People pay in Free to Play games

I’ve been following the Allods Online debacle with fascination. The pricing on their cash shop, for opt-in purchases, is incredibly high and much more expensive than everyone expected… except for MMO Industry veterans, I think.

I did some reading this morning and discovered that players on free-to-play games are broken loosely into two categories, those paying $1 or $2 a month, and the dedicated who are at $50 a month (that is actual data from Puzzle Pirates).

I used to play Achaea, a text-based MUD, which I loved. My character Shusen become the guildmaster of the Ashuran monks, made many good structural changes to the way we were organised, and bought some epics (called artifacts). The guild’s patron God even built an awesome in-game statue of me in the room of honour.

I wish I kept records of how much I spent, but guessing, it’d have been ~$600 over two years. That’s around $25 a month. I’m guessing. Point is, that’s a F2P game, in which I chose to pay to pwn. Its mechanics let you get more powerful with cash.

Allods had stated they do not need you to pay to kick ass, and you can fully enjoy the game without playing. Recently, patch notes suggest otherwise with some inconveniences that can only be properly eliminated by paying out.

So whilst reading about this I came across a Gamasutra interview with the CEO of the Puzzle Pirates game (of which I’d never heard) who quoted actual figures for income per user. It describes how you only need a few dollars per user, per month, to then justify spending some money on attaining them. If you convert them into dedicated paying players, then the profit comes in.

That CEO has a blog with a fascinating presentation embedded which gives metrics, revenue per user, users per hour of the day and more about two of his games.

Because I’m not an MMO industry blogger like Wolfshead, Tobold, Spinks, or Thats a Terrible Idea, I don’t know this F2P economy. I suspect they all do. I also expect they’d have predicted the Allods cash shop would be geared-up to generated $50/ month income from the dedicated.

So if that’s the case, the question goes to, what will people pay to play Allods? Certainly gpotato aren’t naive, they know what the average user income can be for F2P games, but they have executed their PR very poorly. A new piece of the Allods puzzle has come to light with the fact that a Astrum is now merged with a disreputable company called mail.ru, the speculation being they’re incompetent.

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5 comments to People pay in Free to Play games

  • WoW was my first MMO, so it came as a huge shock to me when one of my friends admitted to spending close to $6000 in two years in the F2P MMO Fallen Sword. Prior to that I wasn’t sure if the money I spend on WoW (given that I have 3 accounts going right now) was excessive or not. I spend about $540 a year, but for that I get to dual box and play on both WoW regions, which I find value in.

    I have to wonder what the F2P industry thinks of the average WoW player. $15 is more than they get from the average player, but it’s also the hard cap per account, no matter how dedicated you are. Fallen Sword even has a policy against multiple accounts (for what reason I don’t know), so the only way to milk the dedicated players is to sell via the shop.

    While some of these F2P games are pretty polished, I doubt any of them have the development or artistic resources put into them that WoW does, which would seem to run counter-intuitive to Blizzard’s revenue model. Still, I don’t think you’d see anything close to WoW’s numbers if it went F2P.

    I just hope that they never offer a hybrid model where you can pay monthly or per-item. That would make the current Casual vs Raider QQ seem like a fond memory.
    .-= Karatheya´s last blog ..Don’t Criticise, Condemn or Complain =-.

  • I must admit I was pretty interested in playing Allods Online, until I read all about Cash shop over pricing etc.

    However I can’t believe some players pay $50 a month in Free to play games, though how long do they play for? Few months?
    .-= David´s last blog ..Cataclysm Race-Class Combinations =-.

  • I liked the look of Allods, and would have checked it out if it was cross-platform. Failing that, what is the best web-based MMO around in people’s opinions?

    As for the $15 WoW price, Karatheya I wonder what the takeup is of the additional paid services? I paid for a ‘Character Re-Customization’, but that’s all at this stage. I had a quick look and this is what’s additional at the moment:

    Character Re-Customization
    Paid Character Transfer
    Paid Name Change
    Character Faction Change
    Race Change
    Pet Store in-game pets:
    * Lil’ K.T.
    * Pandaren Monk
    * Wind Rider Cub (plush with in-game pet)
    * Gryphon Hatchling (plush with in-game pet)

    And soon to be, access to the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch, and ‘certain elements of the service will be premium-based’.
    http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topicId=22748781945&pageNo=1#0

    I wonder how this new service will impact the WoW economy, referring back to your flask market/free epics post Grav…
    .-= Chev´s last blog ..Taunt Table =-.

  • Did they fix Allods Online? I read this post today:

    “High Five To Allods Online”
    http://www.wasdstomp.com/2010/03/high-five-to-allods-online.html
    .-= Chev´s last blog ..Taunt Table =-.

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