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Elephant In The Room: Subscription $$$ Model of DU needs to change.


DrFrigoPorco
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So no one is talking about the elephant in the room. The money model. The 'subscription fees' model. I mean, a friend of mine said it correctly...."What if I like the game? What if I play it for 5 years, then I will have given these people a thousand bucks, to play a game...hmmm" (that's a PC upgrade, and yes, I get it.....coffee is $2 but, as far as modern gaming goes, this is an outdated model, when you need a page on your website to defend it, it's outdated NQ) . And my friend has a point. MMo's with new content every week are charging $7.99 a month.....and this is beta, and no new content. So a look at the subscription model is needed. Yes, this is the only game in town as far as voxel builders, but THINGS CHANGE and someone out there will make a voxel mmo for $39.99 flat price and sell 40 million copies on Steam. Tick tock...NQ...tick tock. 

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I don't mind paying a sub. It lets them work on new content. oh wait....  but ya in this day and age to be competitive against starbase for 1 example, might be worth it to think about other purchase options 

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One could argue this is the model going forward, like it or not. It sort of makes sense if you look at it from the "running a business" point of view.  In the past (like a LONG time ago), game developers released games on CD (well, first on floppies) which meant that was the final product, and once they charged the $30 to $50 for it to 1 million people, that was all they were ever going to get.  So that's $50 million total for a game, then you have to innovate and try to duplicate that success with something else.  This is not something that is easy to do if you are a development company especially since its really hard to find a game that is really new and ground-breaking (COD, Minecraft, Fortnight, GTA V, etc.).  It's VERY hard to find a new game genre that actually works and people like.  Plain and simple? ... subscriptions keep developers in business.  Games are entertainment and most consumption of entertainment is based on subscriptions these days.  I agree that it may be a little too high month to month, but I think if you opt for the 6 month plan it's only like $39 or something right, and a year is $70-ish?  So it would take almost 15 years to hit $1000 at the yearly rate.

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starbase uses a p2p network scheme, whereas dual universe currently rents servers to host their data. the p2p model is pretty garbage for an mmo, and likely the reason starbase has spent so long in development...but if you want a single purchase pay model, p2p is as good as it gets...and no one can hardly complain, even though im sure they will.  games like WoW and Eve on the other hand, require far more bandwidth to accomplish their mmo experience which is why they own their own server hardware to host the game and give as much as a desirable experience as possible.  in theory that's what dual universe will aspire to...but at this point I hardly think the sub fee will be able to cover the amount of data they are piping around the world...it's almost as if they are upside down and stand to lose money on server costs every month, especially if they dont even own their own hardware.

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3 minutes ago, DreadZep said:

starbase uses a p2p network scheme, whereas dual universe currently rents servers to host their data. the p2p model is pretty garbage for an mmo, and likely the reason starbase has spent so long in development...but if you want a single purchase pay model, p2p is as good as it gets...and no one can hardly complain, even though im sure they will.  games like WoW and Eve on the other hand, require far more bandwidth to accomplish their mmo experience which is why they own their own server hardware to host the game and give as much as a desirable experience as possible.  in theory that's what dual universe will aspire to...but at this point I hardly think the sub fee will be able to cover the amount of data they are piping around the world...it's almost as if they are upside down and stand to lose money on server costs every month, especially if they dont even own their own hardware.

Agreed ....
 

Nothing wrong with subscription based. Du charges 20 dollars for 3 months, meanwhile games like EVE is 15 dollars a month, and WURM Online charges just under 10 dollars per month.  USD ammounts of course. This makes DU as one of the cheapest out of all of them out there.

 

Bottom line, an online game won't last if it doesn't have a subscription. Otherwise how would the servers get paid for ?  Alhough, WoW was probably one of the best examples of a working DLC based MMO that was also subscription based that worked for years. Now days though, you can host your own server.

 

I will say this though, games that allow your own server, do well, but it depends on the game. DU might actually do better if the players hosted their own servers with MODs.

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Personally I would prefer to pay a sub and get a high quality, maintained game (don't say it!) with a long life, feature updates, a committed player base and barrier-free access to all the content the game has to offer.  I don't like the games where you can play for free but then the game tries to find ways to get you to pay money anyway essentially by annoying or limiting you (pay to have a bigger inventory, pay to be able to use this special outfit, pay to fly this particular ship, pay to skip 1000s of hours of grind, etc).

 

It is true that over time you'll have paid a lot for the game, but you also got a lot of hours out of that game too.  Eventually games start to run low on new players and are mainly played by the existing base.  At that point they have to continue to make money out of you somehow in order to keep the servers running or the game will die despite being popular.

 

I did find it annoying, though, when EvE started selling stuff like t-shirts and ship skins for RL money or immersion breaking amounts of in game cash.  I was thinking "I've paid 1000s into this game and am still paying £20/month, I should get all this stuff for free".  I hope DU doesn't plan to go down the same road.

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5 hours ago, FrigoPorco said:

So no one is talking about the elephant in the room. The money model. The 'subscription fees' model. I mean, a friend of mine said it correctly...."What if I like the game? What if I play it for 5 years, then I will have given these people a thousand bucks, to play a game...hmmm" (that's a PC upgrade, and yes, I get it.....coffee is $2 but, as far as modern gaming goes, this is an outdated model, when you need a page on your website to defend it, it's outdated NQ) . And my friend has a point. MMo's with new content every week are charging $7.99 a month.....and this is beta, and no new content. So a look at the subscription model is needed. Yes, this is the only game in town as far as voxel builders, but THINGS CHANGE and someone out there will make a voxel mmo for $39.99 flat price and sell 40 million copies on Steam. Tick tock...NQ...tick tock. 

 

$1000 / 60 months (5 years) = $17 per month... Does he have three accounts or something?  The maths doesn't add up... It's always unfortunate when sound arguments are rendered questionable by shonky calculations.  

If I were paying $17 a month, I would also expect more... but $70 a year ($350 for 5 years, not $1000) is less of an issue for me.

Subscriptions are far less of an elephant in the room than the fact that they are nearly 2 years behind schedule after just 2 years. (look at the amusing 2018 DU road map if you want a sad chuckle.)

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I don't mind paying for Sub. Considering the infrastructure they need to make the game run + development costs for new content, imo a subscription based model is the only viable way.

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10 hours ago, FrigoPorco said:

So no one is talking about the elephant in the room. The money model. The 'subscription fees' model. I mean, a friend of mine said it correctly...."What if I like the game? What if I play it for 5 years, then I will have given these people a thousand bucks, 

 

5x12x7 is $420 .. that is 7 AAA games (which often have less that 100 hours of playtime). or less if you have to buy the DLCs. $420 for 5 years is a hourly cost in game time that is laughable. And in those 5 years new expansions and options become available at no cost as you pay the sub. The arguments against subscriptions are really nonsense. 

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This type of MMO games have a infrastructure operating cost. 

 

Unless this evolves into a pay to win game, it is impossible to not pay a sub. 

 

Sure some one can make a DU copy and sell it for 40€. But that game will at most connect to a server with 50 ppl inside. It will not be a MMO. 

 

 

From the gamer's prespective. A subscription price has to be calculated regarding the time enjoyed playing the game. 

 

Someone playing 2 hours a day will be spending 1/200 of their paycheck for something that fills their joy for 1/12 of their life time. 

 

It is cheaper than buying a new SP game every 3 months. Cheeper than going to the cinema 2 times a month. 

Cheeper than going to McDonald's 2 times a month. 

Cheeper than Netflix. 

 

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Most people complaining about subscription models compare to offline or single player/cop online at best. All large scale MMO games are subscription models and those with F2P options generally will make up with that through MT or a string drive to subscribe. The only exception I know that offers F2P and a realistic/achievable path to subscribing using in game funding is EVE. And in game funding (in EVE) just means someone else paid real money for your subscription.

 

 

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Subscription model isn’t too bad considering how expensive of a PC you need to even bother to play the game.

 

———

 

On the other hand the devs really don’t release “net positive” updates for players of the game.  A subscription based game can’t go for several months with the only major content update being a kick to the groin with schematics.

 

The devs kind of screwed themselves to be honest, since the game is “content light” (IE: no quests, raids, or similar), every update they’re going to be just be fully unique updates.   There won’t be WoW, RuneScape, FFXIV style updates where you can release content that rhymes with old content.  Instead it’s all going to be unique content, requiring actual infrastructure development (rather than mostly softer design development), all being completely different in implementation, and requiring unique test methods (IE: you can look at how tuning has changed on raids in classic MMOs, there is a solid and retreadable path for design/development/testing there).

 

Schematic implementations also removes half the content of the game from most of the player base.   And industry is one of those systems you can keep stacking grind and stat improvement updates on, without being called out as quickly as you would for combat tier-ify-cation. 

 

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Honestly, NQ would need to work really hard to go FTP because micro-transactions require a carefully considered game design to balance properly.

 

It's important to have a great hook that invests the player and pulls them toward a MT -- right now, FTP players would follow the same pattern as paid beta subs. They'd stay long enough to litter their speeder somewhere. 

 

"Getting more players" isn't the only concern, it's keeping them. They got a lot of new players during beta's initial launch, but they couldn't retain them. Some paid for months or even a year and didn't play for more than a day or two. They'd rather throw away their money than keep trying; that says something about new player UX. 

 

If they went free-to-play tomorrow, they'd get many new players...but only to lose money and clutter the servers. There's nothing compelling new players to stick around -- this game's new player UX gets worse over time, not better. Their MT conversion rate would be abysmal -- they'd have players, but not revenue. 

 

DU doesn't actually need new players right now. It needs a solid new player UX and a way to retain those players. You can't monetize players (FTP or subs) if they can't get past the early stages of the game.

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Technically DU could be sub and add skins for a fee to generate some money.  To be fair a sub of $10 per month is nothing these days and if you buy a multi-month sub its even better value for money all things considered!.   It is certainly not outdated but F2P models in fact cost you way more and becomes more pay 2 win.  I take a game like Lord of the Rings online its afloat due to its hybrid and people spend a small fortune on a horsey mount!

 

Honvik

Premier of the Empire

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3 hours ago, ShippyLongstalking said:

Honestly, NQ would need to work really hard to go FTP because micro-transactions require a carefully considered game design to balance properly.

 

It's important to have a great hook that invests the player and pulls them toward a MT -- right now, FTP players would follow the same pattern as paid beta subs. They'd stay long enough to litter their speeder somewhere. 

 

"Getting more players" isn't the only concern, it's keeping them. They got a lot of new players during beta's initial launch, but they couldn't retain them. Some paid for months or even a year and didn't play for more than a day or two. They'd rather throw away their money than keep trying; that says something about new player UX. 

 

If they went free-to-play tomorrow, they'd get many new players...but only to lose money and clutter the servers. There's nothing compelling new players to stick around -- this game's new player UX gets worse over time, not better. Their MT conversion rate would be abysmal -- they'd have players, but not revenue. 

 

DU doesn't actually need new players right now. It needs a solid new player UX and a way to retain those players. You can't monetize players (FTP or subs) if they can't get past the early stages of the game.


This + 1

This is probably the best well thought out comment I have read.

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46 minutes ago, Mordgier said:

The subscription cost is nowhere near the elephant in the room.

 

It's not even in the same room.

 

I wouldn't play DU for free. 

 

This is so spot on.  During that 3-4 month period, tons of people know you could still log in and play even if your sub wasn't "active" and still chose not too.  People with gifted beta subs wont log in.  DU isn't even a game right now.  

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The honest, straightforward monthly fee is a big part of what got me on board with trying DU in the first place.  ~$7 is very cheap by MMO subscription standards, if that does not cover the server costs of an active player it should be increased.  Especially with no base game cost, it's very affordable to try a month.

 

A flat game charge of even $60 is woefully inadequate for a true MMO with large demands on the server created by all the building possibilities in the long term.  Space Engineers can do it because it's not an MMO and they don't host the server.  With most non-mmo sandbox building games like these, your friend group has to chip in to rent a server or one guy pays it for the rest, but regardless someone is making monthly payments (even if they host it themselves, they are using the internet and electricity they pay for).  Recurring costs are a fact of life for online games like this.

 

I could tolerate a cash shop of purely cosmetic items for our avatars and such, but the Free-to-play model is corrosive to the soul of games.  Gameplay design decisions inevitably are affected by efforts to drive players to spend more.  If DU goes to such a free-to-play model, I am out.

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The sub model is fine.  It beats having to pay for the base game AND a monthly sub like WoW, EQ, etc.  Honestly, the cost is soooo low that it's completely negligible.  And it keeps them focused on developing the game, not developing cash grabs and loot boxes and skins and bullshit.

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23 hours ago, FrigoPorco said:

So no one is talking about the elephant in the room. The money model. The 'subscription fees' model. I mean, a friend of mine said it correctly...."What if I like the game? What if I play it for 5 years, then I will have given these people a thousand bucks, to play a game...hmmm" (that's a PC upgrade, and yes, I get it.....coffee is $2 but, as far as modern gaming goes, this is an outdated model, when you need a page on your website to defend it, it's outdated NQ) . And my friend has a point. MMo's with new content every week are charging $7.99 a month.....and this is beta, and no new content. So a look at the subscription model is needed. Yes, this is the only game in town as far as voxel builders, but THINGS CHANGE and someone out there will make a voxel mmo for $39.99 flat price and sell 40 million copies on Steam. Tick tock...NQ...tick tock. 

What elephant? If you are running something on servers you need a revenue stream - or enough up front cash to invest it to create a revenue stream. If you want a single player game the up front fee is fine - but otherwise not so much. It is not so much an outdated model but a model that the 'I want everything for free' culture bashed at until some weak willed companies crumbled.

 

Also it is only a month's subscription to try a pure subscription game usually (you can complain and I would agree about games with an up front cost and a subscription). Nothing wrong with the model.

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1 hour ago, Cheith said:

It is not so much an outdated model but a model that the 'I want everything for free' culture bashed at until some weak willed companies crumbled.

 

I tend to agree that a sub model is best for now, but I don't agree with this idea...

 

FTP exists because it makes money. Sub-based games that would die otherwise have thrived under this model.

 

Companies don't "crumble" because people "want everything for free" -- that makes no sense. It isn't a cultural thing, it's a monetization strategy...one that works very well for companies that understand it.

 

FTP is about the mathematics of conversion rates, not people being entitled and demanding free shit. 

 

Consider this example: 

  • Someone lands in DU and gets really hooked. They enroll in a monthly sub. They play relentlessly for two months; they're hooked and play for 20-30 hours a week. 
  • Even the best games eventually get boring, but DU has some major walls when it comes to content / things to do. 
  • So they decide to pause their sub after 2-3 months. NQ has made $14 - $21 in revenue. Not great. 
  • Now compare that to an FTP model -- someone that's hooked will absolutely buy into MT, especially in the height of being interested in the game and especially if the alternative is massive amounts of grinding.
  • The shit they need to buy will cost more than a sub. 

The magic with FTP as a monetization strategy is conversion rate, which is why DU should stay away from it.

 

If they know 50% of all players eventually get an MT before becoming bored and leaving the game, that's big money. It's much, much easier to attract new players to a free game than one that requires a sub. They can shovel out cash for ads knowing that they'll make it all back and more. 

 

Companies do it because it works

 

I know this is a long rant...but subs are hardly the best model for revenue with DU, even if it makes the most sense today.

 

Subs only work with high retention...if someone is churning from a sub in 1-2 months, they simply aren't worth it. They need subs to be closer to 6-12 months to really see profit. 

 

Good luck trying to buy ads when your budget has to be $5-6 per acquisition because so many players churn after 1-2 months! 

 

FTP games are crappy because the game's design is built around the monetization strategy...but they do work...and unfortunately? They work best for games that struggle with retention/churn like DU.

 

I don't want an FTP model and I think NQ would struggle to make it work, but unless they can dramatically reduce churn, it'll be an inevitability. 

 

I'm 100% certain that the finance guy now leading NQ understands the nuance between subs, churn, and FTP and will do what makes them money. They will only stay with subs if DU's retention can dramatically improve...otherwise FTP is the better monetization strategy even if it is worse for the game. 

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4 hours ago, Cheith said:

It is not so much an outdated model but a model that the 'I want everything for free' culture bashed at until some weak willed companies crumbled.

This!  This kind of mentality is THE main reason we don't have the games we all thought we would have by now. Back when MMOs first came out, we were all playing UO and EQ1 while imagining how awesome games would be one day.   These kinds of people made it so there was NO other option than to get investors and in-depth game play fell by the wayside because developers started working to please investors and not players. Investors are the reason we are ALL playing EA games now. And it all goes back to people griping about paying for games.

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21 hours ago, ShippyLongstalking said:

 

I tend to agree that a sub model is best for now, but I don't agree with this idea...

 

FTP exists because it makes money. Sub-based games that would die otherwise have thrived under this model.

 

Companies don't "crumble" because people "want everything for free" -- that makes no sense. It isn't a cultural thing, it's a monetization strategy...one that works very well for companies that understand it.

 

FTP is about the mathematics of conversion rates, not people being entitled and demanding free shit. 

 

Consider this example: 

  • Someone lands in DU and gets really hooked. They enroll in a monthly sub. They play relentlessly for two months; they're hooked and play for 20-30 hours a week. 
  • Even the best games eventually get boring, but DU has some major walls when it comes to content / things to do. 
  • So they decide to pause their sub after 2-3 months. NQ has made $14 - $21 in revenue. Not great. 
  • Now compare that to an FTP model -- someone that's hooked will absolutely buy into MT, especially in the height of being interested in the game and especially if the alternative is massive amounts of grinding.
  • The shit they need to buy will cost more than a sub. 

The magic with FTP as a monetization strategy is conversion rate, which is why DU should stay away from it.

 

If they know 50% of all players eventually get an MT before becoming bored and leaving the game, that's big money. It's much, much easier to attract new players to a free game than one that requires a sub. They can shovel out cash for ads knowing that they'll make it all back and more. 

 

Companies do it because it works

 

I know this is a long rant...but subs are hardly the best model for revenue with DU, even if it makes the most sense today.

 

Subs only work with high retention...if someone is churning from a sub in 1-2 months, they simply aren't worth it. They need subs to be closer to 6-12 months to really see profit. 

 

Good luck trying to buy ads when your budget has to be $5-6 per acquisition because so many players churn after 1-2 months! 

 

FTP games are crappy because the game's design is built around the monetization strategy...but they do work...and unfortunately? They work best for games that struggle with retention/churn like DU.

 

I don't want an FTP model and I think NQ would struggle to make it work, but unless they can dramatically reduce churn, it'll be an inevitability. 

 

I'm 100% certain that the finance guy now leading NQ understands the nuance between subs, churn, and FTP and will do what makes them money. They will only stay with subs if DU's retention can dramatically improve...otherwise FTP is the better monetization strategy even if it is worse for the game. 

 

Sorry, but having lived through the initial FTP mania I can tell you that the driver was the whiners who had time but no money - so they had time to make a lot of noise - and drove a lot of companies to make the messy FTP transition (and it usually was messy) and add loot boxes and other crap to their games to support it.

 

The real driver for a lot of it initially was trying to keep up with WoW eating all the subs and no one else having enough to really be profitable (at least not in the way their backers wished).

 

Now, I will agree that it works, but you get for the most part crap in return. If your expected retention is 1-2 months then you don't need a lot of content or good background or single sharded persistent universes on a large scale because no one will ever see it. That is also also fine if that is the game you want to play. If however you believe you are creating a game where your revenue earners will play for significant lengths of time then the subscription model is the way to go. You may augment it with some cosmetic BS that people who wish to pay for it can get but for the most part your revenue is subs. As it also matches your cost model it does make the financial planning a lot easier and more transparent. Of course someone may hate it at that point as they can't play games with the money as easily but that is another story!

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The game has ongoing costs (servers). A sub is a perfectly good way to pay for them. It's fair to the players. And in DU's case, the sub fee is very reasonable.

 

A buy-once-play-forever model is necessarily either time limited or has to have some other - possibly less honest - funding scheme.

 

Of course with $4 into SC, I'm not really concerned about possibly spending a grand on DU eventually.

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