Possible New Payment Options?

I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile after reading a post over at MMO Explorer regarding payment options, which was inspired by Moorguard which was inspired by Adele (we really have to get that system going that Cameron discussed last week…ok, seriously I’m done.) Anyways, I was thinking about some alternative payment options for MMO’s that would be a little more fair. While I don’t think we will ever get away from paying for the initial game for the AA/AAA titles, I think there are some ways to making payments more reasonable for more casual players or those looking for different games.

Rather than charging a flat $15 monthly rate, they could go with a $1/hour rate, capping out at $15, which means 15 hours of gameplay. Most serious gamers who really enjoy the game they are playing will play a game for at least 15 hours a month, which is about 30 minutes a day, meaning that the majority of your customers will pay the full price anyways. I think this is a pretty reasonable option, unless the game companies are “banking” on the fact that many players will play for less than 15/20 hours a month, and in that case, they are making a greater profit. That said, I think a lot more players would pop into a game for several hours a month, in which case they could gain $6 more from one player, and $8 from another player who normally would not have played that month because they were too busy to justify $15 or simply wanted try out the new patch or whatever else.

Another option I came up with is a four-tier system that’s like this:

(After some reconsideration and feedback, I think this might be a bit steep so I altered the prices a bit, but its more about the idea than the specific prices. I’ll leave the pricing to those money people, hehe)

Two-day Pass: $2.99

Week Pass: $5.99

Two-Week Pass: $8.99

Month Pass: $14.99

This gives you a bit more freedom to play within an allotted amount of time, while still being cheaper than a monthly subscription. (Removed a sentence about video game rentals that after price changes was irrelevent) If you find that you have a free weekend in the midst of a hectic month, you can pop in for those couple days and enjoy yourself and spend a fifth of the monthly fee, and again giving the company $3 that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. Same goes for the week and two week. While I think they would be used less than the two-day pass, they are still options that could be used depending on the amount of free time you have and the amount of money you are willing to pay.

Anyways, there are a couple options that I have come up with that I think should be considered more by MMO companies. There might lose a few customers willing to spend $15 who don’t get their money’s worth, but they would get a lot more who want to give it another shot or can’t justify a full months payment.



7 comments so far

  1. Bildo on

    I have to say that 4.99 for 2 days seems a bit steep. Rather 4.99 for a week, 7.99 for 2 weeks, and 14.99 for a month seems more viable.

    These days, a rental of a game is more often for a week, and a week is more than enough time in my experience to go back to an old game and see if it really can grab you again. I’ve wasted 15 bucks more times than I can count on one month here or there to try out an old game again.

    I’d love some sort of “give-it-a-try-again” pass to become mainstay.

    What I dream of is a “Veteran’s Rewards” program, that lets you come back and have a free week of play if you’ve subscribed for say more than 3 months consecutively before. 2 weeks if you’ve played for 6 months. This way, with a game like WoW, where many players might move on but want to try it out again in a fit of boredom they won’t need to pay 15 bucks to do so.

  2. Cameron Sorden on

    It’s important to remember too that a big part of what makes a monthly fee attractive for companies is the fact that it’s recurring. No participation is required on the part of the player to re-sub. Lets face it– people are busy. Usually when you decide to cancel (if you even bother to spend the time doing that), you notice you’ve already been billed for the month. “Well, may as well play out the subscription… hey, I remember why I liked this game. I guess I’ll just keep it active in case I want to play.”

    If you move to a purchased time allotment pass like that people have to make a decision at each period to purchase. Net result? Subs go down.

  3. kanthalos on

    I was more thinking you never actually cancel, they just keep your information, and you can just hop in whenever you feel like it. Something like the sony station launcher could pop up when you open the game and if you don’t have an active sub then you could choose which option you wanted (in a secure fashion of course.)

  4. Wombat on

    I’ve always felt that MMO service providers should have tiered payment strategies, just like we have with cell phone plan providers.

    We should have a pay-as-you-go strategy for very casual users (one analogy being prepaid cell phone plans.) Basically, I would like to buy a chunk of time (like 20 hours for $15, just as an example), measured in REAL-TIME usage. I think this would help attract a lot of mostly casual users who can’t justify a subscription fee because they don’t play often enough. It would also attract some hardcore users who like to try a lot of different games.

    Naturally, the traditional subscription fee should also be retained since paying hourly would become very expensive for more decicated players.

    Personal anecdote: I quit EQ2 back in January due to time constraints. I know if I could have bought a few hours of play to spread out over the last seven months, I would have, but I couldn’t justify paying $15 a month just to log in for a single night per month. There are a lot of old games I’d love to check in on just to look around, talk to old friends, and see whats changed, such as FFXI and City of Heroes. But because of the subscription model, nobody has earned a dime from me so far this year. If they did things MY way, they would have.

  5. damianov on

    I’m with Wombat… I’d like to see an option to purchase a block of time/usage, as opposed to purchasing unlimited access for a pre-defined period.

    Now, since I am somewhat fortunate in terms of my financial status, the MMO providers would actually lose money on this deal. I have a half-dozen active subscriptions at the moment, including to games actually I haven’t played for 2, 3, even 6 months (WoW, LotRO, DDO until recently, and AA will be dropping off the list, of course).

    However, many more games would probably be getting at least some cash out of me if they operated in a similar way. (Lineage 2, AO, AC, UO, and DAoC all come to mind, along with a raft of lesser known titles.)

  6. Taipans on

    15 bucks for unlimited play for 30 days is not a bad deal. Even if you don’t play that much. Any game gives much more entertainment value per dollar then anything else you can throw money at. Such as 2 movie tickets for 15-16 bucks, that gives an average of 2 hours of entertainment. I think making so many different payment plans makes things more confusing then anything else, especially to new casual players.

  7. Trio on

    I doubt we will be seeing any pricing schemes below 1-month at a time simply due to low demand for it and the confusion over too many pricing options, among other reasons.

    What I think would make alot of sense for the MMO companies would be to start giving inactive accounts a free day of play after they have been inactive for x amount of time. Maybe after every significant update/patch send all inactive accounts an email with an activation code that will allow them to play for a day to see whats new. I imagine they would get alot of return subscriptions with that idea (provided the game wasn’t horrible to begin with).

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