More On Business Models, Subscriptions, And All

It was the hot topic of last week, and the question of whether subscriptions are good or bad is continuing to rumble this week.

We’ve got a couple of fascinating opinion pieces here – one of them arguing for subscriptions, and another one pointing to the success of the non-sub options.

But it’s what they say in common that’s as interesting as where they differ:

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Is Free-To-Play “Inevitable”?

Electronic Arts’ Chief Operations Officer said yesterday that he believes a move to free-to-play, for all games, is inevitable.

Pretty bold and startling stuff, particularly coming from someone that senior in the industry.

Bloggers have been reacting to both that statement and Arena.net’s comments about Free To Play in the last couple of days – so, does the blogosphere agree that F2P is the only Way 2 Go?

  • The Mighty Viking Hamster considers the example of LoTRO’s F2P history as he examines the rationale for F2P games“Time and time again you see VIP players on the Turbine forums question the viability of sticking with their subscriptions when they could feasibly buy all the content they need with their amassed TPs. As time passes this conundrum will become more relevant to old time subscribers and it is something Turbine has to contend with sooner or later. “
  • Ben at Diminishing Returns examines Arena.net’s claim that F2P games are more fun“Few people have the money and interest to subscribe to 5+ different MMOs simultaneously, but if you are playing 5 F2P titles you can jump in to different games on different nights according to what content takes your interest and what your friends are doing.”
  • Keen argues that F2P games are driven by exactly the same non-fun business motives as subscription-based titles“That doesn’t mean the other teams aren’t hard at work coming up with ways to get you into that cash shop or earn money. Business is competitive, and there’s no such thing as a ‘nice business decision’. “
  • And Chris at Level Capped makes a very interesting point I’ve not seen anywhere else – that in F2P games, gamers really do get to vote with their wallets“When the revenue stream for a game comes solely from delivering a well regarded product first, and collecting money second, people have an actual, meaningful voice every time they decide whether or not to buy that expansion, that gun, or that XP boost.”

What do you think? Is F2P inevitable?

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Hope! Hope for transfers, subscriptions, and LGBT events in game

In contrast to the concerns of our other post today, this post brings nothing but messages of hope.

Yes, it’s a very hopeful day in the MMOsphere. From new hope (appropriately enough) springing from SWTOR server transfers, to a report on the huge Proudmoore Gay / LGBT Pride event, here are some blog posts to cheer your day:

  • It’s great to hear there’s another side to the SWTOR server transfers – Spinks hasn’t had the woes other players of the game have encountered, and in fact feels that her server transfer has breathed new life into the game“Fleet chat was buzzing, full of excited players who had either just transferred or were enjoying the new crowds. Within an evening I had found a friendly guild and joined a random instance group to run Taral-V and Maelstrom Prison. “
  • In amidst a wave of bloggers quitting WoW, Ben at Scribblings On The Asylum Wall explains why he still considers the WoW subscription a superb source of entertainment“Someone once challenged me that I could spend that money better on other things, and I laughed at them because $12 buys less than two movie tickets.”
  • And Ironyca delivers a lengthy pictorial report on the WoW Proudmoore Pride event, one of the largest gay/LGBT events I’ve ever heard about ingame“It was so silly, look at how cluttered that bridge is. The boat bursting with people left the harbor without me. I suspected it would crash, although it actually didn’t. “

What are you hopeful for right now?

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MMOs: the Pink Paper Financial Times Edition

Ok, today I’m channeling my inner banker.

…I said “banker”.

Yes, it’s all gone a bit financial in the MMO world. With WoW Patch 4.3, amongst other things, spelling financial apocalypse for Jewelcrafters, whilst Guild Wars 2 is starting to leak out news of the microtransactions that will drive it, everyone’s talking money, money, money. And some of the things they’re saying are quite surprising:

  • Gold-making columnist Fox Van Allen over at WoW Insider issues an urgent call for Blizzard to start costing him more gold“Surrendering the war on inflation will have terrible consequences, mostly for the most casual of players.”
  • Power Word Gold are taking a lengthy and interesting look at the “Patch 4.3”: Epic Gem announcements and how gold-making jewelcrafters might be able to recover“While I’d love to be wrong (as it would give me much more opportunity for profits) I think Cataclysm epic gems will be perceived by players as something that “raiders in Cata worked for but were unobtainable by anyone who didn’t raid in patch 4.3”. This certainly gives them the most prestige.”
  • Tish Tosh Tesh is striking out against the subscription model, saying that people who defend it blindly are suffering from Stockholm Subscription Syndrome“When you pay for time to play, you’ve already acquiesced to the premise that you’re paying for access, not content… Businesscritters naturally exploit this tendency, though they tend to be careful not to draw too much attention to the persistent blood loss, lest they draw too much attention and trigger a response.”
  • And Tobold is channeling Thomas Aquinas in his search for a Just Price for MMOs“Ultimately which business model is better for the player depends on what kind of player he is… Conflict arises from the fact that the group who is subsidizing the other players in each of these models would be better off playing a game of the other business model. “

Are you thinking financial thoughts today? Are you running scared from the Jewelopocalypse? Wondering how you’re going to afford 250g for a glyph? Or fighting not to Microtransact too much? Tell us below!

All quotes taken from their respective blog posts.

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Mana Obscura: Which Subscription Model Would You Prefer?

The World of Warcraft is huge. Package all the types of content into one game and it’s suddenly a huge world of possibilities and experiences. The mind boggles. So thumbs up for Gazimoff who’s wondering today – what’s the future of subscription and do we want to be able to choose what content we buy?

Gaz points out we’re already seeing choices in subscription types  in some games, where you can choose what content you purchase. But he says this can become costly if you end up wanting all the available options, and the more traditional flat subscription fee for all content that WoW champions doesn’t have that problem.

But what if we had more choices than that? Say you could choose the Lite Edition with only a handful of character slots and limited bagspace, or the Gargantuan Edition with a shedload of space for alts and an aircraft hangar to store all your inventory, or a range of other types in the middle.

Gaz also touches on the debacle over whether cinematics would cost extra if one was downloading the digital version of Cataclysm. It’s an interesting point to mention, as it suggests a fine line between when it’s acceptable to charge for extra content and what type – is charging extra for another raid zone okay while charging for the cinematics are not?

We’re getting into another debate here but Gaz has certainly opened an interesting can of beans. I’m genuinely interested to see how this one turns out – what do you think? Let him (and us!) know!

_Quote taken directly from Gazimoff’s post

You can find Mana Obscura’s homepage here_

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