Free MMOGs Cost Money Too

Free MMOGs Cost Money Too

image

Just because an MMOG is free doesn't mean you're not paying for it, and it turns out that the cost isn't too far off what you'd pony up for a conventional subscription MMOG.

Free online games usually offer optional "upgrades" to players willing to pay for them, typically in the form of items that aren't necessary to play the game but greatly enhance the experience. The amounts are most often minuscule but earlier this month Perfect World International, a free Chinese online game that's attracted over a million users since setting up shop in North America in September 2008, decided to offer a rare "Ancient Boa" mount to gamers for $50, and according to MTV Multiplayer, "People paid."

It's simple enough to write off people willing to lay out fifty bucks for a pretend snake-horsey as a statistically insignificant handful of particularly dedicated fans - ie., weirdos - but Pacific West Securities analyst Evan Wilson said there's more to it than just that. He noted that while World of Warcraft charges $15 per month in subscription fees, players spend an average of $10 a month in the Perfect World marketplace buying items that, like the Ancient Boa mount, are entirely optional.

"The size of the market is pretty incredible and WoW is also successful [in China]," he said. "I would say that there are certainly lots of people who would be willing to pay for this type of content both here and around the world."

I'm not sure I'd be willing to fork out the dough for this kind of stuff myself, but the fact that a game like Perfect World can survive and grow without regular monthly subscription fees make me look at the flood of failed and failing MMOGs in the Western market and wonder if we're taking the wrong approach. Do the assumed differences between the Chinese and Western markets actually hold water or are we just missing the boat on a new, and perhaps better, way of doing business?

Source: MTV Multiplayer

Permalink

I still can't bring myself to pay for stuff on free MMO's.

I have done this (and still am doin this) on a free MMO. Runscape, it's fun on the free worlds but the member worlds are were you can make the real money and get the really good stuff in the game.

sheic99:
I still can't bring myself to pay for stuff on free MMO's.

True. I hardly brought myself to pay for three months of City of Heroes and two months of Warhammer (+$50 for the game).

Why would I want to pay for something free? ;d

"The size of the market is pretty incredible and WoW is also successful [in China],"

Uh. I think "also successful" is a bit too little. Half of the players is from Asia.

I just wish I could play MMOGs to get ripped off

Damn Macs

In a serious note though:
I cannot believe people pay to get something that is really just a re-skin of another item, back when I used to play FLYFF with my brother he paid to get some Board, which was more or less the same as the one I was using which I had used in-game currency to get. The only really obvious difference was that it was red!

I won't pay for MMO's, let alone in-game content. Box it as an expansion pack and I typically buy it (oh Sims2, how you cost me), but without a tangible thing in my hands, like a disc, no sale.

I do wonder how Guild War's works, given there are no buyable items, nor subscription after the initial box-buy.

Might work if the items offered are all optional, like armor paints or Boa mounts.
Otherwise you 'll just piss off alot of poor people.

Dechef:
Might work if the items offered are all optional, like armor paints or Boa mounts.
Otherwise you 'll just piss off alot of poor people.

Like more than 1 hit point...ahem

Doug:
I do wonder how Guild War's works, given there are no buyable items, nor subscription after the initial box-buy.

For players, that system works well. ;)

LoopyDood:

Doug:
I do wonder how Guild War's works, given there are no buyable items, nor subscription after the initial box-buy.

For players, that system works well. ;)

Assuming the company doesn't go bankrupt, yeah. I imagine the cash would last awhile but, really, unless they release frequent expansion packs every, say, year, they'd run out of dosh.

LoopyDood:

Doug:
I do wonder how Guild War's works, given there are no buyable items, nor subscription after the initial box-buy.

For players, that system works well. ;)

Depending on who you ask, Guild Wars is also boring as shit, way more than usual for an MMO. But, it has it's good points too.

It really depends on the structure of the game, and of course the prime requirement is that the game's structure suit the business plan.

For example, World of Warcraft just wouldn't work with the standard Free-to-play model, because its gameplay is heavily loot-based. Your effectiveness as a character is significantly based on acquired gear, and if players are able to simply buy their way into competence, the system collapses.

Free-to-play games are almost always heavy on style, and charge in large part for character customization items, from outfits to hairstyles to what-have-you. People playing in an MMO will pay a lot to distinguish themselves from the crowd. "Convenience items" are also sold. An item sold in Shin Megami Tensei Imagine Online doubles the amount of XP gained by your party for 30 minutes, etc, and you can buy an instant teleport to certain areas. Some items are sold that have identical statistics to in-game drops, but look a lot nicer. An item that increases fire resistance by +4 might look like a simple badge if acquired for free (or have no appearance at all), but if bought might look like a floating halo of ice crystals, etc. I believe Hellgate London operated something along those lines, but that game failed, so it might not be a great example.

Promotional items are also common. Some MMOs come with promo partnerships that contain special item codes for participating in the promo. I think there was a case that buying certain clothing in a store came with a code that allowed you to wear a similar-looking item on your character. Not sure if that's true or with which game, but I wouldn't be surprised.

The model pays off because it also increases a player's investment in the game. You can always cut off a subscription, but with a free-to-play model you're free to pay exactly as much as you're willing, and the more you pay, the more willing you start to get.

Of course, the model isn't foolproof. There are as many failed F2P MMO games as there are failed subscription MMO games, we just don't see them outside of Asia. Free-to-play models also preclude certain gameplay philosophies, or make said philosophies more difficult to adapt.

theres a game out there called Trixster. if were were dumb enough not to get your equipment repaired it would shatter and if you wanted to restore your wepon you had to spend real money on an item to fix it

Some where there is a real free MMO, but game makers need money to eat, sleep, and make more games.

Maple Story is very guilty of this crime too, and the amount people pay for these silly little enhancements combined is absurd.

There is no such thing has free. There's the Illusion of something being free...but it never is.

Have a look at conuqer online where people "bulk buy" dragonballs (an item used for upgrading weapons, levelling etc) spending around $250 a month! I never worked out why they were spending so much money on a free MMORPG, made no sense to me.

Right on the mark, man. I started playing Shin Megami Tensei: IMAGINE on January 28th. Looking back over the past month, I realized I'd spent about $270.00 US on Aeria's cash points (AP). Almost half of that was blown on lottery cards in an attempt to win a freaking costume. I was so mad at myself, I nearly uninstalled the client and canceled my account.

Point is, when you really like and enjoy a game, it can be really hard to resist when the developer dangles a really nifty item in front of you, whispering "Come on, its only 10 bucks...".

I'm still playing the game, but cash shop days are over.

I play Perfect World all the time. Originally i would never have paid for items, but struggled in-game to get the coins required to buy from other players. Eventually i dared to put some money onto the game and bought a Flying Mount (a friend bought me the Ancient Boa ground mount recently). After that i started putting $10-$20 every now and then to buy other bits and pieces. I regret it often and yet i still find myself doing it. It is a waste of money i have to admit, and i bet the designers etc are all raking in the money, but at the end of the day, what i purchase, keeps me entertained and interested so i guess its worth it.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here