Pay to Play Multiplayer – Would you?

So there is a hot little article running around the web today about the potential to monetize multi-player, in a pay to play model. The article quotes Michael Pachter, a market analyst, who  basically says that large publishers such as Activision are getting ripped off in this whole multi-player deal. 

The logic is as follows: If a ton of XBL players are playing Call of Duty, Activision should see some of that. But they don’t, they only see the money from the sale of the game, not from the multiplayer. If a game like Call of Duty is driving XBL subscription sales, then Activision should get a cut.  Also if players are spending huge amounts of time on these popular MP games, then they are not purchasing new games. Mr. Pacter states:

“We think that it is incumbent upon Activision, with the most popular multiplayer game, to take the first step to address monetization of multiplayer,” said Pachter. “It is too early to tell whether that will be a monthly subscription, tournament entry fees, microtransaction fees, or a combination of all three, but we expect to see the company take some action by year-end, when Call of Duty Black Ops launches.”

From what I see, the response from gamers has been swift and biting. Some are calling for a boycott of Activision is this ever happens. Some say that they will never play another Call of Duty game. Some are taking a more measured approach.

Here’s my two cents.

Hey: FPS fans. Stop pretending. You will buy Call of Duty, and pay the extra $10, at most, when the rave reviews start flying and your friends list is full of buddies playing COD. You will justify the extra charge. Right now it is getting people angry, but down the line, when the game hits the shelf, you will have rationalized the extra expense away. After all: the cost-benefit analysis still puts playing a game like COD heavily into the plus column.  $60 for the game, $50 for an XBL subscription and and extra $10 for the COD MP license is $120. Divided by the BRAZILLION hours that some people play in this game and you still have a great product at a great value. A small subscription fee is a drop in the bucket.

Secondly, the article talks about “providing value” to the player. Now this could be one of two things. One. It could be complete and utter BS, something to say in an attempt to smooth ruffled feathers. If this is the case, Activision and the like will lose respect and draw the ire of gamers everywhere. Not a great business model.

 Two. You know… maybe “providing value”  could actually mean offering something that we want.

I think the question that is more interesting than “Would you pay an extra $10 for MP?” is “What would you need in order to make that $10 worthwhile?” Cause there MUST be something.

This could actually be a huge opportunity for Activision and the like to come out of all this being the good guys. How? By actually listening to gamers, and giving us something that we really do want.

So what is it?

Free map packs? Free weapons? Free avatar clothing? Microtransactions? I doubt it. This avenue will do nothing more than make gamers see red. We don’t need or want more free crap. Microtransactions don’t excite. Yet this is easy to throw at us. So what else could they offer?

I would happily pay for a special “COD” buddy list so that I didn’t have to continuously cull my precious 100 slots on my friends list. This would be cool, and a bit different, but it doesn’t make me go “WOW.”

How about: a stricter enforcement of Terms of Service… and I don’t mean banning people with naughty words in their bio. What if Activision was able to get tough on glitchers and cheaters, racists and sexists, and ban them from Call of Duty. You want to play COD again? Pony up that $10 my friend.

What about special rooms available just for people new to the multiplayer aspect of the game. You are only allowed in if you have under 20 hours of game time. Helps newbs hone their skills against other newbs. An MP tutorial sandbox.  You could expand this: what about rooms only for people who have prestiged? That way vets can play against vets. Rooms for people over a certain age. I know I hate playing with 12-year-old kids.

All this makes me go *YES*.

Do that, and the rest of the gaming community may not only pay the $10, but pay it happily, and demand it from the other guys.

Everyone wins.

There has GOT to be a way that everyone can make money and have a great gaming experience: what are your ideas?

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  • Durty  On July 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I think you hit it. People WILL pay, because they want to play. They can whine, bitch, and moan all they want to right now, but in the end that $10 will be paid and they will go on playing. I may be disgusted that they are trying to get more money out of the gaming community, but I’d pay it for H3, and I rarely even play anymore.

    Good job, sweetie!

  • Tim B.  On July 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Hey I enjoy your blog and thought I would put in my two cents regarding this insane idea, I’m TimboJackson at 2Old2Play by the way. Yes, there are people that would go ahead and pay-to-play on their favorite games, but this gamer wouldn’t. I really don’t see this coming to fruition, even though the greedy bastards at Activision really want it to. From what I have been reading, it has been majority negative, too. I really hope the gaming industry doesn’t decide to go this road, but it basically comes down to the all mighty dollar and unfortunately the dollar usually wins.

  • Enrico  On July 26, 2010 at 8:41 am

    I’m with Tim B on this one, assuming we’re talking about an ongoing, monthly fee. That automatically blacklists a game for me, no matter how good. It’s the one and only reason I don’t play WOW. It’s a big reason I still come back to great titles like Quake Wars: Enemy Territory years after release. I paid $40 to buy the game. Nothing further ever again. 800+ hours of great times into that game. $40. So if they charged an extra $10 flat for Activision? Done. If they charged even $1 per month? Pass.

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