Money, Demographics, Sony and You

There’s something to be said for a company that sends one of its longest running MMOs into the Free-to-play market just as they release a new subscription MMO. It’s probably a rude thing to say, but it’s being said. “What kind of business are these fecal throwing apes running here?” probably.

Sony Online entertainment has made Everquest 2 free-to-play, with a real money stuff-store. Now, I’ve never played EQ2, and have no intention of doing so now, but what I have played is DCUO, their latest subscription MMO.

What baffles me is that with the popularity of Free-to-play MMOs increasing, and with Sony embracing such a model for another game, and with other companys doing similar or hybrid models, why they went with the straight up subs mode for their latest game.

Maybe they’re relying on the novelty and uniqueness of a Console-based MMO, as the market has yet to be cracked. Hoping that console owners will flock to this new genre. The problem, as I see it, is that the console market would be even more open to Free to Play than PC.

Consoles have had Halo and the like for the best part of the decade for nothing, they’ve had XBox Live Arcade for buying casual games, downloading songs for Guitar Hero and Rock Band, and generally getting things for free in Little Big Planet. Now Sony are sticking a big lumping game like DCUO on the consoles, giving people 30 days free to play, then expecting them to cough up to play every month. Are they going too far? Would it be better to give them what they’re used to? Buy the box, play the game for as long as you want, and pay extra when and if you want.

The problem is that they need solid numbers to get investors. A subscription model gives them that. Real-money-transactions aren’t predictable. Who could have predicted that Blizzard would have made so much cash out of that sparklepony, or the boomchicken non-combat pet. Then again, that’s a great indicator that RMT’s can make money. Extra trinkets and niceties can make you cash. Especially if you offer charity donations for each purchase.

It’s not like extras for DCUO are less than obvious. You could have packs of Iconic costumes to buy, new travel powers, cosmetic powers, respecs, renames, and more. Indeed, SOE will probably offer these alongside subs anyway.

DCUO is a fun, fast, frantic game, a cracking of the traditional MMO mould in most of it’s facets. It’s pricing plan is not one of those facets. I fear that a good game will languish in mediocrity, and not break that illusive console MMO market due to SOE’s backwards thinking money men. Sony are not adverse to Free-To-Play, but seemingly suitable only when a product begins flagging.

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4 Responses to Money, Demographics, Sony and You

  1. Shadow says:

    Just an FYI: EQ2 didn’t go F2P. They released an in-tandem, parallel running server that was the F2P model. Their previous servers that ran on the standard sub model are still up and running as before.

  2. Pingback: /AFK: The Final Countdown Edition « Bio Break

  3. silvertemplar says:

    Yea, also playing DCUO and unfortunately the month is running out. Now i have to constantly try to justify whether this game is worth monthly subscriptions and how long will still be interested in playing this game? I think SOE might be getting a big surprise coming this 11th-15th Feb when the subs of most players start to kick in.

    This game is a perfect type for F2P or “Pay for Box” . In fact this game has so many similarities to GUILDWARS , that it’s almost like a big elephant in the room. Same low level cap, same ease-to-cap , same PvP/Arena centric gameplay at the level cap, even same skill limit on the ability bar thing…

    But you know what ? SOE is still pushing their Station Pass. So i have come to the conclusion this is the real reason behind all this. They want you to pay $30 a month to pay their whole collection of MMOs . Unfortunately, up to now there was never a situation where you would play more than one MMO under their pass -at the same time- . DCUO is the perfect casual “shoot-em-up” MMO between a long heavy session in a game like EQ2 . It would make sense to combine it with a Station Pass if only we have Planetside 2 + DCUO + EQ3 + The Agency right now it would made sense…but we don’t.

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