A View From The Road: The Perfect Subscription

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A View From The Road: The Perfect Subscription

More companies should consider using Blizzard's Russian StarCraft II pricing model, because it's awesome.

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I didn't realize that the Starcraft 2 subscription model worked this way. I would be happy to do something like this, even knowing I'll be buying the full game at launch. The only issue I still have with the game is this "map marketplace" BS that they're cooking up...

I think that, as long as they continue to offer the "Full, never-have-to-pay-a-fee version", it's a great business model.

That is just brilliant!

I hope more companies do this, and bring the model to Europe.

A reasonably priced lump-sum is probably the only thing that'd get me to subscribe to any online game so this seems like a good idea to me.

Well. I dont know what the standard price is for games in russia. If the "trial" version plus the full upgrade is equal to a standard games cost, its great. If the trial+full upgrade is more expensive than a standard game its not.

I can imagine playing SC2 for the campaign, and VERY seldom online with a friend or two...but I'd like the possibility to play it online 2 or even 5 years from now without having to cough up more money than for a regular game.

Just a question, how does this affect Single Player? I'm assuming that Battle.net features would also be disabled (so no cloud saving) but offline play would keep working, correct?

I do have to admit it to be an interesting system, although I have my doubts it will be widely available in the future, since it seems to be bound to undermine Multiplayer longevity for games. (although admittedly, I wouldn't be surprised if several companies actually wanted that)

I fully agree with this article and have been clamoring about something simmilar for a while now. The cash investment for a single brand new retail game is fairly steep for many people, and often not worth the 10-hour single player that seems to have become the norm in the industry. By providing people with a lower price requirement that lets them play the game the way they want, the publishers indeed stand to make more money.

Unfortunately, this will not catch on. The only reason Blizz is doing this in Russia is because it's basically the Pirate Central of the World, so they're trying to get SOME cash out of that place. Western gamers don't pirate enough for such a model to be considered for them... :p

Ultimately, it's an experiment. Personally, I don't think it will work too well. That said, I'm not going to complain about Blizzard giving it a go.

That said, if they decide somewhere down the line to pull the "pay once" version, I'm going to be an unhappy bunny. (Even if it's only in Russia)

(Off topic: anyone heard anything on the UK price for the Collector's Edition?)

Xocrates:
Just a question, how does this affect Single Player? I'm assuming that Battle.net features would also be disabled (so no cloud saving) but offline play would keep working, correct?

I do have to admit it to be an interesting system, although I have my doubts it will be widely available in the future, since it seems to be bound to undermine Multiplayer longevity for games. (although admittedly, I wouldn't be surprised if several companies actually wanted that)

AFAIK, offline (as The Guest, at least) is full and not time limited with this model.

Unless I'm mistaken, the math you've provided means getting the game in full (no limits to play times) costs ~75 bucks, and that's not even considering the fact that you're gonna have to buy the expansions if you want to keep up with multiplayer (I won't even get into the issues that arise from planning expansions/DLC for a game before it even comes out). I dunno if that's standard in Russia, but if I had to pay that much and knew ahead of time that I'd need to buy 2 more expansions to get the most of it, I'd probably hold off until the battle chest comes out.

I doubt that price points are finalized, especially upgrade. It makes little sense to ask for more than full retail price. I think this model would work well for selling games in poorer countries, but in the "west" not so much. For publishers/developers that is. Localized prices are something that is missing right now. In Poland due to effort of local publishers like CD Projekt new PC games are very cheap. 25/30 euros is a steal when most games on steam are 50 flat. Sadly this is not the case for console games with makes them essentially twice as expensive. average Joe earns about 400 euro/month. Cheaper localized games would definitely help rampart piracy in this country.

I already approved of it and this article only solifies what I've already been thinking.

Excellent marketing model and once more display of Blizzard's Genius.

Not a shabby way of doing it.
Its not like the game is full priced for half a game, its half the price for all of the game, for just a shorter time.

I think we would be seeing less need for the silly day-one-DLC stuff, if games were cheaper.
But it means the game needs to have more than 4 months worth of game-play though, or certain restrictions to lure people who liked the game into buying the full version.

In the end, I am all for different payment models, as long as they are fair.

Intresting idea. Its certainly a break from the norm. I would be curious to see how profitable it would actually be.

What a brilliant way of ripping even more money from gamers, Blizzard. No, really, respect. Impressive business.

I think that this is an amazing idea - were this plan used in the US, I'd be much more inclined to buy the "demo" version of the game without ever having to worry I won't like the whole thing or stealing it (probably to play it once or twice and never touch it again).

And the example you used for Battlefield and Left4Dead 2 makes the whole thing seem even more brilliant - I'd definately like to get around to trying out the modern battlefield gunblamdeath games some day, but don't exactly have the means to spend ~$100 on them. If I could buy a copy to effectively just try them out at a much lowered cost, the studios and publishers are happy that they get some money and I'm happy in that I get to try the game. Win for everyone :D

I personally love this idea, mainly because I spend time on multiplayer (if at all) after completing all the single player stuff. Also, $20 is a lot easier to fit into monthly finances, than a full $60.

My hope would be that the digital download version would be in jewel-case prices.

Personally, i think its a great idea, because, as mentioned, it gives the consumer options, 10 quid for a game ur not sure about would definately convince me to at least try it, anf hey, if I like it then yeah I'll upgrade, IF its a game I want to play online, or I need to because of DRM crap, providing the upgrade doesnt push the price over the full game price we pay now. I'd love to see this model introduced in the west as I see it stimulating the games market by helping "chuck" make the most of his disposable income.

Lets face it, I know the I personally, and probably many others, hate when u buy a game for 40 odd and it turns out to be shit and sits on the shelf unplayed, it feels like a waste of money.

Seems like a sound idea for a game with a lot of replay value. Though I still don't like subscription fees.

I am so in love with the idea of this model. I hate playing any game online and frequently feel ripped off when I have to pay full price for a game I just want to play through in single player while knowing they spent a good chunk of development on the multiplayer that I will never use. I'm paying for crap I don't want that's packaged together with things I do want and this model would fix that.

Ofcourse, the question is whether or not developers are willing to let people like me get away with paying less for the same product simply because we're not going to use parts of it. After all, the development costs are the same. Sure, more people might be willing to buy it, but some of the people who would buy the cheaper version are currently buying the full version. I'm not sure the extra sales would compensate the loss of sales per game. Still, I hope they at least try it before worrying about this.

Oh god no. First day-one dlc now this. Im all for extensive demos but this will just open the door to more money grabbing

I dont like it, it reeks of renting instead of owning and didnt we already have that conversation with the install limit drm bullshit

Xzi:
I didn't realize that the Starcraft 2 subscription model worked this way. I would be happy to do something like this, even knowing I'll be buying the full game at launch. The only issue I still have with the game is this "map marketplace" BS that they're cooking up...

Just keep in mind it's not Blizzard that chooses what is paid and what isn't or sets the prices, everything is under the map maker's control, Blizzard just takes a small cut of the map maker's earnings for distribution.

Anyway, this model is brilliant. I would still get the $100 collector's edition, but there's absolutely no downside to this pricing scheme, and it would be easier to convince more of my friends to give the game a try.

I have no major objection to the system as long as it's marketed only as an alternative system and you can still pay a single one-time fee which is no greater than it is now for the entire game right from the get go.

If they were to release that system and make it mandatory it would be nothing but a giant cash grab, and guaranteed it would be abused almost immediatly.

In the final equasion I think the game companies are getting too greedy, there is no real need to change the current "disc in hand, containing a complete game the purchuser can install and play any time he wants"... other than sheer greed. All the microtransactions, paying to unlock stuff on your discs, tiered purchusing models, and other things are just ways of trying to gouge users for more money.

If it was to become mandatory I see the tiered purchusing plan as basically combining the worst aspects of DRM and microtransactions. Eventually it will turn into a method of raising prices, probably with the initial "version" costing as much as a game does now, with each "tier" of unlocks costing the same. On top of this what you puchuse will only be part of the game and you'll be dependant on the company to get the rest.

Inevitably someone will come up with the idea that they can sell the first "tier" of a game and only develop more of it if they sell enough, ultimatly leaving users with partial products.

[shrugs] No matter how they portray this, the potential for abuse is massive if it was ever to replaced regular sales.

That said so far they haven't used it as a replacement (from how things were updated) so really I don't care. They bring it to the US, I'm unlikely to ever use it. I'm pretty sure it would be one of the most epic failures in the industry.

I agree that such a model would be great because it gives the consumer options, but I'm not convinced it would make more money than the current model. Also, on a slight tangent, more options typically serves to fluster and confuse consumers as well.

It's a grand experiment and I certainly hope that they can refine the model and bring it over here.

Furthermore, I feel the need to point out that the "make more money because more people buy it at a lower cost" is flawed because the former does not necessarily follow the latter. Example: if I sell a million people something at $0.01 profit, I make (significantly!) less money than if I sell something to a hundred thousand people at $1.00 profit.

Meh, I'm not impressed. First of all it only works if you're certain that the online multiplayer is still going to be good enough a year down the road that it's worth paying money for. That's great for Starcraft, but most games can't really afford to bet on that. So they'll have to keep back other features to encourage people to upgrade, otherwise the community will just completely die as soon as the packaged time in the early boxes starts running out. Then you've essentially just got EA's paid demos.

Also, I think while a lot of people here are fairly educated consumers, (or at least we like to pretend we are and then make impulse buys anyway) most people either just want to buy a game and be done with it, or they are already willing to pay a subscription. There aren't a lot of people in the middle for this to win over, and $30, $15 or even $1 is still more than free, so I don't see it doing much to stop piracy.

I mean, it's a good idea. Options are always nice. I just don't think it will work.

Worgen:
I dont like it, it reeks of renting instead of owning and didnt we already have that conversation with the install limit drm bullshit

Renting instead of owning?

Yeah the cheapest version of the game can be called that. But that version isn't the "full retail version" of the game. It is almost as good, you can enjoy every aspect of the game, but not for the rest of battle.nets existence.
Would you rather pay half price for something that was just half the game? Lets say, just half the Online maps, and Half of the campaign? (Which by the way is something other companies are suggesting)

If you want to own the game, you buy the full priced game! nuff said. You didn't loose anything.

Your argument sounds like:

"I can't afford the full game, but I am sure as hell not going to buy a crappier cheaper one either!"

Or you just totally misunderstand the concept presented here.

...I disagree. I want to pay, like what 50 bucks? Then thats it. And if I want, expansions.

For MMORPG's, I'll pay per month. Because I pay for additional content and balancing and good service. MMORPG subscription = service, you aren't paying for nothing.

And if its not an MMORPG, an RTS or an FPS, I refuse to pay any extra money, especially DLC. I refuse to play any game with DLC that I have to pay for, or I shall wait for the Game of the Year edition for all the DLC (I did that for Fallout 3 and Oblivion), or for mappacks (we can make maps for free on decent FPSs) so why should I pay?

Thus, I pay for the game, only the game, and maybe its expansions if they are worth the money, and for MMO's I will subscribe for the services I receive. Screw that Russian system...freakin Reds.

John Funk:
If there's a down side to all of this, I certainly can't think of one. You get a full game for potentially a quarter of the cost; a company gets to recoup its investments without asking consumers to drop a good chunk of change. Even if many buyers don't upgrade, a lower price means that more people are likely to make an impulse purchase - you make up for the lower price with raw volume of sales.

The downside would be that very few games have real longevity now.

Not counting multiplayer, and I do realise that this is the angle that your article is coming from, it rarely takes me longer than 3 days to complete a game. I have a full time job and a 1 year old son as well, so games aren't my primary focus.

So this business model only works if your game is going to be huge online. But how can you tell if it's going to be huge? Gaming publishers would be taking a risk by presenting their titles for half price with limited play time. And I don't think it would be a risk that pays off.

L4D2, MW2, L4D2, these games, and any sequels they may have, are guaranteed to be big online business. But what about games like Splinter Cell or Crackdown, who's gameplay and style doesn't have the large rabid hype fanbase built around them? Can you guarantee that anyone will be playing these games online in 4 months? And if no-one is playing online, then the publisher has to hope that game sales doubled the expected target, otherwise that's an awful lot of money gone.

Aurgelmir:

Worgen:
I dont like it, it reeks of renting instead of owning and didnt we already have that conversation with the install limit drm bullshit

Renting instead of owning?

Yeah the cheapest version of the game can be called that. But that version isn't the "full retail version" of the game. It is almost as good, you can enjoy every aspect of the game, but not for the rest of battle.nets existence.
Would you rather pay half price for something that was just half the game? Lets say, just half the Online maps, and Half of the campaign? (Which by the way is something other companies are suggesting)

If you want to own the game, you buy the full priced game! nuff said. You didn't loose anything.

Your argument sounds like:

"I can't afford the full game, but I am sure as hell not going to buy a crappier cheaper one either!"

Or you just totally misunderstand the concept presented here.

no the argument here is that your charging 900 for limited access to the game that ends after a set period of time then you either pay 1200 more for real access to it. The real problem with game pricing is its just too high, if it was more like movie pricing then you would get many more impulse buyers but at 60 bucks its costly enough so that someone is going to demand as much as they can for it, and from how this pricing thing works, it doesnt sound like its that good a deal at all for the consumer, because your being charged over that amount no matter how you turn it, its just not all at once.

So... to play full star craft and not be removed from battle.net multiplayer... one will eventually have to pay $150 or maybe it'll escalate to 200. I like that... totally. That's TOTALLY FUCKING FINE.

As long as you have the choice between this and the "normal" version, it's fine by me.

No no no and NO.

By accepting this derranged pricing model we are simply giving them even more encouragement to charge obscne prices for games.

Brand new games are $60-$100 now. WTF?! They used to be $40 or less. Anyone whos willing to pay THAT much for a game that barely uses the available technology of today has far too much money for their own good.

Yes, you have money, NO you shouldn't automatically spend huge amounts on normal things. Why? The same reason you don't do it in games. It screws up the economy for that particular item and then people on lower incomes like new players and say...most students find it harder and harder to be able to afford them.

Hell, the $60 price tag has put me off a LOT of games because for $60 I want something with 50+ hours game play MINIMUM. Final Fantasy so far is the ONLY game that would ever qualify for it because of the sheer mass of content. With $60 I can fill the tank on my car and more.

Having recently just gotten back into WoW (courtesy of FanofDeath), I think there is a way this subscription could be improved, and actually any MMO subscription model could be improved. As opposed to buying a subscription that expires 30 days after activation, make a subscription that will last for x amount of days worth of gameplay. I say this because I don't have the ability to put much time into my games, MMOs in particular, so if a 30 day subscription would last me for 30 days worth, I'd feel more like I'm getting my money's worth. I sincerely doubt many, if any, games have a subscription model like that, though.

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