Different Ways to Hook Gamers

Last month, I discussed EA’s desire to add more online components to their games.  The idea was to create content that encouraged players to hold on their games longer, instead of trading them in for something else. I thought it was a sound strategy, at least on paper.

But that is not the only way to hook gamers into your products. In recent weeks, we’ve had two great examples of other ways to be profitable. Even better than EA’s method, these two are both complete wins for the consumers.

The first is from MMO creator Turbine. Two of their games, Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeon and Dragons Online, have both gone free-to-play. This is in stark contrast with the prevailing $15/month model of most MMO is in the United States. The base assumption is, of course, that this is a desperate ploy that can not work.  Instead, we get the following two headlines:

Going Free Boosts Turbine’s DDO Revenues 500 Percent [Gamasutra]
Turbine: Lord of the Rings Online monthly revenue has tripled thanks to freemium [Joystiq]

Suddenly these games are not just surviving, they are flourishing. This success is even causing other MMO developers to follow suit (Cryptic Studios developed Champions Online goes free-to-play this month). It has gotten even me interested, and I do not have any real desire to play MMOs. But it is hard to resist that call of “free.”

Our second example sadly is not also about giving things away for free. But it is about consumers saving money. THQ put out a press release stating that they are looking to put out more games at the $39.99 price point, a third less than the standard $59.99.  The arguement is that the standard price is “keeping people out” of markets they’d otherwise jump into. So far, THQ has only announced the upcoming MX vs ATV: Alive as a forty dollar game, but we should see more soon.

We don’t know if either of these strategies will be successful long term, but it is definitely an encouraging sign. Thinking outside the box like this can shake up the video game landscape, hopefully in all positive ways. At the very least, these two ideas are pro-consumer and will benefit gamers in the short term. Here’s hoping they succeed.

-That is all.

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