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the Lonely Altar

I don't play "games", I play MMORPGs! This is where I talk about them!

Author: Tierless

#19 Question Everything; Sub Models (lets talk about CEX)

Posted by Tierless Thursday May 16 2013 at 10:31AM
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Like people that wear Abercrombie & Fitch all the “cool” MMO’s are going FTP or BTP because, well, it’s the “cool” thing to do right? “MMOers just aren’t willing to pay a monthly sub anymore” right? Wrong, let me correct that statement, MMOers aren’t willing to pay a monthly sub for hot garbage. They are more than happy to pay a sub for a quality game. If you want subs again, make a game that has some calzones, that does something, that evolves this stagnant genre. BAM easy peasy, problem and solution, blog done... it’s never that easy is it?

I think CU can offer us something “new and innovative” in terms of throwing our money at CSE, but before we get to new age solutions, lets take a long hard look in the vision pool at a few of the “cool” current models.

RIFT is going FTP despite saying they never would, SWTOR went from SUB to FTP in less than 15 parsecs, GW2 was always banking on BTP, EVE is, well, doing whatever it is EVE wants to do because EVE marches to it’s own techno beat, WOW is SUB but hemorrhaging players like Lauzon in his fight against Miller (J-Lau is a beast btw /respect) and here comes brave little CU. The little MMO that could, still clinging to the “clearly outdated” ideals of the past with a subscription model. Can’t MJ see the writing on the scroll? The era of a sub based game has come and gone, even WOW can’t maintain subs! Surly CU has no chance! Who does this “MJ” think he is talking jive about the FTP model like he did! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Iw0-U9OknI

I’m not a genius, or smart either, but I think I kinda sorta grasp how the FTP mini game works. You go FTP, 90% of your players never spend a dime, 8% spend a bit on things like bank slots (FYI I think limiting storage is the single most BS way to force people to spend, how about we just pay to be able to loot, and walk, and jump too?), and the remaining 2% buy every single thing in your cash shop. The problem is the % of people paying is very small right? So with each new FTP MMO taking a tiny percent of that tiny percent that pie starts to get stretched thinner than Nick Cage’s hair.

 

Eventually the mass of FTP titles will spread things so thin that they won’t make enough money to afford being free, at least thats the way I see it, please (I mean this), correct me if I am wrong.

FTP is how sub MMOs “jump the shark”. For MOST MMOs the conversion to FTP is a sad last ditch effort to save your game. Most of the time it’s the last stop before the dreaded purgatory that is “maintenance only” (libations to WAR just now). The reality is FTP is kinda like a tattoo, it sounded cool at the time but before you knew it you ended up with a permanent bullseye on your lower back, and getting it undone is painful, expensive, and generally just not worth the effort. Personally when I hear a game “went FTP” I picture that scene from Transformers the 80’s movie where Optimus Prime is on his deathbed (still gives me a lump in ma’ throat). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_ULg4RSy5Y Lets pass that  Matrix of MMO evolution to CU.

That brings me to the tasmanian tiger aka the standard $15 a month sub. The $15 a month model is completely out of touch with a genre built on gamers that are in their late 20’s to late 40’s. We of teh old have a lot going on in life, well...many of us do...(jobs, kids, bills, more bills, wives, extended family, life, pets, bills, etc., did I say bills?). It’s hard for us to justify putting down $15 a month then “maybe” getting a couple of hours a week in generic themepark Y right? So instead we go with FTP generic themepark X. The lesser of 2 generic MMO evils.

The easiest way to EARN, yes I said EARN our HARD EARNED money is make a game that is worth a damn. “Why not they PTP our generic MMO?” Because despite what your “focus groups” indicate, an amazing IP wrapped around a generic game does not = getting my moneys! I’m sure the IP alone does snag a lot of dedicated fans, but as much as I love (for ex.) Star Wars, I love MMOs more (just slightly). So for me to give you my moneys I need more than the IP, I need (this is the crazy part) an innovative MMO that does something to progress this genre, not keep it stagnant (hell at this point I would even be THRILLED with regression back to the old days of the UOs, DAOCs, SWGs, and EQs).

Stop blaming us and trying to convince yourselves “we” (as if we are legion) have decided the monthly sub no longer works. It’s not us, it’s you and your generiMMO. You don’t even make MMORPGs anymore, you make dressed up phone app cash sinks. They aren’t massive (all small instanced stuff), they are barely multiplayer (I can solo most of them with 0 reason to socialize) and they definitely aren’t Role Play Games (aviator shades and baseball caps in my medieval MMO, thats like Frodo wearing a Lebron James Jersey in LOTR to old schoolers like us). And while I’m at it, LEAVE MY CHILDHOOD ALONE MICHAEL BAY! Mraaaaaaaaaa!!!!

... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4UlZyuFiGks

Ok, I’m back now...I can’t believe that vid has 12mill views...so what was I...oh yes, my double secret MMO sub solution, I cleverly call it operation CU-Sub.

What method do I want to see in CU? Thats so easy it’s laughable, OBVIOUSLY I want the one that works best for MY lifestyle and I think you do too. The problem is we probably have very different lifestyles (what with me working as a part time ninja master/custom satchel maker/Brad Pitt body double and you doing whatever it is you do) so we need a few options. Giving us one pay option is SO 2002 right? Offer us 4 of them and let us decide which one works best for us. (yes I’m FINALLY getting to them :)

Each of my options has been influenced by the Kickstarter tiers. Each of them would come with various bonuses of some kind (see SWG veteran rewards for ex). Consider them “bonuses for dedication.” Each of my 4 options would also have couple, family, Guild etc. sub options.

Option 1 (Lifer): Yearly/Lifetime Subs. This one is perfect for that old schooler who is as loyal to their MMO as a black vulture to it’s mate (look it up). Pay X and get the game for a dollar a year for life. Or maybe you pay X and you get a year or two or three etc.

Option 2 (Busy Beaver): Pay by the hour or day. I got this idea from a gym membership I had in a past life. I purchased 30 days and went 3x a week. Each time I went they punched a day off my card. It works great for the people that are really busy. They don't want to pay $15 and only get 6 hours of played time logged in for the month, so instead they buy 6 hours every month (or more as needed). Maybe it’s a simple as every time they log in they get a credit card charge? Pay per log-in, PPLI! Now thats BSC amiright?

Option 3 (Kickstart my Sub): This concept is a little BSC. Pay per month, or months, $5, $8, $10, $15 (whatever amounts CSE feels comfortable with) BUT make each $ amount come with different bonuses. DO NOT have a “special” $50 a month sub that gives extra cool stuff, that would = rage quitting. Cap it at $15, after all, we’ve all done that amount prior right? So that way we don’t have to listen to complaints about how the sub is a cash grab that rewards the riches and shafts the poors. FYI IMHO a monthly sub is me giving you my money because I continue to like your product and expect some of my money to go back into said product. When you start using my money for other products, dedicated players tend not to react real well and yes that is a VERY large understatement (google “EVE players revolt” if you don’t believe me).

Option 4 (CEX, not to be confused with EVE’s PLEX or Rift’s REX or SEX) This is my BSC option, its basically what EVE does with PLEX, but tailored for CU. Its in game, it can be transported, looted, stored etc. Take what EVE has done with PLEX, change it to make it work better for CU, and utilize it in game. It sounds crazy but if it was modified and implemented correctly I think we would all enjoy CEX in CU. It would take CU PVP to another level of attachment and meaning. You can threaten the relm I’m proud of, you can kill the unique character I’m attached to, you can take my damn soul and forge a weapon to destroy the home and town I love, and now you can even take my hard earned CEX! Just thinking about it gives me pvp chills!

Thar you have it, my idea for CU is 4 different subscription options. Each slightly different, each designed to appeal to a different player. So, do any of them work? Do they all fail? Am I BSC? Please, educate me in the comments below.

 

Lithuanian writes:

f2p'ers two cents...

1. B2P: sorry, don't believe in such business model. As a bonus to most loyal customer - yes, it may exist. You were such a supportive person, helped community that much that we offer you, say, deal: pay 120$ and play for a lifetime. If it's business model - sorry, do not believe. Let us say, a month is worth 10$ and gamer plays for 1 year and this year has 9 months. We have 90$ per year. Let us say average gamer plays same game for 2 years: then, B2P game should cost 180$. A bit expensive - other B2P titles sell for 60$ package.

2) Hour or day. I think, it has future (just without hours - make one day subscription).

3) standard option. If it goes with "the more period you pay for, the larger the bonus", it's ok.

4) did not understand since I have never played EVE or other pvp games. I'm f2+pve after all...

In short, I would go with: "Busy beaver" and standard subscription. B2P may be considered as a privilege for, say, first players. Privilege and not a right.

Thu May 16 2013 11:48AM Report
fortune_d writes:

^^

Yearly or Multi-year subscriptions already exist in many games. Usually those options come with a discount from the month to month subscription. Say $15 is your monthly, 6 month subscription may drop your monthly average to $12.50, and a year may drop it to $10.00. Basically, you're getting a discount to your monthly charge by subscribing for a defined amount of time straight up. It's nothing new, see magazine subscriptions. It also doesn't need to be exclusive to starting members. Now, I personally don't think lifetime subs should be offered outside the kickstarter tier that does so. However, it would be interesting to see multi-year subscription plans upwards of 3-5 years.

I love the pay for time logged in, or ppli option or pay by day concepts, but it would need to be finely tuned to be competitive with a monthly sub or other subscription plans. It would need to be set so that at a certain amount of time played/days played per month you would be better off with a monthly subscription or better plan.

Differing levels of monthly subscription would be interesting, as long as the levels and overall pricing were reasonable. I'm curious as to some tier ideas for that payment method.

#4- In Eve, you can purchase monthly time cards for in-game money (ISK), these time cards are called PLEX, and are a physical item that can be sold, bought, traded, stolen, destroyed, etc. Plex is also purchasable with RL money, which is partially how Eve combats goldsellers, since it is legal and easy for anyone to buy PLEX with $ and sell them for ISK in game. Such a system would be complex to implement in CU, and it really depends on how economic structures will work in CU, and what drives the CU economy. It works in Eve, because nearly all the better items and ships are player built, and every time you lose a ship, you lose it permanently, with everything equipped on it or in the hold. You can insure the hull cost, but only the hull cost.  Such a mechanism is replicable in CU by item degradation, but turnover is unlikely to be fast enough without full loot, which we have been told is something that will not happen. It's also dependent on manufacturing cost for items, houses, etc, etc. Basically, you need to have appropriate and harsh enough money sinks in the game so that natural accumulation of currency isn't high enough that everyone plays your game for free ;p If the CEX aren't purchasable with in-game currency, there is no reason for them to exist as in in-game item, and it's back to out of game time cards.

Just some thoughts.

Thu May 16 2013 2:32PM Report
neutrofl writes: Very much fun to read. Thanks. And I think your absolutely right. Im not willing to pay 15$ (or to me its EUR) either, when I'm only able to play like 5 - 8 hours a week max. I'd rather buy a "log in 30 times"-ticket, as I did at my gym. OR let's say, cut the sub price by half. I would agree with 8$ for a monthly sub, so it wouldn't prey on my conscience so much. I would be fine with one of those models. Thu May 16 2013 7:09PM Report
Smorak writes: Subs should be just like cellphone contracts:  you get blocks of minutes.  Tally the used minutes at the end of the month.  Go over and you pay a fee.  Go under and you get roll over.  Can even do primetime and weekends free, too. Fri May 17 2013 5:06PM Report
gylnne writes:

Nice post Time, but all I want it a sub game for a decent price that keeps adding content.:) 

Gifts and gimmicks are to close to f2p for me and I would rather do without them.

Mon May 20 2013 5:25PM Report
MacDeath2013 writes:

Dude, you ARE BSC! (and I like it) :)

I do rather like options to my subscriptions.

But CEX? CEX are for kids, you silly rabbit.

Tue Jun 11 2013 10:52PM Report
Tierless writes: @Mac THank you sir! Wed Jun 12 2013 9:56AM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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