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Role Playing (Games)

Where Is The Metered Pay Model For Online Games? 107

bturnip writes "I just cancelled my account with the game A Tale in the Desert. I really liked the game- it had a fresh interesting approach, a Linux client, a non-linear style of game play, and was just fun to play. The graphics were pretty good, the sheer amount of stuff to see and do was impressive, and the online community was extremely helpful and friendly. My problem? I didn't play often enough to justify paying $13.95 each and every month. Is isn't that the price is outrageous, I'm not having any problems paying the bills, I just didn't play enough to make it worth my while. Where is the metered pay model for the casual gamer? If a certain game has a monthly fee of $15, and the average player plays 40 hours a month, a metered model might offer 40 metered hours for $25. Hours could be set to expire after a set time, say 4-6 months. Some months I might pay more than a monthly subscriber, some months less. This is a win/win situation. I can have more fun playing my character at my own pace without feeling I need to play more often to justify the montly cost. The game gets money that it would not get otherwise. If I end up playing often, maybe I end up as a monthly subscriber. The downside I can see for game makers is the overhead of running two billing models, extra work in tracking hours spent, etc. What are the other downsides? Is the potential market for this type of billing not worth the effort?" Along these lines, I think that Planetside would have been a huge success if it had launched with a different subscription model.
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Where Is The Metered Pay Model For Online Games?

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  • WoW game cards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:08PM (#14072117) Journal
    World of Warcraft offers Game Cards, which give you 2 months at a time. You can let your account expire when you want and pick it back up when you want. Not quite the flexibility you're looking for, but it's an improvement over the hard line subscription model. Check here [blizzard.com].
    • You can let your account expire when you want and pick it back up when you want.

      This is true of most of WoW's competitors and always has been. Exceptions are 1) SWG deletes characters shortly after account cancelation because Sony is in league with Satan 2) UO does not delete characters immediately, but, based on the account in question, purges characters after extended periods of dormancy 3) EQ has purged meaninglessly low-level characters on dormant accounts. Otherwise, if you have a character in AC, UO
      • Personally, I recently went back to AC after four and a half years of dormancy. My character was exactly where I left him in 2000.


        Yea me too. Well I did have a whole lot of XP from vassals during that period of time...
      • 1) SWG deletes characters shortly after account cancelation because Sony is in league with Satan

        While I won't agree with the Satan bit, I left my account unsubscribed for over 14 months, just renewed it yesterday, and everything was still there.

        So, in other words, you're wrong.
        • Around release, Sony had stated that characters would not be retained after account cancellation. There was a rather large, prolonged and furious response from the community over this policy. Doing some further reading on fan experiences in resubscribing a while post-release, it looks like they never stuck with that policy, perhaps as a consequence of the extremely negative response over it or perhaps because they were never serious about it to begin with and were merely attempting to fearmonger people in
          • or perhaps because they were never serious about it to begin with and were merely attempting to fearmonger people into not cancelling in the first place.

            Sony: What nefarious deed shall I execute today, oh my master?

            Satan: Today's task shall be .... fear mongering!

            Sony: Your will shall be done, oh most evil one. (bows repeatedly, exits)

      • Re:WoW game cards (Score:3, Informative)

        by skreeech ( 221390 )
        Any AC1 accounts not migrated to turbines billing system(from microsofts) will soon be inaccessable forever. Of course if they are in the turbine system they can sit there forever unsubbed.

        "Account Migration
        On December 7th 2005 we will be turning off the ability to migrate accounts through our three point authentication system or through our billing department. This change is being made due a necessary update to our billing system. If you have any accounts that you have not migrated by this point you will n
    • Re:WoW game cards (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Seumas ( 6865 )
      That isn't exactly "metered" as you acknowledge.

      The reason metered doesn't work so well in the game industry is that developers and publishers need more stable revenue. It's easier to calculate how many people were playing last month, this month and how many will play next month. Then you can figure your revenue, expenses and so forth based on that. It would really throw a wrench into the works if you had to somehow figure out how to properly account for whether users were going to play more *minutes* this
      • "The reason metered doesn't work so well in the game industry is that developers and publishers need more stable revenue. It's easier to calculate how many people were playing last month, this month and how many will play next month."

        I think you're on the right track but you may be looking out the wrong window. I think the main reason they chose that model was so that they don't scare their customers. Ask anybody with a cell phone how shocking their first bill was. ;)
      • they COULD let the customer CHOOSE how they want to pay when they sign-up
  • by Shimdaddy ( 898354 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:12PM (#14072136) Homepage
    You paid for something you enjoyed... don't worry about it any more than that. You should never feel that you have to amertise something after you've made the decision to buy it -- especially if it's not a large expenditure. In my experience, trying to "get your money's worth" ruins the fun, whether it's eating too much at an all-you-can-eat buffet or by playing an MMO past the point of fun.

    Another good way to look at it is by percentages -- was the game worth $14/(your monthly salary)? This helps me justify (or reject) stuff all the time, because it puts purchases in perspective of their size.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      It's amortize.
    • Excellent points, but I need to take issue with your formula. It should be more akin to:

      $14 / (( monthly_salary * 0.9 ) - ( food + rent + utilities + transportation + clothes + health_insurance + keep_gf_happy_money + pay_off_the_credit_card_debt_from_that_one_bender_ in_college ))

      In short, the question isn't "Is this worth it as a percentage of my salary?", but "Is this worth it as a percentage of my disposable income."

      I make under $1000 per month, but taking your formula literally, there is very little
  • by Aziel777 ( 927534 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:15PM (#14072149) Homepage
    A large portion of their player base are the players who do play for 40 hours a week. If they decide to charge these guys $100/month because they play nonstop, then they are going to go to a different game. Unless your thinking of letting players choose which billing model they want to use. Although I think the majority of people who would be interested in these games would be willing to pay the flat fee, and by letting them pay a smaller amount, they might not earn as much profit, even if they do pick up a few extra people.
    • by ZephyrXero ( 750822 ) <zephyrxero.yahoo@com> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:26PM (#14072197) Homepage Journal
      It may not be the best business move...but perhaps it would be better morally? If people had to pay more for playing the game excessively maybe we wouldn't see as many people getting addicted to MMOs. When they see...damn, I play $100 worth of game time this past month maybe they'll think, "Damn...I need to cut back."

      I too have always wished they offered a "metered" pay version as well as I would probably play no more than 10 hours a week, if that even...so I can barely justify paying $10 a month, let alone the regular $12-15.

      Perhaps the best solution would be to just offer both ;)
    • Although there is a reason why they won't, there is no reason the company couldn't roll out a system whereby a less hard-core player could pay by the hour and those who want unmetered access pay the $15 a month.

      The company has access to every online metric for their product, I'm sure they could determine a decent per-hour rate. I'd still be subscribed to World of Warcraft right now if that was the case. This way if a casual player gets alot of free time and wants to go hard-core all they have to do is upg
    • He's not saying "why don't the game companies *CHANGE* their pricing model", he's saying "why don't game companies *ADD* add this as an *OPTION*"

      The answer is pretty simple: because it would mean a rewrite of their accounting software, and they don't believe that the cost of doing that would be offset by the number of people who would use it.
    • The article doesn't say anything about forcing people to pay on a metered scale- it's an option.
  • by justanyone ( 308934 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:16PM (#14072152) Homepage Journal
    You're forgetting the famous health club business model:

    - Sign up as many people as possible in January and Feburary when everyone's fat from Christmas and being inside all the time and bored with life;
    - Make things seem interesting for a while with 'fun' programs;
    - Gradually make things seem less interesting;
    - HOPE NO ONE SHOWS UP.

    Health clubs make their money on people paying for a membership they rarely use, or at least start out using and then don't keep up with.

    The MMPORG business model seems the same. They have less server cost if fewer people show up; They just want people to show up occassionally and keep paying their dues, guiltily or not.

    • I think this is an excellent analogy for showing why this isn't really possible.

      For the health club, they have to buy all the machines, pay all their employees, and light and air condition the place whether you show up or not. How often a certain machine gets used has no effect on their costs. They don't charge by the workout because it doesn't really make that much difference to them how often you show up.

      An online game company is much the same way. They have to maintain servers and provide content whet
      • I disagree. The thing of it is, if a MMORPG or a Gym either one has, say 1000 subscribers who use the service regularly, then in order to keep people happy and keep everyone paying, then they need to be able to serve 1000 users. If on the other hand there are 1000 subscribers, but only 500 play regularly, then they can get by with the lesser cost of being able to serve, say 750 people. This is the same thing ISPs do when the oversubscribe their lines. They bank on the fact that a lot of the people won't
      • How often a certain machine gets used has no effect on their costs.

        Not entirely true. The machines wear (weights machines have heavy moving parts), they break (cardiac machines have moving parts and electronics) and need fixing. And nothing gives you time to wonder "Why am I paying £75 per month for this gym again?" like having to wait 5 minutes for machine when they're all in use.
    • This is true from what I've heared (ex-coworker who once worked in a health club chain's IT department). Gyms bank on people's desire to look good exceding thier determination to work out. A large percentage (more than half, maybe even more than that, I don't remember) of the gym memberships taken out were not used past the first few weeks.

      I don't think you need to do much in the way of clever fun/not fun marketing, people will drop out all on thier own, due to the nature of physical work.
  • easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FadedTimes ( 581715 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:18PM (#14072157)
    it is easier for the companies to have a flat fee for monthly subscriptions. If they did meter, it would require more work for the company, now that they have to track time per subscription, and send varied amounts to different subscribers.
    Players who play a lot of hours may get screwed in a metered subscription. They may end up paying higher than the flat fee because they are on more than the average player.
    I like paying one fee, and getting unlimited play time for the month. If I feel I don't play the game enough I cancel the subscription.
    • It probably also allows the company to determine its viability and upcoming demands on servers, maintenance and support.

      These guys have to employ people, and having a fixed monthly subscription must surely be essential to gauging your market position and planning your expected outlay costs.

      Sure I agree with the original posters desire for dynamic billing to best suit the smallest possible cost per 'fun unit' consumed, but what is the business model that is supposed to keep a game server operating and profit
      • Puzzle Pirates works that way.

        You buy gold coins and can spend them to do things that earn you in game money/fun. You can also sell them to other people and buy them from other people with in game money, which means if you are good you can play for free, and if you are rich you can buy expensive clothing.

        Anyway, I thought it fit right into the idea of fun unit.
    • Right now pre-paid runs out regardless of how much you play. How hard would it be to have a pre-paid cellular model and bill for time spent actually logged in. It wouldn't be too hard, although the game would have to be pretty immune to random disconnects that keep your account logged in until timeout, but I haven't seen that much with todays games.
    • Uh almost all MMOs in Asia run on a metered time model rather than a flat monthly fee.
      • Re:easy (Score:2, Informative)

        It is because in Asia, a lot of gamers hang out in Internet cafes where they play the MMOs and pay their metered rates ALONG with the cafes' rates.
    • Don't like the monthly pay scheme? It's a business opportunity. Buy a pool of subscriptions, and use them to layer metered accounts. Resell at a mark-up.
      • That supposes you aren't selling these to kids who will delete the other people's characters for fun. Or just take all their stuff--how is the person supposed to prove it happened.
  • Whine much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shawb ( 16347 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:18PM (#14072159)
    Where's my metered usage for my ISP? I want to be able to surf one or two hours a week and pay a small amount of money. Oh yeah, the vast majority of users don't want that, and adding the extra code and overhead, along with all the complaints from parents who got $100 AOL bills ended that business model.
    • by kherr ( 602366 ) <kevin@pupp[ ]ead.com ['eth' in gap]> on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:16PM (#14072392) Homepage
      I don't understand the notion that MMOGs are too expensive. How much does it cost to go to a single movie in a theater? That's two hours for about $10. How much is a night in a bar? Even nursing cheap beer, you'll spend at least $10 in a few hours.

      For $15 per month you can play an MMOG any time you want, for as long as you want. You get regular patches and new content added every few months. This seems like a decent entertainment bargain to me.
      • Enjoyment can't be quantified. Your comment is true, as long as we assume that all activities (movies, drinking, video games, hanging out with friends) have the same "fun per hour" value. Personally, I'd much rather pay five bucks for a movie (or even better, go see a month-old movie at the dollar theater) than play an MMORPG for any length of time. To me, an MMORPG feels like a chore, and any amount of money spent on it is too much. Heck, I could hang out at a friend's house for (essentially) free, and
      • If I'm paying ten bucks to see a movie, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a good, if not great show. I have never seen an MMO that came anywhere close to that level of enjoyment for a full two hours. Meanwhile I don't bother with bars because I'm trying to save money. If I'm going to spend ten to fifteen dollars it'll be at a restaurant so at least I'm not hungry. Beer and pretzels don't do that.

        Basically at fifteen a month that works out to 45 every three months, or the cost of buying a new game. Truly
        • I used to play EverQuest, and I can remember some GREAT times in that game before everyone knew about every little item and a lot of the fun was just exploring. I can honestly say that the magic of not knowing what was next, or on the next floor was great in those days.

          The thing that killed EQ for me and for many others was the raid only mindset. That in order to get an equipment upgrade for most people, you need a group of at least 20 people, all of which needed to stay focused for four or more hours at
  • Planetside? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Dragoon412 ( 648209 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:29PM (#14072208)
    Along these lines, I think that Planetside would have been a huge success if it had launched with a different subscription model.

    Nothing shy of launching as a completely different game with an entirely different set of developers would've made Planetside a huge success. ;)
  • Metered Pay Model? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How about a free "pay model," like Guild Wars?
    • Except that

      1)GW isn't an MMO. Only 6 people at a time in a mob area I think? Or is it 8?
      2)GW's buisness model is very frequent for pay expansions. If you want new content, you will end up paying at least the same amount, quite possibly more than a monthly fee.
      • I'll pass on point 1. I think the MMO world is going to use instances more and more (see Dungeons and Dragons Online.) Whether you consider that a MMORPG or not is up to you.

        On point 2, however, Guild Wars has been out since when, April? May? They have added loads of new content, and haven't released a single expansion. $15/month is $180/year. I spent $40 on GW, and have had access to it for 9 months. COnsider World of Warcraft. Over that time, the WoW player who started in April (let's just say that
        • furthermore you could have taken into consideration that WoW itself will see an expansion pack very soon. That is no different to GW expansion packs by any means at all.

        • GW is a very different beast from WoW. You're better off comparing it to Diablo 2.

          Both of them saw various improvements in the game engine, and while Diablo 2 never saw much in the way of additional content, It was also shipped in a far more complete form.

          Ultimately, I suppose I'm just tired of the insistance that GW is an MMO; it's not. Towns are nothing more than a graphical chatroom, and most of the instances are produced on your local machine, a la Diablo 2. With WoW, everything is done on their ser
  • I used to play some AOL premium games. They billed you by the hour. There's sure to be something like that out there that's OFF the AOL network. Or why not play a free game?
  • by MarkusQ ( 450076 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @05:44PM (#14072275) Journal

    I suppose you'd like it even better if...

    • There were different rates for peaks hours and off-peak hours, so that when you were feeling cheap you take that into account
    • You had a variety of rate plans to choose from (say, some with a base of pre-paid hours, or others with "anytime" hours) and so forth so that you could choose a plan to suit your needs
    • Some games came bundled with a computer, or you had the option of getting a new computer "free" if you signed a long term contract with a game
    • Every game came in two dozen flavours, all basically the same but with a non-systematic assortment of the features enabled or disabled
    • There were different payment plans available for new players, existing players, active players in other games, etc.
    • Some payment plans cost more than you wanted to play, but came with a piece of paper that, if you filled it in exactly right and sent it to the right address, on the right day, you might get most of your money back.
    • The payment plans were only available for a limited time, and the next time you looked into it they would have subtly changed.

    If I'm right, you may want to go cell phone shopping.

    For my self, I far prefer a company that simply tells me what their product costs and then lets me decide if I want it.

    --MarkusQ

    • "Can you kill me now? ....Good. I mean bad. Bad! Augh!"

    • So should everyone have a single choice of paying fifty to sixty dollars a month for cell phone service? After all, that's what cell users pay for unlimited minutes, just like hard-core gamers pay fifteen a month for unlimited gaming, although it deters casual gamers from subscribing.

      Furthermore, there are what, 4 cellular providers in the USA? How many quality MMO's of substantial popularity are there? Between 4 and 10. And if many of them offered competitive pricing plans, there could be more than a d

      • Competition is good for consumers (and the market) under the assumption that they can make rational, informed decisions about the competing products. The whole purpose of the cell phone style pricing schemes (as with advertising, complex tax codes, etc.) is to make rational comparison so difficult as to be practically impossible, and thus invalidate the assumption; they are an attempt to subvert the process.

        --MarkusQ

  • You pay say $15 per month to play a game. Lets say you _only_ play for 5 hours. Was the $15 that month a waste? Or was it simply not used to its full potential?

    Compare it to say, renting a movie (or watching one in theaters), its still quite affordable.

    Stop quibbling about small sums, suck it up, and frag on.
  • Internet access used to be metered as well and eventually moved towards a flat fee for access.

    I guess it's basically what you feel the product is worth and whether you don't mind paying for time you aren't playing.

    With the current model a 40 hour play time (using your numbers & approximates) would be about $.34 whereas if the customer paid for the metered time they would pay about double the non-metered customer.

    With your television you pay a flat fee. Do you ask for money back for the TV/c

    • Except that broadband has different price points for faster surfing speeds, which dial-up didn't used to have. So casual users can now pay $20 per month for 384kbps down/128kbps up. While hard-core users pay $40 or 50 for 1.5+Mbps down.

      So there actually isn't a flat fee for internet access, nor does there need to be for MMO's.

      As for cable and satellite, there's been more pressure recently for buying stations a la carte instead of as a package.
  • This has been done before by 3D0 when they still owned and operated Meridian 59. After costing $9.95/month for a couple of years, they switched to a "metered plan." Basically, you would buy play periods which lasted 24 hours and you could play as much as you wanted in that 24 hour period. If you bought 4 play periods in a week, you got the rest of the week free. Each play period cost $2.95. This was all done transparently. You didn't have to go to any website to buy these, you just had to log in and s
    • This doesn't make sense. To pay for 4 periods, you would have to play 96 hours. To fulfill your "unlimited" calculation, they would have to play more than that in a week.

      Are you saying the vast majority of players were freaks who spent 60% of their time playing a game? Not counting sleeping, eating, and for some, actually working.

      There is no way I could even make up for two periods a month in this model. And it only seems logical to give free time for the rest of the month, but that would invalidate your ca
  • Downsides (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jumbo Jimbo ( 828571 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @06:13PM (#14072378)
    There are two big downsides that I can think of...

    Firstly, if the model is 'pay as you go' I would worry that it would reduce enjoyment of playing. If the longer you play the more it costs, it will always be in the back of you mind that each minute / ten mins / hour you play costs you more - breaking the immersion. If you don't worry about the cost, you can explore more freely, experiment, and just have more fun.

    Secondly, if I had kids who wanted to play a MMOG, but knew it was charged by the hour, I'd be worried about them running up costs. Even if there are parental control, I think many 16 yr old gamers can beat their less tech-savvy parents' passwords by guessing them / working out common family passwords / finding the post-it note ( will Pop have a 16 character alpha-numeric password, or will he use the name of the dog??).

    That's my 2 cents (a minute) worth.

    • As a teenager, I would frequently run up $60-$80 AOL bills. It's not fun having the "This costs $3/hour" meme banging on your cerebellum (though apparently not "not fun" enough for me).

      I think a better plan would be to have separate models for occasional users. For example, $5 buys you the first ten hours in a month. If you exceed that, you have to pay the full $15-ish, but that's where it caps out. Or maybe a system that charged you $0.75/hour, but maxed out at $15 per billing cycle. Casual users woul
  • When you look at how much early games cost such as Islands of Kesmai in 1984 ($12/hour) or AOL's Neverwinter Nights in 1991 ($6/hour). Then there was The Shadow of Yserbius, which for a time offered unlimited play for only $120/month.
    How many hours to people think they need to play to make it worth the cost? I mean take something like the console version of Half Life 2 for the Xbox. Just released, list price of about $50 - with no multiplayer. You can complete the game in about 10-15 hours easily.
  • by Edgewize ( 262271 ) on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:35PM (#14072694)
    Asian games tend to support pay-by-usage and/or micropayments to unlock content. There is no technical reason why this isn't done in the states; it is just a cultural difference. North American publishers have done small-scale tests and they do not believe that there is a large market for pay-by-usage or micropayments in the US.

    Case in point: World of Warcraft is pay-by-the-minute in China, and the client is a free download as opposed to a $50 boxed CD set.
  • by Teppy ( 105859 ) * on Saturday November 19, 2005 @07:36PM (#14072699) Homepage
    (BTW, I'm lead designer of A Tale in the Desert)

    Actually the main reason in this case isn't a business one. Many of the challenges in ATITD are formulated with the assumption that most players have a single character (account). For instance in "The Test of Octec's Ghost" you are given twelve identical crystals, and are given the task of trading to assemble a collection of twenty different crystals and using them to build a huge animated statue. I intentionally designed the Test in a way where there would be a scarcity of crystals overall.

    Now I realize that even as-is, some people will just buy an extra ("mule") account, but most do not. Setting up a strictly hourly system would, I believe, tempt a lot more people to do so. And it's a slippery slope: Once that happens, the game would likely develop a culture of people buying their way through challenges, and that doesn't strike me as much fun.

    There are some business reasons as well that other posters have hit upon, though for some MMOs such a model may make sense. FWIW, bandwidth costs per hour are negligible: $0.0065/hour by my quick calculation.

    One thing I gave serious consideration to, and may still do in a future Tale - is a separate casual server that limits players to 10 hours/week, but still charges $13.95/month. Why would anyone opt for this? By *far*, the biggest complaint and reason that casual players leave ATITD is a feeling of being unable to compete with the hardcore 40-80 hour/week crowd. The game then becomes about playing the smartest 10 hours/week you can, rather than grinding.
    • How about a server only for those with high speed connections? No more PSX draw distances? If you're going to split an already small player base, that'd be my vote.

      Complaints (compounds, hack, spit) aside, it's a most clever game. Thank you Teppy.

      The reason I'm posting: the game already has an odd sort of metered payment in place, with time out-of-game rewarded. For those new to A Tale in the Desert, your character gains stuff while you are not playing. Warp time (fast travel; not available any other way) o
    • An excellent idea! While ATITD doesn't appear to be my kind of MMORPG, I really hope that the next MMORPG I sign up for has a 10 hour max on characters. I would gladly play on that server instead of the insano servers where folks are so addicted they have to eat dinner in front of the computer.

      I really get tired of the folks without a real life (or a real job) that clog most MMORPGs.
  • Is that nobody has thought of simply making it so that you still pay $12 a month to play the game, but that actually buys you 30 days of play time which are slowly ticked off your account as you use them. That way the company makes just as much money off of the super-players but also gets tons of extra business from the once-a-week players that otherwise wouldn't bother.
    • If we take the World of Warcraft model with this gem of an idea, we get a very cool system where once you run out of the X amount of time you payed for, you're automatically billed for the next. It doesn't kill immersion like metered play would, but it also would be prohibitive costwise for crazy nuts like myself who are willing to plug in 24 hours worth of gametime every two or three days. As Blizzard keeps your characters around regardless of whether or not you have a subscription, it won't cost them anyt
      • "but it also would be prohibitive costwise for crazy nuts like myself who are willing to plug in 24 hours worth of gametime every two or three days." Do you mean that it would be a good thing? because with this system you would actually get the whole 30 odd days you payed for.
  • I konw that Ragnarok Online has a metered payment method. You can buy 10 hours at a time for a set amount of money, and you can just play those hours any time. I don't think they expire either. This is the preferred method for mules, usually. Lot of other MMOs in Asia also offer these pay-by-hours set up...but I guess it's not very popular here, since people usually just accept (I mean, people eat the cost of the box in addition to the monthly fee anyways...so the publishers know they can get away with it).

  • I have a bias but Roma Victor [roma-victor.com] has a crafting system a lot like, if not better than ATITD's and also has real-time pvp combat amongst other things. There's no subscription fee and it's been in testing since May.

  • I personally think that its a great idea, would probably get me paying for some MMORPG's. But the added cost of generating a billing system to support that along with them losing money from people now only paying $3 a month for their time where they used to think it worth the $10-15 would stop it quick
  • I think this would be a good poll to see on the main page. I'm curious to see how many readers prefer the types (and choice) of subscription models.

    Hourly rate, with no option for the standard monthly plan. Hourly rate, with the option for the standard monthly plan. Standard monthly plan only, no other option available.

    I'm sure that power gamers would definitely hate choice #1.
    Casual gamers would appreciate the opportunity to 'pay as you play'.
    But the moral of the story is that its always nice to h
  • I just got back from the movies, where it costs $9.50 for a movie(which is between 1.5 and 2.5 hours generally).

    So, for less than the cost of two movies, which might give you 5 hours of entertainment, you can play an online game. If you play less than five hours a month, then yea, I can understand not wanting to pay that much, but that's the nature of the entertainment industry.
  • In all seriousness here is the answer to your question.

    Casual MMO players are actually more expensive than more serious ones.

    The major expense in operating an MMO is customer service. Casual players on average require more customer service than regular ones. This is coming from a friend of mine who works at Blizzard.

    Obivously not all casual mmo players really cost more but as long as that is true on average, it wouldn't make economic sense to charge less to casual players.
  • We moved away from this years ago, as the last of the pay-per-hour online services faded into nothingness.

    You'd be here complaining about how you got raped when you fell asleep or had some general emergency take you away from your computer for several hours while you were logged in.

  • If you care at all for puzzle-styled MMO's, try one of the green oceans (Viridian or Sage) in Puzzle Pirates [puzzlepirates.com]. Instead of making you pay every month, you can buy doubloons (think "Tokens") with real money and every time you buy a major item (many of which are merely decorational), you pay an additional "token" fee. If you don't play much, you don't pay much.

    But also mind that Puzzle Pirates is vastly different from the majority of MMO's *because* it is puzzle-based, and not the "kill stuff, get bigger, kil

    • I evangelize for Puzzle Pirates so much I should really get paid by the company, but they're worth it because they do more thinking than most of the rest of the industry put together (I keep my subscription current for odd bouts of play when WoW has bored me for the day -- and I have had as much fun on a sloop pillage as I've had on an Onyxia raid before, and was actually meaningfully engaged in the success of the pillage to boot).
      The Doubloons can be purchased using in-game gold (pieces of eight -- poe)
  • It's all about making money. Monthly costs in no way reflect the costs in development or maintainance.

    They want to make revenue. They want to make as much as they can. And sadly publisher are just happier when their customers are paying an overly inflated price every month.

    I played WoW for 4 months.
    Minus the free month, I payed for 3, so that makes 40 Euros. Did I cost them 40 Euros when I was playing? Shit no!

    The bandwidth costs next to nothing.
    Support? I wrote them an Email once, they didn't
    • "The price I payed for the game, Blizzard should give my characters guarantee of existance for the rest of all eternity. Instead Blizzard deletes them if you go 6 Months without subscribing. Mine will be deleted next month. Why? They hope to scare me and get me to take up the subscription again so that I can keep my precious characters."

      If your characters are fairly high level, you should try selling your account on eBay before they delete it. My friend stopped playing WoW a few months ago and sold his

    • They want to make revenue. They want to make as much as they can.

      What's wrong with that? People are happy to pay it, and they make money from it. Your post sounds like baseless whining.

      Content updates? Bugfixes and stat corrections, done by maybe a few dozen people.

      The sorts of people who do that cost a lot of money. You're looking at a wage bill in the millions. Not to mention the costs of running the servers. Equipment, electricity, bandwidth (costs a lot more than you think).

      It's quite clear you have no
      • What's wrong with that? People are happy to pay it, and they make money from it. Your post sounds like baseless whining.

        Ther's nothing wrong with wanting to make money at all. My point is that the costs you pay don't reflect the costs for maintainence, as one could expect. The price is inflated and unjustified.
        The sorts of people who do that cost a lot of money. You're looking at a wage bill in the millions. Not to mention the costs of running the servers. Equipment, electricity, bandwidth (costs a lo
        • The price is inflated and unjustified.

          Justified to who? The price is obviously justified to the millions of people who play the game.

          But for a copmpany of Blizzards size, maitaining a few personel keepeng an eye on their online game will hardly be anything significant.

          So in other words, you don't know? Brilliant. Any more baseless assertions you'd like to make?
          • Justified to who? The price is obviously justified to the millions of people who play the game.

            I don't think you understand the correct meaning of this term.
            What I said is that Blizzard has no just reasons to charge that much for their game. You don't have to make reference to the consumer. If you want to believe otherwise, that's up to you.

            So in other words, you don't know? Brilliant. Any more baseless assertions you'd like to make?

            It's strange how you come to such conclusions. These "assertions"
  • As far as I am concerned, the author is a joker.

    What he thinks is costly is just the cost of two visits to the cinema, and at least the cost of bandwidth.

    Even some alternatives, like playing a newly bought single-player game, cost more.
  • Why not have an hourly rate that caps out at the standard monthly fee, so that if you go away or can't play much you don't have to go through the process of cancelling and re-subscribing your account. The hourly rate would probably be higher than the average usage hours of a standard player, but would end up costing no more than monthly models.
  • The cost of tracking the billing details, dealing with disputes (What if your account was hacked by someone playing 400 hours?, what if you just said it was?), and itemized billing isn't worth it.
  • If I was on a metered pay model, I would be /PISSED OFF/ having to sit around looking for a group just so I can start playing while paying for every moment. Every little tiresome game mechanism designed to waste your time would start to drive me insane since I'd have to pay for all the time they intentionally waste. Slow leveling curves, unnecessarily long travel times, long cooldown/rest periods. Anything that keeps me from actually playing would drive me insane.

    The reason such time wasting methods are ac
  • A dev's comments.

    What the original poster talked about is a big deal. A lot of people talk about how $14 bucks is less than going to the movies and buying popcorn, but the problem is that now that these games are so ubiquitous, many players may have multiple subscriptions to multiple games, which means that they will eventually pick and choose which games they prefer to keep active. Otherwise, you're paying 50 bucks with three subscriptions open.

    On the flip side, others have said that we could be ch

  • At $14, that's two tickets to a movie with no popcorn. Given that he said he liked the game, and that $14 wasn't much in his eyes, he's basically saying he didn't play more than 5 hours a month (rough number).

    The pricing model wasn't for him, I guess, but I don't think a new one is needed.

    -Jeff
  • Sony does something like it with Gamecards. Cept, it's a matter of play one month, dont play the next..
  • I'm coming a little late to this discussion. I am not an online game developer, but I know a few :)

    The single biggest problem with a Metered Pay Model, is that if you have a night where all you do is grind through a few levels and search for an item you couldn't find, and you've paid specifically for those hours, you are likely to get pissed quite quickly. Paying monthly means you only have to feel you got your money's worth at the end of the month.

    In a similar vain, if you have a night where you are going

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