I’m really liking what I see with payment models across the gaming industry in general. For a while there it was an obvious turn toward free-to-play, and no one had the model figured out. We saw most in the MMO space going with a pay-to-win approach, or a nickel-and-time model. The trend is still moving toward this idea that gaming should be “free,” and they are still setting themselves up to make a lot more money off their players, but the entire scheme is being marketed in a much better way.
Marketing gets a bad rap for being this sneaky, slimy way of seducing people in and (here’s the key) not providing any value in return–that sense of being tricked. Good marketing, which we’re seeing more of today, still entices people to play the game, but they do so with a sense of comfort that they don’t have to spend money. Â It’s the idea that I can play a game, not spend any money, but still enjoy the game completely that keeps people playing and will entice more people to try. Believe it or not, a huge part of marketing in this industry is developing a product (game) that can actually stand up against the competition. I think people are also wising up to the idea that the ‘core gamer’ in the MMO market–the one who will stick around and be the source of revenue–isn’t cool with the pay-to-win model. Â That same demographic wants AAA games. In past I would laugh in your face if you told me a F2P game could ever be AAA, but now if I’ll laugh in your face if it’s not.
A big company isn’t going to just one day say, “hey we should make all of our games free for everyone, stop selling games entirely, and sell in-game clothing.. and we should do that in games with a $20 million budget! That will make us millions!” Â I believe in data and market research. Trusting your golden gut is like rolling the dice, even if you think you know the industry. Data should beÂ one of theÂ foundations upon which you make decisions and formulate a strategy.
As pay-to-win starts fade away let’s hope the new F2P strategies (hopefully backed by real data and smart marketing) will lead to better games. In the end, I’m still a firm believer in subscription models and virtual worlds, but what I most care about are great games designed to keep people playing and enjoying a rich and fun experience.
Thoughts? I think we can all agree that the insidiousÂ F2P model fading away is a great thing for MMOs and gaming in general. What are your thoughts on this newer more laid back, “hey, give us your money if you want. NoÂ big deal!”Â F2PÂ strategy?