Jumping to conclusions
So it has happened again – an MMO developer representative (in this case Jack Emmert) mentions the MT-word in the game forum and suddendly there are loads of pages with people jumping to conclusions what that will mean.
To quote Jack’s post in the Champions Online forum:
I know everyone has questions about microtransactions – what are they, how much are they, etc. I’m sorry we didn’t post something earlier; we’re really heads down in development right now. We’re going to release a WHOLE lot of information in the very near future about not just about microtransactions, but pricing in general. That said, here’s some basic principles about microtransactions to at least answer some of your concerns:
1) Microtransactions enable us to have a larger development team
2) Microtransactions are mostly aesthetic (costume pieces, pets, etc.)
3) If a microtransaction does have any sort of in game effect, then it can be also be earned in game.
I promise we’ll read this thread, note any questions, and answer them more in depth soon. Heck, I’ll try to answer the easy ones today/tomorrow/this week.
The resulting comments include all kinds of assumptions, including the usual that people do not want to play a game where players can buy the über items or that there will be many many hours of grinding to obtain items that could be bought in the store. It really does not matter what the comapny actually writes, as soon as the MT-word is included people just start jumping all over the place. When I checked there were more than 40 pages of comments to Jack’s post.
There was also one post which I found a bit amusing that demanded proof that the money from the microtransactions would go back into development. As if people have proof of that when they pay subscriptions, when they really do not have a clue how much of the subscription fee is actually paying for new development. Do you know how much of the money of your favourite subscription-based MMO goes back into development? Or any MMO for that matter? With public companies like NCSoft one can see how much of the total goes back to costs of development and operation, but not for specific MMOs. Others are generally not disclosing that type of information.
MMO companies that choose to use the subscription model are quite limited. They cannot set a subscription fee they would like to have if they want the safety of being able to recover the costs of developing the game in a certain timeframe and with a certain number of subscribers. The market pretty much dictates what the subscription fee must be, if there is one at all. With more MMO competition already established in the market for years what each new game has to compete with the expectations what should be there out of the gate has not really been lowered.
But if the so compaqny much as hint that they want to spread out those costs so that not everyone pays the same amount regardless of whether they are interested in all features/items or not, people lash out.
Personally I would prefer that companies have some freedom to set their own prices on their products, especially since it is not about providing a very fixed feature set to the consumers. Subscriptions fees will stay as they are unless the market leaders decide to change it, so there is not much freedom there for new games.
At some point in the future perhaps people will not lash out as soon as the see the MT-word, but there will always be new things to jump to conclusions about.