There is no doubt about it, free to play and freemium MMOs are not going to up and disappear. It appears that this payment model will be growing in North America as games like Free Realms soar to 3 million users. Some players dislike these models because they see the games as cheap. Others are excited by the freedom of these games. That isn’t what I want to look at today however. I want to discuss what a player is willing to pay for. What do you consider premium features?
In some free to play MMOs real money buys you real power. In those games you can purchase high quality loot with your hard earn dollars. I am not a fan of that at all. It runs directly counter to one of the core reasons I play MMOs: PvE competition. Why would I bother raiding if I could spend $6.00 and get the same gear? Many games shy away from this and I applaud that. I don’t consider this a premium feature. I, in all honesty, see it as cheating. How about you?
A more common strategy is to offer convenience for money. There are all sorts of possibilities here. Do you want a faster mount? That will be $3.00. Perhaps you’re interested in a temporary experience potion? That will cost you $5.00. In truth, I don’t have an issue with any of that. I know experience potions seem like cheating but, to me, most MMOs begin when you hit max level. Everything before that is just “the stuff I went through.” If someone else wants to pay to shorten that time I’m alright with it. Others may disagree.
Those are some pretty obvious examples that we’ve all seen numerous times. I want to get a discussion going about what we haven’t seen yet and what we would like. I’ve come up with a list of things I’d be willing to pay for and about how much. Bare in mind that this is beyond what is required just to play the game. You can omit the basics. If you are so inclined, please do the same and post your own list!
1. I would love the ability to lock down my character name across all servers. Ferrel is not a fly by night name that I use flippantly. I have spent a long time building the reputation I have around it. I would hate for someone to tarnish it. I’d be willing to pay $1.00 extra every month to keep the name from falling into use. I’d even pay a one time fee to “create this character on all servers.” Anything to keep my good name.
2. One of the extra features that EQ2 offered was item tracking. The servers tracked who got an item and when. It was another way to show where you placed in the PvE game. That is a feature I loved and would gladly pay $1.00 a month for it.
3. On the guild side of things I would like to see server and game first tracking. When a guild legitimately defeated an encounter they would be added to the list. If it was found that they exploited to win their name would be removed. That has to be worth a couple dollars!
4. I covered this briefly in my prestige content article but it could also be worked in with premium content. I think players would enjoy the option to purchase costumes and such that have no impact on game play but look interesting. Several games already do this of course.
5. This one might get some people up in arms but I’d like to pay for mini-updates. Beyond live updates, expansions and general maintenance on an MMO I’d like to see quarterly mini-updates from a separate team. These could be as simple as a new PvE dungeon or a new PvP battleground. These mini-updates would have their own budget and would cost anywhere from about $3.00 to $7.00. I think that could add a lot of life to an MMO and reduce the cycle of interest and breaks.
Those are just a few things that I thought of. I’m sure I could come up with several more but I think that is a good start. I’m curious what everyone else would be willing to pay for though!
Originally posted on Epic Slant.