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Author Topic: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door  (Read 5713 times)

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Offline kat

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'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« on: August 10, 2010, 05:37:14 PM »

Watch out people, your multi-player experiences are going premium as various publishers and develops ruminate over pay-to-play; Activision are considering online fees for their Call of Duty franchise (despite poopoo'ing the idea to make it seem like they've not been thinking about it for quite some time). Now THQ are voicing concerns over the pre-owned market, saying that premium (paid for) multi-player is a 'robust' weapon against the 'threat' of the second hand games market. There's also a shift towards what everyone was originally concerned about when Valve introduced their Steam Network distribution system, that you could only play games 'online'. Publishers appear to be eyeing 'online only' gaming as a way to combat the pre-owned/second-hand markets and pirated games.

It's understandable that publishers would want to deflate the value of pre-owned games - based on the rhetoric on this issues you could be forgiven for thinking that right now it appears that pre-owned are horrendously over-priced, some 'new' pre-owned games being just a few bob short of retail prices in some places; gamers are loosing out as they're charged over the odds for 'used' material; publishers loose out because they don't see any of the revenue from used games sales. The flip side is that retailers loose out on boxed products because of low profit margins, as little as £/$0.50pence/cent per unit, so their argument is that it's simply not a workable, especially when big retail chain stores (Wall Mart, Tescos, etc) use their high volume orders as bargaining power to undercut the marketplace as a whole.

Everyone wants their piece of the pie.


Offline carnage

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2010, 10:44:31 PM »
Its clearly something publishers would defiantly be interested in. But there are a few hurdles to taking this idea to market.

xbox live already requires a subscription fee and I think Microsoft is pretty against then making people pay additionally for game subscriptions. Also would say pay monthly subscriptions really be more profitable than one time sales. How many months of play does a player need to subscribe to before the publishers have made the same profit as they would from a one time box sale.

I bet that even in this free to play model people probably spend most of there multi player gaming time on one particular game. So unless you are the top dog (CoD etc) I doubt there would be many people continually subscribing. Perhaps taking a month to test the water or in some kind of free trail, then forgetting about it.

Offline kat

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2010, 12:23:00 AM »
Would paying a sub 'incentivize' gamers to play more? Because yes, I totally agree, FPS and MP gamers in general seem far too sporadic a demographic to pull any sort of secure income from. To me it looks like publishers have been looking at MMOs and how they're able to consistently bring in the big bucks, thinking "we've got to git some o that".

For example, Quake Live just came out of beta and it looks like they also dropped the ad revenue 'fremium' only business model, instead going for the traditional 'free' + 'premium' accounts ('Standard', 'Premium' and 'Pro') - no idea what difference there is mind you as I lost interest in QL a long time ago - but that's a case in point. It will be interesting to see how well and for how long that works.

Offline pazur

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2010, 12:28:58 PM »
I'm a huge fan of used games. I buy them at http://www.rebuy.de here in Germany. You can buy (and sell) games for a few Euro on this site. Somehow I can't understand the attitude the game industry who thinks that this is a real competition to new game sales. I buy new games too but sometimes there are just too many great titles out there at the same time and it gets too expensive to get all. So I wait some time and get them later as pre-owned games. Recently I bought GTA IV for 14 and GTA Vice City for 1 (check my blog post about it: http://warczyk.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/liberty-city/). I also bought SoF2 for 3... a game that is simply not available in stores anymore and I always wanted to play (also blogged about it http://warczyk.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/soldier-of-fortune-2/).

I think the problem with pay-to-play is that World of Warcraft and other Massively multiplayer online games made the gaming industry believe it's a way they can go. Personally I never subscribed to any of these pay-to-play services although I have to admit that I have been tempted to do it for Star Wars Galaxies that I bought "in a box" together with a subscription for several months. In the end it was just too expensive for me and playing all the time one game because you subscribed to it gets pretty boring in my opinion.

I liked the ad-supported approach of Quake Live and wonder how this new fremium model will work for it. It's was much better than the "item buy" model of Battlefield Heroes IMHO. If FPS-MP games go pay-to-play monthly subscription fee then I will just boycott them.

Offline carnage

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2010, 05:59:06 PM »
You can already see this happening with APB, although a bit more MMO'ish than a traditional shooter multi-player they are suffering from people just hating the multi-player game in the trail version and getting very poor subscriptions.

I agree that being subscribed would make players more likely to play the game as they have a financial commitment, and its wasted if they don't play. Conversely I expect this tacit would severely reduce the market as players will be much less likely to try the game.

Even if overall one time buy and subscription multi-player games make the same amount of revenue I expect there would be a more negative psychological effect with the subscription as the game frequently demands more money, where a one time cost, perhaps considerably higher, but once bought the player can forget about this and just focus on the game.

And like Pazur, I very rarely buy games when they are released. I don't spend a large amount of time gaming so usually have a buffer of a few games to keep me busy for a few months while the new releases drop in price.

Offline ratty redemption

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2010, 06:44:05 PM »
interesting discussion guys.

Offline kat

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Re: 'Free' multi-player gaming is on the way out the door
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2010, 07:19:27 PM »
You can already see this happening with APB, although a bit more MMO'ish than a traditional shooter multi-player they are suffering from people just hating the multi-player game in the trail version and getting very poor subscriptions...
Yes exactly. How would that work, how would they justify horrendous MP gaming in those instances; Quake 4 for example had to undergo several point releases and it still died; Wolfenstein.. well the less said about MP the better, and I didn't even get the game for MP either!

I don't buy used myself, I'm just a bit more selective so I'll only buy certain games, always at retail though, otherwise I'll 'wait' for them to hit the bargain buckets or do a Game-Of-The-Year edition. I've never really been one for being a 'first adopter' with software or hardware, something the used market space relies heavily upon.

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