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.

Advertisements

An even 25

image

It’s like a bakers two dozen!

But really, I’m not too sure how I feel about this. No, scratch that, I am sure. I’m not too keen on it. For a number if reasons.

First it breaks the entire mold of the class structure currently in place. Four archetypes, six of each, four of which are split between factions. This last will undoubtedly be another neutral career like the Warriors, Bards, Sorcerers, and Druids. But what role will it fill. I have little doubt it won’t be stupid OP as well ay whatever role it ends up filling.

I’m sure it will be a station cash purchased career as well. Which brings problems of its own. You have to ensure that the people who purchase it feel like they got their money’s worth, so the tight rope walk begins. Expensive enough to make it profitable, cheap enough to make it sellable, but not so expensive as to REQUIRE it be the avatar of a deity on a power scale.

The other thing if interest is the shift from expansion pack paid content, to smaller free content. So, it may be going the way of Eve Online – except sure to try gauge you for everything in RMT instead. I don’t know if that is an acceptable tradeoff. In fact, I KNOW its not. And don’t get me started on the upcoming cross-server dungeon group finder that is all the rage in today’s themepark.

There are a lot of other things coming out of E3 in regards to EQ2 as well, like the games ability to be viewed in 3D, and a progressive advancement to flying mounts. Some cool things, but not enough to alleviate concerns on the other above mentioned things.

Damnit!

/agree

Of Global Conquest

Interesting…

I found an email in my box today from Global Agenda. Of particular note was the following letter.

ATLANTA, Oct. 20, 2009 – Global Agenda players will be able to experience the major features of the game after a one time purchase via digital download or box sale, with no monthly subscription required. An optional subscription package called  Global Agenda: Conquest will be available for those players who wish to participate in the persistent Alliance vs. Alliance territory control game-play and access ongoing content updates.

“Throughout our Beta process, our fans, players and reviewers have consistently told us that Global Agenda’s combat system is exceptionally fun and that they would love to play it as a multiplayer shooter” said Todd Harris, Executive Producer. “This single-purchase, non-subscription model will enable players to fully experience Global Agenda’s award-winning persistent shooter gameplay.”

“At the same time, many players are seeking a deeper experience, and want to engage in large-scale campaigns between player-created groups over limited territory and resources.  These players can opt for the Conquest subscription plan which includes our persistent AvA world domination gameplay, and other features typically associated with MMOs.”

The specific features associated with each pricing option are as follows:

Global Agenda (one time purchase – $49.99 MSRP) includes:

  • Creation of up to eight different agent characters
  • Character visual customization
  • Access to all combat weapons and devices
  • Cooperative Player vs. Environment missions against the Commonwealth NPC faction, AI-controlled enemies, and Boss Fights
  • Matchmade Player vs. Player missions with five different game types and over 20 unique maps
  • Character progression through 30 levels
  • Achievement and unlocks system for individual characters
  • Player Inventory for suits, flair, dyes, upgrades, and loot
  • Virtual Reality practice fighting area
  • Vendors and accumulation of in-game currency
  • Text chat with multiple channels
  • Built in voice chat during missions
  • Ability to join an established player-created agency
  • All play is on our single-shard, hosted server environment to ensure convenient and consistent gaming experience.
  • Ability to sign up for one free month of subscription at registration (credit card required, can be cancelled at any time)

Global Agenda:  Conquest ($12.99 per month, $11.49/mo for 3 month, $9.99/mo for 6 month) includes:    

  • Access to Alliance vs. Alliance (AvA) World Domination gameplay
  • A massive scale campaign between player created agencies and alliances over scarce territory and resources on a persistent world map.
  • Attack and Defend Territories in zones that match your agency’s schedule
  • Agency and Alliance Management – Create and maintain persistent player groups and officer ranks
  • Creation and Upgrading of Facilities – Control production and output
  • Base Raids – involving up to 60 players per side; coordinated between 6 different strike teams within linked territory instances
  • Agency Achievement System, Leveling, and Recognition
  • Auction House with bidding and buyouts
  • Mail System
  • Upgrade Text and Voice chat to support multiple channels and strike teams
  • Player Crafting with blueprints
  • Additional character customization options including elite character suits, dye colors, and seasonal flair
  • Ongoing Co-Op content at max character level
  • Ongoing AvA content, multiplayer PvP content, and new social areas

Global Agenda is currently in closed beta testing and scheduled to be development complete by the end of this year toward a Q1 2010 release.

So it seems that the game is going to be a fully realized single player game, with coop gameplay. I’m thinking of Diablo style (or dare I utter the word, Hellgate?). I hate to do it, but the pricing plan and release type of the game seems VERY similar to the disastrous Hellgate: London. Hopefully, their “Conquest” plan, is more MMO-ish than not, or else I think people’s expectations will be let down. Two dollars a month less than standard MMO charges aren’t enough to drastically change perception. Though, if the $10/month sticks around after launch (unlike Champions – you bastards!) it might be enough to alter the view.