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Your Sacred Cows' Mad Disease

Challenging the Tired and Used assumptions in MMO's - and gaming in general.

Author: badgerbadger

Grind in MMO's - the Subscription Model

Posted by badgerbadger Monday October 15 2007 at 10:18AM
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  As I often read posts or blogs on MMORPG.com what i notice is that many; many are from the people looking for a little something more  or a little something different.

 After all; do you remember what brought YOU here?

 Myself; I came here looking to for another game to try as i had tired of mine...

 I think this is the case for most players; after all; truly satisfied MMO-ers are in a hurry to use what free time they can spare gaming; Logging on; not coming here to read about logging on.

having just watched the humorous review of Yahtzee; of whom I am becoming a fan:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/2326-Zero-Punctuation-Tabula-Rasa

  i observed that once again the idea of Grind had come up.. the idea of the repeating or never-ending story...  And after all; if money is made by subscriptions; the companies have to have some mechanism for keeping paying customers playing (and paying).

  Again and again; various posters have pointed to other ways than the typical 'grind' to keep customers involved... and i think it has been well-said that in fact it is WHEN gameplay begins to FEEL like a grind (kick another 20 bunnies for a bunny stew recipe); that player interest declines.

 BLAH BLAH BLAH... we've heard all this before.

  i would like to remind you of another albeit similar business model... that of MAGAZINE subscriptions.

Unlike most mmo's where people play ina largely static game world; often 'grinding' to rush to the Vaunted Endgame; (to repeat the same raids?)...

  Magazines have a different model - people are subscribing to new content.  Magazines; just like MMO's ; have operating expenses... Yet they survive by CONTINUALLY providing newe and interesting content that KEEPS reader interest.

 There are those that would say by subscribing to an MMO you are in effect paying for the original development and rental of their servers... someone in one of these threads actually used the term 'free update' - when in fact it isn't free at all.  It is part of the service you are paying for; and to imply that new content or service updates are some kind of 'freebie' would tend to argue this.  It would be as though the big book companies - which BTW if you are interested in fantasy; they specifically ask if writers can drag series on for multiple volumes (my understanding is this is true for movies as well; but I've never tried to sell a movie)- asked you to keep paying for (and one supposes keep re-reading) the same novels.

  And who hasn't looked at some of the bloated fantasy series and thought that getting through them would be a grind?  But that is a seperate tangent.

 People have spoken of Dynamic content and Sandboxes...

      What  I want to add to this discussion is the magazine model of subscription - continual new content; perhaps a deveolping story line; be it seperate or dependent on the players; the idea here is that development does not stop at release; and that this continuing content be expected the same as i would from a magazine or short-story colections or TV series.  One does not subscribe to a single static story; no matter how long the movie or books.

    The current business model to me smacks of sitting on the laurels of the old content; expecting people to be content running 'raids' or memeorizing quest/levels for a sense of "accomplishment".

     Just as book companies encourage writers to 'fluff' novels to great length and multiple volumes to make series longer (keeping customers of a series buying books is easier than getting fans of a new series); MMO companies 'fluff' theirr games with time-sinks and what people call grind.

  As always with my articles; i ask you to question THIS sacred cow; and ask if it could not be done some other way.