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Subscription model: Addressing the elephant in the room

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Let me start with the fact that i'm fully aware of this https://board.dualthegame.com/index.php?/topic/394-devblog-monetization-player-happiness-and-economic-viability/ and this thread is NOT about f2p vs b2p vs p2p nor it is about dev needs vs player demands.

 

I've been keeping an eye on the game and personally i've got doubts about the purposed model so seeing that my biggest question about it has been left unasked and unanswered as far as i could see i decided to sign in and ask it myself.

 

While the above mentioned blog is nice and fine,  it addresses the reasons why they choose a sub model and it is only an answer to the "which is better?" question, which may or may not persuade people but that's completely beside the point i'm trying to make here, my question in my opinion on the other hand is "Will it work out?"

 

Becouse subscription games have sistematically failed on release for a decade now with only a few older AAA games backed by massive studios surviving thanks to an encroached playerbase and even they are bleeding out, now this is completely aside from the issues addressed in the blog, and on the opposite of those issues is hard, cold statistic, after all there's little point in being "better" if you fail after 6 months and shut down or go f2p with a rushed new monetization models

 

the reasons behind big titles failing to be succesfull with a subscription model can in my opinion be divided in three big problems

 

-The self fulfilling prophecy: subscription fails becouse subscriptions have failed

This is a percieved issue with the monetization model perhaps fostered by a few initial failures caused by other reasons, and while it's an "imaginary" issue that won't mean that it won't impact sales

 

-Subscription games fail if people don't buy subscriptions: while on one hand this sounds like an obivious truth it also means that someone who has followed some of the games that have tried subscriptions closely will probably put the game in the backlog until it crashes, couple it by the fact that not all features will be aviable at launch even to subscribers and you've got a recipe for disaster where players waiting for the game to fully flesh out will make it fail

 

-Playerbase culling: one of the biggest problems of sub games is that players that leave have a very high chance of never coming back even when if the game improves and the reason they left is no longer present, giving how reliant on moderately high player count this game looks like it think that it's already going to walk on a very thin line there and subs will most likely push it down

 

 

Another thing that left me kind of perplexed is the trial period, while it's good and nice for the customers it nullifies the "first day sale/hype train" effect, meaning that if something goes even remotely wrong on day 1 you're left with a disgruntled playerbase leaving for good and not a dime to show for it, given that almost always something goes wrong on release day i'm not exactly sure of how much of a good idea

 

TL;DR wildstar launched with a near identical monetization model, plenty of funds to back it up and the game is one of the best out there as far as that genre is concerned and look where THAT has gone and many others have ended up in the same way, what makes you think that you can prevent this from happening here?   

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It would probably have been better to think of a different title and I know there are a few of us who share the concerns (still going to play this game no matter the model they go for) But I suggested a possible hybrid model though it did get buried and people will always sit on one side of the other for some reason or another so you should probably send an Email to the devs asking about it instead of waiting for this thread to turn into another heated debate about the payment model

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Speaking for myself only i have already payed for and played other games that are just too similar to Wildstar.  There is nothing new or interesting there for me to want to buy.

 

On the other hand Dual Universe i would like to throw money at like a high class stripper.  :wub:

 

I think if the game works any profit model CAN work.  So assuming this game is going to work, the question is what profit model is the best for the game.

 

edit:  And i agree 100% with the current plan.    

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It's all right, your concerns are valid.

 

The conditions of the failing rate of Subscription based games are more to do with market trends and business decisions by companies themselves.
They sink a ton of money into game development and when various behind the scenes factors are not satisfied with the performance of the product, they pull the plug and demand MORE MONEY!

 

Dual universe and Novaquark are specifically avoiding the back room drama, for DU at least, put on by big publishers and stocks bonds and investors, because they don't want to be pressured legally into switching the games payment method.

 

This way JC Baillie gets to judge whether or not Dual Universe is successful or not. He might be pleased with 50,000-100,000 active subscribers and consider the project a good long term investment, a big publisher would laugh at that and shut down the servers.

 

Another special factor for Dual Universe is the single shard technology, we dont have to worry about Server population collapse and mergers, which always upset a large number of people. In Dual you dont have to fear a low pop server merge and losing your character name, or guild. It lives on, forver as long as JC wills it and JC loves robotics and he loves Novaquark, he hasnt spent half a decade invested on this to turn around and say in his french accent "Yes we tried but we dont care anymore, hell with it."

 

Also, being a social pvp sandbox, the generation of content is different than in a regular rollercoaster theme park. In Dual you explore the world, you build your character from the many possible options. You find people interested in things that you are also interested in.

A game like wild star, you get into the cart and you ride along the tracks the developers make out for you. They tell you what factions you can be in, what weapons you use, what race you can be or cant be. Everything is a pre defined option.

 

This game, this game specifically, has potential to break free from the market depression games have experienced. 

 

As far as the people that have negative experience, yes it is true, but you cannot capture every fish in the sea no matter how big a net you cast.

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I think if the game works any profit model CAN work. 

Now that is simply not true, monetization models make or break games, saying that sub will work is one thing, i may not share your opinion but it's undeniable that it's completely possible that they will,  but saying that EVERYTHING will work becouse the game is good is just vainglory.

i seriously hope that the devs don't think like you becouse in that case we're completely doomed then, marketing and financial management is just as important for the success of a game as while they can't make a broken game work (but they can make it sell still, i mean look at no man's sky, they managed to sell what basically is a showcase of a procedural world generator with near zero actual content for 60$ and they topped the steam and gog charts) they sure as hell can break a working one, history of gaming is all too full of those.

 

You missed the other reason they fail

 

When they piss off a player group with the nerf bat, they tend to leave and never come back....wow is famous for this

they could actually use the nerf bat with sense and don't piss off players? i don't know, devs as a category tend to devenlop (no pun intended) a special kind of selective cronical stupidity when it comes to game balance, the only games i've actually seen with a semblance of stable balance are mobas.

if they actually know what they're doing with balance then they maybe could avoid this.

it actually brings to mind the fact that any discovered exploits also end up culling the playerbase by a large perchentage, since you have to ban exploiters but every exploiter you ban is a subscriber lost forever and if an exploit is discovered you can stay sure that a ton of players will abuse it regardless, and while cheaters deserve bans, well,  if you ban a part of your source of revenue you end up with a smaller source of revenue. 

Another special factor for Dual Universe is the single shard technology, we dont have to worry about Server population collapse and mergers, which always upset a large number of people. In Dual you dont have to fear a low pop server merge and losing your character name, or guild. It lives on, forver as long as JC wills it and JC loves robotics and he loves Novaquark, he hasnt spent half a decade invested on this to turn around and say in his french accent "Yes we tried but we dont care anymore, hell with it."

 

Also, being a social pvp sandbox, the generation of content is different than in a regular rollercoaster theme park. In Dual you explore the world, you build your character from the many possible options. You find people interested in things that you are also interested in.

doesn't really have anything to do with the topic at hand but i find that they might have an unpleasant surprise with that, it seems to me that the system is extremely suceptible to what me and a few others minecraft server owners called the "wasteland effect", basically everything in a wide radius around the protected spawnpoints was scorched down to the bedrock from players constantly duking it out and stalking each other and that was just with a peak of 23 players, (eventually i instanced the spawn and randomized the drop in point but i don't see how that would work here), can't even ban excessive griefers becouse it's a pvp game, couple that with the free trial period and you end up losing a ton of subscribers all the same.

 

this actually brings up another problem that i didn't think about earlier, with the game being a lot harder at the beginning than at late game, as it is without exception in all games that are either or both sandboxes and pvp, and a free trial you either hand-hold gamers for the 4 week trial annoying them at the start and scaring them away once the real thing starts losing and end up subscribers or you scare them right away ending with still loosing subscribers since you take away the incentive to persevere that comes from having already bought the game.

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Well looks like you're doomed then.

 

Sorry.

i'm fairly certain that even they don't think that they'd get away with absolutely everything, the blog they posted seem to show that they've got a fairly good idea of what is acceptable from a sub model.

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Hi,

 

I think, it is way too early to put so much effort into thinking about the payment model.

I think it is safe to say that DU will do everything they can not to shoot themselves in the foot.

 

//Naki

You are right, they will not go Free-To-Cheat. That's shooting themselves on the foot. Pay to play guarantees new features, free to play guarantees cheaters and trolls and skins and pay-to-win, AKA , MMO terminal cancer.

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You are right, they will not go Free-To-Cheat. That's shooting themselves on the foot. Pay to play guarantees new features, free to play guarantees cheaters and trolls and skins and pay-to-win, AKA , MMO terminal cancer.

free to play being what it is doesn't make subscription models any more successful than they've proven out to be in the last decade, the t-rex was a stronger predator than the tiger but, just like subscriptions, alas it's not around anymore, subscriptions models might be better but that doesn't automatically erase the fact that since 2004 any game launched with a subscription model has failed.

You can't just shove that sort of thing under the carpet becouse "it's a better model" becouse it's already been proved multiple times that people don't buy "better" even when it actually is better both for the customer and for the producer (this comes to mind as a prime example http://business.time.com/2012/05/17/why-jcpenneys-no-more-coupons-experiment-is-failing/) if you end up with an average player peak of 500 players subscription being better is hardly going to help you out.

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Game will be pay to play. either pay to play or don't and don't play the game. either way doesn't hurt my feelings

and i don't see how is that even relevant to the topic at hand. no one cares about your feelings anyways.

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Personally I don't mind the concept of a sub based model game as long as the experience the game provides calls for it. I see early MMOs as having a sub fee because at that time the hardware and servers they provided required that investment, but provided an experience that was very unique. Simply put without the sub fee early MMOs wouldn't have been possible. If this game is able to implement the technologies and experience they are talking about I do not mind a sub based model. DU has tech requirements that simply require a lot of the money to create the experience they have in mind.

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The problem with OP's worries is that it can be applied to any monetary system. Statistically most f2p games fail.  F2P games fail if enough people don't spend enough money. F2P have players leave and don't come back even if the thing they didn't like is no longer an issue.

 

Here is some fun tidbits from Robocraft, a f2p voxel arena/match type of game. A few months ago they totally changed the economy of the game. Before you earned in game money by playing matches and spent that money to buy any blocks/weapons/etc that the player could afford. Robocraft switched to a crate based system; players get random parts from the matches they play. They also slowed down the progression speed significantly (use to be about 3 hours of play to afford a high end part, now 10 hours to get a high end part, and it might not even be the one you want). The result of this is that double the playerbase is now spending real cash on the game: from 3% to 6%

 

I'm going to trust that Novaquark did their business homework when they determined the best way to operate their business.

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The problem with OP's worries is that it can be applied to any monetary system. Statistically most f2p games fail.  F2P games fail if enough people don't spend enough money. F2P have players leave and don't come back even if the thing they didn't like is no longer an issue.

 

Here is some fun tidbits from Robocraft, a f2p voxel arena/match type of game. A few months ago they totally changed the economy of the game. Before you earned in game money by playing matches and spent that money to buy any blocks/weapons/etc that the player could afford. Robocraft switched to a crate based system; players get random parts from the matches they play. They also slowed down the progression speed significantly (use to be about 3 hours of play to afford a high end part, now 10 hours to get a high end part, and it might not even be the one you want). The result of this is that double the playerbase is now spending real cash on the game: from 3% to 6%

 

I'm going to trust that Novaquark did their business homework when they determined the best way to operate their business.

fact is that it's not just "some" sub based game to fail, every single new one has failed in a decade and you really can't say that about any other model, if they truly have done their buisness homework it would be reassuring of them to share it with us, hence the thread, i find it a bit ridiculous to expect people to take stuff at face value.

Just like f2p games have to prove that they aren't pay to win and buy to play has to prove that they won't be dlc fests, pay to play games have to prove that they won't convert to f2p after a year or so and to do that they need to at least show some planning and some estimates behind it, if you truly want to do something that's not been done in a decade you should also back it up with a real plan. 

 

Also the trial period seems even more of a bust that the pay to play model in itself to me, the wide majority of leavers in mmos leaves in the space of a month and that's a ton of money that buy to play games and pay to play (back in their days of glory) cash in even if the latter benefit a bit less for it and that they won't get at all due to the free trial and they'll also lose the launch day money influx, does really a daring bet like attempting to launch a p2p game nowadays need to cut off one more leg to stand on? 

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Personally I feel games going the F2P (let's nickle and dime everyone to death) route is taking the soul out of MMOs. Any game that used to be sub and has gone F2P I've been unable to stick with. I would rather a sub with a solid gaming experience behind it.

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I would not even compare it too much with classic MMORPGs. Because, from what I gather so far, the content will be vastly different and motivation determines what kind of people play, pay and how long. This here will be less of a theme park but let players actively shape a large universe or game space.

 

A massive emergent sandbox experience with MP on one large shard is worth some bucks per month. If it is really good or complex, then I can't see many complain. But that's just me.

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I would not even compare it too much with classic MMORPGs. Because, from what I gather so far, the content will be vastly different and motivation determines what kind of people play, pay and how long. This here will be less of a theme park but let players actively shape a large universe or game space.

A massive emergent sandbox experience with MP on one large shard is worth some bucks per month. If it is really good or complex, then I can't see many complain. But that's just me.

I think you're right there. The biggest problem of most new Suscribtion games failing may also be because the game does not bring much that stands out from non F2P varriants.

Looking at Most MMORPG its nothing new anymore. There are many games about "Kill some monster by clicking at buttons on the screen"

Packaging the same stuff differently won't work for long against other Pay versions, that are better for the User.

 

On a game like DU where the player Shapes the the Politics, the market, the industrie, in an constructiv and possibly a destructive way to, that may give if not many (and it my be many i don't know about that) but at least a core Player base a good reason to play the game no matter what pay System there is.

There is no other game that gives these possibilitys to a player.

 

And a Core Base of players is all a Subscription Model needs to Survive.

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I think you're right there. The biggest problem of most new Suscribtion games failing may also be because the game does not bring much that stands out from non F2P varriants.

Looking at Most MMORPG its nothing new anymore. There are many games about "Kill some monster by clicking at buttons on the screen"

Packaging the same stuff differently won't work for long against other Pay versions, that are better for the User.

 

On a game like DU where the player Shapes the the Politics, the market, the industrie, in an constructiv and possibly a destructive way to, that may give if not many (and it my be many i don't know about that) but at least a core Player base a good reason to play the game no matter what pay System there is.

There is no other game that gives these possibilitys to a player.

 

And a Core Base of players is all a Subscription Model needs to Survive.

The reason subscription games fail, is because they try to reinvent WoW, ending up WoW clones that die due to premature ageing. DUAL is a niche idea, with a niche market and niche server tech. JC Baillie owns this new server tech, why? Because because he build it. This new server tech will bring people who can realise the game's unique aspect and features, mainly, the possibility of having a free-of-NPC games in cities, let alone the space to ground combat aspect of it. Tell me a game that does space and ground combat, combined with voxel building in an ammo scale DUAL is going already for.

 

 

EVE? EVE is space only. Space Engineers is Michael Bay's wet dream due to its net-code. Landmark... :V 

 

 

 

This game is WORTH its subscription and on top of that, they go for a PLEX system, where you can buy your gamecard in the game, for in-game money from people who bought the PLEX off the store with real money, because they don't got the time to farm all the in-game money they want. It's the main reason why EVE goes strong after 15 years, with only a tenth of WoW's playerbase, not to mention, exposure to the media.

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The reason subscription games fail, is because they try to reinvent WoW, ending up WoW clones that die due to premature ageing. DUAL is a niche idea, with a niche market and niche server tech. JC Baillie owns this new server tech, why? Because because he build it. This new server tech will bring people who can realise the game's unique aspect and features, mainly, the possibility of having a free-of-NPC games in cities, let alone the space to ground combat aspect of it. Tell me a game that does space and ground combat, combined with voxel building in an ammo scale DUAL is going already for.

 

 

EVE? EVE is space only. Space Engineers is Michael Bay's wet dream due to its net-code. Landmark... :V 

 

 

 

This game is WORTH its subscription and on top of that, they go for a PLEX system, where you can buy your gamecard in the game, for in-game money from people who bought the PLEX off the store with real money, because they don't got the time to farm all the in-game money they want. It's the main reason why EVE goes strong after 15 years, with only a tenth of WoW's playerbase, not to mention, exposure to the media.

Do you want to have a living ecnomy subsidized from real world funds? you want the real money acution house again? 

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Do you want to have a living ecnomy subsidized from real world funds? you want the real money acution house again? 

What? >_> Acution? IF you mean Auction House, no. It's not that. PLEX is simply a playtime extension, similar to how subscription works, only it's an item in-game you use yourself and can be bought for real-money and be then resold for in-game money. The market itself functions like a an auction house in any case, if a person sells something rare, they SHOULD be entitled to an auction house but ONLY for in-game cash.

 

PLEX is a way of adding revenue to the company. A good in-game businessman, won't have a need to buy and sell PLEX. Plus, the people selling PLEX in-game, won't be altering the inflation on the market. They are simply paying real-money, because they can spare them but can't spare time to farm, then sell minerals. These guys might only want to be the space-knights going around destroying pirates. Will you deny them that?

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I prefer a B2P model the most.  If they had later expansions that brought new major features they couldn't implement due to time/tech issues for release, that would be okay. I would be fine with something like $30 for KS backers and $60 for full retail if the devs really do a good job creating this game.

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Subscriptions are the only way to go. I find it so funny when people say that subscription games have failed over the last ten years. The fact is that F2P games have also failed. They might bring in some fast cash due to big spenders, but very shortly after that the game dies. F2P and micro-transaction cash shops are a cancer to MMO gaming.

 

Games do not fail because of their monetization model. Games fail because they are poorly designed. Take SWTOR for an example.

 

SWTOR started as a subscription game, and was VERY successful in the first 6 months. But then the hype died and most of the original player base realized that it was just a bad knockoff of WoW. Subscriptions fell for the next 1.5-2 years. At which point EA had to step in to save the game with a cash shop and an optional F2P model. The fact is that if Bioware had been creative and made something that was different and held the player base, SWTOR would still be on a subscription model and doing well. EA and everyone else continues to blame the subscription model for SWTORs drop in players. But the reality is, players got bored and moved on. I know because i was one of them. 

 

DU has the ability do give us something truly unique and lasting. Immersive player driven content that is not scripted can provide YEARS of fun. EVE online is a great example of this.

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I prefer a B2P model the most.  If they had later expansions that brought new major features they couldn't implement due to time/tech issues for release, that would be okay. I would be fine with something like $30 for KS backers and $60 for full retail if the devs really do a good job creating this game.

Explain "Expansion" in a no-instances game. You can't. Subscription in-fact is this "buy to play" model, only in a monthy fashion. You guaranteee Income for the company and server stability due to maintenances.

 

 

If the game was like Guild Wars 2 and all its instanced glory, the Buy-to-Play model would work, but it isn't. You can't expect Guild Wars 2 rules applying on a game that is in a new type of MMO. You can't have instances in DUAL, thus, you can't have Expansions. You also don't got the Guild Wars / WoW looting system of Ep1x and Legondariez to add in new expansions. A gun is a gun. There are no NPC raiding instance library to expand on. The universe is procedural , so expanding on it is a silly idea in itself.

 

 

Now, please, do explain how you can add exapnsions in a game like DUAL.

 

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