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MMOs go live with the wrong business model - Vindicia

"Some of these MMOs are launching and, they're really bad," says digital payment vet

Large scale MMOs have launched with the bare minimum of content and asked for too much financial commitment from customers, according to Gene Hoffman, the outspoken CEO of payment firm Vindicia.

The exec, who has worked with creators of core MMOs such as Star Trek Online, Rift and Champions Online, believes a weak launch period has forced companies to adopt a freemium route - a move which has worked out for the better in most cases.

"Look, some of these MMOs are launching and, they're really bad," he said in an exclusive interview published today.

"You don't want to say that too loudly to them, but seriously, these guys need to do a lot more content before they launch. So why not price it that way?

"Why not do a paid beta initially, and tell people, it's pretty damn good and you'll be able to play, but it's not done and we're not going to fill the whole world until three months from now - but sign up today for ten bucks a month and you know what, we'll throw in the actual release and just keep it going when we come out of beta. Or five bucks a month, and move it up - or there's a whole other model, where it's ten bucks a year, and then freemium on top."

2011 has seen many subscription based massively multiplayer online games shift to a freemium business, while some, such as Sony Online Entertainment's John Smedley, believe that BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the last large-scale game to try the subscription model.

The accidental discovery for many of a better business model for their product has also highlighted the fact that games should have more than one business model, and a changing model is closer to the way other entertainment media approaches the sale of goods.

"It's an over time business model, right? A lot of people have never really thought about businesses as being one model now and another model later - but of course, this is what movies do.

"You've got your house opening, then your DVD release, your airplane release, your VOD release, then the movie channels, then it's on CBS, ABC, Sky One, etcetera. From that perspective, seeing the game business head that way - sure, the exact steps are different, but it's not that different in reality."

The full interview with Hoffman, in which he also states that Apple's 30 per cent share of revenues is "ridiculous", can be read here.

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Matt Martin


Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.