The age of monetization

7 07 2013

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As some of you might have read or heard, Blizzard finally acknowledged the idea of adding MTX ( monetized items ) to the colossal giant that is World of Warcraft. Why is this significant? I think it’s not only a sign of the times, but the fact that the most successful MMO to date is considering moving towards that type of business structure is a huge sign. The age of MMORPG’s charging a monthly fee, plus an upfront purchase price is about finished. Now some of you, might jump for joy and release a victorious shout of “Finally those greedy bastards, it’s about time!”

What most gamers/people don’t realize, is the significant cost of building and maintaining an MMO, and in most cases, the subscription fee is well justified and needed just to keep the game running, and that’s not even addressing the issue of building new content. However, when markets stop supporting one business model and consumer spending habits change, the industry must find another ( insert cheesy “Life finds a way” quote….okay maybe not 😛 ). Thus a new age has dawned, and that is the age of monetization. When games like Puzzles and Dragons make an ungodly amount of money in a single month, the rest of the industry starts to take notice. ( Try to the tune of 113 million, and they aren’t the only example )

 http://www.joystiq.com/2013/05/13/hit-mobile-rpg-puzzle-and-dragons-earned-113-million-in-april/

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Now you might say, “Well that’s not an MMO, it doesn’t compare”. However, as an individual that works on Guild Wars 2, I can tell you in-game monetization is the future, so it would be in your interest to understand it and embrace it, especially for MMO’s it’s going to be a requirement just to get an ROI ( return on investment ) for a product. It’s my belief, that the next console generation that’s starting, will also start to experiment with FTP ( free to play ) and MTX business strategies. Some will even argue that video games are moving towards being a “service” versus just a “game”, but that’s a completely different discussion.

What does this mean for you? This means that you better start being able to identify good and bad MTX/FTP business strategies. For every one out there that doesn’t feel manipulative or over the top, there’s guaranteed to be the ones that feel like they are smacking you with a proverbial MTX hammer, or if you’re of the older gamer generation “Insert coin to continue!” feeling.

Ultimately, with rising consumer expectations, skyrocketing development costs to meet those expectations, and the failing of traditional business models, the industry is in a state of flux. While this is both an exciting and scary time, I think what it means is that in <=5 years, we will be consuming video games in a way that we never would have imagined…..so in the holy words of Samuel Jackson, “Hold on to your butts…

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hahaha….yah no seriously though, you should hold on to them……

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