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Javien: A Payment Company

At the Game Developer's Conference, we talk to all kinds of companies, form game developers to AI engineering companies. Today, Larua Genender files her editoial report on Javien, a payment company.

Javien: A Payment Company

During the Game Developer’s Conference I had the pleasure of meeting with Leslie Poole (Chief Executive Officer) and Linda Hagopian (Vice President of Marketing and Communications) from Javien, specialists in digital payment solutions. While the Javien team is well versed in subscription style games, our focus today was their industry expertise in the MMO payment plan of the future: micropayments.

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I came to our meeting with some uncertainty; I’m not a big supporter of the micropayment model, and I’m more willing to spend 15$ a month on subscriptions than 5$ a month on random items. The reason behind my prejudice? I like an even playing field, where everyone has the same tools and skills to start with. If another user is able to level or make money faster than me, fine, but if they’re able to buy their way up the ladder I start feeling uncomfortable. Hell, I feel uncomfortable “buying my way up the ladder” myself; I feel guilty at the thought of buying a sword, even if that’s the only way to obtain it.

As I sat down though, I remembered a similar hesitation when I picked up my first subscription game. It’s a game after all, and I already paid $40 in the store to buy the box. Why should I pay them another $15 a month? I was young then, and foolish! – I had no knowledge of server fees, customer support paychecks, and the like.

And while my skepticism for the two payment methods stems from different reasonings, I took the time to reevaluate my thoughts on micropayments. For a game like EverQuest, I would never buy plat or gear off of ebay, as that’s not in the game ruleset; but for a game like K2’s Sword of the New World, which was built around micropayments and balanced for these transactions, I think I might be ready to shell it over. I wouldn’t want to buy my way to uber badassness, but extra bank slots or speed boost potions? I can see it.

The Javien guys (and gals) are no newbies to the payment scene; Javien’s a veteran in the music business, dealing with companies such as Ruckus Network, BETA Records, Fuzz, and more. In the gaming scene, Javien is working with K2 Network, Garage Games, and 6 more companies that they’ve yet to announce.

As stated above, the wave of the future is micropayments. One of Javien’s key features is a large amount of customization and flexibility for their customers; this starts with the big picture, and game companies are given two ways to handle their micropayments.

The first method is using virtual currency. If a user wants to spend $20, they spend $20 and get $20 worth of points, gold, etc. The second method is aggregation – users can purchase items individual for smaller sums…a sword here, a skill there, etc. Once the user has spent a large enough sum of money, or once X days have passed, they are charged for their purchases.

One of the most interesting features that the Javien duo mentioned was parent/child support; a parent can enter their credit card information and a monthly limit for their kid to spend. I called it an e-llowance! This lets parents give their kids a little bit of freedom with their purchasing power without the parents having to worry about an outrageous credit card bill.

Javien also offers subscription models, from your basic monthly fee to more complicated models, such as time played, free trials, etc. For the developers they work with, they offer a variety of logging tools and statistical parsers to discover what items are hot, how many users are subscribing, etc. To make a long story short, they offer flexible, dynamic, and easy to use payment support.

While this isn’t the usual kind of company that we cover here at MMORPG.com, it can be nice sometimes to have an opportunity to take a look at a company that provides something that players often don’t think about; a way for the company to charge for the game.