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How Much Money Do Free-To-Play MMOs Make?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the insert-coin-for-funny-hat dept.

PC Games (Games) 157

simoniker writes "Over at Gamasutra, a new feature article discusses how much money free-to-play MMO games make, with specific real-world stats from game developers willing to discuss how they make money with microtransaction-based PC games. In particular, Puzzle Pirates co-creator Daniel James reveals that 'the average revenue per user (ARPU) is between one and two dollars a month, but only about 10% of his player base has ever paid him anything. As a result, he says, approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue he sees each month.' It's obviously quite a different model from the regular $15/month for World Of Warcraft, but it evidently works for some companies."

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Dear free MMO companies (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272441)

Stop making your games for Windows only and maybe you'll see more money.

Hint: on campuses there's at least 50% Mac users.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

f0dder (570496) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272515)

They're moving to consoles & other proprietary devices like the iPhone & iPod.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272613)

How many of those Mac users are too busy studying, socializing in person, or ransacking the couch for ramen money though?

Re:Dear free MMO companies (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272683)

None.
We sit in Starbucks all over the nation, sipping our latte all day long, waiting for the master to return.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Hillman (137883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273781)

You forgot: coding with ruby on rails

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

davidphogan74 (623610) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274509)

I thought the Master was killed at the end of Fallout? Doesn't that mean he's destined to fail, like why you don't build an AI and name it Skynet?

Re:Dear free MMO companies (3, Insightful)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272729)

Well, dunno about studying or socializing, but if you can afford a mac, you're probably not ransacking couches for Ramen money.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (4, Funny)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272969)

No no: that Mac is *why* they're plundering the furniture. ;)

Re:Dear free MMO companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273647)

Well, you may be. At my college we were all required to get a Mac at the beginning of freshman year, it became part of my student aid package, and I was most certainly scraping change for ramen noodles.

I'll leave to argument as to whether I should have been playing games on it while in school for another discussion :)

Re:Dear free MMO companies (5, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272745)

"ransacking the couch for ramen money" That sounds really dirty to me for some reason.
Is that what you kids are calling it these days? In my day was just called it sex, I guess I am just old.
Get off my lawn.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (3, Funny)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274535)

Kids these days. When I was in school, we ransacked the couch for ramen.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (5, Informative)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272643)

Puzzle Pirates is written in cross platform Java. Works on every major OS.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (5, Informative)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272753)

Some of us are browser based. I play www.KingdomofLoathing.com all the time, and it's platform independent. I also run my own game at www.Twilightheroes.com.

With just under 30k accounts, maybe 2,000 of them active in a given month, I'm not really quite "massive" yet but my own experience is that I pull in on average less than $0.50 per account per month, with some fair bit of fluctuation. I'd be jumping for joy at an average of $2/player.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273999)

15k a month?

I need to start one of these. Either that or this is where you tell me your operating cost is 16k a month.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274699)

Oh hey, nice to see you here. I play both as well.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272785)

Hint: on campuses there's at least 50% Mac users.

Biggest load of bull ever.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1, Insightful)

Stauken (1392809) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273005)

Yeah. Some campuses are probably closer to 90%. Alternatively, theres probably some campuses who have few students who can afford anything close to a mac.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

dingo8baby (1262090) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272879)

if 50% of college students are mac users, then 50% of them don't care about playing games on their computers.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273013)

if 50% of college students are mac users, then 50% of them don't care about playing games on their computers.

What? WoW works on the Mac, and the XBOX 360 is for everything else...

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

dingo8baby (1262090) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273809)

hence the "on their computers".

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274191)

You assume that mac cultists would dare defile their home with a Microsoft product. They are all playing Sims3 on their iPhone.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272925)

I think a better statement would be 'at least 50% of the people who I see with computers use Macs'. That's because Macs are status symbols first, and computers second (not to say they are not great systems). If PC's were as sexy as Macs then folks would be proud to be seen using them too. And I would imagine those people would far out number the Mac users.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273367)

actually, the open carrying of macs is akin to being a open gay. they know they're shitballs but they just don't care anymore. if you see a guy carrying an apple in public, he'll suck your dick.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (5, Interesting)

Dr. Zim (21278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273471)

Actually, as an openly gay mac user, I have to say I've gotten far more dick when I leave my computer at home.

If you think your hardware choice will get you laid, I'm guessing you don't get much from either sex.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274331)

What about this guy [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Dear free MMO companies (0, Troll)

pklinken (773410) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274347)

That should be Dr. Rim, really..

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274537)

Actually, as an openly gay mac user, I have to say...

There's a special version of Mac based on your sexual orientation? Damn! I knew Apple's DRM was getting restrictive but this is ridiculous!

Re:Dear free MMO companies (4, Funny)

Veggiesama (1203068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274585)

You heard it here on Slashdot first, gentlemen. Gay men aren't attracted to your operating system.

We already knew they weren't aroused by the size of your external hard drive, but the jury's still out on whether or not you should wear an anti-virus shield when having unprotected file-sharing with another anonymous gay man. Some call this controversial practice "bare-backuping," and it remains highly controversial in online gay communities.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (4, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273461)

Odd, I got a Mac in college when my PC crapped out thanks to some defective parts after $300 of upgrades. I decided I had enough of futzing with my computer, and fixing things, so I bought an iBook. With student discounts it was cheaper than most comparable Wintel laptops, and did pretty much the same stuff, and I got a free iPod with it. Sure, I couldn't game, but I had more important things to do.

It actually served my purposes fine, and it was damn cheap. Hardly a status symbol. Hell, even if it was a status symbol it might have left my dorm room 4 times 3 years.

Stop generalizing to justify your own selection of OS as being far superior to everyone elses. And stop deluding yourself into thinking you OS choice has anything to do with anything that actually matters. Its shallow, and obnoxious.

And just so you don't call me a fan-boy (which is also vapid, I might add) I'm typing this on my Windows gaming rig, sitting next to my Ubuntu laptop, which is sitting next to a Mac Mini I'm fitting into a mini media center.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

indiechild (541156) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273893)

I don't think he was trying to be a smart ass at all. In fact, he's probably on to something. However much I want to deny it, Macs have become status symbols of a kind. Not blingy useless crap that hangs around your neck like a gold chan does, but status symbols all the same. Look at all the Mac product placement in movies and TV shows for example. Macs have entered the public consciousness.

I think Macs have become status symbols in spite of themselves, which is rather surprising. After all, no-one (despite what the Mac haters claim) buys a computer just so they can look good. Computers have to work, first and foremost, and Macs do that very well. They combine form and function better than anybody else.

I find it very amusing that people keep claiming Macs are so much more expensive. When I bought my first Mac, an iBook G3 in 2003, it was the best value notebook for my needs. It was actually cheap in comparison to most PC notebooks, which really surprised me. The Mac notebook line has always been good value.

The haters like to promote this image of rich wankers using Macs, but I've never come across anybody who fits that stereotype. Most of the Mac users I know are middle class or even low-to-middle class.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274243)

Poor wankers buy Macs too. I've seen them spare changing for their Starbucks latte with their Che Guevara t-shirts and ratty jeans (and sadly this is not a joke).

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274283)

When I bought my first Mac, an iBook G3 in 2003, it was the best value notebook for my needs. It was actually cheap in comparison to most PC notebooks, which really surprised me. The Mac notebook line has always been good value.

Sadly this doesn't hold true on the higher end. MacBooks and iBooks were a decent value, and at least comparable to Windows laptops with the same specs, but PowerBooks and MacBook Pro's are generally way too expensive for what you get.

My HP Pavilion Vista Laptop (now running Linux) was around $300 (maybe a little less) than my girlfriends MBP with the same hardware (less bundled RAM, Apple still thinks RAM is a rare commodity mined from the last rainforest on Venus in quantities over 1GB for some reason), and a smaller screen. This always confused me, how the entry level can be an good value, while the top-end is overpriced.

Its not even "bling" value, since I rarely see a MBP in the hands of a young person.

The same is true for iMacs, the low level is a good price for a computer/monitor, while the high level isn't.

I think Macs have become status symbols in spite of themselves, which is rather surprising.

Anecdotal, so take with a grain of salt, but I don't know anyone who bought a Mac for the status symbol aspect. ipods and iPhones, yes, but not the computers themselves. I might know the wrong crowd, or am too old to know many people who would do such a thing, though. Half the people in college bought them because that is what they grew up on (odd, I know), or because our school's computer shop only sold Macs, and the only retailer in my town (Flagstaff, AZ) was a OfficeMax (depot?), so you had to drive 150 miles to get any competition.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274209)

Just out of curiosity...

Did the free iPod cook toast?

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274299)

Yes.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274561)

"Status symbol"? Hah! I take it you've not actually used one, then.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273025)

Hm.. perhaps the Windows version is free, but the Linux or MacOS versions could be built (and require an extra periodic fee to use)

Without some manner of subsidizing the development, it's really hard to justfy porting your app to OSes that have a _combined_ market share of less than 10%

Re:Dear free MMO companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273175)

On the other hand, you could "fund" developers who can tell their ass from a usb port and can write code that doesn't need any work to port.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273171)

my ass. even the best numbers i could find said that 23% of college students were mac owners.

how about you cite some sources instead of being a lying fanboi faggot bitch.

i know... it's because you can't. you fucking can't!!!!

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

hipifreq (1323407) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273359)

Hint: on campuses there's at least 50% Mac users.

[citation needed]

I don't know what campus YOU'VE been on lately, but our local campus has FAR more Windoze boxes running around.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

beav007 (746004) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273853)

our local campus has FAR more Windoze boxes running around.

Maybe this is why Windows keeps crashing...

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273549)

Stop making your games for Windows only and maybe you'll see more money.

I suspect that if you are in this business you have credible numbers for the OSX and Linux platforms.

It would be helpful if OEM Linux shed its reputation as a bottom feeder.

That you could point to mass-market sales of entry-level gaming systems at least as plausible as the mid-line HP Pavilion sold at WalMart.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Informative)

Turor (770192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273927)

Ahoy matey, Puzzle Pirates runs on Mac and Linux just fine.

In fact I'm using Linux and logged in right now. Arr!

Re:Dear free MMO companies (2, Informative)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274099)

You mean like Game! [wittyrpg.com] ? I don't really see many Mac users, substantially more Linux users actually.

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274257)

And they're willing to pay for shiny.

No, hold it, that's not quite it. It's more that the average Mac user, at least to my observation, wants his stuff to do what he wants. He's quite willing to say "here's the money, now bend over and do what I want you to do!"

Windows users are generally hoping things would work out, notice they don't, then putz around and reach for workarounds before ever even considering paying another dime.

And Linux users are actually looking for and thriving on traps, pitfalls and shortcomings.

So. All stereotypes done?

Re:Dear free MMO companies (1)

xepel (1573443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28275049)

ClanLord (www.clanlord.com) is a 'free' game for Macintosh. You pay ~$15 for the account, but there are no monthly charges past then (which is fairly new, it used to be pay by month). It's been around for 10 years (and looks it), but I love it, personally.

5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272447)

Wow, when did $46 become a micro payment?

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272535)

when you do 5$ nine times. approximately.

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (3, Informative)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272545)

Wow, when did $46 become a micro payment?

From when you RTFA:

Three Rings' MMO Puzzle Pirates takes in approximately $50 each month from each paying user (ARPPU) for a total of $230,000 a month, all resulting from microtransactions.

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272585)

Maybe he used to work for Verizon [slashdot.org] ?

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (2, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272617)

I suspect that the median monthly payment is much smaller, and that there's a "long tail" of people-who-would-be-called-irrational-by-economists, who see the game as a social venue and thus are chipping in a lot. I used to play Kingdom of Loathing, and some of the hard core users seemed to be spending upward of $100 a month on the game partly because they spent a lot of their social time in the game and meta-game (forums; auctions; clan dungeons; &c.). They seemed to be getting a whole lot more out of it than I was and I was very impressed at the tight-knit community. Anyway, I just chipped in $10 after my first ascension and shortly thereafter lost interest entirely.

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

JeffAMcGee (950264) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272861)

Have you seen what has happened to the value of the US dollar over the past 10 years?

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273225)

Yes... the ongoing decline is partially caused due to rampant USD farming.

Once upon a time, the $$$ you earned were based on real work, and/or legitimate investment using your own cold hard cash.

And then the $$farmers (botters) came... and didn't follow the rules... they exploited bugs, that allowed them to leverage obscene amounts of phoney $$$ they weren't supposed to have access to.

They created an inherently deceptive market. Distorting the value of things such that it would be valued increasingly higher, at ridiculous price momentum.

They got their cronies in place throughout the political arena, so $$farmers have better representation than the people.

Instead of the past fair work/investment-based economy, huge profits came from breaking the game rules.

They bring the world economy to the verge of collapse. And the real world is by no means out of the woods yet.

The $$farmers continue to look for and try to get short-term fixes from their puppet government And matters continue to worsen

In 48 months, $1000 may be a "micro" payment.

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273061)

Sounds like those 5000 would be the 10% of players all the revenue actually came from.

The total number of players (including the ones who don't pay), I suppose, would be. 5000 divided by (1 - 0.9), aka 50000 players.

So if each of the 5000 payers generated $46/month in revenue, that would average $4.60 a month per player over all 50000 active players (inclusive of the ones that didn't actually generate revenue).

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273533)

I want to know when "free mmos" included micropayments.

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274289)

Oh c'mon, bait-and-switch. You can play for free, but to get the "good stuff" and don't have the feeling you're just wasting your time (why that changes when you pay is beyond me, but ... ya know...), you have to shell out dough.

It's not really that uncommon, ya know?

Re:5,000 equal $230,000 a month (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274687)

Compared to the bottom line of any retail outlet, what you pay at the cash register is probably considered a micro payment.

When you spend a billion dollars on R&D for the latest pharmaceutical, selling a billion pills for a few bucks each would be micro payment.

For MMO's that earn a few million dollars a year, the subscription fees are probably considered micro payments, with payments for in-game perks probably also being micro or even nano payments.

If you advertise it as free (4, Interesting)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272471)

most people are going to play it like it's free, as in, not paying for anything. You'll still have a minority that will help to boost the sales by paying a whole lot more than they should for in game items. Likewise, I have never played a free MMO that didn't have someone running around the home city just shouting out advertisements.

Re:If you advertise it as free (2, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272855)

I have never played a ANY MMO that didn't have someone running around the home city just shouting out advertisements.

Have not read the article, but it seems fro mthe summary that they know that most people are going ot play for free. But the free draws them in and then some pay for things and they make enough to stay in business.

A good business model does not require making millions of profit. If a company makes enough to pay it's employees well with a little leftover capitol to grow then it is doing well.

Re:If you advertise it as free (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273433)

I have.

Granted, that's partly because you're trapped in one area until level 50 (at which point you have to start paying), and that area is hard to get to after level 50. Generally, people who would just shout out advertisements aren't willing to spend $10 for the very short opportunity until they get jailed.

But I would guess that is a problem -- if it's a pay game, there's a hurdle for griefers and spambots. If it's free, you have to play with CAPTCHAS and the like, just like any other free service.

Re:If you advertise it as free (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273905)

most people are going to play it like it's free, as in, not paying for anything.

I don't know that that is the case. I've been involved in a handful of free-to-play, but pay-for-perks games, and most of the people I played with threw money at the game.
 
Currently, the game is Requiem: Bloodymare, and most of the people I play with throw a fair bit of money at it. I wouldn't be surprised if the average wasn't near WOW's average. Why would we throw money its way? The game makes it easy and fun. There is no marketing pressure, but a fair bit of social pressure. At the same time, money spent = easier advancement or more fun stuff.
 
All that I know don't treat it as free because they can play for free. They spend what they want to get the fun stuff. While my sample size isn't huge, it's a solid 10-15 people.

bad math (-1, Flamebait)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272491)

if the average user gives an average of 1-2 dollars per month, how can 5000 users generate 230,000 dollars?

Re:bad math (2, Informative)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272537)

Maybe it's because the $1-$2 range is across ALL users, not just those that pay. Of ALL the users, only about 5000 pay anything, and what they pay is about $230,000. The only thing "bad math" about it is that the 5000 users probably represent slightly less than 5% of the userbase, not the 10% he mentioned. But that's hardly a big enough deal to get worked up over. Perhaps you just misread the summary and instead of re-reading it, posted about how bad the math was.

Re:bad math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272547)

Those 5,000 are the ones paying. Total user base would be 115,000 - 230,000 users.

Re:bad math (1)

dmadzak (997352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272565)

My guess is that the average paying user, will pay 1-2 dollars a month, but there are the very small % of users that drop a ton of cash to make up for it.

Maybe he is using the median average instead of the mean?

Re:bad math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272569)

Those are the 5,000 users who actually pay. The rest don't.

Re:bad math (4, Informative)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272577)

if the average user gives an average of 1-2 dollars per month, how can 5000 users generate 230,000 dollars?

I believe that the average per user is $1-2 per month.

However, the average per paying user was something along the lines of $50. So the math would go something like:

($50/paying user)(5000 users) = $250,000

or

($1.50/user)(160,000 users) = $240,000

d-oh, stupid units (2, Insightful)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272605)

($50/paying user)(5000 users) = $250,000

Clearly it should read:

($50/paying user)(5000 paying users) = $250,000

Re:bad math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272673)

rtfa, ARPU = Average Revenue per user
ARPPU = Average revenue per paying user.

Re:bad math (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272823)

Well, however your spell it, I love buying Squishies from that guy.

Re:bad math (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273795)

APU = Thank You, Come Again

Re:bad math (2, Interesting)

Pollardito (781263) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272679)

That 5000 is the percent that actually pays, the 1-2 dollar average is across all his users. There's still some bad math or heavy rounding in there since they say that 10% of the users pay, and so the average paid by paying users should not be 25-50 times the average paid by all users.

Re:bad math (1)

reilwin (1303589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272853)

It's an error in the summary. The article states:

Indeed, James reveals that Three Rings' MMO Puzzle Pirates takes in approximately $50 each month from each paying user (ARPPU) for a total of $230,000 a month, all resulting from microtransactions.

Fuzzy Math? Call in the IRS (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272495)

So, how does $1-2 per user per month, and 5,000 users, come out to $200,000+/month. I assume this is a typo and that is his annual revenue.

Re:Fuzzy Math? Call in the IRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272665)

Hey Troll, please look at the comment right above yours.

Wait What? How Bad is My Math... (4, Informative)

greymond (539980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272657)

"(ARPU) is between one and two dollars a month, but only about 10% of his player base has ever paid him anything. As a result, he says, approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue"

So 10% of the player base is paying him and that player base equals 5,000 people. So there are 50,000 people a month playing - nice.

But wait a sec...ARPU is only $2 on the top end and 5,000 people pay this, so that's $10,000 a month - where is the other $220,000 coming from!!!!! Even if all 50k people were spending $2 a month that's be $100k - Where did I miss something?

OH I GET IT NOW - From the actual article....
"Indeed, James reveals that Three Rings' MMO Puzzle Pirates takes in approximately $50 each month from each paying user (ARPPU) for a total of $230,000 a month, all resulting from microtransactions."

This is different than what the blurb mentioned - I guess it did get me to read, but only this time - you're tactics won't always work on me!

Re:Wait What? How Bad is My Math... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272735)

And if I add apples and oranges, I can eliminate the national debt as long as I remember to divide by zero!

10% of the player base is paying him

No, 10% of the player base has ever paid him. Some other % (presumably smaller) is the 5000 players paying monthly.

ARPU is only $2 on the top end and 5,000 people pay this, so that's $10,000 a month

No, the average is over all of the players, so thats (total players)*$2 a month.

Re:Wait What? How Bad is My Math... (2, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272911)

I love summaries like this one. It's a great tool for figuring out who has poor reading comprehension and/or logic ability.

Re:Wait What? How Bad is My Math... (0, Troll)

daveime (1253762) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273811)

If you divide by zero, surely the National Debt will go to infinity ?

No wait, Barak already covered that, didn't he ?

Re:Wait What? How Bad is My Math... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273621)

Real bad.
They get US$2 in average from total user base.
but from all users, only 5K pay anything, these are called paying users.
And from paying users, the average income = US$50.
5K * 50 = 250K bucks
Gee... English is not my first language but I can read better than you.

Comparing to WoW (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272671)

I think the reason those numbers work for a free MMO is there is most likely a small userbase and doesn't take mass network resources. But WoW on the other hand has some high costs associated with a larger game. In the end its still not the same overall numbers but it might nearly be the same net profit gain percentages.

Re:Comparing to WoW (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274315)

Well, then look at profit per player instead of profit overall. You'll notice that with more players using up more resources, you also end up with more players paying more money. Actually, certain cost (like support and core maintainance) start to decline on a per player base if your playerbase grows.

I think 6 (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272697)

is it 6? I'm guessing 6, 6 right?

"approximately 5,000 gamers are generating the $230,000 in revenue he sees each month."

If you knew, why the hell did you ask me?

DDO - free to play (1, Offtopic)

ludomancer (921940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272775)

Interesting that this was posted today without announcing that today was also the day that DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online, Turbine Entertainment) announced it was going free to play. Just a thought.

Re:DDO - free to play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28272869)

It's really not that interesting.

Re:DDO - free to play (1)

Lunzo (1065904) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273387)

I'd say it was a co-incidence, as opposed to sneaky DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) marketing. There was no mention of DDO at all in TFA (I did read it for once. It felt wrong I tell you). In fact the article focused on smaller indy games which use this pricing model. Contrast that with the major effort that went into DDO which wanted to be a World of Warcraft killer but flopped.

Re:DDO - free to play (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273393)

Interesting that this was posted today without announcing that today was also the day that DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online, Turbine Entertainment) announced it was going free to play. Just a thought.

Going free for now..but aren't they coming out with a new expansion. Is this their angle.

Predictions (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272887)

I haven't read the article, but, to me it seems the takeaway here is pretty obvious: Your users are content and they are providing themselves. The question becomes "Are the users that never pay anything valuable enough to the users that may pay something to convince them to continue paying and participating at that paying level, or would those same paying users pay as much without the addition free users as human content?" And I think that's a tough question to ask which can only be answered through actual testing.

The resulting possibilities are 1) You get no money because now hardly any players join the game world and thus it is not as fun and thus people who are willing to pay, aren't willing to pay for very long. or 2) The game is equally as fun with a smaller user base, the paying base actually grows because their friends hear it's fun and put up cash before they even try it, and you end up with more revenue even though you have a much smaller total playerbase.

Big gambles because to me it seems like you have to try pay-to-play first before moving to free-to-play. And moving to a microtransaction model might alienate the small userbase you already accrued in the first situation. And switch it around? You'll lose all the free players who never would've paid and if they were required for paying players' enjoyment... yeah, I think I'll stay out of this market.

Re:Predictions (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273463)

Starting pay-to-play may be a huge mistake. Your starting player base will be much smaller. Not only that, but you get less free marketing.

All those players of a free-to-play game are prospective customers, and they will attract other prospective customers ("friends") to the game on their own.

As individuals they may not be worth much, but as a group, their presence contributes to the popularity of your game in their social circles, which can attract more players; more players = more payers.

This is essentially free marketing.

It would be when you have a _massive_, even excessive player base that you hesitantly start to think of reducing it to save on costs....

If you don't want to leave players with a bad taste in your mouth, you create a NEW MMO, so you'll be maintaining 2 at the same time actually. That way there can be no complaint that you "changed" the rules of the existing MMO to be pay-to-play, which can scare off, even your paying customers.

You make free access to the new MMO initially a perk of being a player who has "bought" things in the prior version, and give them special perks in the MMO.

You let high-level/advanced players who've been playing for free for a long time "beta" test the new MMO, in exchange for free access to it. Make sure the new MMO is quite different and appealing to players as a shiny new game.

Give your customers with a history of paying for things in game some "invites", so they can let friends in on the new MMO.

Shut everyone else out of the new MMO, or just give them a limited 60-day trial and/or make the game extremely difficult or annoying to actually try to play without paying, with things like 'level caps', ordinary equipment in game that for-free players can't use.

Fundamental game commands for-free players can't use, etc. You can cripple things severely enough that the rest will pay or leave.

No thanks (1)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28272975)

I've not played a lot of the free/micro-payment MMOs but the ones I have fooled around with act the same way. That being if you want to have any real power in the game your forced to pay. And it's not that I'm saying that paying for an MMO service itself is bad. Rather that paying a flat rate subscription MMO is a better deal.

As such I either want to a) play for free when online; such as when playing a FPS, RTS, or even back in the day with a RPG like NWN. (A philosophy I supported by writing/hosting Stick a Fork in Me.) Or b) pay a subscription that covers everything, save for legitimate-not one every 3 months-xpacks, such that I don't get sucked into some micropayment black hole.

I think it's cool that the model exists and all the more power to those implementing it but I find it unlikely that it will be as good a model as subscription based MMOs. Too many ways that micro-payments can be 'shady' methinks.

Especially since micropayments seem to be more (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273261)

If you read the article, it says the money is coming from people making micropayments adding up to $50/month each. Ummm, ouch, that's a shitload of money. For that you could buy a new, retail game each month. It is also way more than subscription MMOs. Pricing for those varies, but seems to cap out at $15/month for the big ones like WoW. Means for each month those people pay for this game, they could have a little over 3 months of WoW.

I think that is precisely why some publishers are so in to the micropayment idea. They figure if the individual transactions are smaller, you'll end up spending a lot more money. I don't like that idea. I'm certainly willing to pay for games, I buy retail games and I pay for an MMO, but there's a limit to how much I'll spend. For $50 a month I'd better get a hell of a lot of entertainment, otherwise I'll be looking elsewhere.

Re:Especially since micropayments seem to be more (0, Troll)

yoshi_mon (172895) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273477)

If you read the article, it says the money is coming from people making micropayments adding up to $50/month each.

Exactly. I actually did read some of TFA, don't tell anyone!, and was not shocked to see that number really. Those who are playing the game for free are being subsidized by those who are paying more than what the game is likely worth.

Of course that last bit is so highly subjective that I'll qualify that by adding it's not my place to say what anyones entertainment should be worth. Rather just that as you pointed out, and the point I was making in my OP, the money that is spent via micro-payments can get out of hand with a quickness.

you don't make money from linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273079)

you get aids from having dicks in your ass and men spewing their cum down your throat. fucking faggots need to get the fuck off my planet.

homosexuals are a drain on society. they molest children. they spread queer diseases. they are worthless.

And now a word from our sponsor. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273391)

I am curious about the investment Disney and others are prepared to make in games like Pirates of Caribbean.

Free to play.

Period.

I think the small-time developer should be asking this question.

Disney has a lot of assets it can bring to the table.

IP. Creative talent. Tech.

It won't be generating headlines on Fox News when the addict passes $100/mo in "micropayments."

This I think is a model for disaster.

Re:And now a word from our sponsor. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273903)

I am curious about the investment Disney and others are prepared to make in games like Pirates of Caribbean.

Free to play.

Period.

And probably every penny of running the game is written off as an advertising expense. Since the 'cost of doing business' comes right off the top, it's not taxed. Add to this some Hollywood accounting [wikipedia.org] and you have the potential to create a profit center from something that looks like a loss from the outside, if you don't look close...

Re:And now a word from our sponsor. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274343)

Free? As in ... you don't pay?

That doesn't sound very Disney, where's the catch?

How much? Pretty much a loss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28273543)

... per player. But they make it up in volume!!!!

Does Guild Wars count as free-to-play? (2, Informative)

tdelaney (458893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273569)

Guild Wars is pay to purchase, but from then on it's free to play. Its graphics are astounding (better than WoW IMO - much less cartoony) and it supports huge numbers of players. It's got a huge amount of content - after 2 years of solid playing there's still lots that I haven't done yet.

I've got 3 accounts (mine, brother, mule - used to be 4, but I gave one to my nephew). The interesting thing with GW is that there is no significant advantage to buying additional stuff beyond the 3 campaigns (each standalone) and one expansion (which can be used with any of the campaigns). There are lots of things you can buy (extra character slots, extra account-wide storage, skill unlock packs, etc) but nothing that gives a significant advantage in the game - e.g. everything in the skill unlock packs can be unlocked by playing the PvE game, or doing well in PvP and using the points you get to unlock things.

Over the past 2 years we've gradually bought all the campaigns and expansions (most at sales, some full price) - all up, we've spent approx US$500 on the 4 accounts. ArenaNet has continually added new content and updates - enough that last night I finally bought the other 2 campaigns for my mule account.

GW has been more than worth the money I've paid - and maybe some day I'll buy some more character slots, etc.

Any mention of micropayments in Sims 3? (1)

MattSausage (940218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274117)

Of course I understand this is article is about MMOs, but I was surprised/not surprised about the Sims 3 making their new items all micropayment based using 'Simsbucks' or something like that (1 cent = 1 simbuck) most items are a dollar or less. And the only things that are free are people's recolorings of existing items and the little people and the lots they make. What with the Sims being the biggest game ever or something I would be interested to see exactly what sort of money they make from that?

Business is about to get better (3, Interesting)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274477)

I was looking at Warcraftrealms.com overnight; WoW's population is about to drop like a rock. It's already begun, in fact.

Character classes have been nerfed into the ground, with the Paladin or DK now being the only two worth playing. Any originality is gone. WotLK had the worst instances the game has ever had, and the only thing the developers now focus on is the Arena.

I can see it in my own behaviour; I'd be lucky to log into WoW once a week, now, and even just this last night, while I got up planning on playing WoW, it never happened, even though I spent practically the entire night idling on IRC, bored.

When I'd rather spend a night vegetating on Freenode than playing World of Warcraft, (which I used to genuinely love, incidentally) I know that the game has truly died in the ass...and it has.

I'm starting to think Guild Wars might be worth a look. WoW sure isn't getting much of my time these days, that's for sure.

Re:Business is about to get better (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#28274913)

Hmmm, maybe warrior isn't man-bitch for casters anymore. That's why I quit. My favorite class was basically a dartboard for any class with a range attack and that's even if you stack up points in Protection.
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