Renting a game instead of selling it ?

Discussion in 'Indie Business' started by Mark_Tempe, Jul 18, 2006.

  1. Mark_Tempe

    Original Member

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    For a couple of days now I am turning over in my mind new [ to my knowledge anyway ] system of payment for the game. I recently signed up with Plimus and downloaded their micro payment game “Cannonâ€￾ this gat me thinking.

    First a few wards about my game so that it is easier to understand how the payment method fits in to it:

    The objective of the game is to gather 1000 Altaxium crystals scattered all over the universe and get back to Earth. The universe is a 2 dimensional grid of sectors 256 by 144 giving 36864 possible sectors to travel to. Green sector may be free of anything , that sector you may travel right across. In different sectors you may encounter: enemy ships, mine fields, space race, taverns , upgrades , teleports, money etc.
    Every time you start a new game, [ read very time you collected 1000 crystals and brought them back to earth] the game universe is randomly created. So the next game will be totally different, a little like Diablo.


    Now my pricing idea:

    The simplest way to put it is: it is like paying for moves in a game of chess.

    First 1000 moves for free- move is the movement of the starship from one sector to another

    When that runs out you have a choice:

    Buy another 100 moves for 1 dollar

    Buy another 700 moves for 5 dollars

    Buy another 2000 moves for 10 dollars

    Buy another 36864 moves for 15 dollars

    Buy another game, so you play until you gather another 1000 crystals and get them back to Earth for 12 $

    But you never can actually buy a full version. It’s kind of like renting the game all the time.

    The pros of the idea:
    - obviously if the game has a replaying value it should provide a study stream of revenue for a longer period of time
    - If a player invest even one dollar in to a game he probably is less likely to uninstall the game

    Cones of the idea:
    -Players may feel uneasy about the system specially if they invest 30$ bucks in a game when most others cost 20$

    Has any one tried something similar?
    Has anyone heard of similar method and how did it work out?
    Anything I am missing in my logic?

    The new website is steal work in progress, but you can see how the sector grid looks like
     
  2. Shaz

    Moderator Original Member

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    What would you do if, once they finished the game, they wanted to start over? Would they have to purchase all their moves again? Or what if you had two or three people who wanted to play under their own user ids (assuming your game allows different people to play and save their progress) - would they each have to purchase their own moves, or would one purchase allow each player to have 1000 moves?

    A game you buy for $20 you can play until the cows come home, and when you're done you can start all over again for no extra cost. And it doesn't matter how many people want to play on the one computer - there's no cost for extra players. By your method it could end up being rather expensive unless you plan it with those things in mind.
     
  3. soniCron

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    I think that's the idea... ;)

    I like the idea and I'll be experimenting with a similar approach in the future. Got a link for the Cannon game?
     
  4. Shaz

    Moderator Original Member

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    :rolleyes: smart alec! Yeah, let's just release games on a hire basis, charge $5 per hour of play and sit back and reap in the rewards. GREAT for developers, NOT great for players! Unless your game is REALLY worth continually dipping into your pocket for, and your demo is compelling enough to bring people in despite the fact that they're going to have to fork over more cash to complete the game, I actually wonder if you'd be doing yourself more harm than good?

    I guess though you're not talking "casual" games here, so the people you're targeting may well be prepared to pay extra to keep playing - guess that's what they did in the "old days" - went down to the corner store with a pocket full of 20 cent pieces....
     
  5. Mark_Tempe

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    Good point Shaz, my game allows up to 3 profiles. I have not thought that through yet.

    The canon link is hire
     
  6. Mark_Tempe

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    That’s pretty much my childhood pal, don’t knack it :)
     
  7. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    There are quite a few "PHP" games that work on this model. But ultimately with them, the motive for players to buy turns is more for the purpose of winning the monthly prize.

    Check out www.pimpslord.com for example.
     
  8. Anthony Flack

    Indie Author

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    Rebember the fundamental appeal of the coin-op - you could keep playing on one 20c until you died.
     
  9. JPickford

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    Naked War is using a similar model to the one described.

    The user buys a bunch of 'challenge credits', the cheapest batch being $20 for 20 credits. Each credit allows you to start a game against anyone you like (the game plays via email). The person you challenge always plays for free - there is no charge for downloading the full client software. We are guaranteeing an average of 1 hour gameplay per credit purchased. If anyone plays through 20 credits in less than 20 hours we'll top them up. In practice we expect a player to start only 50% of the games they play so they should get a lot more than 20 hours gameplay before they run out of credits. Their individual value for money is tracked (and visible) on our website (hours played/ $ paid).

    We are also planning a 'loser pays' mode where both participants pay one credit and the winner is refunded at the end of the game.

    Currently we are in beta. Our testers have paid but we aren't decrementing their credits when they start a game.
     
  10. Indiepath

    Indiepath New Member

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    You really should try and take advantage of all the different routes to market and payment models. Some people are willing to pay $20 for your game where as others would be happier playing your game as part of a subscription package or will pay per play. Don't lock out potential customers, offer flexibility.

    We have an SDK in development called eXigo, it enables you to take advantage of the micropayment model and convert any of your titles in to a session play or credit play game within minutes. You can try out our Asteroids game using the "Credit Play" model - http://www.exigolive.com/exigo/ (User: test_user, Pass: test_user)
     
  11. jankoM

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    Indiepath, you are doing wonderfull things on this unwalked front.. igLoader, eXigo, adds at loading... I plan to use them greatly once I (finish all this php jobs and) make a decent game.
     
  12. JPickford

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    I don't think that's always possible. If your game is subscription based you can't simultaneously sell it outright - unless you charge a stupid amount.

    We chose the subscription model because it more closely reflects our actual costs - running and maintaining a server on which the game relies. I'm very uneasy about selling a product with infinite free service attached.

    Do any of the big monthly subscriptions games offer lifetime subs?
     
  13. Indiepath

    Indiepath New Member

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    Perhaps you could define a point at which the customer actually owns the game and can play for free. For example, if a consumer wants to own an eXigo game outright then they *should* have the ability to cash in the credits they have already purchased and have them applied as a discount. The consumer *should* never pay more than the price of a full product.
     
  14. JPickford

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    I suppose that might be possible if we could be sure that customer isn't going to eventually cost us more than that.

    Why not? We're selling a service not a product.
     
  15. Indiepath

    Indiepath New Member

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    That's my own opinion based on the games currently in the "download" space. I'm not suggesting this would apply to all games, nor am I suggesting that my opinion is correct :p
     
  16. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    biz. model

    I'm not sure either. We should be more concerned with whether the end-user is happy and you have built a sustainable business rather than if they have achieved some magical price point fixed in the casual/downloadable space sand. For example, if you can charge $4.99 a month on an on-going basis (not very much $, c'mon, it's a freakin' hamburger) then you might be able to make a living just maintaining a game for a dedicated group of players.

    Somewhere along the line I saw a study that said that gamers would be happier paying $14.99 a month than $9.99 for their favorite MMORPG - they just needed to have better support, server up-time, etc.. Our goal should be a sustainable business that makes gamers happy.
     
  17. KNau

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    The little "nickel and dime" transactions seem kinda shady. I know I would never do it (as a developer or customer) - but then I think MMOs are a complete rip off too. The world is full of idiots and apparently they all have credit cards so it might work for you - but it's a difficult business model to pull back from if it doesn't.

    For a niche product I think you're better charging an exorbitant upfront price and laying off the player's credit card after that. I'm willing to bet that $59.95 for your full game is just as likely a sale as $5 bucks for x moves.
     
  18. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    $59.95

    I think there is definitely an argument that if we are making niche indie. type titles that sometimes we should be charging a lot more for them. Our mindset is that games cost X so thats what we charge. I wonder if Cliffski could have sold a similar amount of Democracy at a higher price point? Lux is $24.95 and all that seems to matter to that community is that Dustin made a great game.
     
  19. Teq

    Teq
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    Why not charge $19.95 (or another similar fee - as JP does) and give the player 20 hours of gameplay? I don't see how it is any different to a game that takes 20 hours to complete and costs the same amount of money, perhaps I'm missing something? (though I am firmly in the service corner).
     
  20. LilGames

    LilGames New Member

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    No way man. It's all about consumer psychology. How many times have you gone shopping, picked out items you felt were fair priced, then got to the cashier and were a little shocked when the total rang up? Now imagine the same scenario, but you go into the store, and there's a "package" of items for that same total price. You'd think twice and probably would not buy it.

    The only way "package deals" really work is if you discount them. Now do the math, which model nets more profit?

    It's all a psychological game. In the end, it's all about what the CUSTOMER is willing to buy. With some types of games, an up front cost would keep customers OUT. If they are willing to pay smaller prices for "chunks" of the game, then why not serve that customer base what they want?

    I have yet to play Naked War, but it does not sound like something I'd pay $59 for. But if I paid a small fee, got "caught up in the fun" and kept paying, then hey, that's success for Zee3 no?
     

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