line down. Or at least that is how I've always understood it. I post on other websites, and have never had this problem lol. Lets see if this is a line down.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258478)

"Pressing enter just sends an extra blank character, which tells the browser to render it the next line down. Or at least that is how I've always understood "

You understood wrong. You're posting in html. See the "Allowed HTML" text under the Preview button?

Try putting a <p> tag between lines.

You can also bold and/or italicize, etc.

Doing so earns you 1 credit per post in slashgame credits. Only 42,000,666 posts to win a prize. (Or use the spaceballs cheat code 1-2-3-4-5).

Or you can "level up" by buying a subscription.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (1)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258680)

Thanks I will try that.

(right now in fact)

I've been visiting slashdot for at least a year or two. Before I registered (today) I never realized how complex of a website it is.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259668)

I've been visiting slashdot for at least a year or two.

Oh, yeah, you're gonna fit in here just fine, Sparky.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (1)

fbartho (840012) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258968)

You need to hit the "Options" button below the reply box, and select "Plain Old Text" as your preferred posting mode.

See? This is on a newline. All I did was hit the enter (return) key on my keyboard. A

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (3, Informative)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258606)

Default posting mode for a new account is HTML, which ignores most whitespace (converts any amount of any type of whitespace into a single space, more precisely). You can either manually insert <p></p> or <br /> tags, or you can switch to Plain Old Text posting method. POT method still lets you embed HTML, but it will also auto-convert new lines in your comment "source" to new lines in the result that gets posted.

Also, always preview before posting.

Re:Long time lurker, first time poster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257680)

Er, you are the one that's confused. He says later:

From my limited research, it seems that a game with a more aggressive monetization model and a loyal, niche userbase can hope to generate $50 per paying user per month, on average. (The term “average” is somewhat misleading — most users might pay $5 a month, while a small percentage of wealthier players might pay hundreds.) Obviously, these dollar figures will vary from game to game, depending on design, but they’re a useful generalization for the purposes of this post.

On the other hand, a F2P game that limits itself to flat subscription revenue and/or non-functional items is generally more likely to fall somewhere between $5 and $10 per paying user per month. You can expect the F2P equivalent of WoW (whatever that is) to do better than this, and you might expect a game that is largely focused on aesthetics to do better as well, but again, this is a useful generalization for most F2P games.

Emphasis mine.

"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (0, Flamebait)

kervin (64171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257658)

Do we really need the verbification?

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257798)

Do we really need a snarky Grammar Nazi in this discussion?

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (3, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257960)

It's even worse when the grammar nazi is completely wrong.

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257826)

profit /prft/
Often, profits.
pecuniary gain resulting from the employment of capital in any transaction. Compare gross profit, net profit.
the ratio of such pecuniary gain to the amount of capital invested.
returns, proceeds, or revenue, as from property or investments.
the monetary surplus left to a producer or employer after deducting wages, rent, cost of raw materials, etc.: The company works on a small margin of profit.
advantage; benefit; gain.

-verb (used without object)
to gain an advantage or benefit: He profited greatly from his schooling.
to make a profit.
to take advantage: to profit from the weaknesses of others.
to be of service or benefit.
to make progress.
-verb (used with object)
to be of advantage or profit to: Nothing profits one so much as a sound education.

Source: []

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257966)

He was talking about "monetizing", a word from the 1800's with roots in Latin.

In other words, he's a dumbass.

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258312)

Ah, I was assuming that the section he had in quotes was what he was complaining about.

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259330)

Nope, what he has in quotes is what he wants to use in stead of "monetizing" which, as I said in my reply, is not in any way, shape, or form a verbification. It actually is a verb with a noun form (monetization).

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (3, Funny)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257948)

–verb (used with object), -tized, -tizing.
1. to legalize as money.
2. to coin into money: to monetize gold.
3. to give the character of money to.
4. Economics . to convert (a debt, esp. the national debt) into currency, esp. by issuing government securities or notes.

Also, especially British , monetise .

1875–80; L mont ( a ) money + -ize

—Related forms
monetization, noun

It's not a verbification, it's a legitimate word used correctly in the summary, you ignorant, misguided wannabe grammar nazi.

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (0, Troll)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258044)

Does it really fucking matter? Or is the question too hard for you to comprehend?

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (3, Insightful)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258300)

Look, this verbificationismness needs to stop. Let people use wordy things the way they want. Be tolerantish.

Re:"Profiting from" Free-To-Play Gaming Models (2, Funny)

kervin (64171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258554)

Look, this verbificationismness needs to stop. Let people use wordy things the way they want. Be tolerantish.

Funny, and I actually agree. This is why I questionized my original response.

and thus dies the soul of gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33257674)

The days of people making games as a labour of love are almost gone. Not totally, but close. It's now all about "monitization" and figuring out exactly how much you can get people to shell out for on an ongoing basis and companies keeping more and more control over the game after you buy it.

I think the golden days of computer gaming were 70's through early to mid 90's. Then, like Hollywood and RIAA music and much else which ends up with Big Money behind it, financial interests ripped out its soul.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257768)

The problem is not just the MBAs who failed ITIL running the game companies, it is the fact that there is a great barrier to entry to the market. The days of writing some vector graphics in BASIC, making copies of the floppies, and selling them with a photocopied manual in a Ziploc bag are long gone. It takes millions of dollars in licensing fees for the engine and artists to do the graphics that is required for even the most entry level game.

It would be nice to see "interactive movies" where the plot came first and the gameplay was centered more about advancing the storyline as opposed to just being a cookie cutter FPS sequel. However, the market has spoken, and gamers would rather have another Halo, Madden, Sims, or Call of Duty with the same gameplay as the previous iteration (maybe with a random zombie with a new superpower tossed in) as opposed to completely new and original IP.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (1, Troll)

Kreigaffe (765218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258302)

That's because "interactive movies" are neither interactive nor movies. They are, at best, a puzzle game -- but the only puzzle is "ok which button do i press here to get to the next part of the story".

See also: Why Final Fantasy games suck.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259008)

You've evidently never played one, but that's not the case with Final Fantasy (or most Japanese RPGs, which you are probably using FF as a stand-in for). As in most western games, there is a predetermined story arc, but your progress depends on successfully beating enemies. That's not a 'button press', it's a tactical game, and often requires quite a bit of planning and strategy.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259382)

Yeah, he's obviously never played a FF game, they can be a ton of fun and are never, ever interactive movies (though they tend to have long cut-scenes).

He's spot on with interactive movies though. They suck monkey balls. In fact, if interactive movies (like Myst and the lot) were more like Final Fantasy they'd probably still be around.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259466)

Kreigaffe is correct, though few people will probably recognise that.

The reason for this, is the lack of recognition of the basic types/aspects of human behaviour words such as games, puzzles, competitions and even art represent.

Art and competitions are all about things done FOR, (and therefore TO), other people.

There are two types of puzzles - those we create, (which are things done FOR and TO other people aswell), and those we do not. An example of the latter would be figuring our how the universe operates, (covered by the sciences etc.). An example of the former would be a jigsaw, or crossword/sudoku etc.. All puzzles are about people interacting with things done TO them. The puzzles we create are therefore about creating things FOR other people to interact with.

Competition is about people TRYING to gain something, (either by something that happens TO them, or something they DO), at the expense of, or in spite of, the others. (The actual goal/reason for competing does not matter).

Competitions are about people competing (by whatever means) to have something done TO them. (To be told whether or not they have won).

Games, are about people competing by DOING something FOR themselves, which may involve something done TO other people or things. (Games are not, therefore about any goals that may be reached, just the process of trying to attain them). The most basic games of all, are a race, fighting, competitive movement and/or throwing - almost every game in history is either purely that, or an abstract derivation of such things, from snakes and ladders, (which if take away the race, just leaves a board/dice game and turn-based, which are types of games, not games in themselves), to football and World of Warcraft. If a product does not contain any of this, then the chances are extremely big - (if not certain) - that it is not actually a game to begin with - it's probably either a puzzle, competition or just a work of art instead.

Games are DEFINED by what the player DOES, and what they use to do it with!

Yes, the line between doing something FOR ourselves and interacting with something done TO us, is extremely fine, which is why people have problems... Though it's NOT helped by people taking things which are already considered to be puzzles OUTSIDE of a computer, and then calling them a GAME just BECAUSE it's ON a computer!

Note that because the behaviour the words puzzle and game represent are mutually exclusive - (either it's something you DO or it's something that happens TO you) - puzzles and games CANNOT co-exist!

(Note I've been working on another more fundamental reason for the problem here within the English Language, though I really need to re-write the paper about it - hint: it's because the way we learn and use the language to recognise human behaviour is generally subjective).

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259370)

It would be nice to see "interactive movies" where the plot came first and the gameplay was centered more about advancing the storyline as opposed to just being a cookie cutter FPS sequel.

I tried playing Myst 2 (the series is the acme of the interactive movie genre) and frankly, I thought it was incredibly boring and completely unbelievable. It was all "walk this way and flip a switch, now walk to the other side of the island and flip another switch. Hey wasn't there another one of these in that cave?" After about 20 minutes I couldn't help but think that only an absolute moron would build a security system like that, people would be breaking in all the friggin time, and it would take you an hour just to set the lock when you went out. After that I was done. The parts that were supposed to make it fun and interactive turned out to just be retarded.

It probably would have been fine as a movie, but as a game it was stupid as hell.

Re:and thus dies the soul of gaming (2, Interesting)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257864)

The days of people making games as a labour of love are almost gone.

Another way of saying this is:

The days of people wanting to play games made as a labour of love are almost gone

The general public likes games with high production value, and is willing to pay for them. That's the way it goes. However, I think your statement is also false. I would say:

The environment where people make games as a labour of love is becoming highly fragmented

It was easy when everybody you knew had a Commodore 64 or Apple II. You wrote a game, put it on a disk, and showed it to your friend. Now, the market for homebrew is very, very fragmented. There's homebrew for every console imaginable out there. There's homebrew for Flash games, homebrew for iPhone, homebrew for Android. And there's still homebrew for all the legacy platforms (something that didn't exist during your "golden days" because there were no legacy platforms!). In terms of shear numbers, I'd guess that the number of homebrew games is far greater now than at any time in the past, due to the ability of like-minded people to meet over the internet across long distances.

He seems to not address two things (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257678)

After reading the article, the author seems to simply not talk about two things (at least as related to conventional MMORPGs).

First, he doesn't address the question of the effect of monetization on player base. In his HappyFunTime example, for instance, he blithely assumes that both monetization systems have the same number of players. But is this true? I know many players who actively avoid games with aggressive monetization systems, especially those where the best items are available only via RMT or where progress beyond a certain point requires RMT purchases (which is not related to whether or not you can continue to play forever for free, it's a question of whether, eg., access to the best end-game instances and raid zones requires paying or not). Their thought is that games aren't a paying job for them, and those sorts of games are going to be dominated by professional players for whom the game in fact is a paying job (they either make money off of player-to-player RMT if allowed or they're employed by a plat-farming and/or power-leveling service) They're also wary of putting time and effort into developing a character in a game where their progress and ability to play with their friends may be randomly blocked by the vagaries of real-world finances (eg. your friends want to run a raid but this week your checking account just doesn't have enough in it to pay for access to that raid zone). For them it's safer to stick with games with a less aggressive monetization model, ones where they won't have those problems.

Second, there's the question of how well the player base will stick with the game when economic times get tough. We're going through a time like that right now, for instance. I'd think that when times get tight players will abandon games that effectively mandate out-of-pocket costs (ie. have aggressive monetization models) every month more readily than fluff-only or flat-subscription games. In games where RMT gets you fluff-only items, you can cut your out-of-pocket costs quickly and decisively without seriously impacting your game experience. In flat-subscription games, you don't even have to worry about your cost level since it's going to remain steady and predictable. If you can afford to play at all, your play experience doesn't depend on how much you're spending. My experience has been that those things create a player base that finds the game a better value for the money and that'll be less likely to drop it than other things when their entertainment budget starts to get squeezed. IMO designing a game that's highly vulnerable to economic ups and downs is a more risky proposition than designing one that's attractive even in the bad times.

Re:He seems to not address two things (1)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258382)

First, he doesn't address the question of the effect of monetization on player base.

This is so important. I've played several F2P games. I have donated plenty too, but never to the ones where the main goal is obviously to keep chipping away at my bank account.

A free game relies on the relationship between the players and the producers. If I'm just a commodity to the game then I treat the game the same---tell me what I have to pay up-front and I'll decide if it's worth it. A labor of love, a game where the developers care that the players are enjoying the game irrespective of payment, induces symmetric feelings. That's your loyal, paying base.

It is certainly possible to have a successful F2P game that does not over-monetize and doesn't constitute a charity. Kingdom of Loathing comes to mind: completely free (donation-only and it's not essential), but supports 4-6 full time staff and has been going for 5 years.

Re:He seems to not address two things (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259332)

I'm not sure if I'd call something like Kingdom of Loathing "successful" in the commercial sense. It sounds a long way from being nearly as successful as say Everquest 2, which at best guesstimate brings in at least $2-2.5 million a month in revenue (and EQ2's not the most successful MMORPG out there).

Presumably TFA means MMOs... (1)

jiteo (964572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257802)

ie, free-to-play games that actually have a recurring cost for the developer. Because how to monetize free-to-play games has been solved when the first game came out: people bought your game, and you got their money.

This is old, old stuff (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257944)

I remember in the early 90's, the SysOpp of our local BBS had a variety of level-limited varieties of what today is called a MMO (although it was only as massive as a typical football team, and only one or two of us could be online at a time). They were ASCII/ANSI based dungeons where you fought monsters and got stuff. Only 15 minutes of play per day per person please! Other people want to dial in!

Eventually we all chipped in a few bucks (Convincing my mom to write a check to a stranger I met on the computer ("how is he on our computer?") was a challenge). But eventually we got enough dough together to buy a license so we could all level up, and go attack the much more powerful monsters represented by such fear-invoking characters as '#', '%', '&'. Oh yeah, I remember old '&'. He'll never cross us again. I'll tell you that much.

Gaming profit models (5, Informative)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 4 years ago | (#33257962)

From the games I seen I can draw the following profit opportunities:
  • F2P comes with a banner or side advertisement. Subscribing eliminates the ad. Example: Runescape. Aggressive would be popup ads or commercials. More subtle is ads incorporated into the game landscape. Example: SecondLife
  • In game items - cosmetic. You just have to look good in some social games. Aggressive is where you have to have a clothes item to enter an area or complete a quest where you already have a time investment. Example: SecondLife, Farmville.
  • In game items - functional. These items let you get ahead with better tools or weapons. Aggressive is where it provides a really unfair advantage. Example: Mafia Wars. Some have have items using in game cash you can earn by playing or find along with other kind of cash you have to purchase. Example Farmville, Wizard 101.
  • Time advantage. Some games have recharge timers where you can just wait 24 hours to recharge, or pay for an instant recharge. Example: Evony, Wizard 101 Pet Games
  • Content - Games offer a F2P area with access to additional content by subscription or by single cost per area. Examples: Wizard 101. Some games provide a place to put content, but you have to create it. Example: SecondLife.
  • Content + Subscription - Games that require you to purchase the content and then require a subscription for online play. Examples: Eve Online, World of Warcraft.
  • Real World purchases - Games that blend game play with real world purchases, such as buying a coffee at 7-11. Example: Mafia Wars, Farmville. Many game makers also have a store where you can buy shirts, hats, mouse pads, etc. Examples: Slashdot, Jagex.
  • Information - Hints and Helps - Games (typically puzzle quest types) where you might need a hint to complete a puzzle. You get the hints by purchasing a book or magazine, or by calling a help line that charges by the minute providing help via a menu tree. Example: Zork (classic). Newer games might use SMS Texting and let the phone company handle the micro-transactions.
  • Marketing - Games that provide free play, but sell your email address and demographic details to third parties.
  • IPO - Games that provide free play to build a 1,000,000 user base, at least until the company is sold to investors who then figure out how to monetize it.

There's probably more, but that's the ones I've seen.

Re:Gaming profit models (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258426)

I suppose this might fit into the "Content" category, but how about Guild Wars? I suppose GW is more episodic, but it doesn't quite fit within the description you've presented.

Specifically, you pay once, at approximate new-retail-game price, for each "episode" (with one exception, which is effectively a bridge for GW2) that is a stand-alone storyline that does not require the presence of the other episodes (though it's recommended, as there are cross-synergies).

Re:Gaming profit models (1)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259068)

This could fit under my 5th topic as Progressive Content. Us old timers used to call this product upgrades.

Re:Gaming profit models (2, Informative)

gamricstone (1879210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258738)

FYI you are not required to purchase content while playing Eve Online. All content expansions are included with your subscription cost. The first month is $5 more expensive, but it is passed off as an account activation fee. The account activation fee can be avoided if a friend gives you a PLEX (pilots license extension) or you are able to obtain one before your trial ends.

Otherwise I thought your post was pretty accurate.

Re:Gaming profit models (1)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259086)

My bad, you are correct. I must be confusing this with another game product box I saw at a game store.

F2P Works. (1)

vampire_baozi (1270720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258022)

I had a really long, intelligent-sounding post detailing two F2P companies, but it got lost when I hit the back button. Oops.

Summary: F2P works, in both models.

Aesthetics: People will pay real world monies for in-game aesthetic improvements. See: Guild Wars, entire economy revolves around bling with stats identical to ordinary items bought from NPCs, just shinier.

Functionality: Silk Road Online. Either you pay to quicken the grind, get EXP, and stacks of pots/etc, or you are food for bots. Perfect World: same deal. No EXP scrolls? Enjoy getting PK'd. Oh, and watching everyone else floating around on really pretty animals in really pretty armor. PW is also interesting because they changed it for the Western release: much LESS grind, you level faster. They figured we westerners wouldn't sink as much time into grinding/farming.

Soth SRO and PW are expanding their userbases and continually adding new servers. GW isn't doing too poorly either (I still play, and buy items from their in-game store with cash).

Re:F2P Works. (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258550)

Interesting point, and while Guild Wars is not technically a F2P game because they have an initial entry cost, the game does have a number of F2P features (no monthly cost, an in-game store with speedups like skill unlock packs, etc). I agree the game is very fashion driven - there is no reason to get Obsidian Armor other than aesthetics, because it is extremely expensive and offers no defensive benefit over cheap armor that is 1/100000 the price. The real trick with a store is you need to sell something players want and not over-saturate the game with that item. For instance, an in-game example: elemental swords were extremely valuable at one time, then raptor farming came along and you're now lucky to get 5000 for them. The same problem happened with Chaos Axes and Underworld farming.

It can be done right... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258090)

To my mind, Kingdom of Loathing has done a fantastic job of handling this type of problem. Though not what most people think of when they think of a F2P MMO, they have made all items that one donates for tradeable, allowing non-paying players to experience the "premium" content if they are willing to farm hard and long enough for in-game currency. So people who are willing to pay can buy extra to sell in game to people who are not willing to pay real life money for them. It's a system that could easily have broken down horribly and made the whole economy wildly unbalanced, but through attention to detail and a commitment to making all items and content available for every player, they have succeeded where many games have failed.

Striking a balance (1)

rantomaniac (1876228) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258246)

Players are more likely to pay if they get more advantages out of it, but players who can't pay or can't pay enough to stay competitive won't really have an incentive to play.
The game has to remain playable regardless of the level of monetary contributions or else it ceases to be about gameplay and turns into a bidding war. While that might give you a couple high income players, I doubt it's feasible in the long run.

I used to play a MUD by a certain well-known developer in the MUD community. It was advertised as free-to-play, pay-for-perks, but its scheme had two major flaws:

The power plateau was ridiculously high, it took thousands of dollars AND months of playing to reach it, per character.

The baseline character power level, at which the game was by design balanced required an investment of around $200-300. There was no segregation between paying and non-paying players, both competed in the same game world. This put non-paying players at a big disadvantage unless they just wanted to use the game as a glorified chat-room. The developers used to counter this argument on message boards saying that players can get the perks through contests and in-game currency. However contests were not frequent enough and too competitive to make much of a difference (usually the same clique of players won). And buying them for in-game currency required weeks of grinding quests (mere knowledge of which required a lot of gameplay beforehand) competitively against other players with similar goals (because the game offered no instancing).

Was the game successful? Moderately, they're making some money, they've made quite a lot of a couple selected players with deep pockets. But ultimately there never was enough players to keep the game from feeling empty, usually just a couple players per character class at any given time. I heard their other games using the same model were more successful though, on the order of 500 players logged in on the most popular one. But I can't help but wonder what kind of numbers they could have raised if the price for playing the game competitively was an order of magnitude lower. Their MUDs are actually worth paying for, compared to all the uninspired DIKU clones, just not that much.

I regret sinking $200 into it before I realized I just can't compete without buying the equivalent of a used car in skills and virtual items.

Anyone remember the rule of browser MMOs? (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258276)

1% of the player-base pays for 100% of the costs. The rest is profit.

Best of BOTH Worlds (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258282)

In my opinion, all premium content should be able to be purchased with the in game currency.

The reasoning? Some people are poor, but have a lot of time. For example, the disabled. Rather than absolutely limiting them (they're barely getting by, most likely) to low end items/gear/decor, why not just make the items available in game at a disproportionately high cost? Like for example, your 'stamina' recharge that lets you fight/gain experience/items/etc could cost half a day's worth of grinding and it could cost $2. That fancy hat might cost $10 and take you a couple of days to farm for. There's really no downside to this.

The grinders can grind, the payers can pay. It's economic specialization. Those disabled folks can grind to their heart's content and feel like they're earning something, maybe sell it for some in game currency or *gasp* real cash in a competitive amount with the game servers. Those payers can feel awesome when they get a $0.10 discount on their Fancy Hat because they bought from the grinder.

Nothing will make me stop playing a 'F2P' game faster than setting up obvious noticeable speed bumps to keep the poor poor and the payers on top.

Re:Best of BOTH Worlds (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258512)

A few games work like that-- Gunbound had most of the items purchasable for game-currency or real money, though a few were limited to real money or game-currency only .

Alternatively, Kingdom of Loathing, mentioned a few posts up, operates on a real money->Generic Trade Item->Item of the Month system, for which you may spend/earn game currency by trading the GTI around. For those with limited real money, you can save up game-currency to buy them.

What about the most important thing for a success? (1)

funnyfun (1821016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258336)

How good the game is able to hold or pull an audience. Maple story is probably one of the more successful F2P. I didn't play too far into Maple story (maybe level 40ish) so I'm not the most understanding of it, but, it seemed to be able to grip onto those kind of people who are willing to pay for F2P even though you wouldn't be able to buy a item advantage in that game. you can buy cool costumes (cool compared to what you usually have to wear...) and I think EXP boosters (but those are time savers more than a leg up on those who don't because what cant grinding do that a EXP boost could do besides make things faster) in game. What I think made the game popular compared to other F2P's is the fact that the UI (although stupid looking) was very functional and easy and the game play generally copied what the UI did... the easy part at least (although time consuming). I think, as always, game companies shouldn't try to trick people into giving them the most money by certain methods of player-base/money per person and just simply make a good game that keeps people on for a long enough time they feel it worth it to spend money on the game (like with league of legends for me. i played it enough and found it a decent enough of a game to put 30 bucks into it. I'm still playing and don't see me stopping until valve hopefully makes a better AoS).

Can we get a new term for "free"? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#33258566)

This is starting to get ridiculous. The term "free" means "no cost". A demo or "lite version" is only free if you don't advertise the features of the paid version, similarly, a time limited trial isn't free anymore than something with no payments for 90 days. Adware isn't free, nor is anything that you need to exchange valuable personal information for. And "buy one, get one free" is just plain nonsensical.

Lately, commercial software providers have been really abusing the word "free". These F2P MMORPGs are an excellent example. Some MMORPGs actually are completely free, but they're next to impossible to find because of all the P2P MMORPGs that call themselves free. The Android application market is another good example of how demos, trials, adware, spyware, "free program only usable with paid service" and "mandatory donation of a fixed price" software makes truly free (gratis or libre) software hard to locate.

IMHO, we need a new word to differentiate "FREE!!!!! *" from literally "free". I would say "non-commercial", but many businesses generate profit from open source software, and a free sample is most certainly commercial. Unfortunately, there are too many people that can't wrap their head around non-monetary costs to reclaim the proper word that describes this concept.

You FAIL it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33258712)

play aRea try not

Pay To Pwn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259356)

The reason I don't play any of these games (Combat Arms, I'm looking at you) is because the for-pay items are hugely unbalanced. Yes, I enjoy geting pwnd by mommy's credit card....

D&D Online appears to be the most balanced of them all though. All you can get is character slots, potions, and hirelings.

Video games?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33259642)

Seriously? Who cares. This isn't "stuff that matters".

cheaper (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33259644)

Too bad the publishers out there haven't thought to actually lower subscription rates to $5-$9 per player like how much they are making from these free games. At some point someone decided $16 was a good idea, and subscriptions have dropped ever since. We don't want to re-purchase the game ever 2 to 3 months. I dont think any of us are foolish enough to believe it costs them that much for bandwidth and to maintain the server. People just don't like feeling like their getting ripped off, and any game that charges you over $10/month is without a doubt ripping you off.
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