Game Developers Embracing Connecting With True Fans

from the good-for-them dept

JohnForDummies points us to an article in the Wall Street Journal about video game developers who are embracing business models that focus on getting a core group of fans to pay. While the article credits Kevin Kelly’s well-known essay on 1,000 True Fans, I have to admit I’m having a little trouble seeing how this is really all that different than the old “shareware” market. While these developers are focused on adding more value for paying subscribers (and are only targeting a small and attainable number of paying users), I still think it’s a risky business model to focus on selling anything that can be easily copied. The focus should be on finding real scarcities that can be sold…

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Comments on “Game Developers Embracing Connecting With True Fans”

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Anonymous Coward says:


I look at it this way at least they are TRYING to change their business model to continue to try and make money by giving their fans more of what they want and treating them less like criminals who deserve to be locked away because all of them are pirates. They will probably find this model isn’t the best way to go about things and will continue to improve on it but I like the fact that at least they, unlike the Retarded Ignorant Asshole Association and hollycrap who keep trying to sue everybody and maintain an archaic business model.

Blatant Coward says:

Big 'ol Fuzzy hug

City of Heroes/Villains allows players to make, share, rate, and make a profit (ingame merits, a nonmonetary currency for ingame goods) while these players have not paid for the game other than subscription fees, they have literally doubled the number of missions/tasks in a week that the developers have created in 5 years.

So a business model that doesn’t have players paying, but has them building your game for you, for nonscarce goods, howzat sound?

CoH/V Fan says:

Re: Big 'ol Fuzzy hug

Last I checked, CoH/V did require you to buy the game, since NCsoft won’t ley you register an account without a valid CD key. You can buy online, though, so you don’t need a real CD to get the CD Key.

That being said, NCsoft does do some interesting things as far as selling their stuff. they have players giving them money every month in terms of subscription fees, and they semi-regularly come out with huge, free updates to the game. (I imagine your posts refers to their new Mission Architecht system). They also have ‘bonus packs’ that they sell for about $10 that grant access to special costume pieces and emotes in the game, and they sell extra character slots.

Guild Wars, also from NCsoft, has no subscription fee, but also has fewer free updates to the game. They also sell extra character slots, and packs that unlock certain PvP content (which you can unlock yourself by playing the solo game).

They have a few other games, including a completely free Dungeon Runners game, but I’m not sure, really, how much any of them really sell scarcities (aside from subscription fees).

JL (profile) says:

What scarcities?

The best business models I’ve seen for making money in video games is the MMO market – where you can’t play unless you log on (which requires a license key).

For single player games on your PC I can’t see where the scarcities are, good thing I’m not a developer.

Valve’s Steam platform really seems to be the way to go. The experiment I’d love to see is allowing customers to play games for free for one weekend a month, but if they want to play during the rest of the month they need to buy a license. Letting people get a taste before dropping $50 will really benefit the good games. Very low prices can benefit the bad games.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What scarcities?

The better way is to require a subscription to log in, and give the software away to anyone who wants it. Especially with MMOs, the more people playing your game, the better it is for everyone else. Compare the ghost-town of Star Wars Galaxy to WoW’s crowded servers. Even with the griefers and wait times, people pile on to Blizzard’s servers. (Course, it may be that SWG’s sucky game play has something to do with it’s death, but…)

And subscriptions are better (for the business) than liscences because they’re steady revenue, rather than bursty, and it gets players paying you constantly, rather than just when they start playing.

minijedimaster says:

Re: Re: What scarcities?

Yes, the revenue stream is more steady with a subscription based model, but along with that you have to constantly provide a reason for the users to keep paying for the game. That means constant updates and additional material to keep the game from stagnating and to keep people happy.

This means paying not only for the upkeep of the servers, but paying for the programmers for coding etc.

This isn’t the best model out there to make money I bet unless you have a LOT of users like WoW. Of course this is all just me guessing as I don’t work in this industry…

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