My Thoughts On Monetizing Games
I’ve had several discussions about monetization lately. The Dreadnought DLC fiasco, DOOM and Total War: Warhammer releasing their first paid DLC, and most recently Evolve converting to F2P. Money fuels the game world. Even the best games die without it. Gone are the days where you just bought a game, and that was all. It was such a simple time. Now the lines are blurred. Are we getting as much game as we used to? How would you even know? One good thing that has come from all this is options. We have more ways than ever to buy games.
This is closest to the old-school method. You buy a game, and you get EVERYTHING. That is, until the expansion. Then you buy the expansion and get EVERYTHING. Until the next expansion. What you get is very clear cut with this method. Guild Wars 2 is the best example of this. There has only been one expansion to date. Meanwhile you’ve gotten to participate in everything the game has to offer without dropping a dime for more content.
This is close to the expansions method, but not quite. You buy a game, and then unlock all of the DLC for a ‘season’. I think this method is pretty awful. More awful if they release actual game content in it. It always leaves me thinking that I paid full price for a game, and now I need to pay more to enjoy the full experience. The season pass is generally the same price as the game itself, so you’re essentially buying the game twice. Arguably you could just say it’s the same as buying expansions, but in my experience these games die pretty quickly once the season pass is done. I don’t see getting your money’s worth. None of the DLCs offer the full amount content you’d expect from an expansion.
The subscription model basically allows you to access the game for as long as you pay the ($15) monthly fee. The World of Warcraft model, if you will. Sometimes there are expansions that go along with this, but they are usually years apart. I think the monthly subscription fee is a terrible idea though. If there was never another dungeon added to WoW, I wouldn’t even notice. I realize that someone people would, but hey, let them pay for it. I’ll pay for new battlegrounds, or access to queue for battlegrounds if it’s reasonably priced per-month. Generally I enjoy PvP in games, and generally PvP is what gets the least attention in games. For this reason, subscriptions offer a particularly low value to me.
Free to Play
Ahh yes, the ‘free’ model. The idea is that you can download and play the game for free. Nothing’s free though. Still, I guess I like this model best. I don’t want to pay for content I’ll never use. The DOOM season pass, for example, is all about multiplayer. I don’t like the multiplayer whatsoever, so why would I want pay for it? That’s also the reason I don’t subscribe to SWTOR now. Why pay a subscription for a game that has essentially gone full PvE? The problem with this model is finding what can be monetized successfully. Character skins in MOBA games are a popular choice. You pay for customization, not gameplay. I’ve sunk over $100 into League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. WildStar has a new F2P model that I’ve examined briefly, and it looks better than SWTOR (which I consider to be good as well).
Straight Awful Options Too
Of course there are hybrids of the above, as well as options taken to the extreme. Expansion type games where you still have to buy things from an in-game store. Free to Play games that you have to pay real money to unlock core gameplay (Pay to win). At the end of the day though, I am all for developers getting paid. I don’t pirate games, or use questionable sites to purchase them. I want to make sure that the games I like get funding to get better. The best part is that when I don’t like them (or their monetization) anymore, I can stop funding them. That’s why I stopped playing World of Warcraft. I didn’t like the direction they were taking the game (Cataclysm story/Pandaland), and couldn’t justify $15/month on just one game anymore. There is just SO much out there, it’s madness to pay that price for one game. In my opinion, anyway. While I still love World of Warcraft, I am glad I gave other games a try. Though if WoW ever went free to play…
So what’s your opinion? What method of monetization do you like best in games? If you’re in a particularly sharing mood, how much do you spend on games monthly/annually?