THQ plans "flexible" business model for Warhammer MMO

Dark Millennium to feature monetisation options to suit global tastes

THQ's forthcoming Warhammer MMO Dark Millennium Online will have a "flexible" business model that can support the demands of consumers all over the world.

Speaking in an earnings call following the company's second-quarter results, CEO Brian Farrell responded to a question about how the MMO would be monetised.

"The markets are different around the world for the business models with which you can ship an MMO,," he said.

"So what we've done is make the business model within Dark Millennium Online flexible so we can use different business models in different territories and exploit the game on a worldwide basis."

Dark Millennium Online is in development at Vigil Games, the studio behind THQ's Darksiders franchise. According to Farrell, the team at Vigil is designing the game with multiple business models in mind.

"We will have not just one business model, like subscriptions. There will be other monetisation mechanisms in the game... The team there is being very thoughtful about how we maximise monetisation in this game."

Dark Millennium Online is one of the most expensive projects in THQ's history, with CFO Paul Pucino placing its budget at a minimum of $50 million. It is scheduled for release some time in 2013.

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Latest comments (7)

Tom Keresztes Programmer 6 years ago
Maybe they should release Space Marine on Steam in the UK, too.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 6 years ago
Only in 2011 would a game's business model be considered such a core element of its success. This is the influence of Internet venture capitalists on the game industry. In Internet and web plays, *everything* is business model business model business model. But they don't realize that in this space - games - you have to make a *good game*. You're not just making some web portal to sell dog food online. You're doing a piece of entertainment - and that has to touch peoples' hearts.
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I think it sounds interesting... would like to see exactly what he means by a "flexible" business model; sounds more like "we have the ability to squeeze our players in various ways".

Also, although I do agree with Tim, business models do affect many things, and when it comes to MMOs, it is important to have this in mind while still designing the thing. Planning for a subscription game is not the same thing as knowing you are building an f2p, and that in turn echoes throughout the entire production.

A good game is great, and a great game is even better, but it pays to know what the right way to monetize it is, imho.
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Show all comments (7)
Marcus Pullen Writer 6 years ago
I think it's obvious to us all the there needs to be a good business model to make this happen and to attract investment. However, without a good game with driving narrative and quests and are true to the W40K universe it's money down the drain. There is enormous potential with this franchise, like Transformers. What worries me with most MMO ventures is that 2012 commercial pressures will drive this to ever decreasing delivery timescales - that will be punishing for content creators bringing poor unimaginative gameplay. That will simply make it a short lived venture. I wonder how the Old Republic is going to do? I remember Star Wars Galaxies. Never again.

I can see this spreading onto mobile platforms, social networks and touching players (subscribers) in so may ways. Then the virtual goods (Was it $15 billion worldwide revenue in 2009?) side will be another strong aspect to their model. Include spin-offs, merchandising, trans-media. It's all quite a heady brew of moneymaking.

But... THQ have had a slacker than predicted profit growth this year. You can't blame that all on their games. Red Faction: Armageddon was a pretty solid game (I enjoyed it: my review on The SyFy TV film of the game was dire. It must have pissed of any Red Faction die-hards. Dawn of War is ok and Space Marine is fun. I wonder what Games Workshop make of it all??
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
Business Model #1:
*Make a damn game and sell it.*
Seems to work for decades now. Doesn't have to be a good game, a bad game with a popular IP might even be enough. Diminishing returns as "expansions" are rebranded DLC and sold in smaller increments than they used to. Sell it in stores, sell it online, but sell it.

Business Model #2:
*Overcharge on a novelty*
Worked for early MMOs charging premium subscriptions for fairly unique experiences. Also worked for plastic instrument games, all sorts of motion controls and maybe even Skylanders. For a while that is. And possibly not for MMO #242.

Business Model #3:
*Games are free, convenient experiences are not*
a.k.a f2p, a startling dumb series of events interrupting the flow of the game until players give in and pay up or leave. Either way, players stop causing costs after a while.

Business Model #4:
*the audience is the product being sold*
but how many advertisement powered games worth mentioning have there been?

In essence, we are told that Dark Millennium uses #1 because the game is distributed using stores and they want their pound of flesh and because publishers can. Then we will be subjected to #2 because if you want to try a monthly fee, you better do it right at the start. Asia will be f2p, which is included because we already know subscriptions will ultimately get the game nowhere after six months and a switch to f2p is the second monetization wave, before financial pressure forces the team to turn to other projects, or close the studio. In the end, they sell the game to some pizza joint who lets players have the game for free as long as they place the occasional order in using the game's Pizza-UI and automatic dietary requirements detection engine. Maybe players are in luck and it will be a grocery store instead of a pizza parlor, then at least other basic needs can be provided for also. ProTip: Washing, it works!

Now the game is finally the perfect investment, everybody is happy, save only for game designer, who will be out of work, since game design is clearly the last thing you need here. As the truly last artistic profession not making any money in the industry, game designers offer their services to fancy billionaires and create artistic renditions of interactive robot-dogs in the shape of Tetris pieces. Meanwhile, after selling the game to a grocery store, investors realize that gamers need underwear even more than MMOs and stop investing in games. 30 years later an acclaimed game is released, by virtue of not a single person remembering what a video game actually is.
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Chris Gilroy6 years ago
A "flexible" business model sounds very much like free-to-play to me. If they can combine that with a good game and, crucially, capture the tone of the 40k universe like Relic have done with Dawn of War and Space Marine, they're onto a winner.
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Christopher Hombach Product Manager, CipSoft6 years ago
I think they have the genuine chance - thanks to the 40k universe - to deliver a game that differs enough from most current MMOs to spark interest. Nobody will leave his common fantasy MMO for another common fantasy MMO these days. The decision for or against business models should imho be done either after the choices that provide an interesting game or at the same time. But not before.
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