Free-to-play or how to Spread Around $15 per Month

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Blog, Rift, SOE, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft | 4 comments

How to split moneySo we are talking again about the free-to-play model, after SWTOR has announced they’ll be using it soon for their game. Syp started this with a simple list of various free-to-play models and others have thrown in their opinions. Ocho elaborates a bit more on the various pay models and Sente looks into the cost side of the business.

Guess I’ll throw my opinion in as well. If I look at my own gaming habit I see a couple of things, and I can assume being the average Joe, that many other games will do exactly as I do. I more or less have a gaming budget, as I have already dissected a while back. So does everybody else. That’s the MMO market, the sum of the budgets of all players.

Back in the days of Everquest and Ultima Online, that market was small, since so many people

  • didn’t know about MMOs
  • didn’t have the hardware
  • didn’t have friends who played
  • just found the game to hard.

Along comes Blizzard and blows up the market size from a wild guess of 1 million players for EQ and others to 13 million at its peak, say 15 million to add in the other games, hell make it 18 million. They were able to do this because they pulled in the player base from other Blizzard games and at some point it started to snowballed.

It’s different nowadays. Remember, each player has his budget. And there aren’t that many people left who don’t know about MMOs. There are probably only hardcore MMO deniers left. Each new game, in order to gain traction has to chip away from other games’ player base, or has to find a way to bring in their own fans. But that gets them usually only 1-2 million subscribers like Rift’s and SWTOR’s numbers show. SWTOR actually pulled in the Bioware fans, many of them solo offline gamers, while Rift probably had to steal their subscribers elsewhere.

So what’s a smart company to do if it’s so hard to get new people to put down $15 each month and other players hand their money to Blizzard or Sony? Answer: what every business man does, they ask for less. I think there was a company who actually had $9.95 subscription rates. But that didn’t fly. And even smaller rates won’t work to well, because the cost of handling those transactions eat up the money.

And that’s why the folks running the business end of the MMO’s had to come up with a way get their share of the market. Instead of having somebody play 30 days for $15, they end up with somebody playing 10 days and paying $6 (see what I did here?). The players love it, since they have so many games to pick from. By the way, that’s what it looks like from the players point of view: So many games, so little time. And many want to play them all.

In the end all those free-to-play models are business vehicles to be able to offer smaller pieces of the market to the buyers. Sony’s 3 day pass comes to mind. With F2P you get somebody to pay $20 for in game currency now and recharge 4 month later. However, one reality seems to be that many players have a main game where they are subscribed to, and many others were they drop by every now and then, leaving traces of money behind.

Makes you wonder if F2P is the right way to divide that market into more equal pieces. Plus, the $15 a month Blizzards have to let them chip away.

 

Photo by: Images_of_Money


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Battlechicken’s Challenge

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Blog, Everquest, Everquest II, Fallen Earth, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Vanguard, World of Warcraft | 2 comments

As part of the Newbie Blogger Initative Battlechicken has challenged the bloggers to tell her Why We Do What We Do, preferably in pictures. Here’s a small collection of my characters, the result of 12 years playing MMOs, who is answering the question.

Feliz: I am a yodel bard Sambaugh: Watching your back
Dimo: I heard they had cheese and pimp hats Minsk: Barfights and barmaids! Plintenegger: I’ve got Death Touches
Plinkocommie: Goblins of Azeroth unite! Dimkski: The Lich King is dead
Shamble: Looking into a radiant future Dime: There’s a vision, always was, always will Shambles: I am your father, Feliz

 


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Getting RSS From News Sites Without a Feed

Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Blog, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

When I started out collecting feeds for Google Reader I noticed quickly, that there are webpages of MMORPG’s without a usable RSS feed. It seems that with the availability of Facebook and Twitter a few companies have decided they don’t need to provide RSS feeds anymore. But there is help in the form of feed43.com. They allow you to create your own feed for any news page you want. You have to define the search rules yourself, but once it’s done you can subscribe to the result in Google Reader.  It’s only updated every six hours, but it beats going to that webpage all the time. And the real beauty  is, you can share the feed.

And that’s what I am going to do. So far I have only two and I am working on a third:

For instance Dev-Tracker pages are often without RSS feeds, since the forum software doesn’t really support it. Should you know of any MMORPG websites without a RSS feed, feel free to ask for it in the comment section, I’ll see what I can do. I’ll keep this list up to date as it grows.

 

 


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Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
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SWTOR and I

Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 in Blog, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

Back in October when I got an invitation for one of the beta events for Star Wars, it was all fun and lightsabers. The game had great classes, a good story, interesting combat mechanisms, a selection of companions and it looked like a great game overall. Turns out, there were plenty of gaping holes in the game. Boring race selections, not so well thought out crew skills, a poorly implemented Galactic Trade Network. And worst of all, an inconsistent game world, with Republic and Empire sharing the same map, holding identical positions on it. The quest lines on a single planet were to long and lead you in general along a rail, without many options to stray from the path. I don’t think you have the option of just skipping a planet or a segment of your characters story.

I did play for a while together with my wife until we hit Taris on the Republic side, but her initial interest was a straw fire, and my fun was gone shortly thereafter as well. Maybe I had to wait for patch 1.2 for to long, but there is no excitement in me to wait for it.

I did unsubscribe on Sunday, but have a couple of days left to take a screenshot or two. I don’t want to start a lengthy goodbye rant, like it usually happens on the SWTOR forum. I had fun playing and I bear no ill will toward the game or the players I leave behind. It’s just not my game anymore. I will stay in contact with the SWTOR blogs around me. The people there are fun and have interesting things to say. I don’t want to give up that.

So long, SWTOR. Let me know if you want to have my stuff…


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Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
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Learning and Leveling Curves

Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 in Blog, Everquest, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

I have been playing Everquest again for a few days now, and only for an hour or two at a time. It’s like a return into your home town. You know all the places, but most of it just doesn’t look right. That’s why the user interface feels so clumsy for the first few hours, but it becomes familiar again after a while. But not without wondering how much MMO interface design has evolved over time. There’s a reason everything is called a WOW clone: A good interface begs to be copied.

Something else feels awkward about the game: Myself. I’ve gotten my beastlord to level 12 and was sent to Blackburrow for some quest. Fun, fun, fun! I’ve spend a lot of time there in the past and I know the place well. However, I got myself into trouble when for some reason I had something like 6 gnolls on me, with more joining later. I had completely forgotten how aggro works in EQ, lulled into safety by some passive grey-con mobs. If I want to continue playing this game, I have to put in a good amount of time, to get these issues figured out and have them become second nature again.

All this made me think about the learning curve in MMOs. I’ve trained most of my MMO skills in Everquest. I learned about the need to pull in the Field of Bones. I learned crowd control in Solusek Ro and Karnor’s. Swarm kiting was all the rage back then, which I learned in Mayden’s Eye. In other games, different skills are required, like finding a rotation and priority lists or selecting the right companion for every occasion in SWTOR. And of course different classes require an entirely different set of training as well.

Players learn their classes as they level. Usually, the game becomes more challenging the higher the level requirements are and new techniques need to be found and deployed to master the content. All of a sudden, resistances are needed, characters have to move away from area damage, deal with a fully choreographed encounter.

In the end, the leveling process in an MMO is a big learning process as well. At the level cap, players will have learned to deal with a multitude of situations happening within a game. But now what? Is there still some challenge left? Can the endgame keep the interest of players who love to expand their skills? Or does the game stop right there, at least for some of us, it does.

 


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WTF, Taris?

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Blog, Featured, Star Wars: The Old Republic | 0 comments

A few days ago I finally managed to get my Sith Marauder to Taris. I had some trouble at first getting oriented at the landing site, but nothing really to post about. A few initial quests yielded me some decent amounts of crystals to artifice and things looked good. Until I arrived at the “Border Assault Post”.

Damn, I’ve seen that place before. It looks just like one of the Republic outpost on Taris. And as it turns out, the whole map is identical to the Republic map. Which shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since it’s the same world and both sides are competing for this world. However, all the quest hubs are now in use by Imperials instead of the Republic and there are different mobs throughout the area. No pirates, like on the Republic side, and the Cathar and the Taris Militia are exclusive to the Empire map.

I just got quests leading me into the starship Endar Spire, but I fear the story which presents itself there will be very different from the Republic one. Just like the other quests throughout Taris. It’s not just a different point of view, the events in the stories differ. Which annoys me to no end. I’ve seen a few story elements within class quests which just didn’t fit together with other class quests. Most obvious to me is the complete absence of the Twi’lek matriarch of the Consular line within the Jedi Knight quest line. Or the differences around Nem’ro the Hutt between the Imperial Agent and the Bounty Hunter quests. Nemro’s located on the left side of his palace for IA’s and on the right side for Bounty Hunters. He’s got lieutenants for the IA where there’s just a single accountant around for BH.

This really makes me wonder, if I should head over to some SWTOR role playing sites and check out hat they have to say about the poor development of lore. In the end, it’s just another piece of the puzzle that is Bioware. I keep noticing issues where I keep thinking that they went designing the game all by themselves as a company who makes single user games, without much consultation of experts from the MMO world. They could have learned a thing or two. And somewhere down the road, when they finally notice the errors of their ways, they will have to create some very clumsy stories and explanations to make the lore between the classes and the factions consistent.


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Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © 2008-2011 Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. or Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved. BioWare and the BioWare logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. You may not copy any images, videos or sound clips found on this site or "deep link" to any image, video or sound clip directly.
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