Rumors has been flying around in regarding publishers Electronic Arts classified BioWare’s upcoming Star Wars MMO The Old Republic as a “microtransaction-based” title, indicating that the game will include alternative financial models other than a subscription fee. In a recent announcement Electronic Arts has responded to Shacknews, reiterating that “no statements have been made about the Star Wars business model,” and attributing Mr. Riccitiello’s comments to a misunderstanding.
Many players have been completely against this RMT transactions because of the ways it can hinder the quality of the game. I have played a fair amount of RMT MMOs in the past but none are being delivered by quality publishers such as EA and Bioware. Can one really say the game will suck because they are not paying a $15 subscription fee to keep the game deveopers from maintaining development on the game? How can you say that the flat subscription rate they receive will motivate them to work harder for improvements when they know what they’re getting and are going to get just that amount each month? Perhaps the developers may even make more utilizing a RMT business model or it may attract more players as the game may be free to play.
Then there are those players who against it because they want to compete and play among other players at the same level. Why should a player become an underdog at a video game because they can’t offer real life influences? Despite the negative impact this may have on certain players, they may not realize the positive sides that may come to it. There are possible ways of implementing the RMT business model without hindering ones play game play as mentioned by the Greenskin.
- Pay to play: Utilizing the popular method used in the Asia market, pay for the time played. Casual players would gain the most benefit from this as they are only paying for the little amount of time they can spend on the game.
- Aesthetic variety: Instead of wearing a black armor, you can pay a small fee to change the color or design. This would be the safest way to go about the RMT mode.
- Player housing: Create a rich housing system and give everyone access to the basics. Then you can basically turn it into a Sims-like race for people to show off their unique architecture and design tastes for RL cash.
- Character helpers: This would probably earn them the publishers the most cash but may hinder the game the most. Games such as Gunbound and other popular SOE titles utilize this method. You can purchase items of greater value or gold to quickly surpass another players effectiveness.
- Expansions: Even subscription based MMORPGs utilize this method but in RMT based games, it may be possible to limit this to an extent where a player cannot overwhelm another with resources found within the expansion.
A method not mentioned by the Greenskin is by using an ad platform. This has became popular in several games. I believe DAoC for a short period of time has had ad placements in the game but were removed due to unhappy campers. Fact is, they are already charging a subscription fee. Perhaps those who pays the subscription will have ads removed and those who plays for free will see them. Either way, a free to play MMORPG would always catch the attention of new players.
Another way to look at it, chinese farmers are already hindering the game play with gold selling and power leveling. It is merely impossible for the publishers to prevent this completely, why not join in and have more control of how it’ll effect the players? Create different servers where transfers of gold for real life dollars are allowed and supported through an auction system and have separate servers where players who doesn’t want this option.
I believe whichever business model the publishers decide to use may contribute a small factor in the outcome of the game but ultimately it shouldn’t have that big of an impact. As long as the publishers can set their focus on the demands of the players rather than maximizing their revenue they can still maintain a quality game through RMT. I don’t think there is one perfect solution where the publishers can generate the most revenue but all methods can be effective if implemented properly.