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Is That So?

Here's where I, Penelopae, blog about all things gaming. From text-based MUDs to the latest graphic adventures, I'm open to playing all games equally and without bias. Why don't you join me?

Author: penelopae

Internet Killed the Video Game Star?

Posted by penelopae Thursday June 21 2012 at 9:34AM
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Two of the first games to offer a free-to-play (otherwise known as F2P) model were Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands in 1997 and Neopets in 1999. There have been others, but these were the two most notable, despite their obvious differences. Here are some of the contrasting and comparison points that stand out between the two games.
Achaea, Dreams of Divine Lands
  • text-based multi-user dungeon (also called MUDs)
  • focused on roleplaying
  • player-run social structure including politics
  • collects real-life money for in-game perks
  • generates profit by offering players an optional, monthly subscription benefits package
  • virtual pet website with bright, colorful graphics
  • focused on caretaking of virtual pets
  • players earn points to get things for their pets by playing games
  • collects real-life money for in-game perks
  • generates profit when players earn points by taking part in advertisement-based forums, games, etc.
As you can see, the F2P model has its merits. However, there are a lot of gamers who prefer walking into a store or visiting a website (like Steam) and paying for a game outright via a one-time purchase because they know exactly what to expect. When I bought Skyrim, I knew I was getting, and not just because I’d played other Elder Scrolls series. Bethesda Games Studios made the Games of the Year in 2006 and 2008, so I knew epic graphics and a killer soundtrack were to be expected. And when I first played I wasn’t disappointed. It was easy to become fully immersed I the game within just a few moments of playing.
But what if….
What if the business model of video games as we know it requires a major transition in order to keep up with changing technology and the needs of society? Fifty years ago stores called Tower Records that sold – you guessed it – vinyl records opened in California and it wasn’t long until they were popular across the country. As the times changed, so did their stock which grew to include CDs, cassette tapes, DVDs, and even MP3 players and video games. They boasted three locations in New York City alone. (The one in the Village was my favorite!) Despite attempts to keep customers with programs like Tower Insider that allowed a membership card and discounts offered through e-mail, they couldn’t compete with the growing popularity of MP3 sharing.
While song lyrics claim that “video killed the radio star” it can also be said that the internet killed big-box music stores. But it’s not just affecting music retailers. Sites like Amazon are killing bookstores. Brick and mortar stores just can’t compete with computer technology and electronic gadgets like iPads, e-books, and computer apps that allow people to read entire volumes of books without ever manually turning the first page. Blockbuster video was another company who failed to adapt their business model quickly enough to keep up with changes posed by internet users.
Will the internet kill video game stores, too?
With this in mind, why wouldn’t video games be next in line? Are stores like GameStop next? Will awesome deals on previously used hard copies of games be sacrificed for the sake of digital distribution over remote connections, as with the popular Steam software? Or with F2P models like ones offered by MUDs? Only time will tell; but I’d like to know what you think about the topic. What are your predictions about the future of F2P and video game stores? Thanks for stopping by!