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PaulCesar

Coin-op style subscription system

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Hello, In the process of building up a fairly simple party game with online gameplay, I have thought about ways of paying for the servers. While I can afford these easily, as the sales will cover them for a while, some sort of subscription scheme would allow me to scale just to cover the costs of running the servers. Since this would be more of a get-up-and-go game, similar to what you would have with your FPS's and such, there is no particular reason players would be playing enough to deserve to pay an incrediable amount. Rather I forsee sparastic use. As such I have thought about a strange somewhat-new marketing idea i would like to get the communities opinion on. This idea is similar to what you had with some of the MUDs, by providing the users with purchasable "Credits". Playing a game costs a credit, if you win you get the credit back, if you lose then you lose your credit. Rankings would be availiable for how many games you win before losing, along with tourniment rankings, etc. The credits would then be purchased in groups of like 75 for $5. That would provide a very adaquate amount of gameplay for the dollar, while still covering the server costs. This is not a MUD or MMORPG, so new content will be rare, added only during new releases of party games for the server. Of course, the profit is in the game sales, not the servers ran, which will scale to meet demand. If anyone has any opinions on this please feel free to respond! Richard PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: im expecting to take a bunch of money in the ass at the beginning, so the servers would be there when the product was launched (actualy before in a free beta period). I was strictly refering to a way to make it so i could make the servers availiable to people playing 7 years from now, when the costs of keeping the servers would have made the game unprofitable

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So long as it's not a system where you pay for each individual game and you don't mix free2p (if you have it) with pay2p, I think it's fine. If you have money involved in game matches though, no matter how small, you'll have to be very vigilant about cheating.

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Well it _IS_ practicaly pay per game, just a very very small (neglagable amount), it will probably come out to around $0.02-$0.06 a (LOST) game depending on the cost of the servers, so a somewhat decent person that wins 1/2 and plays 10 games a day on average, would cost most likely $2-7/month. The whole point of this though was to make it highly affordable for the "occasional play" player. This is similar to your coin op situation, you can keep playing on a quarter if you are good (and perhaps sometimes lucky) enough. While prizes may be availiable in certain ladder competitions(for a while, wont go on for ever of course), and perhaps people with the top # of consecutive wins for a while, there will be no money coming out of the system. The pay to play will just be enough to cover the server costs so that it can run without profit on the companies backend (if i go down, it would not bring down the servers, etc), and only games that affect the ladder. It would be something similar to b-net.

BTW: im guessing something like a 100 credit voucher would be availiable with the downloaded game automaticaly.

LAN play is completely free, and there may be the case of private servers being allowed (as soon as i can complete some method of requiring the private servers to run serial checks through the public server)

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Having people pay unless they win sounds like a scheme that will punish bad players and learners and ultimately ward people off trying the game.

Wouldn't a better idea be to let people play at the start for free, but then offer things to them for a price? Customized items or personalised items perhaps?

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Have you thought about in-game advertising?

I know some people are dead set against it, but it could very well cover a small amount like you're quoting. 2-10 cents for a 15 minute gaming session is a reasonable going rate, and I suspect the right targetted ad deal could cover that. At the very least, you could make this an option, play free with adds, or use credits with no adds. Maybe you could tie it in with the game's website, ie- click on an advertisers banner and the user get some credits, you get payed for the click and everyone's payed up.

Of course, the adds should be tasteful, not just content wise, but in placement as well. I wouldn't want to see a coca-cola add in the Legend of Zelda, but it might make sense in a racing game or FPS under the right cercumstances. I suppose you could always have your loading screens sponsored by Mountain Dew or something as well, lol.

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Use a 'Game Card' system, this will reduce costs drastically, I don;t think youd get any payment vendor to allow transactions below a certain dollar limit.

i.e.

Each session costs 25 cents, but it is deducted from a prepaid debit account, the amount of which is decided by the player (minimum 5 dollars with increments of a dollar).

This way you get the player commited for a minimum fixed amount with a guaranteed return until the credits run out (higher population), not to mention a higher revenue stream.

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Bezben
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This is not an RPG, there is no leveling, no super-community, etc. Its a series of similar comical arcade games, nothing more. All players are playing on a fairly equal playing field 100% of the time (provided they have acceptable specs).

Yes, your right, it rewards good players over bad ones. I have the idea of a ranking system where you dont actualy get your credit back, but a new game starts with players higher ranked based on consecutive wins. This is exactly like you were playing a fighter at an arcade, you and your friend both put in a quarter, but when one is out hes out.

Ravyne
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You are right here, this would be an interesting application for in game advertising, the rates being 10c a credit is quite high, and would DEFINITLY be an option (free credit if you watch this before the game). That may be something I could do if I can get a few advertisers support. It may be possiable to get the price down to a 1c a play even, that depends on the average server usage i suppose though.

To SiCrane
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Your right, im estimating losing $.60 out of that particular transaction. Of course that would make buying credits in bulk more reasonable. Stable on a static transaction fee, and players/& THEIR PARENTS would be more apt to buy a reasonable amount of credits at getgo. When i was still living at my parents place, Ultima Online was big, and the biggest disgress parents had was the monthly fee. Keep in mind im not looking to make a profit from this side, just remain stable.

DeltaVee
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Thats essentialy what im doing by loading credits in bulk isnt it? I have a reasonable amount of funds to spend on this (a couple grand) but nowhere near the cost it would take me to get a brokers license (60k) or create my own debit card. Other then that , the accounts would be preloaded anyways, perhaps the minimum transaction set to $10, all the way up to $100.




Another thing I have posed is to allow private servers which connect to the central server for just a few things. Of course all those seperate ranking systems, and similar problems battlenet was worried about (serial checks are important) bothers me aswell.

Honestly, i would love to keep a server up indefinitly completely free, but even if the game sells in the millions (not that its likely at all), ill need to up the number of servers. Those costs (as well as maintinance) will at some point overcome the profit margin. B-net has managed to maintain its costs by relying on new games, if/when that stops, bnet will go down. With even a small amount of profit, at least ill be able to scale, and let it sit when there are no more games left for the series.

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If this is targetting a more casual consumer-base, I'd definetly look at providing some form of visual chat / avatar system, and then charging for fashion accessories. This has been a huge success (especially among female gamers) in Asia, with one Korean MMOG reportedly earning >1m USD/month from selling virtual bangles and dresses. And shoes, of course :D

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