Product Perceptions

I just read a blog post (arrrg where) on the ftp model and it got me thinking as to what I prefer. There are a few different types of payment methods such as FtP, PtP, Btp, or the truckloads of DLC approach with each of these differing in so many ways that I really can’t decide…. But the thing is, I don’t think we should as there are far more important things to think about such as “is the product any good”. If that is a yes then I don’t think it matters how they are going about getting some cash of you, hell I would sign over my soul for a decent game at certain times. If it is a no then that game need not exist to me.

Now everyone of course has their percieved value of the product depending on their own interests and whether or not that product is worthy of throwing money at the screen. This is why I don’t understand people whom follow a dogma of a chosen monotenizstion strategy, every instinctively adds a value to a product or experience and just disregarding that by claiming to never touch a product of a certain payment style is going against the laws of nature. It’s just inhuman in a way.

I was once there as well claiming the unholiness of the payment style The Secret World, who in their right mind would promote such an atrocity as an mmo with a box price, sub, and a subscription… It was madness but in the end it turned out I was quite comfortable with it as my perceived value of the product was high enough. As you can see Payment style is really quite meaningless when it comes to a product that is viewed in high esteem, it certainly plays a part  but there are a few other points that are worth mentioning in any argument about a games value

Quality

This comes down to how well crafted the experience is and includes everything the player engages in related to the game. It it a cohesive experience, the aesthetic of the world, how well written the story is, general combat feel, bugs and much much more add up to a feeling of quality.

Quantity

Number of activities the player enjoys doing and finds worthwhile as well as the amount of time a player has and could play this content for enjoyment. for instance for someone who only likes PvP and in particular battlegrounds and such then they will only judge the amount of content in a game going by this small part and will tend to.

Now these two points actually narrow it down rather well when you look at it and can explain most of people’s perceptions. I have seen these terms used a lot from bloggers and forum posters and there pretty well understood but I don’t think they really form a full picture and determine player purchase and retention. There are a few more areas that in these days of having a huge variety in the market take a part in the decision making process regarding how much someone is willing to pay.

Service

How well you as a customer feel catered to and the quality of the relationship between player the player and those running the service. This is pretty much the media front the company has and includes the website, forums, support functions and things like frequency of updates. It is areas like this that companies such as Trion excel at, and the reason why many people are very happy to pay a monthly subscription as the service is excellent and thus the value of it is much higher.

Communication is a big part of this and can be through many channels with a value being placed on these interactions. People often gain there expectations of a product based on the quality, consistency and regularity of communication which as I mentioned before can be rather powerful. It is also important for the message to be congruent with previous statements or at the very least to communicate this change appropriately.

Future Vision

People like to know if their particular interests and such are going to be catered to with the direction of development and balance and often take these into account when making decisions about current and future play. It’s much easier to form long term … when you feel connected to the game through similar interests. The longer you play or look forward to playing the more of financial investment you have in the product. At the moment Planetside is a decent game but it is the overarching vision of the developers that makes me feel far more invested, the massive aircraft carrier was truly awe inspiring and then we have their vision of another area that is full run and controlled by players with special resource types and player made bases that can be destroyed. It makes me feel far more at ease as to the future and actually wanting to keep gearing up my character and getting better at it just so I can experience this new part when it comes around.

Market comparisons

With so many games and mmo’s flooding the market we have ample opportunity to compare games of similar gameplay styles, genres, and payment styles relatively easily which I think makes for a much more savvy gamer and purchaser. We love making comparisons about everything and anything especially when money is involved as we want to get the best value. All these points so far way into our comparisons and it is in this way we determine whether or not a product is worth purchasing.

Now when you look at it all this way with many factors being important in the perceived value of a product it seems rather silly to blindly adhere to one payment style over any other as you maybe missing out on a product that could be better suited to you and have better value then what you are currently playing. I don’t think I could ever adhere to one payment style over another firstly because I wouldn’t want to miss out on an awesome experience but secondly because I value what games can and do offer.

I am glad that there is a plethora of different payment styles as games can become better suited to a growing market and can better resemble their inherent monetary value, also some games are just more suited to being ftp and others btp based on the quality of the product and service. The market is still very young though and learning how much and how to charge people appropriately so I don’t think we will see a very balanced system for a while to come.

One part I would like to see is companies selling their game in individual parts more often, no not talking about DLC but how they can better market to individual group by selling the varying parts of a game separately.. for instance in GW2 you could charge $30 for the PvE world, $10 for the SPvP, and maybe $10 for WvW.. you could even have the usual box amount to get it all as a package. We are a varied bunch in what we enjoy and I think getting charged only for the parts we enjoy and play would be the next step in marketing. The quality and the quantity of the content  we enjoy is what should determine the value of a product rather than a collection of modes we may or may not use… it would definitely improve the perceived value of a product this way which usually equates into more sales and happier customers

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