Keeping up with the Joneses : Redux!

(I posted this earlier, I didn’t like it, I deleted it, but it (being the previously poorly conceived blog) managed to get out on the RSS feed before I could get rid of it. So, I decided to fix the problems I had with the originally post. So, here it is again, feel free to post and I hope that it finally makes sense. Thanks for understanding.)

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I have been thinking about Micro Transactions.

At first, I was very against the idea. On the surface, it seems like a pretty good deal, you get a free Game and you only have to pay for the content you want to have or see, you can spend as little as $3.00 a month or as much as a normal subscription would cost you. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? What’s not to love?

What if you can spend more than $15.00? What if there is no limit to the amount you could spend on items or content in any given month? I’m sure the game makers are counting on this, only because they know some people will spend less, so they are counting on those that spend more to make up the difference.

Then it becomes a matter of keeping up with the Joneses.

Now this isn’t going to be an issue with the casual player, because the “Pay as you go” plan is built for them. They log in, do a few things, buy maybe one or two items and they are out of the month. Where does the hardcore gamer fit into this plan? What about them?

They are going to want to see everything, buy all the cool gear, get all the nifty mounts, etc. Players feel like they have to keep up with their fellow hardcore gamers, it becomes a race and whoever has the most money ends up winning. Then it doesn’t become just a game, it becomes a serious addiction, not to say that people haven’t compared a gaming addiction to any other kind of addiction, but this time it could break a persons bank and send them off the deep end when they can’t get money to keep up. I need money to buy that cool helm I saw on Mr. Jones’s character the other day, and so on.

I’m not saying that it will turn out this way, but the possibility of serious addiction is always there when it comes to gaming, but to being able to throw money in to get a better fix, is not a good thing.

But, then I began to think that why shouldn’t there be a game that is truly causal gaming friendly? A game for players, who are on a limited income, that want to play games and socialize with others. Especially if they can’t justify the average $15.00 a month on a subscription or don’t want to spend $50.00 up front for a game they might only play a few times a month. Why shouldn’t there be a game for them?

So I can’t really fault the game companies for trying tap into that market, for that specific demographic. I just don’t think they understand how the impact will be on hardcore gamers. In their mind, they are probably creating a game that will bring the two sections together, but in fact it will divide them even more.

Look at Eq2 with their adventure packs. If friends or guilds want to work the quests in those new areas, they have to spend the money, which is usually an additional $5.00 per pack, I believe. But if your a kid and your parents don’t’ want to spend it, your stuck on the outside while others are getting gear in the adventure packs.

It probably doesn’t happen that often, but it does happen. How do you think it will be when the whole game is structured like that?

I believe the solution can be easy. Already there a models out there, where people can play for free and just buy stuff as they go, and they also have a subscription fee, that opens up the game but they can still spend money on extra stuff. But I don’t think this model goes far enough. I think the total amount of money a player can spend, per month, should be limited. Those that play for free can purchase up to $20.00 worth of gear, per month. Those that pay a subscription of $10.00 would have an additional $10.00 per month to spend on extra items. This keeps both sides pretty even and the purchasing won’t get to far out of hand.

Those that feel they are hardcore would not have to spend themselves into the poor house to keep up with the Joneses and the casual players would still have the opportunity to keep up with the hardcore players if they wish to do so.

Everyone is happy and the game companies get money either way.

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~ by oakstout on March 18, 2008.

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