Matching the payment model to the product

I briefly touched on this topic when writing up my post yesterday, and it was one of those mental moments of clarity. The time where a thousand light bulbs go off in your head to shine a line on a topic and idea, that seems so foolishly obvious that everyone should have realized it. I wouldn’t use the word epiphany, because moments after the realization, the full vision of all that the idea encompasses starts to fade, akin to a dream upon waking. In a desperate attempt to retain the idea, I’m typing this out on the same day as writing my last post – highly uncharacteristic of me.

The idea essentially goes like this: theme parks in real life charge you a ticket to get in. You then run around and go on all the rides and entertainment that you want. When I go to Islands of Adventure, I can spend all day riding on the Hulk, or I can hit the Doctor Doom after, and continue forth to the Jurrassic Park amusement. It won’t cost me any more as the day precedes. However, if I didn’t smuggle in food/drink, or buy a revolving day pass, I may be stuck spending money inside on other things: food, drink, trinkets, memorabilia. Some theme parks even let you purchase a “jump to the start of the line” that you can use a limited number of times.

You should see where I’m going here. If not, here’s an interesting glimpse at a full post about the topic of themepark revenue. The image of the annual pass at the bottom should look familiar to any MMO’er who’s glimpsed at a F2P tiered structure.

Theme parks, of both the real world variety and the gaming kind seem to follow a great pattern on the price point, and is why you see so many theme park MMOs of late moving into the F2P market. You bought the box, and now you can go on all the rides you want, but the cotton candy is extra, and that $7 burger is going to be $15 if you buy it at the park. These conveniently located extras, time-saving tools, and impulse buys are where a good chunk of the revenue comes for these parks. So, why have companies been trying to bill you for entrance, and then ding you again at intervals just for playing in the park you bought a ticket for? The traditional myth was operating costs and expansions (oh wait, I bought that separately…).

When I talked yesterday about GW2 being able to charge a monthly, and no one would be surprised, I meant it. We’ve all been conditioned to accept it in our traditional theme park MMO. But the more I think about it, the more it feels like the traditional square peg/round hole scenario. It feels like a carnival instead of a theme park, and no one walks away from a carnival thinking, “Yeah, that was money well spent.”.

Now, I need to think on how my outlook on sandboxes fit into this. Should they follow the same price point methodology and sell convenience items? In an (ideally) infinitely, horizontally expanded sandbox, what does convenience really mean in the long run? Are sandboxes, by nature, more likely to output more systems and less content. I argue that systems are more challenging to design, develop, and implement than content. It’s the difference between taking your kid to the gym for a game of H-O-R-S-E, and being the first person to invent the game, then build and install a basketball hoop in your driveway to play it. So, I’m not sure how I sit on that still. It’s something I still need to work through and think on.

About Shadow
Making serious business out of internet spaceships.

One Response to Matching the payment model to the product

  1. Mr. Meh says:

    I think the big reason why we have always accepted the monthly suscription price is this was the cost of continued game improvement.

    “We built a living breathing game. For us to continually improve and expand that, we need monthly revenue.”

    And we bought this. We said, sure, it gives us dedicated game support, servers, patches and more importantly game improvement. It’s like we were prepaying for DLC before it came. And before we even knew what DLC was.

    Well time goes on, and the reality is it shifts from improvement to maintenance. “This is the costs of server upkeep.” And then even the expansion costs money.

    But every one of these games released with great intentions. WAR released with the promise of Monthly new Events. And Free Expansions. Well 6 months later, you have, an event every half year and fuck your free shit you ungrateful bitches. FYI we still want $15 a month to this day.

    RIFT did the same. We promise monthly events. 2 months after a debacle of a live event they started spacing these out more. 2 years later, they still want a monthly charge and paid expansions.

    SWTOR released and had 5 events ready to go and actually built into the game. 6 months later, they only did one. And finally admitted to F2P. I hear their last big event went terrible.

    I completely agree. GW2 could have been a subscription model. And we would have paid it like idiots. Somehow we just pay it. I think many games will have a problem in the future going subscription unless they truly have something to offer.

    What really annoys me is what they do sell is kind of bleh. If they want to make extra money on extras, they need to make some extras that are actually worth wild. I just don’t see them banking on that store. If nothing else I was going to buy XP boosters. But I found killing XP to be mediocre even with booster in comparison to event and quest XP.

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