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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

South Korea's Free Computer Game Business Model Hits the US 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the nickel-and-dime dept.
Anti-Globalism writes with this excerpt from AFP via Yahoo! News: "Seoul-based 'free-to-play' computer game titan Nexon on Wednesday blasted into the US videogame arena with a 'Combat Arms' online first-person shooter title that makes its cash from optional 'micro-transactions' by players. The game makes its money from players that buy animated helmets, outfits, emblems or other virtual items to customize in-game characters. To keep the battlefield even, players earn experience or advanced weaponry by skill so people essentially can't pay for power. ... Startups and established game makers including Japanese goliath Sony are venturing into the free computer game market, according to DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole. 'It looks like it could be very big,' Cole told AFP. 'It's one of the things everybody seems to be looking at. The challenge is it is a very new model and it remains to be seen whether customers used to a free model will be tight when it comes to actually spending money on it.'"
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South Korea's Free Computer Game Business Model Hits the US

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  • Nice article... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by icegreentea (974342)
    Fails to mention EA's Battlefield Heroes no? I haven't played yet, but I've heard it has potential. Just a fun game to mess around with for half an hour or something.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dolphino (166844)

      Probably because they have only "talked" about implementing micropayments in BF Heroes, just as the idea of micropayments is in the "what if" stages with titles like Spore.

    • I like Combat Arms alot... much more than my
      wife thinks I should, at least to the point
      that when I'm on my computer, "You're playing
      that damn game again". Usually... I am.

      But... the 'hacker' problem is TERRIBLE.

      [Please no diatribes or otherwise about how
      using a cheat is not hacking, I'm just using
      the word that gets shouted in-game all the time]

      The thing is, Nexon could care less about the
      hackers. And that's fine... as long as you do
      something about equalizing the playfield.

      I mean, it's so bad that I've seen

      • At least no pirates. I'm surprised it's taken them this long to figure out that with a free game, nobody is going to pirate it. Even if they do, they still have to spend money in game, or view the ads. It's a really good business model assuming you can draw enough ad revenue/microtransactions. But I really hope they keep the games balanced. Stuff like Gunbound was fun, but then the "good stuff" was microtransaction, or points+microtransaction.
  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole (174372) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:10PM (#25241903) Homepage

    So essentially, people will be paying for pieces of flair on their characters?

    How many pieces of flair should you wear to express yourself?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Stan wears 37.
      • by sharkey (16670)
        Really, you counted them? I wasn't sure that he wore as many as Brian, but now we know!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maglor_83 (856254)

      Especially in an FPS. Wouldn't an animated helmet scream 'Shoot here!'

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        actually to animate it and have it scream, it's extra.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DarthJohn (1160097)

        Maybe they make you pay for the nondescript helmet?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by i_b_don (1049110)

      Right, 20 pieces of flair is pretty stupid IMHO... i think it's a lot more interesting if you're paying for items that actually make a difference. The summary was very specific to point out that this isn't what you're doing, but why not? All you have to do is make the items that you can buy also items you can skill up to.

      Think about it this way... there are kids out there who have all the time in the world, either on summer break, or they just have free time, etc. And there are adults who want to play b

      • Which is what those games do. I played eXteel [exteel.com] for some time.

        See, you've got a set of "entry level" items, which you get via experience. Then you've got a set of "medium-level" items you buy with cash. And then you've got the "top of the line" items you get with experience too.

        This way, lazy/casual gamers can skip the crappy starting items by spending $10, but they still don't become über powerful cos experienced players still win with a combination of playing experience and high level items
      • Re:Hrmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JohnSearle (923936) on Friday October 03, 2008 @03:38AM (#25243327)
        So you're arguing that we should bring the class distinction into the gaming world as well? The rich get the most powerful items / weapons because they can be afforded, and the poor are left with either purchasing beyond their means, or being hindered? and, yes I do understand this is probably minimal amounts of money, but the more resources controlled in this manner, the more the cumulative costs will be.

        This would also means that the gaming companies will most likely incrementally increase the power of items to keep people purchasing new thing (and to perhaps keep people interested in this type of system). Most MMORPG's do this with their incremental additions of more powerful equipment, levels and stats with game expansions. The only difference is that they encourage equal opportunity, in that they ban external trading.

        I don't know about you... but I prefer to play in a system that encourages equal opportunity.

        - John
        • I don't know about you guys but I just don't even want to have to think about money when I'm playing a game. I'm playing a game to relax.

          Leveling up is fun... until you realize oh, wait, next level I get the awesome bazooka but I have to pay $10 for it. Lame. This wouldn't interest me for the same reason subscriptions wouldn't interest me - I just want to buy a game once and play it whenever I want.
        • How do they "encourage equal opportunity"? By making it available to everyone who is willing to put X number of hours into the game? Not everyone has the sameamount of free time. How more "equal opportunity" then making it available for X number of hours, or X dollar amount? Some people have more money, and others have more time. Some have both, and other neither. Making something available for cash, and removing the time sink does nto make it any less equal. If anything, it makes it far more equal
          • Well, I don't think bringing real world cash into the game helps at all. IMO, to those who can't afford the time, there should be servers that limit the amount of time that players can play the game per day (or week, etc). Similar to the way BBS door games only gave you so many turns a day... evens the playing field.

            By this, you could have games that are based on neither cash, nor time. And, hell, if you want to have a server that has purchasing, or whatever, do it. Slight variations in rules would help
    • Well, the minimum is 15, but it's up to you how much you want to express yourself.
    • by McFly69 (603543)
      STAN
      I need to talk about your flair.

      JOANNA
      Really? I have 15 buttons on. I, uh, (shows him

      STAN
      Well, ok, 15 is minimum, ok?

      JOANNA
      Ok.

      STAN
      Now, it's up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare minimum. Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair. And a terrific smile.
  • by compumike (454538) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:13PM (#25241919) Homepage

    We've heard about micropayments for years, mostly for web content. But clearly this kind of market for virtual goods emerged in WoW -- without the explicit support of the company. It looks like the vendors are catching up! Still, there are lots of games that aren't based on continuous user profiles, and where the imbalance created might be significant and disruptive.

    The other concern I have is about how to manage this between kids and parents. It's one thing to have a fixed up-front payment to buy a game, but to have kids (teens) linking credit cards (or even pre-paying) to a game seems like it might not go over well with the parents...

    --
    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

    • by bushing (20804)

      Hell, this kind of market for virtual goods exists explicitly for Second Life. They even have a list of suggested businesses [secondlife.com] and a real-time currency exchange [secondlife.com].

    • by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:23PM (#25241983)

      So far as teenagers linking credit cards to the games.

      We've had pre-paid charge cards for online transactions for a while, with the explicit purpose of allowing minors access online "credit" transactions without involving the related credit approvals required with "real" credit lines.

      This sounds like an excellent place to apply it.

      You get X dollars a month to spend on this game, when you run out you run out.

    • by Samah (729132)

      But clearly this kind of market for virtual goods emerged in WoW -- without the explicit support of the company.

      The big difference here is that with WoW, the virtual goods must first be farmed by a player or a bot. While this might not sound so bad, having a bot farm herbs 24 hours a day denies them from other players and can affect realm economy since the gold farmers will generally flood the auction house with stupid prices. While you could theoretically get a person to play for that long, or even in shifts, it's very uncommon.

      The main legal issue here is that you're trying to sell a virtual property that is not

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lysergic.acid (845423)

      i think MapleStory and Second Life both came out before WoW, so WoW certainly wasn't the first game to create a market for virtual goods.

      and no one is saying that all games will become free and supported by micropayments, just that this model is gaining a lot of attention as there have been several successful releases.

      if you RTFA, the author talks about keeping the playing field even by not allowing players to pay for power. in Maple Story the micropayments were used for buying cosmetic items to customize

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by compro01 (777531)

        in Maple Story the micropayments were used for buying cosmetic items to customize your character's appearance. so you could purchase sun glasses, designer shoes, hats, etc. but they have no effect on gameplay.

        Which is complete nonsense now, as they do have numerous items that "affect gameplay" to a significant degree, such as experience rate boosters, drop rate boosters, an item for penalty-free resurrection (death usually results in the loss of 3-10% of that levels EXP, which can be huge (double-digit hours of training) at higher levels), pets that allow automatic looting and automatic healing (if your HP or mana drops below a set point, it will automatically use a potion if you have the item to do so), among o

        • that is pretty lame. i stopped play MapleStory a long time ago (when they came out of beta and everyone lost their stats/items or whatever). i guess they sacrificed gameplay/fairness for profitability. i hope that this will hurt them in the long wrong as players realize it's complete BS to be able to buy power, as TFA warned against.

          otherwise it just becomes another ZT Online [danwei.org], which is an thinly veiled attempt to disguise a virtual auction as an online video game.

          • by compro01 (777531)

            Yeah, I stopped about a year ago. Played their Mabinogi game for awhile, though I'm into WoW now. I still work as staff at one of the major maplestory forums (sleepywood.net), though i pretty much don't do anything in the maplestory sections.

      • One might note that Nexon, the company in question, also published MapleStory.

    • by Slotty (562298)
      This pay for customisation has been around in online games for a very long time with vendor support before WoW even existed. Imbalance is part of life in all things if someone spends 18 hours a day 7 days a week developing any skill set it's most probable they will have superior abilities to a person who dedicates 1 hour a month to that same skill set. If a child has an allowance and wants to spend it on pre-pay game cards what's the issue?
    • The other concern I have is about how to manage this between kids and parents. It's one thing to have a fixed up-front payment to buy a game but to have kids (teens) linking credit cards (or even pre-paying) to a game seems like it might not go over well with the parents...

      You know you can buy the Nexon-cash-card here [target.com]with cash. or at other retail locations. i even saw one at speedway. I don't think it is that hard for a kid to buy that $10 cash card. kids buy dozens of brand new games priced at $60 or above.

    • well this certainly didn't arise in WoW. I know I downloaded project Entropia well before WoW came out, which used exactly this free-to-play real currency model. It didn't seem to catch on (as very few people recognize the name Project Entropia), and I didn't pay for anything in the game, but it claimed to be making a lot of money.

  • by creature124 (1148937) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:14PM (#25241931)

    I have played several Korean MMO's (with engrish interfaces, of course) based off the business model (Maple Story, Flyff and the like), and from my experience, most people can't/won't spend money on them, but those that do tend to spend big, customizing every piece of equipment they possible can. The fact that these games are still running several years on is proof of profitability.

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out. It might be quite nice to play a free game with decent english ingame.

    • Problem with them was they were a mindless grind. I think this would mesh with an FPS much better. Instant action, always action, and the pro people can differentiate themselves with crazy looking gear.

    • One of the issues with a free to play MMO is it attracts a lot of juvenile minds. They can easily create multiple accounts using multiple free e-mail services, and will do their best to troll everywhere.

      At least on Slashdot, moderation can bury the trolls, but on a free MMO? Most will probably enjoy conversation in a relatively more civilized pay to play MMO than a free one--at least, this seem to be a trend here in Japan where I live.

      • by KGIII (973947) *

        I am not sure if this is entirely off topic or if it is potentially funny but, well, concerning your nickname...

        What do you call a buck with no nuts and blind in one eye?

        (Give you a hint... It is pretty close to your username.)

    • by nog_lorp (896553) *

      From what I've seen, a significant portion of MapleStory players buy those stupid accessories. Many have dozens of outfits, marriage licenses, etc.

    • by ishark (245915)
      Another Korean MMO player here (I play rappelz).
      The business model is interesting: basically there is nothing ingame which forces you to buy anything, but buy-only items help in leveling or make you more powerful for a short time, or provide decoration to personalize your character. From what I've seen it works well. There's a large part of population which is ready to spend a lot of money (I've heard people hitting the cap, which is something like $500/month) either for powerleveling or just to have the
      • by KGIII (973947) *

        I posted earlier in the thread but I think you might want to check out Kingdom Of Loathing. The methods used there could easily be applied to a real game. Not that KoL isn't a real game but, c'mon... They've got stick figures. (Yes, yes I play and have for a LONG time now.)

        Side note: I actually found KoL through a signature here on /. long before I actually posted here at /. but rather just read the articles. (I never had time or interest in posting back then.)

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      It's true even for 'pirate' servers. The 'pirate' WoW servers are generally free to play, but ask for 'donations' in exchange for in-game items. Most people don't pay, but those who do tend to pay big... I'm talking like $300-400 worth of armor.

      Personally, I paid about $30 just to give an edge.

      My problem with commercial free-to-play is that you really can't do jack without major grind-time unless you pay, and even then, most pay items are temporary or cosmetic. Some things are both!

      As for 'bringing it t

    • Silkroad Online (by Joymax) seems to work pretty well in this regard. It's free to download, and free to play. They have an item mall so you can buy items for your character if you so chooose. I see a TON of people in game buying things all the time. I personally choose not to purchase anything since I usually don't have any extra cash. Any extra I do have goes to my wife and daughters. Unfortunately though, Silkroad Online's Item Mall does provide items to make your character, or your character's wea
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      MAny MMO's could be profitable. However, it seesm that instead of making great games for a nitch market, companies are more interested in making the next "WoW".
  • War of Conquest (Score:3, Informative)

    by owlman17 (871857) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:32PM (#25242021)

    War of Conquest [warofconquest.com] has a similar model. Its free, but you can buy upgrades, items, tech, etc. They even give out points that you convert to either cash or buy more items, tech, etc.

  • Not nearly the first (Score:5, Informative)

    by neostorm (462848) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:32PM (#25242023)

    Nice. This article forgets that there are tons of free-to-play MMO's already available in the US.
    Knight Online
    Fly For Fun
    Granado Espada

    And lets not forget our own domestic free-to-plays, such as Guild Wars, Minions of Mirth, Graal Online and the like.

    Here's a great resource for all of these- http://www.gameogre.com/ [gameogre.com]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Lueseiseki (1189513)
      You're missing the point of the article. The article was detailing how American developers are getting in to the 'free-to-play' system that is traditionally used by most Korean developers. The first three games you mentioned are all made by foreign devs. Guild Wars costs money to play, MoM has two clients (one paid and one free, balance issues much?), and Graal Online is not cool enough to have a wiki article. In the 'free-to-play' games being speculated about, the entire client and entire experience is F
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Except that this is from Nexon, a Seol-based company. The same company that made Maple Story according to their website. I don't think the fact that they happen to have a US office matters much.

        Also, I don't see how a game which is freely downloadable from their website can "hit the US" more than any other freely downloadable game with an English client.

        As for the business model it's an interesting one, but one that can easily get out of hand. Rakion was a lot of fun but the stuff they put in which required

      • by neostorm (462848)

        This is from Nexon. They're a Korean company. I understand your point though, I just thought the article was more of an ad than anything else.

        Unless you were referring to the initial price of the game client, Guild Wars does not cost money to play. It was the first US retail "MMO" release that had no subscription fee.

        What would be worth reporting on these Korean MMO's (and their business model), would be which ones don't install spyware as a means of hidden income (consumer research, marketing etc). Man

    • Not to mention the immensely popular Gunbound and Rakion. Why is this news?
    • It's definitely not a new business model to hit the U.S.
      WarRock is a great free-to-play FPS thats been around since 2006 and uses the same business model.

      Has no one else every played WarRock??? I'm sure I've dished out some headshots to some slashdotters at some time or another. :)
    • by david.given (6740)

      Don't forget Project Entropia [wikipedia.org] (now Entropia Universe), one of the oldest, which explicitly allows conversion of currency from game money to real money, and encourages people to set up money-making activities there. They seem to be doing well; they're apparently profitable and the Wikipedia page claims a turnover of about 360M USD...

  • Question: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WDot (1286728) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:38PM (#25242055)
    Why would I care what my character looks like in a first person shooter? Looking at the combat arms website, it suggests that the stuff that you buy is cosmetic, which makes sense in an MMO or even a third-person stylized action game like GunZ, but in a military style shooter? You won't be able to see your character in game, so the extra stuff is only a display of wealth. Plus (and this may be simple personal preference), customized military gear doesn't seem as exciting as shining armor or flashy action anti-hero clothes.

    That said I hope it works out for them, but I'll take my $50 games with everything included.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lysergic.acid (845423)

      you don't have to customize your character. that's the whole point. you can play it completely for free if you want to, and many people do. most people who play MapleStory do not spend any money on it, but it's still profitable enough to be a huge success.

      and the whole point of customizing how your character looks is for it to be seen by others, not you. do you buy expensive clothes just to look at yourself in the mirror all day? it's just like how people wear fancy clothes in real life to impress others. y

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WDot (1286728)
        (I did RTFA). That's what I said--it makes sense in an MMO, especially since a. You can see yourself and b. MMO's are more social in general. It's great to show off your gear in a city or to whichever shmuck happens to walk by. But this is an FPS, which as far as I can see from the site doesn't have MMO trappings like cities or general social areas. It seems to be very much a deathmatch FPS, which means that you're less likely to be standing around enjoying the eye candy and more likely to be running,
        • I could see people wanting to have a unique character in a FPS. People always want ot be noticed. A lot of hardcore gamers do it for the recognition.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      while noobs generally opt for the camouflage, old pros like yours truly will rock the tie dye.
  • Kingdom of Loathing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThreeGigs (239452) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:53PM (#25242141)

    http://www.kingdomofloathing.com/ [kingdomofloathing.com]

    Different type of game entirely, but same basic business model. And they've been doing things that way for 4 years now. Free to play, but $10 gets you a nifty trinket.

    Yes, the business model works in principle and in practice. And it's about time that more genres of games that use that model become available.

  • The Bottom Line is that the game has to be enjoyable enough to keep players interested for them to continue spending on items.

    This appears to be the same model that the Korean game PANGYA [pangya.com] uses. You play the game for free, but you can buy (or earn) items that improve your play or just make you look unique. It just so happens that it is much easier to pay money for the items than it is to earn them.

    PANGYA was released to US Americans a while ago as Albatross18 [ogplanet.com]

  • They had an open beta a while back for Kart-Rider, which was basically a Mario Kart clone. It was excellent, dare I say even better than Nintendo.

    Just some background on the company.. as for buying anything for my 'character' I don't see myself doing it.

  • See Maplestory [nexon.net], Gunbound [ijji.com], and Gunz [ijji.com].
  • I've been playing Combat Arms off and on, and have to say for free it's definitely not a bad game. Granted, it takes a while to push through the ranks, and the weapons "buying" is really renting, but that's not the only challenge. It seems the recoil and accuracy are more realistic, prompting a dire need for 3-shot bursts, unlike Counterstrike. Runs smoothly, even on old(er) hardware, and is constantly updating.

    Granted, my review may be useless in slashdot comments, but the game itself is (very) enjoyable,

  • This is old news .. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Saffaya (702234) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:30PM (#25242329)

    Every MMO to appear in Korea for several years now have been based on the Free-To-Play model.
    Even those who were launched on a subscription one migrated to it, forcing their western licencees to do the same.

    Example :
    _RF Online (CodeMasters dragged their feet but had to accept the free to play model)
    _Granado Espada aka Sword of the New World (K2 Networks wanted a hybrid system, but had to change to a pure free to play one)

    Even legacy power house Lineage 2 from NCsoft is heading towards a cash shop item addition to its subscription based model.

    More recent ones like Perfect World are free to play from the start.
    To sum up :
    Free-to-Play IS the de facto business model in asia, and has been for years. The western licencees also are bound to use free to play.

  • As others have said, the game industry has been doing this for awhile. I actually quit playing combat arms a few months ago, its a decent FPS and the money you make in the game (from winning or losing based off of a Kill/Death ratio * win||lose )

    Maple story has been around for awhile, its fun and free. the way they make money is selling flair items, and they have made ALOT of money. *to lazy to search and paste urls*.

    Other games coming out are BattleField Heros (think battlefield and team fortress 2s art st

  • The problem with this I see outside of South Korea is the infrastructure, the reason why this works in Korea (from what I understand) started way back with the ubiquity of mobile phones they developed the technology to make payments through their mobile bill, and as an evolution of that they can make micro payements through their phonebills.

    That infrastructure does not really exist in the west so it will make it hard for people to adopt this system, how many kids do you know that have access to a credit/d

  • Some American-based MUDs have had a similar payment model for at least 10 and probably more like 15 years.

  • I don't see western audiences paying for that particular game. It's so rife with cheating there's no point to upgrading your character.
  • The people with money will pay for the extras and the people without money will play because its free (not really free just being paid for by people willing to do so). All the free players stay because its free fun and the pay players stay because there is always something interesting going on when the server is full. Cash shops are usually addictive as hell too. I've had to set some pretty strict rules on myself about using them or else I'll go nuts and spend spend spend.

    The International (U.S) Ragnarok

    • I agree to a lot of your statements, but... I want to remind you of Lil poison whom is a amazing video game player and a nice person in general, who also is about 10 now I belive. Its not the age group that matters, but the mental and maturity of said group. I've been gaming since I was two, online since I was 8, one thing that I have trouble with the pay to play, is that you still find the kids and people who say they are better just because. I'll still ptp, and I'll still ftp as well, the biggest thing is

      • by jbsooter (1222994)

        My preference for a generally older group of people to play with has very little to do with the maturity or skill level of the younger players. Its like if you're playing basketball or hanging out at a bar with a bunch of adult friends, you don't have to be overly careful about what you say and can just relax and play, or get drunk, or whatever. Then someone brings their 10 year old out and it would be irresponsible as an adult not to censor yourself a bit regardless of the maturity level of the young per

    • by KGIII (973947) *

      Thank you for your honesty and expressing your age.

      I am posting this NON-AC meaning this is my real account etc...

      I am not normally a grammar Nazi or anything but seeing as you stated your age I want to share something with you.

      You *probably* meant "ensure" meaning that it prevents. To "insure" means to protect after the loss.

      "I wear shoes to ensure that my feet aren't cut up by hazards on the sidewalk."

      "I insure myself to be able to cover any problems should my shoes fail and injury occurs."

      I could be wron

      • We should have a captcha for drunkeness--solve in order to proceed, and is hard to figure out when drunk. I know it would have kept me from posting several embarrassments.
  • Combat arms has been out and available ("Blasted into the US video game arena") quite a while before Wednesday folks.

    • by moro_666 (414422)

      too bad this is windows only :(

      looking at the trailer definitely got me hooked, would play it if it would be available for mac or linux.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KGIII (973947) *

        Dual boot?

        If the OS running under what you're wanting to do is so antithetical to you then you *might* want to take a look at your values. If you don't have a copy of a legit Windows OS running around than my apologies and you are correct in saying so but, really, unless it is financial reasons it isn't that hard to boot to another OS to run what you want.

        The day I let an OS decide, or even a goal, what I use for software is the day I fail. What matters to me is getting what I want or need out of the system

  • by Cowclops (630818) on Friday October 03, 2008 @12:42AM (#25242647)

    Only old people in Korea get cheap car insurance for playing free video games.

  • by Foo2rama (755806) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:15AM (#25242753) Homepage Journal
    www.k2network.met Has been bringing in Free to play microtransaction games into the US for awhile like 3 years Warrock an FPS and Sword of the New WOrld... Hell even Nexon brought had one like 6 years ago in the US with Shattered Galaxies. As for Virtual markets... EQII runs it own, and even UO had a strong real money economy going.
  • Take a look at Habbo Hotel. Even though not a MMO, they have expanded globally to localize different online worlds within many other countries using their free-to-use approach. Although currently they have started to incorporate advertising into their worlds, a large part of their revenue originally spawned from the purchase of furniture to decorate your hotel room.
    • by tehfly (1129653)
      Finally someone who remembers this. Habbo was probably one of the first to make it big through this. They started out back in august 2000, years before these MMOs mentioned in the comments were released. And they made huge amounts of cash through selling virtual furniture for single digit euro prices! Hell, they even started out before there was the euro as a currency!
  • by syousef (465911) on Friday October 03, 2008 @01:58AM (#25242905) Journal

    On these things you pay money to customize your player - clothe them etc.

    On second life you pay money so you can take off your clothes and not be the only one lacking a virtual penis.

    Second life has you by the balls my friend!

  • Yeah, I know we're beating this one to death with examples of free-to-play business models. Hasn't Runescape ("approximately fifteen million active free accounts, over 136 million accounts created") been doing the same thing for years?
  • Sounds like a business model of your typical MUD game. The concept has definitely been proven and one does not need Combat Arms as an example. The premise is that a gamer will invest more than the average $15 per month for playing an online game by purchasing additional, immediate content. In contrast of having to wait for an expansion, then investing additional time to advance the character through the new content. Instead, a gamer has to wait for a paycheck. Another neat thing about this type of a model i
  • I've been drooling over some of Nexons games, however they have a bad practice of smacking GameGuard on anything they put out. That's basically telling linux-users to go fuck themselves.
    • They're Korean programmers. That's basically a sign right there that anything they put out won't work on Linux.
  • Combat Arms plays and feels like a fps in late beta.

    Most of the game mechanics are down, the guns and game physics are okay, and the net code is decent. There is a lot of potential in the customization of characters and weapons but even at this stage the kind of upgrades are neither give you significant advantage nor have a "wow" factor apart from "I have a red dot on my ak now." This is important because other games with similar business models, such as Pangya Golf, give the user the option to buy items

  • Please don't tell me that these pieces of equipment have ads on them or linked to them. That could be both the most evil and brilliant idea ever.

  • Free-to-play aka F2P (Score:2, Interesting)

    by akmurray (1377639)
    I'm the lead developer on a browser-based MMORPG ( http://www.domainofheroes.com/ [domainofheroes.com] ) that uses the same "free-to-play, micro-transaction upgrades" model. We're still in open beta right now, so everything that we would charge for is free, but the upgrades we sell are convenience and customization options like increasing your inventory or customizing your chat appearance. I hate item sales personally, so we don't have that option, good or bad.

    The game mentioned in the summary is not the first game in the U.S

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