Monday, February 22, 2010

Forget about the Allods Online cash shop, this is dumb for any business model

It never fails that a game implodes while I am away for the weekend.  This time around it was Allods Online.

In the beginning of the early closed betas, I was not worried about the Allods Online cash shop.  The game in closed beta proved to me and many other players to be playable without any cash shop items.  The cash shop was going to about convenience.  The only thing that was going to change that was a game breaking patch.  Barring that single situation, Allods Online was shaping up to be a delightful game.

Unfortunately, game breaking changes just so happen to have been slated for patch, which contains changes best summed up by Keen:
Guess what was in these notes? Game breaking changes to the cash shop. Being resurrected by other players now gives you Fear of Death (the death debuff). In Heroic instances, which you can not leave, this essentially means you must have perfume to remove the debuff. Clearly promises are broken here. Given that the NA version must pay $13.50 for a stack of 20 perfume, the math was done and we’re looking at over $50 / month in order to participate in end-game PvE. Top it all off? Fear of Death now lasts 2 hours at level 40.
Lets forget about the cash shop for a minute; these changes don't make sense for any business model.  Unavoidable, hours long death penalties?  In a game designed to have players die repeatedly?  This is a classic case of the punishment (fear of death) not fitting the crime (death).  I would have as much of a problem with these changes in a subscription game where I would have to grind away my time for perfume, something more valuable to me than my cash. 

Bringing the cash shop back into the conversation highlights how dumb these changes are.  Either change was bad by itself, but combined they are a nightmare.  Its not a question of players wanting to be free riders.  Many players were more than willing to pay for Allods Online (me included).

The power of the micro-transaction model is it's ability to attract players in at all buy-in levels.  Those willing to spend $5 are given options while those willing to spend $50 can do so as well.  Pricing every single thing in the cash shop out of that lower bracket, while simultaneously forcing players into the cash shop goes against the grain of the business model.  At that point, the game is better off in a subscription model.

Stay tuned for more commentary on this subject.  I think people, again, are losing focus because this involves micro transactions.  Hopefully, we can steer this conversation back to just how stupid the planned game changes are.

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