Syp has an article in related to Collector Edition costs. Syncaine has one related to FF14’s long term subscriber benefits. I know UO for the longest time had veteran rewards. And with all this talk about F2P, one has to wonder how much value you’re actually getting for your money. And not just in the MMO space.
Value per hour
Let’s not kid ourselves. Gaming is a very cheap hobby, assuming you have the console/PC to run it. Let’s say you don’t though. A console is $500 with enough controllers and cables and crap, then $15 a month for multiplayer. A PC is about $1500. Both get you a solid 5 years before needing replacement if you game heavily. So let’s say it costs about $280 a year for a console and $300 for a PC (closer than you thought I bet!). That’s less than a dollar a day.
Games run $60. People play about 22 minute a day, 22 hours a week, for a core gamer. Games run all over the place in terms of completion time. Single player games are around 8 hours, RPGs run 20+, multiplayer is all over the place so let’s guess at 100 and MMOs are even larger so let’s say 200 (3 months @ 22 hours) – but they also cost ~$15 a month in subscriptions.
So a singe player game is $7.5/h, RPG is $3/h, multiplayer is $0.6/h and MMOs are $0.3/h for F2P and $0.5/h for a 3 month subscription. That’s pretty cheap if you think about it.
Value per event
Single player events are contained – you finish the game and you’re done. Only a few have replay value and the number of people who just complete a game are below the 25% mark. Multiplayer games are different, each session can be a new event. You can join a tournament. You could be grinding like a maniac, and I consider that a single event. MMOs are quite a bit different. Sandboxes make their own events, though they do have patches. Burn Jita is an event that has nothing to do with the developer. And the value of a sandbox event is typically higher due to the player’s sense of involvement – mind you they are more spread out. I mean, you hear about a capital ship battle once every 3-6 months.
Themeparks have a set number of events (or rides I guess), usually dictated by the patch/expansion cycle. I will take an example that is not WoW, but instead a patch cycle of 3 months of content, 18 months for expansions. So launch, patch, patch, patch, patch, patch, expansion. Now, expansions shouldn’t ever cost more than half of a launch price – so $30. 95% of the content is already there and the development has been fairly well subsidized by your previous payments. It’s not a new game, it’s a big DLC. The patches, content patches mind you, should as a whole equal half the content of an expansion pack. By that I mean, content patches should have new zones, new events, new items, new systems, etc…What an expansion provides is a vertical progress (new levels) and a LARGE package of content (zones, events, etc…)
Value for extra content
And that’s just baseline content. The original CE issue is that the prices are all over the place. Early access, beta access, a pinky ring, some scarf that no one can see. All of that junk makes no sense to me. But hey, people still believe buying lottery tickets is a smart move. A CE should have actual value. Physical items (like coins, statues, maps, books), digital non-game items (soundtracks, art), digital in-game items (mounts, re-usable dyes, titles, costumes). Why would you ever pay for $30 more for an item that has 2 hours of use (such as a ring that grants extra experience for 10 levels).
And this gets me to my final point, you the player. You pump in quarters to the machine and get to play. The developer gets money. You are content for other players (certainly in F2P games). The deal can be broken at any time and the reason to keep paying is a personal/social one. FF14 (and a few others) have tweaked that a bit. Play for X amount of time and get this bonus item (a mount, a trophy, etc…). Or if you are a subscriber, get a significant discount on future items, including expansions. I mean, you’ve subsidized the game this far, why keep paying? Certainly in this age of instant themeparks, if you can get 3 months out and there’s no new events, why keep paying (outside of social circles). You can just hop into another themepark and drop 3 months of cash and cycle through. Games that treat you with respect as a client earn more business in the real world. It’s about time the virtual one caught up.