It’s a surprisingly frequent problem in the Internet age. You’ve got a thing that you made. It’s very popular. How the hell do you make enough money from it to keep it going?
That’s the challenge that many MMORPG developers face in one guise or another, usually after Plan A has failed. The entire Free To Play model sprang up from that very issue – but as several of the smartest MMO development bloggers discuss today, saying “Free To Play” still leaves a massive number of questions unanswered.
Want to know what Tobold, Green Armadillo, Kaozz and Avatars of Steel think are the solutions? Read on…
- Avatars of Steel is getting very sick of game developers simply attempting to use payment models designed for pre-gaming businesses – “Cars with naked women draped on the bonnet, buy one get one free groceries, rented motel rooms, cable contracts – new, improved, soap-powder – traces of all of these are in our current f2p scattergun approach. “
- Tobold thinks that game developers worldwide are missing out on a huge piece of the puzzle – encouraging and facilitating social relationships – “Instead of leveraging social network effects, MMORPGs are being developed into a “massively single-player” direction, where players simply have no use for each other. I think that there is a lot of missed business potential in creating better relations between players, and have gameplay elements where players can work together without being forced to be online simultaneously in 4-hour blocks.”
- Green Armadillo looks at the ways that payment policies can drive wedges between groups of players – “If the majority of paying customers are located in the leveling curve, that is where the developer must focus their efforts, even if said customers are certain to depart after spending some amount of time in game.”
- And Kaozz thinks that most games companies forget something very important: respect for their customers – “Does F2P make your game look like a joke? Do cash shops? I think it’s all in the way it’s all handled. A bad transition can hurt a good game, damage a valued reputation, that’s my honest opinion.”
Being in the “we’ve got something popular – how do we keep it alive?” space is surprisingly tough to deal with – I’ve been there a couple of times, and I have a lot of sympathy with the SWTOR business guys, for example.
What do you think SWTOR – or any other MMO – should be doing to make enough money to stay running?