16 August, 2006
In between editing 90-page chapters (!!!), I’ve been reading a few blogs. Matt Mihaly has a post about business models for virtual worlds. A pretty good list based on feedback from a previous post (linked in the current post).
Some interesting things to think about. Read on for some of my own insight.
First, some of the most interesting stuff comes when you mix business models. Traditional online games mix an upfront cost with a subscription. M59 does away with the upfront cost, unless you consider the cost of the first month to be such. Virtual Assets sales are controversial, but I firmly believe they are the future for smaller games; the traditional models simply don’t scale downward appropriately.
Popularity is also another big issue. People don’t seem to mind paying money on an upfront box, subscriptions, and expansions, yet they balk at the thought of virtual asset sales for all the potential unfairness. Many people also look askance at a smaller game for not practically giving the game away, even if the smaller game doesn’t charge an upfront price or charge for expansions. Perception is huge here.
Likewise, I think that some of the aggressiveness in our industry comes from the monthly subscription model. Look at the other companies that charge (“gouge”) you by the month: cable, cell phones, ISPs, etc. Few of these companies are really cherished by their customers: the feeling is that the company gives the minimum service and expects you to keep paying. Exploring other business models could help ease this general level of hostility, especially that felt by the smaller game operators.
As I said, some interesting things to think about. If you want to run a smaller game, I highly recommend looking at alternatives to the standard subscription model.
What do you think?