Saturday, December 20, 2008

EVE: 5 free Days and Thoughts on Microtransactions

EVE have offered me and other lapsed players 5 free days in an attempt to encourage us back to the game. This is fairly standard business practice for mmos and I am sure they get a few returnees from such schemes. The message set me thinking however.

First of all I probably won't be availing of the 5 day offer, not because I don't like EVE (I think it is superb) but because I know that you cannot really achieve anything in an mmo in 5 days. It is just enough to whet your appetite for more and I simply do not have the time to play EVE seriously at the moment and I am not prepared to take on a monthly subscripton for a game I would only play sporadically.

Recent announcements from EA and SOE have riled a bunch of bloggers about the whole subject of microtransactions in games. I agree that there is a huge moral hazard that games will suffer as developers start designing in such a way that they can screw more cash from players using microtransactions. However I could envisage a poitive role for microtransactions if it was done in a considerate player supportive way. In particular I think microtransactions should be offered in parallel with a monthly sub with an an either/or model. If you are a casual player who only wants to play a few days a month - go micro transactions. If you are more serious and want to play every day then buy a monthly sub and get everything included. The key point here is that the monthly sub should be a cap on your expenditure offering access to everything for a single monthly payment.

If EVE or other games had a model like that I might play them for a day or two a month and pay a few euro's for the privelige.

3 comments:

foogoo said...

Spot on with your options for microtransactions vs. subs. Another idea that we've recently heard is setting up parallel servers of the same game - one subscription based and one microtransaction based. It just may be a great way to keep fans of both genres happy. Granted, double the overhead for publishers/operators, but it might make for quite an interesting experiement.

syncaine said...

But if I'm a company, why would I offer players the option to pay less? Unless that revenue loss is offset by bringing in more players because of the lower barrier of entry (which again, just brings in those who would pay a minimal amount), it's bad business for the company.

I'm ok with RMT games, but I don't think RMT mixes in well with sub-based games, that's where most players draw the line.

On the EVE thing, the 5 days might be nice if you have not played in a while, just to jump back in and check out all the changes. That's my plan over the holiday break. Get in, chat with Corp mates, run a mission or two, and just see what's new. Doubt it will pull me back in (still too busy with WAR), but it will be a nice, free stop back in.

mbp said...

I think you have hit the nail on the head Syncaine - There is no incentive for companies to offer alternative payment schemes unless it will somehow make them more money.

However I suspect that this situation may very well apply. it may very well apply. If as I have suggested elsewhere the hardcore mmorpg market have already been sucked up by WOW and its ilk then the only real engine for growth has to be attracting more casual players. Casual payment schemes which offer players the opportunity to pay and play when they see fit could attract a bunch more players.