Posts Tagged ‘money’

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Tackling a Boss Monster

November 4, 2009

So, I decided to make a stab at tackling my Feed Reader today, in some of my spare time. I’m greatly enjoying reading everyone’s blog posts, even though I’m hideously behind with things. Haven’t finished it yet, but here’s some of the things that caught my attention:

  • Blizzard to start selling in-game cosmetic pets for $10 a pop. I’ve been playing the refer-a-friend time with Spinks of late. We’re at level 40 now and my first month is over. Might sub another month to get to 60 when the R-A-F bonus runs out. But I hate microtransations, so I’m feeling a bit more ambivalent today than I was yesterday.
  • Free Realms transforms into Fee Realms at level 5 in more microtransation news. Don’t mind this one so much as you get to dabble free, and apparently the costs are fairly small.
  • The new Siege of Mirkwood trailer is up and available and deals with the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur – the lack of a name stems from licensing issues, according to Zubon.
  • KIASA name Torchlight Diablo 2.5 in reviewlet I’m totally in agreement with.
  • Tom Chick over at Fidgit enters into a bit of a spat with Bioware over the extra storage in the $7 DLC and accuses the company of nickel-and-diming. Bioware replies.
  • The Wii is dead, long live the… ?
  • Green Armadillo takes a look at the marketing and pricing of the Siege of Mirkwood and the extension of the pre-order deals and deadline. It’s an interesting take and cites some other things to read on the subject, which I greatly enjoyed. Not sure it’s a cover up, since it seems blindingly obvious they’re taking money for what was once free to players in content updates… but valid points, nonetheless. 

More as I catch up further tomorrow!

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Making Money

September 30, 2009

Ok, so the Turbine offers surrounding Siege of Mirkwood have already raised a few eyebrows. They’re a little confusing until you sit down and read them properly and realise lifetimers are being treated differently from those without a lifetime sub.

Me, I think it’s great. Let’s face it, they need to make regular money. That’s their development lifeblood. And yet they had the lifetime offer and obviously through all the returns to the offer, they’ve gathered quite a number of lifetime subscriptions. In terms of big wads of cash the lifetimers represent one-off payments, but no regular money. Which has long been seen by us, the audience, as a great offer if you love the game and get your money’s worth, but for the company must have more dubious status compared with people paying a monthly fee.

I was really happy to see that Siege of Mirkwood comes free with a multi-month subscription. Presumably those wanting to level to 65 and see the new content who aren’t lifetimers will buy a 3 or 6 month sub anyway at some point, but if not, this might get them to do that vs. buying monthly. In addition, they save some money when purchasing multi-month, and Turbine get a cash injection just before Xmas. And the lifetime offer returns to its lower price, so that may mean even more money to put towards the next expansion, next game, Xmas presents for employees (don’t get excited Turbine employees, I doubt this is where the money is headed).

Then, the next offer deals with lifetimers. As they can’t really buy a multi-month sub, they’re offered a fluff package for $20 that will give them Siege of Mirkwood for free. In addition they GET the fluff. 2 extra character slots, shared account storage and a few in-game items. As Spinks just said to me, if WoW offered 2 char slots for $20, people would think it was reasonable. In this instance, they’re offering fluff AND Siege of Mirkwood for $20 to anyone with a lifetime sub. That both matches the non-lifetime offer (in terms of expenditure) AND gives lifetimers a free copy of the expansion. So far, Turbine walking the line fairly well. Everyone CAN buy the pack, so they’re not excluding the non-lifetimers, but only lifetimers get SoM free with it (the obvious indication being that if you’re NOT lifetime, you need to get your multi-month sub in instead).

Now, if you don’t take them up on a pre-order offer, you may end up paying $40 for the ‘Adventurers Pack’ and Siege of Mirkwood. The incentive for pre-ordering is pretty clear here. Which means Turbine should get their money well before December. Good plan. And while it looks confusing to start with, it’s really quite sensible of them to come up with these packages.

And finally a few home truths. Yes, we all like to save money. Yes, we may not all want the extra character slots, etc. But Turbine isn’t a charity and presumably anyone playing LotRO kind of likes it and would like it to succeed. So we need to get it into our heads that the current system of always free updates wasn’t working as well as Turbine may have liked. They’ve put together some packages to encourage people to spend money, but compared to other games and charges, this is all pretty reasonable stuff (I may change my mind when I see Codemasters charges, of course, so reserve that right). I’ve been a lifetimer since beta ended. I have no issue with giving them some extra cash each year if it’s for something I want to play. Even if it isn’t, frankly – and I’m pretty cash-poor. Yes, we all like stuff to grumble about, but I think in this case, they’ve thought about this one a lot and come up with a workable scheme.

Worst case scenario is the multi-month sub that wants the Adventurers Pack, but even then they end up paying $20 on top of their sub. It’s the same as the lifetimers, but we paid the larger amount at some point. But initially it’ll feel like the bigger hit. However, I see them repeating this pattern if it doesn’t crash and burn horribly. And yes, I will definitely miss having a boxed game in my hands, but if it means they get to keep more of the actual money for development.. I’m mostly good with it. But only if the money goes towards customisable horses in Rohan ;p

[Edit: for reference, here’s the US forum on pricing, including lots of clarifications – such as if you already have a multi-month sub you can ONLY buy the Adventurers’ Pack, or nothing!]

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Comic Con: money, next year and thoughts

August 24, 2009

First, bear in mind I had to come in from the UK! Then that my friend, Lynn, covered the hotels, bar the final night.

Flights: £600 (actually I paid £754 to go to Hawai’i first then San Diego, then London, but the return trip, when I looked was £600)

Comic Con ticket: $65 (Lynn got it at preview prices the previous year, would have been $75 otherwise)

Final night hotel: $75, with cabs to get there at $11 and $15 (to airport from hotel)

Hotel Lynn paid for: ~$200/night for 4 nights (he wanted to be within walking distance, which was awesome, I have to say!)

Things I bought: $17 for Ben Linus bobblehead

Food: Well, this can be as much or as little as you can get by on. We went to the food area at the local mall and spent $7-8 per proper meal, of which we had either 1 or 2 per day. We went to the supermarket but not often, filled bottles at the Convention Center/re – but food wasn’t a really big deal. I think I had around $100 on me when we hit San Diego after Hawai’i and spent it all! Also put some on the credit card, so this is the hardest category for me. We also had a couple of $20/per person meals which didn’t have to be there!!

We had no internal San Diego travel costs bar taxi to and from the final hotel (Lynn got the taxi from airport to the first hotel).

But as you can see, it does really add up, and if I’d had to even pay my share of the hotel it would have been much harder for me to go.

2010 the Comic Con tickets are up to $100 for all days (some with preview night, some without). That’s still a great deal for a multi-day show.

And I admit being at a hotel within 10 mins walk was amazing. I’d probably look to get a 4 person room  if I went again, since then I’d probably find it easier to split the cost.

But for those of us not in the US, the flight is the really big deal. And who knows when the best time is to buy it. Was kind of upset the only airline that was really affordable went bankrupt, but hey at least I hadn’t bought a ticket with them.

As it happens, I have taken leave off work for next years, but with no plans to go… just yet. If I did, I’d try and see some smaller panels, and not queue for as long, especially with ones that’ll be online anyway. But having said that, just being in the room was an experience I’d never trade in, so I think I’d juggle it better, and see both small and large and try to see more of the games and comics, since I love them both too.

I wish I could be sparky and say ‘let’s organise a mass outing for next year’, but I’m tired and blah, and I wish the UK had anything similar…

But, if anyone is thinking of going next year, let’s at least stay in touch about it – I’m sure there are savings that could be made, and it could be a lot of fun!

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Shooting Myself in the Foot?

March 19, 2009

In my youth, RMT was just a trade union who, when they went on strike, caused a few troubles to my getting to and from work or off on holiday around the country. Now as a hardened MMO veteran (how scary that I can call myself that and semi-mean it), RMT is a far more isidious thing to me: real money transactions.

When Ultima and Everquest launched, I was very sceptical about the idea of paying a monthly fee to play a game. It felt wrong that a company could take money from me over and over again. And then my sister lured me into Dark Age of Camelot by letting me play her beta account while I was living at her place for a few months before moving to the US. I was hooked by the beta, or at least I started to see the point to it. A few changes in my mindset later and I was signed up with a 6 month subscription and a game for the next two years or so. I still thought it was a rather strange concept, but I could accept it took the place of other entertainment (ie. cinema) in cost and actually, there was enough content there for me to justify it.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. Happy to pay for a subscription for as long as I’m enjoying the game. Increasingly though, we’re discussing playing 2 or 3 games concurrently and it’s still a little hard for me to get my head around paying to play a game a little more casually (thankfully LotRO has the lifetime subscription so I’m not actually paying twice at the moment).

Games a while back suggested they might look for other revenue schemes and I’m sure we’re all aware of developments in that area. I understand the idea, but I always want to see it in practice before I pass judgment. I don’t mind if it’s little things that need paying for, but we all know there are some fine lines that could easily be crossed. I shouldn’t mind, except my entire life is based on earning what we need to live and then enjoying the spare time we have because we’re not working full-time. So every expense becomes a bit more important to me.

It’s come up recently because I glibly said I’d quite like to see how Vanguard is doing for a free trial period (or even resubbing for a month since I have the game and characters) once I’ve played through Book 7 in LotRO). The following week, they announced they’d be bringing in RMT, and my heart sank. I always said I wouldn’t play an RMT game. In the same way as I said I wouldn’t play a subscription game. So maybe I’m looking at needing a new mindshift… but not yet.

A lot of people have been discussing RMT lately, and I’m sure all have better perspectives on it than my very judgmental self. It’s certainly something desirable for games companies, new revenue streams are good for all of us if they allow top-class games to keep their quality. But I think I’ll remain a little nervous of them for the moment.

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