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PC games - profits, discussion


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#1 EngineProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 295

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:21 PM

Hi everyone,

This can bring up some discussions but this needs to be done.

I promote PC games which you can download for free. But in-game you have a possibility to buy items, cool stuff for real money.
A friend of mine promotes PC games which you pay only once. So only 60 dollar and you can have all the content in-game.

My example: Runescape
- You start with a limited amount of items, exploring areas, etc.
- The players can explore all the limited stuff for free, so no charges or no time limit.
- This will cause many players to create an account, not saying they will continue playing.
- You need to attract the players the first 10 minutes of the game. So a nice tutorial or cool graphics.
- When the player gets addicted or feels like exploring everything, he can buy the "full game" starting from a month.

A friend of mine his example: WoW
- You buy the game for 60 dollar.
- You can create an amount of characters
- The player has a great amount of choices what he will be
- You can explore everything, so no limitation from the start.

My kickback is.. You need to buy WoW. And if you want to be very good at PvP's you are like forced to buy items/armor with real money..
There are noob levels that pay their loan just to beat other players... ( I thought he said something like this, I don't play WoW so I don't know anything about it. ) So WoW is a bad example. Posted Image


What are your opinions?
Do you prefer a free game where you can put some money in if you want more? Or do you rather want a only-pay-once game? The Wow games is an excepting on this topic. They are just too awesome so they want to get paid at the start + in-game. Posted Image

If you look at the profits I think a free game with buy-able content in-game will have more profits on a long period.
If you say like 5 dollar / month the player just needs to buy the full version of your game for a year. When you can keep the player entertained/addicted there is a chance he will play for a few years.
Feel free to comment on my opinion. This topic is mostly created to discuss this matter. Posted Image


~EngineProgrammer

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#2 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7987

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:55 PM

The monetizing of games has been discussed a lot in the industry in the recent years and there's a huge shift (at least for MMORPGs) from the traditional payment models to the F2P + ingame purchase. Starting with asia MMORPGs which are often F2P + ingame purchase, swapping over to western MMORPGs (DND, Mittleearth etc.) , and taking ofter other types of games like action rpgs (dialbo III, ok it is actual pay + ingame real money trading) or fps (TF2).

An other indication of a shift might be, that the retail market is really shrinking, though here digital retribution,mobile market and lacking new console generation could be other reasons too.

You can follow a lot of this discussion on gamasutra. Personally I thing, that this is not the end and the game industry is really transforming at the moment, therefore it is hard to guess how it will look like in the next years.

Edited by Ashaman73, 28 September 2012 - 08:48 PM.


#3 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:09 PM

The WoW model is on its way out, Blizzard can get away with it now because they're the largest and have a dedicated fanbase that still tolerates it but few, if any, others can. (Note: I don't think WoW actually charges players for vital in-game content like weapons, just expansions, subscriptions and superficial content.)

Look at the massive list of top-shelf MMOs that have gone Free to Play, turning from Example 2 into Example 1-
Star Wars: Old Republic, Dungeons & Dragons, City of Heroes, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, LOTR, DC Universe, Rift (Demo model), etc.

Even Valve realized Team Fortress (an FPS) can make more money giving their product away while letting people gamble real money for in-game items with their "key system."

Plus, it effectively negates the issue of piracy, meaning you can shrink your security budget and put it towards enforcing the integrity of your game, (by catching individual cheats and thieves,) rather than investing in an ultimately useless DRM system.

Game pricing has become a race to the bottom in many cases and getting your game into the hands of the masses, cheaply, is paramount to succeeding against that. Steam games sell massively on a -75% sale. Smartphone dollar content has hounded Nintendo and Sony's mobile businesses into frighteningly small margins. Triple-A franchises prefer to slash development costs rather than expand content, (or make that content optional and for sale in small chunks,) simply because they'll still likely get around the same interest no matter what.

On one hand, it can be good. People that are only mildly interested in a game don't need to shell out big to try it, and may be willing to give an unfamiliar genre a shot, leading to sales when they discover they really do enjoy it. Rabid fans will likely pay more over time than the typical sale price of a game would be. And I'm sure the number of freeloaders that remain freeloaders pales in comparison to the number of torrents on a comparable, cash-up-front production. Game design has already begun to shift to compensate within this new market, where the game itself is tailored to play off the type of consumer you are rather than a one-size-fits-all experience.

On the other hand, it also means that more extravagant projects are a little riskier, but Kickstarter seems to be picking up the slack. We'll just have to see how it all turns out.

#4 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:57 AM

$60 is too much for any game, if you ask me, and it is definitely too much if it's only a down payment.

#5 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 1053

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:44 AM

I too think of F2P+ingame transactions a more viable option. But it needs careful planning not to unbalance gameplay too much.

#6 EngineProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 295

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 05:35 AM

So payment in-game just turns out in more profit.
Also if you have a small team and you want to publish your game. The publisher can say he wants 30% of the profits for example.
But it it's a free game with in-game content you can pay all the money goes straight to your team.

And yes there are no pirates that way. You give everyone a chance to play your limited game. Even the pirates will get entertained/addicted to the game.. So there is a chance that even they will put some money into your game for a membership.
60 dollar is too much, for a game/team that isn't known. For someone like me, that has no name in the game industry it's smart to bring out a free game first, so more people will just try my game. And it all depends on how much you can entertain the player in the first minutes.
60 dollar for a WoW game, you know the game is going to be awesome so everyone buys it.


Assume people are playing your game for around 3 years. Should it be wise to give them discounts? I mean you already gain 3x60 dollar if you ask 5$/month. So there is a moment they will realize they are wasting allot of money on your game..
What can you do to make the players who are starting to realize this keep entertained? Feel free the answer on this question. Posted Image


~EngineProgrammer

#7 aattss   Members   -  Reputation: 387

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 07:57 AM

I thought that Runescape was too controlling, and I often find that I enjoy games that I brought instead of games that want me to by things, as I don't feel limited or whatnot. However, I found that LOL worked, as nothing was truly limited, while you still have some incentive to buy. Limited games make me feel like... well, like I'm being segregated against, and that only other people get to do everything. It's painful to play a game where the designers cater to other people, and you're not at all the target audience.

#8 TomVD   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:12 AM

The only problem I have with the freemium model is in cases where you add up all premium content you come to a large sum (>100$) and they can tell you that you don't HAVE to buy all the premium content, eventually a lot of people do, because of the feeling to miss out on something.

It's a cheap trick to earn more money on people that have this urge to collect everything of a series. An extreme example is the downloadable content of Train Simulator, you can pay up to 1000$ to download every train in the game. I'm sure some people do... I'm afraid.

#9 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10575

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:58 AM

I'm struggling with this daily on the projects I run.
From a personal standpoint, I prefer single payment (not monthly). I'm ok paying 100$ for a game I may or may not like, given that I've taken the time to check the reviews, and I'm aware of the shortcomings of the product. I'm ok knowing I've paid a crazy amount of money for a single game as long as I can quickly make the adequation between the fun I'm purchasing vs the $ I'm putting in. This allows me to make a straight hours of fun per dollar comparison and/or quantify the quality.
What can I say, I'm conservative in that regard.

From a business standpoint, the F2P model + microtransactions makes a lot of sense. However, I've seen this badly implemented in a number of ways.
This could spur a much larger discussion, but the microtransactions need to be relevant. Forget all of these facebook games. The best business model I've seen so far is League of Legends. The game is free, and you could play it for free forever. Even more so, the premium content can be purchased through grinding the game! The only price they put is on new 'features' (champions with their own mechanics) and you only need to be if you are impatient. Basically, the game let's you sink your teeth deep in the product and never front the monetizing options. They're just options. This could be applied to different games too, but right now, most of them are really about consumable items and the likes, and its obvious that the game was thought of not in terms of quality of design, but as a money-sink...

#10 Haps   Members   -  Reputation: 1315

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:09 AM

Should it be wise to give them discounts? I mean you already gain 3x60 dollar if you ask 5$/month. So there is a moment they will realize they are wasting allot of money on your game..
What can you do to make the players who are starting to realize this keep entertained? Feel free the answer on this question. Posted Image


Some F2P games have "premium" currency, which is from real money, and "game" currency, which is a reward for gameplay. Some items can only be bought with one or the other.

Your longterm players will have more game currency, and possibly more to do with it because of their levels, playtime, and prior purchases. Just be careful not to imbalance the system: If you make premium cash too powerful, you'll have your veteran players upset that someone with more money can have a greater advantage over them in a fraction of the time. Make it not valuable enough, and people won't even bother paying you at all.

Whatever you do, be consistent - EA made that mistake twice with Battlefield Heroes, greatly devaluing the game currency to get more people to use premium currency. This is a bad decision to make, because people will feel like they've been stolen from, and their hard-earned play cash, while worthless to you, represents all the time they've spent in front of your game.

#11 EngineProgrammer   Members   -  Reputation: 295

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:38 AM

Orymus3: I think it depends on the game.
As a game as runescape I would like to spend now and then 5$ on a membership.
As a game a StarCraft 2: Wings of liberty I don't want to pay content in-game. So one purchase only for the full game.

Ah this brings a new question up for me. League of Legends if a free game. And you aren't forced to buy a single thing. How do the makers of LoL know that will work?
Paying a server costs allot! And certainly the hours making of it. How did they know they are going to get advantage of it? How do they get payed is not a single player would pay the extra content? Some friends of mine play LoL but they don't waste money on it.


Haps: never thought about that. Posted Image
So it's smarter to balance the buying of content in-game and your game currency.
For example a newbie can't buy a single item with real money. You need to play for a while so you can unlock content you can pay with real money.
Because indeed, when you are a noob and you can buy 1.000.000 gold for real money for example, it's easy to buy the strongest weapons/armor then and own people that are playing for months. This brings hatred for the buying stuff. So when I balance the buying content with your game currency I can make a nice balanced game, I think. Posted Image

Also yes, when the player is playing for 3 years for example he already have better skills and new unlocked items/things. So that is his reward. But I'm still thinking on putting a discount on the memberships as well. It makes people that only play for 2 years more motivated to play another year to get the discounts.. Posted Image

Thanks everyone for the answers/opinions! This makes everything more clearer. It's hard to find what's the best for the player and your business.


~EngineProgrammer

#12 Zouflain   Members   -  Reputation: 532

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:11 PM

Orymus3: I think it depends on the game.

True enough, though free distribution, pay for additional content seems to be more successful even in games you would expect to use the traditional pay once model - TF2 immediately comes to mind, as Valve reported a 12 fold increase in profits.

Ah this brings a new question up for me. League of Legends

I buy skins in LoL just because I support the game, and to be honest I am extremely stingy when it comes to spending money on games. It's free and a lot of fun, and that makes me as a consumer want to support the product even despite my outright refusal to spend it elsewhere. As consequence, I'm willing to fork over what cash I have for games to Riot (the makers of League of Legends, for those that don't know). I believe LoL has one of the best models for competitive multi-player games - free to play, absolutely no pay-to-win, and pay-for-cosmetics. Riot has never once voiced concern over profitability and generally tends to reduce prices as time goes on, rather than keep them artificially high.

So it's smarter to balance the buying of content in-game and your game currency.
For example a newbie can't buy a single item with real money. You need to play for a while so you can unlock content you can pay with real money.
Because indeed, when you are a noob and you can buy 1.000.000 gold for real money for example, it's easy to buy the strongest weapons/armor then and own people that are playing for months. This brings hatred for the buying stuff. So when I balance the buying content with your game currency I can make a nice balanced game, I think.

If it's pay to win, you wont get a dime out of me and I will strongly encourage my friends to play a different game. If you can ever buy powerful items, the entire system becomes pay to win. Real world economic status having influence over the success of a virtual world character is what brings hatred for buying stuff. People do not like the sense of inequality that letting rich kids buy things for your game garners. I would say leave RMT (real money trading) to cosmetic and convenience items (extra character slots, extra bank space) and avoid all pay to win at all costs (items, xp boosts, ect).

Pay to win aside, if you're going to model RMT into your economy, you should definitely account for it or your game currency will become useless. It becomes very hard to regulate the inflow of items if players can and are motivated to buy them, and this destabilizes a game's economy by creating an item fountain. In a single player game who cares, but it sounds like you were describing mmo's, where a broken economy can kill the game. This is why games use soul or account binding of RMT items, to prevent these items from hitting the market. Trouble is, if all the good items are RMT, then what good is gold? And if the RMT items aren't the best, why would someone spend real money to get them?

You'd be much better off from a balance/fairness perspective to sell items that make attainable-through-playtime items look different. So the Level 1337 Sword of Pwnsauce can look like a scythe with a cool shader effect applied to it, rather than the generic 1337 sword. Much fairer, and still incentivizes RMT without damaging the economy.

#13 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10575

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 05:17 PM

Ah this brings a new question up for me. League of Legends if a free game. And you aren't forced to buy a single thing. How do the makers of LoL know that will work?
Paying a server costs allot! And certainly the hours making of it. How did they know they are going to get advantage of it? How do they get payed is not a single player would pay the extra content? Some friends of mine play LoL but they don't waste money on it.


Actually it all falls down to "is your game a good product".
I know there are some cases where great ideas just did not generate the sales and went bankrupt, but in general, the good product stands out from the masses if there is a reason to purchase. If you want to look at it this way, LoL is a free game with many DLCs. It is basically your shareware demo ala 90s, except you have a lot of stuff ready to be added. If your core gameplay is fun and your monetization options REALLY bring something to the table that alters the experience significantly, then you're in for a wild ride.
LoL's branding was made in a number of ways. There's a lot of self-expression in the champions you purchase, the skins you unlock, etc. And there's always the twist of having new skills.
Personally, I wouldn't have believe this system would've worked to that degree, but it most certainly couldn't fail based on the audience behind this type of game. When DoTA came out as a Warcraft III mod, there were already a significant amount of players interested in this genre, and let's face it, tug-of-war wasn't as widespread as say, tower defense. They just knew coming in they'd have users, and it was just a challenge of increase the conversion rate of paying users.




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