Posts Tagged ‘Free to play’

Following the first part of this post I am going into some details about in-game advertising and alternative revenue streams that enable “free to play” games.

In-game advertising is nothing new. The US company Massive, which was purchased by Microsoft in 2006, provides services to host advertising within videogames. However the placement of adverts is restricted by game-play, story and many other creativity related points. Imagine the placement of a branded virtual energy drink vending machine or a commercialized weapons shop in a game; would it be fair to players who cannot afford paying for the energy boost or weapons upgrade with real money?
If this creates a gap between wealthy and poor players, where the wealthy become the most powerful, nobody would play anymore. That’s why it becomes important to maintain a balance and not enable players to “buy” their winning advantage. After all the free to play model should not limit a gamers’ fun with monetization methods.

Let’s look into other sources of revenue. Many of you know Facebook. Long before that, Korean’s had a social website, or mini homepage, called Cyworld which is to-date often replacing the usage of emails. When I worked in Seoul over the summer in 2008 I learned how face-to-face communication and community sites were overshadowing the use of emails.
My wife also has her own free Cyworld account where she receives paid digital presents from her close friends and family. These micro transaction presents were for her site’s music theme, online desktop background, special animations and many other decorative elements.

The same principle applies to online games; players can for example repair their combat gear or buy experience points if they are eager to play in a more advanced league. Alternatively why not declare peace and send your enemies some digital flowers for Valentine’s Day. Just imagine receiving a bullet proof sports vehicle for your birthday…

As mentioned in another post many Korean internet cafes, called PC Bangs (stands for PC rooms), pay game publishers a fee for hosting or installing their games in their public gaming room. I had the most fun when playing a first person shooter called Special Force with four other friends in one room. We paid for the hours we played, which helped me schedule my day, and had some publisher branded soda from the real vending machine.

Korea has established a variety of methods to pay for online content, these include paying by cell phone, by landline, credit cards and prepaid cards. Although the western world is nowhere near the widely spread high speed internet network of Korea, the country’s free to play games model is not far away.

By Navid Firouz

Where the US has become the Mecca of basketball through its NBA super athletes, Korea’s super internet technology is making it the capital of online games.

Let’s look back down memory lane first. I remember playing Midway’s “NBA Jam” basketball game in 1993 – published by Acclaim. It was my favourite arcade sports game for two reasons; because it was fun and because school friends gathered at my place to enjoy playing against each other.
About 16 years later I’m still a big basketball fan, however school is over. While looking for an alternative to my school friends I loaded the latest basketball games on my Xbox 360 – I played both EA’s and 2K Sports’ version. They have all types of fascinating online gaming features and only lack one major thing – where are the other players? I literarily had to wait five to ten minutes to find another human player on Xbox Live.

I’m not saying the games are not popular; perhaps there are too many games and not enough players? On the other hand I’ve been playing Call of Duty and Battlefield for years, and when I went to war yesterday I saw plenty of my online buddies pinging me to join them on the field.

Perhaps it is time for all other online games to adapt to Korea’s (free to play) micro transaction business model.

When I played games with my family in Korea, I saw that many online game portals generate traffic by temporarily charging players once they upgrade their games with maps, weapons, clothing, music and more. The game itself is free to play in many cases, and if you can’t pay for the upgrades you won’t join the masses. An alternative example is online gambling where you receive free credit for signing up, or even a limited amount per day. Once you’ve spent that credit you can then purchase more with real cash by using your credit card. A former colleague of mine works for one of the biggest online gambling providers in Austria – they use this method to keep an active pool of visitors.

I will go into more details in the second part of this post; within the next few days.

By Navid Firouz