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Games Entertainment

Pay to Play 151

Posted by michael
from the nickel-a-point dept.
nihilist_1137 writes: "Zdnet has a story on how companies are looking at making gamers pay to play online games. It goes over the problem of how to make a game great but yet at the same time appealing to people who pick it up."
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Pay to Play

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  • Personally, if I shell out 40$ for a game,
    I'm not paying 11.95 or whatever a month, just to be able to play it against anything other than the AI.
    Hopefully other servers will come out for games like these, like Opennap for napster
    • Hey I dunno, there are quite a few games I would quite happily pay for to play online for three simple reasons:

      1 - no lame players...
      2 - much less cheaters....
      3 - decent and reliable online stats and rankings

      Yup, my vote says yes! (but make it optional...)
      • Yeah but first person shooters are not going to be one of them. There are far too many mods, custom settings etc that players usually are the ones doing the serving. This will work for roleplaying gaming enviroments and not much else imho.
      • 1 - no lame players... 2 - much less cheaters.... 3 - decent and reliable online stats and rankings What gaming server are you using, cause I've got to get a piece of that! There will always be lame players and cheaters. Even the Diablo II realms aren't immune with everyone and his uncle trying to figure out how to dupe items. Once you get cheaters and lame players, stats don't mean much. BlackGriffen
    • Do you remember the online gaming service Kali? I think they're still around, though I can't load kali.net right now. They had a one time fee of $20, and after that you could play pretty much any game capable of IPX network gaming over it. They were marginalized by gaming companies offering free online gaming built in to the game, but if the companies start trying to charge a monthly fee for their service, Kali could make a really big comeback. They may need to change their business model so that you have to pay a couple of bucks to upgrade each new major revision of Kali, but they could probably easily compete with proprietary 1-game networks.

      Even if that doesn't succeed, someone will probably make something like Opennap or gnutella for gamers. Once a free service like that comes along, that the companies don't have to pay money to maintain, I don't see why they wouldn't embrace it. Hell, the companies may even surprise us and do it themselves.

      BlackGriffen
  • I'd pay to play online... if I didn't need to pay for the game at the store. (Download it, etc).
    • Re:Free games! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by moncyb (456490)

      Yeah, that's one thing they need to do to be successful--create client software that only works with their pay online service that you can download for free, and a retail version that you pay for that you can play offline, online as a client and/or server, and use their pay service as well. That way the hardcore (or offline) gamer can buy the retail package, while someone who just wants to play the pay online version just has to enter their credit card # and download a file...

      They should also have multiple games for a base subscription price. Say a FPS, an RPG, and a strategy game. That kind of selection would attract many more users--especially those that like to play all three types.

    • Re:Free games! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Brit Aviator (542593)
      Don't you just love it when you would like to pay a game like Dark Age of Camelot or some such, and are willing to fork over the $10 a month to play, only to realize that they want you to pay full retail price ($40-$50) to get just the game itself? Even when they throw in a free month of play, I think it's a touch pricey. What I'd prefer to see is games that have a monthly fee to play (especially those that have *no* functionality offline) be sold at a vastly reduced price. $10 for the basic game and then another $10 to play each month would be reasonable. Even if you hated the game, you'd only be out $20 which is about what you pay for budget games anyway. Similarly, retailing at $20 and including a free month of access would work. Again, you're only out $20.

      The bottom line is this: if you have a game such as Return to Castle Wolfenstein that has excellent online *and* offline functionality, and online gaming is free via hosting, then you are fully justified in charging $50-$60 for your product to compensate you for your work. But if your game is online only, only charge what you absolutely *must* to get your game into the hands of as many people as possible. Hell, if my primary revenue was to come through the online monthly payments, I'd be encouraging piracy of the baseline ware!

    • Even though I'm a fan of Ultima from the early 80s, I have not played UO - because I don't feel like shelling out the $$$ in the store for something that I'll have to pay a monthly fee to keep playing.

      Make up your mind - are you selling a game for me to play on my PC or for me to pay you to play online. I'm only paying for one or the other.
      • I haven't played uo either, but you can get uo at a store for $10, and it's packaged with (at least, not sure) the first month of play. Since additional months are $10, I don't see the problem with such a model...
        • damn you for telling me that. If it turns out to be true, I guess I know whay I'll be doing :)

          Last time I looked it was something like $40!
    • Re:Free games! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mahrin Skel (543633)
      It's been tried, it doesn't seem to work. You need to have a full-price unit on the shelves for people to actually buy. Hell, our piece of the retail sale barely pays for the "free" month, we'd *gladly* just let you download it. People just don't do it in enough numbers to make a viable business model.

      --Dave Rickey
      Designer, Mythic Entertainment

    • www.legendofmir.net

      an online rpg with the biz. model you suggest- download the client (or get it on a covermount), pay to play. You even play free until you reach level 6 or something.

      graspee
  • EverQuest (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ageless (10680)
    I've been paying $30.00 a month (three accounts) for nearly two years to play EverQuest. Some games are just worth it. EQ would be incredibly boring as a single player game, but as a MMORPG it's unbeatable.
  • as long as i got my broadband and i'm happy... :-)
  • by ShaunC (203807) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @02:59PM (#2907410)
    I've been playing Ultima Online for more than two years now. The game itself is cheap, it's in the bargain bin at most retailers, and it costs $9.95/month to keep an account to play the game. I have two accounts. UO boasts some 300K+ active accounts, and other games like Everquest are fairly popular as well. At first I too was hesitant to shell out a monthly fee - then I thought about it. I can pay 10 bucks to go to a movie and be entertained for 2 hours, or I can pay 10 bucks for unlimited entertainment in a month's time. Screw the movie theater.

    May only be a niche market, but pay-for-play is definitely a viable model.

    Shaun
    • Yeah but aren't the upgrades a bitch? Wasn't there a housing shortage etc that forced people to buy an expansion pack to have property? I don't mind paying for an online game but I don't like getting scammed into paying for expansion packs when I'm shelling out 10-20 bucks a month already.
      • The upgrades are only a bitch if you get them. There was (and is, and always will be) a housing shortage, but their fix was to create a mirror image of the world. There was a client patch, but no new client or purchase was required.

        They also keep pumping out new clients. They released a 3D client with access to a new landmass (no housing there) and in general, it flopped. A low percentage of the playerbase uses the 3D client and the landmass for that client is empty. Now they're releasing another 3D client which mostly consists of new artwork (no new landmass). I imagine that the only reason new clients keep coming out is to ensure that some incarnation of UO is fresh on the shelves instead of wasting away in the bargain bin.

        Buying the new clients has always been up to the player, though. If you want access to all the new stuff, you go buy the new client; if you're happy with the same stuff, you don't spend the extra money. The initial expansion pack (The Second Age, I think 1998?) was eventually released for free as a bigass client patch to everyone who hadn't already bought it. I assume that over time the newer features will eventually be doled out in a similar fashion, once the retail market for copies of the "latest and greatest" client dies off. I haven't bought any of the new revisions, aside from paying shipping for a beta CD of the first 3D client, and don't plan on buying any of them.

        I have no doubt that people who use the current 3D client, but don't go out and buy the new one that's coming out, will eventually have access to the new stuff without having to buy it. People still using the 2D client will eventually be able to access the 3D client's landmass without paying for the privilege. It comes back to the movie theater analogy, really. If you want to watch the latest must-see flick now, you go and shell out the money. If you don't mind waiting, you can see it next year on cable without having to pay anything extra. There are (apparently) enough people who have to "get it now" to support the release of all these clients as retail, but there are also plenty of people who don't mind waiting.

        Shaun
    • May only be a niche market, but pay-for-play is definitely a viable model.
      Maybe now it's a niche, but probably because not so many people have DSL in their home. MMORPGs are IMO much more interresting than any other games, and I think they'll be more popular when Internet connections are cheaper. In fact, I think we'll see many games in the future which will be based on engines and media provided by projects like e.g. WorldForge [worldforge.org] but with customized worlds, where we'll have to pay for playing, to pay for servers and huge bandwidth.
  • Although I've pretty much grown tired now of online role-playing, I once shelled out some $30(? I don't remember the exact amount any more) per month to play Gemstone III. That is, until I discovered MUDs. There were hundreds of them, they were free, and they were just as much fun. Of course I use Linux now so I wouldn't be able to play Gemstone anyway, but this is just one more example of free software triumphing over pay/subscription-ware.
  • Chess anyone? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The Internet Chess Club [chessclub.com] has been charging for a long time. The current fee is $49/year.

    There are a number of free alternatives [freechess.org] of course.

    • I suggest everyone take up Baduk(Go in japanese). It will take a life time or two to master it and it's cheap. Internet Go Server(IGS) is free for the most of the world, and you only need a $25 book to get started. IGC(=clinet) can be purchased or you can get a free version. No more games to buy. No monthly fee. Every once in awhile you can even watch the pro torney on internet TV as well.
  • by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@s n k m a i l . com> on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:04PM (#2907431) Homepage Journal
    When you try to bridge the gap between the casual and the serious gamer, a cyclical process will ensue:

    In the beginning, the gamers will make games for the hardcore gamers and only the hardcore gamers will play them.

    Then sooner or later, the friends of the hardcore gamers will start to get into it, someone will realise that there's money in the market, and make wildly popular games that will enthrall the hardcore gamers and bring some of the outsiders in as well. (Very early on, this was Doom, later, Diablo.) It will gradually move to a more general-gamer based market where titles are made to appeal to the general gamer en masse and will not attempt to develop gaming as an artform or innovate. This is why Diablo II was the worst day in gaming history.

    Eventually, I predict, gaming will become so generalised (and therefore lucrative) and the serious gamers will get pissed and form their own independent development projects. The corporates will laugh and be merry because they are making money and that's what matters to them (as opposed to making good games.)

    Sooner or later, the independent developers' games will get noticed by the general gamer and they will start gaining momentum ... soon corporates realise that there is a new source of revenue ... the cycle repeats.

    • Frankly, I've nearly given up on games... They used to be fun and relaxing. Now you have to be on Speed to get through level 1. I want a game - not a pixel driven panic attack. There's always Same Gnome I suppose :-)
  • They cost so much money to put together that they're designed only by a corporation.

    Corporations are notorious for not understanding what is fun. People at E3 will honestly say they don't know what will be fun, and only make a crap shoot when making games.

    Thats because they're made by corporations, duh. Ask the hardcore players what is fun, and then you can start charging for your game.

    The only reason MMORPG's of today are successful is because there is nothing else out there...

    Can't really jump in the market with a crappy game, and elevate your status over time with revenue like you could in the old days. Today its mainy super compu global corp feeding your material.
    • Can't really jump in the market with a crappy game, and elevate your status over time with revenue like you could in the old days. Today its mainy super compu global corp feeding your material.

      The Uplink [introversion.co.uk] guys are doing this and succeeding.

      Also, you never heard of a MUD? There have been free "MMORPG"s since before the Internet. Someone could easily start with a free MUD, and slowly build it up over time, getting users, and then switch to a pay model.
    • Thats because they're made by corporations, duh. Ask the hardcore players what is fun, and then you can start charging for your game.

      Who works at the corporations? Robots? Do you remember the Simpsons [snpp.com] where Homer was Poochie? There was a focus group segment that was so true:

      Man: How many of you kids would like Itchy & Scratchy to deal with real-life problems, like the ones you face every day?
      Kids: [clamoring] Oh, yeah! I would! Great idea! Yeah, that's it!
      Man: And who would like to see them do just the opposite -- getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?
      Kids: [clamoring] Me! Yeah! Oh, cool! Yeah, that's what I want!
      Man: So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth show... that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots?
      Kids: [all agreeing, quieter this time] That's right. Oh yeah, good.

      Rock stars, is there anything they don't know?

    • Hate to burst your colliquial bubble, but here I go...

      They cost so much money to put together that they're designed only by a corporation.

      Yeah, well, most games these days (especially any with 3d or elaborate 2d graphics) take hundreds if not thousands of hours of coding, research, modeling, drawing, etc etc. Do you think Tony Hawk 3, Quake 3 or UO could have realistically been developed by anything but a corporation? Yes, the distributers are huge, but the developers that's working there are what counts. A software house like Neversoft, iD or Ion Storm are relativly tiny in comparison.

      Corporations are notorious for not understanding what is fun. People at E3 will honestly say they don't know what will be fun, and only make a crap shoot when making games.

      Duh. Granted, there are a lot of ideas born in board meetings (most of which flop), but taking a "crap shoot" often results in the most unique and fun games. MMORPGs were one of these crap shots. So happens, it was a good roll.

      Thats because they're made by corporations, duh. Ask the hardcore players what is fun, and then you can start charging for your game.

      That's what R&D is for. The game testers are probably the most hardcore in the buisness.

      The only reason MMORPG's of today are successful is because there is nothing else out there...

      Uhm... Counter Strike is still the most popular online game. Other FPS's like Quake III and II, Unreal Tournament and Tribes II are also going strong. And then there's console gaming like THPS3 online, Halo and (eventually) Final Fantasy XI.

      Can't really jump in the market with a crappy game, and elevate your status over time with revenue like you could in the old days. Today its mainy super compu global corp feeding your material.

      Get this straight -- the DISTRIBUTERS have the money. They always have, they always will. It's only reasonable that they are selective before going to market and putting up millions for something that may just sit on the shelf. If you don't like it, then you're more than welcome to write your own games.
      • If there weren't corporate giants funding massive man operations, little guys would compete against themselves. Eventually the little guys who were smarter and more successful would win out against the competition. We'd then have the best of the best game designers at the top. Since there are big corporate entities out there, they can slap together something 50% of what is desired, rush to market and then make it harder for the little guy.

        Standard slashdot readers can understand that the products Microsoft releases are far from the best, but no one can compete so Microsoft dictates what comes next. Same holds true for MMORPG's.

        When I say MMORPGS sell because there's nothing else out there, I mean to say that since they're so expensive to make only a few shots are made at them.

        People don't understand what is fun, so the natural process of dumb execs making games and evolution saying what is right doesn't apply.

        Less games in market = less to choose from.

        Thusly MMORPG's don't get the evolution of quality they should in the current buisness model.
  • The "department" line for this article presents an interesting concept. Of course it's ridiculous, but I'd be curious to see how players would behave with this pricing model. Would they compete for the lowest score? Would they make their objectives accomplishments that do not score points? Or would they just not give a damn?
  • Now, I don't play Everquest or UO, mostly because I use a Mac most of the time and they didn't come out for the Mac, but I do play Starcraft and Diablo2 online.

    It's my opinion that if you are going to charge the person to play the game, then you should give the game out for free.

    If I'm playing a game on-line, then I'm already shelling out for bandwidth, then I have to pay to play...make the game free to aquire.

    I've got enough bills the way it is, I don't need multiplayer games to cost money as well.

    Bungie's servers for Myth and Myth2 didn't have that many lamers or serious cheats on them, so you can't use the elitism arguement that paying will eliminate losers.
    • everyone seems to fail to see the difference between persistant state online games and multiplayer games... there is a huge difference between them. Online games (EQ, UO, Sgalaxy, etc) develop your character, basically it is another world you play in and people find this extremly interesting while in multiplayer games you play single battles/games and when you turn it off, everything fades away.

      There is a huge difference there in level of complexity between servers for multiplayer games and real online games. It actually costs developers to keep all of it up... imagine if all Quake servers were owned and operated by iD software... you think it would be free if they had to pay for bandwith and space for 2000 servers? ;-)

      Is 10$ per month too much? not really... you cant really play more than one or two persistant state online games at the same time... even that will take up 4-5 hours of each day or whatever free time you have
  • Nice idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    While companies will always find new ways to get money, this one will absolutely fail as long as there are cheaters. The only way I can see to stop cheating is to keep the source locked up, and if that's done then all the great mods will never come about. Things like Threewave and OSP for Q3, and Counter Strike for Half Life are all mods that have improved or changed the original game. So as I see it the tradeoff is either less cheating and no mods, or more cheating and pot luck with the mods. Personally I stopped playing CS because of the cheating, so I don't see how they can turn it into a profitable business. I'm not going to pay $x to get railed by an aimbot or whatever.
  • You pay, let's say, 50 bucks for a game in a store, or download it online for 50 bucks, and it comes with a year's worth of online playing, and another year would run, say, 25 bucks or something.

    Of course a decent authenitcation scheme would be needed I suppose...
  • uproar.com used to(don't know if they still do) pay out cash prizes to winners of the games. Whenever I used to play their bingo game, there would be anywhere from 600 to 1200 players online and the cash prizes ranged from $2 - $15 for winners.

    Now the tables have turned and the gamers will have to pay to win instead of win to get cash.


    • Now the tables have turned and the gamers will have to pay to win instead of win to get cash.

      Except in MMORPGs, there is no way to "win". You can reach the highest level or advance skills to their max, but there is no victory/goal except that which you invent for yourself (like getting an Atlan weapon before level 15 in Asheron's Call, getting the highest PvP-title in Anarchy Online).

  • i rember back in the day before they had dsl and cable. when it was games like dukenukem 3d and a few others, quake was in its infacncy and still on if even out at the begining of that.

    they had multiplayer onlinegaming avaliable for dukenukem3d and its counterpart games. but you had to pay. i thought the reson you didnt have to pay was cause it didnt take off.

    vavle has a pretty good system for keeping people who didnt pay for their copys of halflife from playing online.

    if im to pay to play its gonna be a lan party to coverfood and possiblehardware. none of this pay to play on line crap.

    no more hosting games prolly just a huge megaserver with megalag someplace far far way.
    whats the fun in that..
    • by Mahrin Skel (543633) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:59PM (#2907656)
      Here's what you are missing: EverQuest, Ultima Online, and Lineage: The Bloodpledge (state religion in South Korea) are the highest grossing PC games *ever*. Bigger than Starcraft, bigger than Quake 3, bigger than Myst. That $10/month adds up when the typical player sticks around for more than a year. And you don't have to share the subscription revnue with the retailers and distributors (who typically take 3/4 of the purchase price).

      That's why the industry is suddenly waking up. This is a genuinely stronger business model that *works*. Online games are almost certainly going to be a $1,000,000,000 (that's one *billion*) dollar industry in 2003, after the release of Star Wars Galaxies and The Sims Online. It's already worth hundreds of millions in actual revnues companies are collecting *now*.

      --Dave Rickey
      Designer, Mythic Entertainment

      • you also have people playing everquest leave their spouse to be with their virtual spouse. and people play for days at a time. everquest isnt as much a game rather than enhanced irc that does what irc has done from time to time just on a broader scale and thats get people hooked on some total fantacy. most games when its over its over but not for these people.
  • IMO, Blizzard is one of the best online game producers because of the fact that Battle.net is 100% free after you buy the game. The reason I played Diablo 2 for a year instead of Everquest, Eltima, Asheron's Call, etc. was because it didn't cost me anything more that the 39.95 I spent on the original game. I would never put out for a "connection fee" or what have you just to play the online game.
    • Whats the average age of the people on BNet? How much hacking has BNet attracted? How much of that would change if people were paying $$$/mo for the privilege of playing?

      Now I'm sure that EQ and others attract their share of hacks and lamerz that act well below their age. But the $10/mo probably goes a long ways toward keeping that number down.

      • Don't let the riff-raff in. Oldest play in the elitist's book. Works well in country clubs, why not in online games?

        Oh yeah. Because it's morally reprehensible. That's right.
        • Don't let the riff-raff in is exactly the point. First off, most parents of 12 year olds won't shell out $10/month for their kid to play a game online. And those parents that do either A) really like spoiling their kid or B) know their son is more "mature" than other 12 year-olds. I doubt many parents would have like paying $10/month to let their son/daughter play Pokemon. So right there you've cut out at least 50% of the spammers and script kiddies.

          The country club analogie is a loose one at best. They are the way they are because of the elitist attitude of the upper class citizens that run them. This is to keep out the people who aren't as "sophisticated" and wealthy as they are. In this pay-to-play scheme for online games, the fees isn't outrageous - $10/month is nothing for most people. And those who can't afford it and are USUALLY the biggest problem in the online gaming scene, adolescents with all the time in the world on their hands, are filtered out. If they only wanted rich people to play the games it'd cost $75/week for each character you have in Everquest.
      • You would think so, but that is just not the case.

        I cant think of any examples offhand, but I assure you, that 10.00/month isn't keeping ANYONE out.

        I say this as a UO/EQ/AO/DAOC veteran, too.

        Personally, I've given up on MMOGs merely because they take too much freaking time and the fact that these are games, not worlds. The only exception to the previous statement is ultima online, which has probably come closest to gaming goodness in the whole genre, yet everyone seems to be following EQ in design and function.

        And don't quote sales statistics at me like they mean anything. People buy crap all the time, but just because a lot of people buy it doesn't mean its not crap.

        I think we may be surprised when Neverwinter Nights comes out, it may change the landscape of MMOG gaming. Why play with boned3wd and plated3wd if you don't have to? kick em out and keep em out! The players regain control of thier player environment.
  • If online games offer some service that gives them value for their money then they will pay for it. If it is just to allow them to do somethng that they would have been able to for free if the restrictions were not there, then they won't pay.

    For example, Ultima Online and Everquest are the only successful games that do this that I know of (I'm sure that there are more). They justify this by adding more game elements and storylines on a continual basis.

    Everyone would stop p(l)aying as soon as they stopped adding features and fixing bugs.

  • I'm just praying that they don't try and and charge for me to play over my LAN. That would make me a very angry man. I can't imagine how cool this will be come 10 years when the only way to play online is to have an account on some server of a company that went out of business. How are you supposed to play online then?
  • what would work (Score:2, Insightful)

    My main hangup is that I don't know if I'm going to enjoy the game at all. However, if they allowed a trial period, I could make my decision before shelling out the money and then return it to the store if I didn't like it.

    Or maybe I should get a job.
    • However, if they allowed a trial period, I could make my decision before shelling out the money and then return it to the store if I didn't like it.

      At least Anarchy Online lets you download the game and try it for seven days before they start charging you (so remember to cancel before the seven days are up if you don't like it). I think Lineage has a "tryout" as well.

      I expect other companies will take this approach later on.

  • I've been playing Planetarion [planetarion.com] for almost a year and Archmage [magewar.com] off and on. Recently both of these web-based games have moved to a p2p model (though Archmage has recently backed down I believe.)

    The move to p2p for Planetarion has not happened without alot of groaning however. In the end, though I think they have managed to convince people of the value of the game compared to a relatively minimal fee. The current round getting ready to start is $10 (as low as $6 or $7 if accounts are bought in bulk) for a 3 or 4 month round. Not to mention that PA has extensive and sophisticated external resources, e.g. battle calculatores, alliance sites, etc. The devoted players knew from the beginning they would pay, it was just a matter of minimizing the damage ;)

    One of the biggest problems has been the ability for kids without credit cards to find a way to pay. Clearly, many parents are less than willing to support their kids' gaming addiction.

    On the otherhand, I play alot of PC-based games, especially Unreal Tournament. P2P for such games would be questionable as much of the online facilities are hosted by the users themselves. However, in the case of the game producer actually providing the facilities, I don't think it's unreasonable to charge a yearly fee for instance.
    • The trouble with planetarion's move from living off advertising revenue to p2p is that they are failing to attract new customers - the user base used to grow each round, but it dropped from 315,000 accounts when free in round 4 to 55,000 last round (5), and while sign-ups for the new round 6 are still underway, it may be down to 15,000. The game is still viable at this level, but if it dwindles they mave be unable to keep their 4 full-time staff members, and serve an absurd number of pages, maintain an irc network, etc.

      They are allowing a limited number of people to play for free this round, but the free accounts can only progress to a certain level, then they can pay to continue past the sort of level you might expect to reach after 2-3 weeks play.

      I believe this is a great way to work p2p, free client software (not really applicable to planetarion because it's entirely browser based, but you get the idea), then P2continue

      Yi-He Quan lives on!
  • There is FAR more to 'paying' for games than what many of these closed-minded "Pay me for service" people want to believe.

    First of all, they only mentioned MMORPG's and board games! There is no mention about the thousands of servers for FPS, or RPG games. Not only this, but what about the fact that many of these games aren't suited to a massive, central server (or server network). In fact, several servers are fully paid for (including bandwidth) by gamers who set up a clan/team site.

    In addition, most of the ISP's in my area (Local ISP's, not the nationwide ones like AT&T or EarthLink) host a large number of game servers-- anybody on the 'net can play games on the server. It's offered as an incentive to use that ISP. (eg. they have a really great server... But you know (because you're a smart gamer and can use tracert/traceroute) that you are picking up an additional 50 ms latency; so for the same price you can use a local ISP with a great game server, and gives you lower ping time.) What's to lose?

    Another item many dreamers don't take into account the fact that most online games (Real-Time strategy, FPS, 'Fighting', etc.) are extremely time-sensitive. Unless they plan on having servers in every city of >100k, and have them interconnected with an internal multi-gigabit digital backbone (the cost of which staggers me...), as well as very high bandwidth connections at each node to the internet, they will never achieve a reasonable latency for gameplay. (Believe it or not, tenths of a second count).

    If you want a model for online gaming, for nearly every case, just look at how FPS games, and RTS-games operate online. It's community-supported, often with major companies subsidizing it. (Like extra bandwidth at night, etc).

    The idea that you can make a profit on all but the most massively-multiplayer games is laughable. Game players aren't completely stupid. They know it's better to gather a bunch of friends, buy a server (and bandwidth), and share the server with the world (hence obtaining more players on the server, making things more interesting), than it is to pay even higher prices to get high latencies, the same game, poorer service, less selection, as well as padding some idiot's wallet.
  • Rest Assured... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EvilJohn (17821) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:26PM (#2907527) Homepage
    ... someone is already paying. When you refresh GameSpy and see all those servers, someone is paying for all the hardware and bandwidth. Sometimes people are generous with their resources, be they time or money, but someone is still footing the bill.

    Speaking as a former EverQuest Player and a First Person Shooter Fan, the game type will tend to dictate what pricing model is used. FPS shooter servers tend to be fleeting, both in terms of GamePlay and server support. Would such a model work for EverQuest or DAoC? No, of course not.

    People who want a persistant gaming experience are gonig to wind up paying for that security and certainity.

    I can also see some interesting things happening in the future with Never Winter Nights. I mean, would you pay ten bucks a month if someone wrote a compelling story would you consider paying for access to a private NWN server? I would, if it was good enough. Creativity will be rewarded, I think.

    John Carney
    Executive Director - QuakeCon 2002
    eviljohn@quakecon.org
    • I can also see some interesting things happening in the future with Never Winter Nights. I mean, would you pay ten bucks a month if someone wrote a compelling story would you consider paying for access to a private NWN server?

      From what I've read about Neverwinter Nights, there will be a clause in the license prohibiting the sale of user-created dungeons, items, etc. That doesn't stop Bioware from licensing out "pay-for-play" persistent servers, though.

      NWN is going to be an interesting beast. If everything works as promised, it's going to have the storytelling and roleplaying capabilities of the Baldur's Gate series, plus the ability to create and customize as much as a 3D FPS as well as running "free" servers. Considering some of the great work that's come out of the BG and FPS communities, NWN could be the "next big thing" if it catches on.

  • now that the notorious hits of EverQuest, Ultima Online, and the still-blossoming Dark Ages of Camelot have come to be, Sony (who really picked up the slack from UO and their publishers) and others will, IMO, be releasing all their RPG's like this. Reason being, one person can't really build/admin/keep free from cheaters a server that holds thousands of people playing a MMORPG. I'ts not economically feasible.

    This logic is exactly why FPS's like Half-Life, Q3, et al. will always be free, they don't have much of a choice. It doesn't take much for me to scrap together a server that will be able to play de_dust in Counterstrike with 15-20 people connecting. Even with the authentication process that HL has (and it is good), I'm sure there are ways around that and the ability to make a "separate network" of little game servers.
  • by Restil (31903) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:30PM (#2907542) Homepage
    Sell a game in the stores, and allow online play for free. If as a company you excersize due diligence and keep creating new great games, the "lifetime play" for older games will be a non-issue as fewer and fewer users will play the older games to play the new ones. You keep a steady revenue stream from new games. This also keeps you from getting caught in the trap of wanting to milk old games for all eternity. Keeps you competitive.

    However, if it gets to the point, where like with quake, I can't host my own server and have people play off of it for free, then we have issues. Blizzard's model (as far as I know) never supported any type of network play (other than local) except through their servers. There were free servers released for some games that permitted it, but the company itself never wanted to lose control of that.

    Of course, I think they brought in SOME revenue from banner ads in the waiting rooms. I'm not sure what other software companies are doing.

    -Restil
    • Blizzard did quite a few things right, especially making compelling games and not releasing them until they were actually fun to play.

      As for their matching service, it is rumored in the games industry that they have during a few quarters made a small profit from their ad banners, but I haven't seen this in writing and I'm rather skeptical.

      Blizzards online model only works 'cause 'their servers' are little more than matching servers, and games are still played peer-to-peer for the most part. The server hosted characters and maps are primarily checksum and signing certificate databases. Even then, you'd be surprised to see how quickly running this gets expensive. Nothing eats bandwidth like games, and colocated servers are expensive, even with the bulk discounts offered to game companies.

      Bottom line, Blizzard's online services are heavily subsidized by box revenue, and the reason few other companies can afford it is simply that most other companies games suck too much to subsidize online services AND executive bonus pools.

      (Yes, I work in the industry, now writing MMORPG...)
  • Client should be cheap though. I can't see paying $50, then paying by the month, then possibly not liking the game.

    This does not worry me nuch though. There will always be alternatives. Online gamers include people willing to invest in the tech to get the gaming experience.

    Games that let people host their own servers will always be popular if only for LAN parties.

    Wonder if there is any kind of push from the big ISPs to limit their customers real need for servers....
  • (inside the boardroom of Game Company X)

    Executive 1: Ok, we've got a good pricing plan worked out, and we think we can make some real cash off this, go tell development to throw a game around it so we can ship it next month..

    Executive 2: What about this Deer Hunter engine we've been sitting on? Logically, since it sold so well, it should do great online.

    Executive 1: Good! Go with it!

    (fin)

    In short, in order for any business plan like this to work, you have to spend some time making an acual good game, which isn't happening for the most part, and then convince people that it's worth paying to play instead of going with free online play. EQ and company have done well, but I'd rather take Diablo 2 and being able to eat this month..

  • Appearently they would love to sell us game services online as they have been providing arcade and slot machines in the offline world.

    People are used to all sorts of free online games, and thats hard to compete with.

    To compete with free you need to have a killer product, remove the free game services, orprovide a near to free game service.

    If it is the ladder we need a way of paying for these game services. credit card payments are simply too expensive if the product you are paying for costs less than a dollar.

    Managed micropayment therefore seems obvious. To play the game services and use other services, you have an online banking account which is free to use for buyers and cheaper to use for merchants than paypal.

    Another problem is the price of the games. Personally I would be compelled to purchase for online gaming services but there will be various game services. Some I only find worth a nickel, other a quarter, others even a dollar a game. The price will depend on the service I am getting.

    And this is the problem with the net. Due to the cost of distributing such services over the net it may sometimes not even be sustainable business to offer the current games, large or small, because server equipment and bandwidth simply cost too much to keep alive in order to be able to offer these game services at a reasonable price. And the outcome of this, if sustainability can not be reached = chapter 11. game.DOT.NET|COM flushes down the toilet pipes..

    but one day this will be it.
  • Well, this might not be the best place to say stuff like this, but here goes:


    I always feel a bit, I don't know, weird, when I play games too much. Like I'm wasting my time. I feel the same way about TV (but at least TV is mainstream enough that everyone is watching too much). Regardless of industry sales, etc., in my age group (OAC... that's grade 13 in Ontario) at least, among MOST people, it is unusual to play for more then 1 hour each day on any console or computer (ICQ is a different story...). If I were to play for more then that (and I usually play for less, all I ever play is Diablo II as I can't stand firstperson shooters, but that's a different story) then I feel kind of like I've wasted a lot of time.

    If I were to pay for such a service, then I would be caught, because I would want to use it more to get my money's worth, and then less, because I'm wasting my time.


    Other people have brought up good points. All these things I have said really just are me. Even if I could overcome all of that, I would definetely need extra advantages over current systems of online play. The limit of my online play involves Starcraft and Brood war (not anymore) diablo I (not anymore, and even when it was new it was so screwed up from cheats that it was unplayable) and now, Diablo II [wow, I'm quite the Blizzard fan]. You'd need cheat monitoring, and definetly not have to pay for it in the store... that's what the monthly fee is for. That went on too long.


    Later
    Sgs-Cruz

  • Many moons ago I was an avid RPG player and DM. C&S, D&D, TFT:ITL ... these TLAs were just as important to me then as IRQ, NMI and BCD. Eventually, though, a time came where the hassle of getting together was greater than the payoff of playing. My getting a life and a career also may have had an impact, of course. ;)

    I see the potential of MMRPGs to be the perfect way for me to be able to spend time doing somthing I really enjoy: role playing. The beauty is that in a properly designed game system I could enter and leave the world as my meat-space life permits; even an hour here or there would be worth while.

    If the game system were well done, my characters wold go about their daily life whithout me; jobs, leisure, etc. Best would be if I could script their actions while I'm gone and get periodic updates via email or, optionally, some sort of IM system.

    Of course, if I were in the middle of an adventure of some sort, I'd best take care that my characters wellfare was provided for; Hiding, backing off to a safer area, or abandoning the current quest until I have more time. I think that would rock all over just saving and restoring when I came back. Hell, that would rock even for a non-multiplayer game; just leave it running in the background all the time.

    Having a game system flexible enough to allow for human DMs to participate as well would be an added bonus, of course. The story telling aspect of gaming was always one of my favorite parts. A system where basic NPC behavior could be programmed and most traps and wandering monster type occurances were automagically handled would really free a person up to do some amazing DMinig. I would want the ability to overide any automatic mechanisms though; nothing messes up a well planned adventure than a poorly placed wandering monster encounter! Being able to step in and "possess" any NPC as necessary would be another necessary part of such a system.

    Unforch, for this sort of gaiming to be really ideal, and for it to be profitable, it would be accessable to the widest possible audiance. Everquest looks interesting, but I run Linux on all but my wife's machine, which is Win98 right now. Shortly we'll be moving her to an iBook or Powerbook Ti running OSX. That leaves me (and thousands like me) out in the cold.

    If it could be done, allowing console gamers into the system would be good as well (though problematic from a user interface POV unless the machine can take a keyboard).

    Anyway, to bring this back on topic, if a game system like the one I've drawn a thumbnail sketch of here were available to me today, I'd break out my credit card in a heartbeat.

    TTBOMK, though, it's not. So I won't.

  • I don't have a problem with pay for play, god knows I played Everquest a lot. What I didn't like was paying $70 for the game, and then having to pay per month, whether I was playing or not. I got busy doing some other stuff, and probably would have kept my subscription if it was based on how long I spent playing rather than a flat fee, since then I wouldn't have to pay for months that I didn't play.
    I'd like to see a game have a pay by the hour scheme, with a monthly maximum, and a low shelf-price. That way those that only play for a short while don't get screwed.
    Even for single player games that you don't play over the network, it would be nice to have such a scheme. Then I wouldn't be so worried about spending all that money on a game that sucked. It would also be an incentive to game companies to make games that don't suck.
  • There are currently some problems with online games, but most people are willing to put up with them due to the fact that they're getting things for free.

    The most obvious problem is cheating. Right now, people as a community can harass and ban cheaters to keep them out of servers, but people still manage to cheat. I'm willing to put up with this in an occasional Quake 3 netgame, but I won't be if I'm paying someone to play on servers.

    Servers brings up a new issue. If I'm paying to play, I expect a healthy amount of low ping and well populated servers. And I shouldn't have to use any third party program to find the best servers. This is the biggest problem with free games that aren't insanely popular. There aren't very many servers, the few that are out there are slow/high ping, and you often have to use a crappy third party program to hunt them down.

    The idea of paying to play any game online besides something like an RPG seems foreign to me, and it will to many other gamers unless the providers can up the standards of online servers greatly.
  • by Mahrin Skel (543633) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:46PM (#2907612)
    Just FYI, the title of this post is an inside joke, I'm not sure how many of you will understand the source. Just rest assured I mean it in fun.

    Anyway, I'm one of the designers who worked on Dark Age of Camelot, a recently released subscription-based OLRPG (which now has revenues exceeding $1.4 million/month and climbing fast). Before that, I had a very minor role on the team that created EverQuest. These games are my obsession, my career, pretty much my Mission in Life (yeah, it's pathetic).

    Anyway, there's a lot more going on here than just evil corporations finding a way to extract more money from consumers. Some of the companies involved do think that way, you can tell which ones by the red ink and failed games they produce.

    If MMOG's offer no more gameplay than you can currently get from a boxed retail title, they will fail. This was the core problem with Motor City Online, it was not really an MMOG, just a "captive audience" matchmaking service for an internet-playable racing game, the actual game could have been released as a standard boxed title with a GameSpy Lite client, and have been accepted quite happily by the car-crazy crowd that liked the "Need For Speed" and "Test Drive" franchises.

    MMOG is only one of the names we apply to these games, there's another that much more accurately reflects what they do: Persistent Simulated Worlds. The monthly fee isn't paying for the game, it's paying the company to safeguard the integrity of the *persistent* world.

    The average MMOG player spends 20 hours a *week* playing his game of choice, at a cost around 12 cents an hour. How many forms of entertainment are that cheap? The game is only a focus, what's really happening is an artifical community (there's nothing virtual about it). People have friends, enemies, even romantic relationships (don't ask).

    In all truth, it's not the game you're paying for, but the community that forms within it.

    --Dave Rickey
    Designer, Mythic Entertainment

    • I am guessing this in reference to EverQuest.

      Isn't it a Brad McQuaid quote? (VP at Verant)

      "Pay me $10 little man, my porsche needs performance upgrades"

      Anyway.... I played Ultima Online. I quit when they couldn't control cheating. I think it might have been after a server wipe.....so long ago.

      I picked up Dark Age of Camelot after some buddies said it was good. Same buddies I played UO with. I haven't touched another MMOG since I beta tested EverQuest.....(it sucked).

      DAoC is good. It isn't a click fest for everything, you can't be PK'ed unless you reach certain level and venture out looking for it. Loot from monsters is yours....no one else can take it. Even if you are fighting with a group, loot is auto-split. You can't die and have someone hork all your stuff. In a nutshell it fixes a lot of problems that UO had and the learning curve is great.

      Also, there haven't been the terrible server problems UO had. Someone figured out how to run a server with thousands of users.

      Anyway, thumbs up to the DAoC team. I play almost every night. I am addicted.

      If that isn't a glowing review....I don't know what is. ;p
    • Well, seeing as I just got out of a marathon five hour session of Dark Age of Camelot in time to see this story, I'm not exactly an unbiased source, but I have to say you people put together a damn fine game. Having betaed AC, UO, and EQ (I love free stuff), and having declined to purchase any of those three, I reluctantly bought DAoC after reading good review after good review.

      ...Let me just say I find it worth paying per month. Congratulations on your success.
  • sql> select e_mail from Customer where first_name = 'Preston' and Games_Played>200
  • Comments.... (Score:1, Informative)

    In the UK BarrysWorld [barrysworld.co.uk] has had a semi-successful p2p system for years - hosting servers for the most popular games and charging for league games, dial up access to lower pings etc. Sadly they went bankrupt last year but were happily bought up by (I think) EB.

    As many have pointed out a p2p FPS just isnt going to work because of latency issues - a ping over 50 is considered bad by many FPS players. MMORPGS over come this problem by having high latency tolerant game systems - however that really limits the type of play. Even now that market is starting to stagnate due to the number of poor clone type games being foist onto the market in order to cash in.

    project entropia [project-entropia.com] has an interesting slant on all of this - players get the game and play for free but to get the most from the game they have to put real money into a virtual economy - check it out, very nice concept.

    Of course the REAL p2p market doesnt exist in the states - people are paying to play games via SMS now ( mobile phone text messages ) and download the games to their phones. Once 3G ( NOT 2.5 ) appears with high powered mobile devices and good quality displays the p2p gaming market is going to EXPLODE!! In fact I've been developing a 3G p2p game for the last 2 years - anyone wnat to through me a few million? ;)
  • UO was the first, and only game I payed to play online. Granted, they kinda broke their teeth on the online rpg genre and probably got overwhelmed by a lot of gameplay issues that simply didn't come up in smaller scenarios. But the first 6 months I played it, it was a constant lagfest. Every feature of the game that made it worthwhile and playable, they kept getting rid of. They had a broken notoriety system and the few means we had to enforce rules against "good" players that played out of character they broke because a few players would whine.

    I finally ended up quitting. I don't know if they ever fixed a lot of the problems or not. I would hope so after 3+ years, but you never can tell.

    My point is, they needed a much longer and more thorough beta period to root out some of the big problems, especially with cheating, and get them fixed before releasing it to the paying public, after which you can't simply wipe the world to correct a problem. Then you have them offering silly amnesty policies to known cheaters who had been taking advantage of loopholes for months.

    Forget the fact that other than names and landscape, the game had NOTHING to do with the series it was based on. That was the biggest travesty of all. I can see them wanting to appeal to a larger market, but I can assure you practically all the die hard Ultima fans had walked out within a year, when they were most likely the first to purchase the game when it was released, not to mention all those creating guilds years before the game was released.

    Tis a shame.

    -Restil

    • My point is, they needed a much longer and more thorough beta period to root out some of the big problems, especially with cheating, and get them fixed before releasing it to the paying public


      Exactly. I was in the beta for the game, and while the newness made it incredibly exciting for a while, I remember it was still basically in an unplayable state when I got the email letting me know the beta was ending. My jaw dropped open and I thought "They're going to release this."

      Glad I didn't pay for it.
  • i have often wished that CS (Cheater-Strike) had a pay-for-play system.

    it would seem to me that the only way sometimes to keep people from hacking a game and ruining the experience for others is to make a barrier to entry, ie a monthly charge.

    sure it might suck a bit to play that way, but i think even a small monthly fee ($4.99) would go along way. besides requiring a CC to charge the monthly service to, the game makers would have set info for their players: how likely is someone to crash a game server when their CC #, IP, and home address are all linked to their user ID?

    oh well, gotta run today and pick up Medal of Honor - my only hopes for a great multi-player shooter that hasn't been hacked.
  • A lot of people have stated the sentiment that they don't want to pay to play online. Or they've said it should all be free, or that they don't like the games. So let's get down to the crux of it:

    What WOULD you pay to play online?
    What would you be willing to pay for it?
    How would you be willing to pay?
  • Well.. here's the thing.

    For a game like Quake and it's cousins.. I'll pay for the game itself. I will not pay a fee to play online, because the company itself does not really provide much in the way of servers.

    For a game like Everquest, Asheron's Call.. I can see paying the $10/month.. but the box price should be lowered. The game has no value if not played online.. so the server fees make sense.. HOWEVER

    I take real issue with how Verant has made it a violation of acceptable use policies to sell items in the game for real cash. That's just plain wrong. We pay them to play.. they shouldn't tell us not to do this; it has nothing directly to do with the game.

    In short... I think games that are played solely online should be nothing more than the cost of playing said game online.. perhaps a media fee (20 bucks or whatever) in the store to buy a kit to get set up, or a free download online (or hell, even a couple bucks to pay for bandwdith/severs)
  • My biggest complaint is the costs involved here... If you're going to charge me $15-$20 a month to play your game, don't make me pay $50 to join the club! That $50 is a leap of faith, especially after seeing a number of multiplayer online games fail (like WWII online).

    In a perfect world the only charge would be the $50, but I for one don't like the idea of paying $50 up front, and then having to pay monthly fee.. These game companies should adopt the aol model and give the software away for free. It'll give them a much broader audience to work with.

  • by Brian Stretch (5304) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @04:14PM (#2907706)
    How about this: give the game itself away, letting players start out with a basic character/resource level for free. If players want, they could buy neat toys (armor, weapons, etc) from game-run "stores" with real money, but for the sake of play balancing the cost should be high relative to acquiring them the hard way, much like the "Build Now" button in Civ/Alpha Centauri/etc. Being able to buy the game's currency with real money is another strategy for games with appropriately elaborate economic models (Everquest)... actually, that's the simplest way of doing things in general, since it minimizes real-world currency transactions (overhead). The game should have an internal eBay-like auction market for items/currency trading, with the game taking an appropriate commission (3-5%). Just like the real world, money would be a substitute for time.

    PayPal could have fun with this.
    • You run into a snag there because you limit the game to players who have access to a credit card or can legally add stuff to bills. You make the games 18 and older. You also limit the game to very specific castes. A college student who gets the game for Christmas can't afford the items a 30 year old geek bachelor can thus has a worse play experience than said geek bachelor. Said college student will also be taking up server resources without ever paying any money for them. A game like that would be very elitist because you'd know the guy running around in gold armor was richer than the guy with the cloth breast plate and wooden sword. You'd also need to provide a REALLY secure environment. There could be no cheating whatsoever and security on the servers would have to be tip top. If items in the game had a real monetary value they could be sold. If you had a hack that could make some super rare item and sell it to somebody you just commited fraud but there's probably little that would be done to you IF you were caught. What happens when your character get PK'ed and the bastard takes your equipment. It's like you handed the guy money right out of your wallet. Same thing if a hard drive crashes and your character is wiped out. You've spent beaucoup money buying items or earning them only to have all that money be stuck in an information blender and set to puree.
  • Rather then charging for each game, Skotos [skotos.net] is offering multiple games for a single monthly fee.

    Current they offer The Eternal City [skotos.net] -- a romanesque RPG game, Castle Marrach [skotos.net] -- a high-fantasy social game popular with women, and Galactice Emperor [skotos.net] -- a weekly political game to become the Galactic Emperor.

    They also have a number of other games announced to come out later in the year, including "Lovecraft Country" and "Paranoia".

    The also have an active articles section [skotos.net] with columns by MMPORPG pundit Jessica Mulligan, MUD pioneer Richard Bartle, and many others. If you are an online game designer there are many great articles here!

    -- Herder of Cats

  • anybody remember that service? the rpg (whatever it was called) was loads of fun.
  • Here's a text-based MUD [medievia.com] in it's 12th (I think) year of development. They pioneered some stuff the corporate RPG's are just getting into, like dynamic map generation and a 100% user-governed economy (they've even halted inflation for 2 years. Ha!). It is 100% user funded. Their revenue model? They sell in-game items that can only be purchased. Some items are just very hard to obtain in the game; others can only be purchased by sending money to the game. These items can be used to attack and kill other players... Some of these items expire, others last forever.

    What else could be funded by virtual item sales? I don't know. But I don't think it's limited to games.

    • Wow that's really interesting: running a virtual economy in the game to get funding. Of course the game company could be a virtual monopoly if they coded the game in that way. I'm really reminded of Snow Crash when I think of where these games could go. I think introducing complex things like an economy into the game could be very interesting.
    • Their code is also a derivative of a program (DikuMUD) that has a license that says they can't make profits from using the code. They even deny that it's Diku code anymore...something along the lines of having changed so much of the code that it's no longer under the original license. :P It's not that hard to make money if you steal someone else's work and use it illegally.
  • what's important is a flat fee for unlimited gameplay. i don't mind paying one fee and playing as long as i like.

    if it ever gets to be pay by the hour or some other rediculous payment method, that's when i'll bitch and moan.
  • When Ultima Online and EverQuest first came out, I too was very leery about paying $10 a month to play a game. In fact, I had sworn never to do so. A few friends of mine finally convinced me to do so, and I now have a high lvl cleric on EQ with intentions to create alt characters. After thinking about it for a while, I can see why $10 a month is reasonable for this kind of game.

    Unlike games like Quake 3 Arena, Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament, and even Starcraft or Diablo II (which despite the use of battle.net, play games peer-to-peer), all of the servers are hosted by Sony themselves, along with all character information. This article [everlore.com] should give an idea of how many servers this requires. (For those who don't want to read the article, it says that it takes close to 1400 computers to run the 41 different game "servers".) Also take into account each server has anywhere from ten to thirty thousand people at any given time, and you're looking at a hell of a lot of needed bandwidth. Add into that paying gamemasters, guides, tech support staff, and maintaining those 1400 machines, and you've got one heck of a cash drain.

    Would I pay per month for a peer-to-peer game like Quake? No. However, for a server-side-run game like EQ, $10 a month doesn't seem like a heck of a lot of money, especially considering the resources needed for such an endeavour.

    Just my $.02...

  • What an article (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @07:34PM (#2907885)
    This article was priceless. I especially liked thinly disguised
    four-paragraph ad for the "Microsoft Zone" built-in, and the other
    "AOL should shut up because IE is better than Mozilla, and they should
    have put the browser into the OS and I am the ultimate Microsoft
    shill" editorial posted while the talkback feature is conveniently
    disabled, but that's another thread.

    Here's a gem:

    "Analysts were more skeptical."

    No kidding. Really? Gee, what *are* analysts if they
    aren't skeptical? Don't these people get paid huge amounts of
    money to say "it'll never work?" Easy to be skeptical of everything
    they see; their paychecks show up every two weeks as long as they go
    to their meetings.

    These are the kinds of people that generate the loudest chorus of
    "more more more" in the public marketplace. They CANNOT be impressed
    by anything except an all-out #1 tidal wave of profits from a
    never-before-seen glitzy all-sizzle "innovative" product. Everything
    else (and I mean EVERYTHING else) makes them "skeptical."

    None of these people have *ever* had to actually run a business or
    build anything before, and they haven't the foggiest idea of the
    incredible amount of effort it takes to build a product and bring it
    to market. Its disgusting to watch these people line up to say
    "so what?" to every new idea.

    This habitual cynicism absolutely sickens me.
  • What Changed? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by The Cat (19816)
    The snap-180 that takes place when the topic is MMORPGs and not Loki ports, online comics
    or pay-per-view DVDs.

    "People will never pay for $PRODUCT"

    "There will never be a market for $PRODUCT"

    Hundreds of comments echoed these and other statements, and the message was clear:
    "there will never be a viable revenue model for this, so give up and quit trying to
    make money"

    Yet, now all of a sudden we get "pay for play is definitely viable" and "I have fourteen
    accounts already!! Where's my credit card? I want another!!"

    What changed? What was the subscription to online comics? $12/year or something?
    This is ten times that amount.

    The dream of every revenue-ambitious company is to connect a clock to the cash register
    so the bell rings every 30 days or whatever, and the ceiling opens with a new deluge
    of cash. Then the products don't have to be of any particular quality, because the
    likelihood of next month's paycheck arriving is proportional only to the unwillingness
    of people to exert the effort to cancel their account.

    So if the average customer stays signed up for 18 months at $9.95 per, every box sold
    becomes a $230 profit bonanza with upside instead of a $50 one-time sale with a
    0.8% margin.

    No wonder the economics of the retail game market are broken.
  • what made the wntire quake series a massive smash was that you could play your buddies ,fello Spazs, whatever online for FREE.. I dont have topay someone, or give up my personal information via WON (who can disappear at any time and make all those games worthless) and play. If you had to pay $9.95 a month to play online with quakeI,II,III it would have been a dud. The draw of Q3 is to have an insane fragfest in a rocket arena that is too small for the 18 players. it's fricking nuts.... but it's also a blast. I gotta pay to play?? well then I dont buy. I pay my entrance to lan parties. I also pay for other gaming items and services. if anyone tried to force me to pay then they lose. entice me to play and I'll check it out. Pay for play will work if you give meawesome ping times and very low latency. try to make me pay for a simple 10 person fragfest? nope. and that is asking to be cracked and havethecrack spread throughtout the internet.
  • To cheating.

    They do the same thing with ultima online and as far as I know you can report a cheater and get their account terminated.

    This might be good for cheating since there will now be a central place to report cheating.
  • by Graymalkin (13732) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @10:16PM (#2908298)
    Why game makers need to charge a fee to play their games: nothing is free. While this seems like an obvious statement it doesn't seem many slashdotters get it. Playing Quake or CS online doesn't cost a whole lot. Severs run by [whoever] are as a relay server giving a central hub which lets people with the game get together and play the game. Tons of of bandwidth and equipment isn't required on the vendor's end because they don't actually host the games. Said bandwidth and equipment is the onus of the clients playing their P2P game. MMORPGs however are the hosts of the game and the users are merely clients. Thus the onus of equipment and bandwidth falls entirely on them. They need X equipment to support Y users which costs Z money. No matter how efficiently you get the network design down you've always got Z cost. This cost only goes up as the number of users increases.

    Why I won't pay to play a game online: it isn't because I feel a game publisher owes me something, I just don't feel that I ought to spending both time and money on a game. Subscription services I get a decent amount of use from I will obviously pay for but a video game which only eats up my time I'm not going to throw money at. Some people of course will throw money at them yet not at something like cable TV. Whatever floats your boat. However with the whole persistant environment thing you end up investing a fair chunk of change into the service. If the game employs an economy where virtual items have a real monetary value what sort of security guarantee do I have that my investment is going to be secure? The game would have to be effectively unhackable so some joker couldn't hack himself The Armor of Mostest Rareness and sell it on eBay for ten grand. I also don't want to invest hundreds of dollars into building up a character only to be PK'ed by some jackass who got a lucky shot. Hell I don't want to invest hundreds of dollars (hundreds of dollars is easy if you've been playing for a couple years paying upwards of 10$ a month) into a character that gets bitten by a rabid squirrel and dies.
  • Game makers are getting enough money as is. If their game is really good enough, then people will buy it. A new game will cost $50. I don't think people will be willing to pay much more than that for a single game. I can rerely afford the $50. Only one good thing can come out of this and that is it will help me loose my addiction to computer games.

  • Pay-per-play is actually a better idea than Microsoft's monthly subscription. As it is, gamers generally do, and always will pay for games on a regular basis. You can only play a game for so long and you get sick of it, then you buy another.

    My roomate has about eight games for his PS2 that he's bought and kept over the last year and a half. That's like $25/month. For people like that, a $30/month fee that would allow you to play any game you want, whenever you want would be great. Want to play a couple of rounds of GT3? Download and play. Want to try out the new NFL2003? Go ahead. The stores save money on packaging, gamers get more game for less $$ and more control of the content.

    This will never happen, though, because it prevents shitty companies from marketing the hell out of shitty games and convincing people to fork over their $$ for a lousy game. Most are too lazy to return it and the game company makes an easy buck.

    -Erik

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