November 20th 2009

Welcome back, one and all, to the follow-up post on advertising and virtual worlds post. Last time we looked mainly at advertising.  So in todays digital landscape there are essentially two kinds of business models when it comes to MMO’s. There is the flat monthly fee style games. Like World of Warcraft, Star Wars Galaxies, or Final Fantasy Online. Then their is also the micro transaction business model utilised by games like Asda Story, or Fiesta. Now the biggest reason for both of these business models is to cover development and deployment costs from the time of conception onwards. And the reason that I say “from the time of conception onwards” is because it also covers the cost of ongoing development. Now the marketing decisions that go into the decision between flat fee and micro transaction is huge. Is it worth it, is the game conductive to one model or another, or is the content so huge that there will be people playing this game for years to come. I can guarantee you that these kind of questions where asked by the marketers at Champions Online when they where developing their business model. They choose to expand the model a bit. First they charge a monthly fee to access their servers, but they also utilise micro transactions for the purchase of special items. Now we can’t forget that Champions online is unique in this way and they have used this to their advantage. One of the lead designers actually went around and did a plethora of interviews to help to alleviate perceived consumer risk, by explaining how the system is going to be working.If you think about that it’s brilliant. Why well not only do the recoup the initial startup costs from the monthly subscription fees but they also encourage people to take advantage of the items and perks that they can get through micro transactions. And heres the best part; some games utilise micro transactions but then they put time restrictions on the item. For instance Battlefield Hero’s is a free to play game, but if you want to have the best items in the game faster than working through everything and earning them then you are able to by ‘battlefield funds’ that can be spent on in-game items at the games store.  Now, advertising for these games, well for most games really, well digital games anyway, occurs online. With websites like IGN, Ten Ton Hammer, GameSpot, and countless others. Essentially with almost everyone being tuned in to the net by offering information to these kind of enthusiast websites, developers and marketers can take advantage of free publicity. Thats not to say that video game developers of online games don’t use conventional means. In fact, World of Warcraft had quite a successful marketing campaign where movie and television stars would talk about their game characters. And that is going to be my parting note this week, but I will leave you with these tidbits of advertising .

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