Subscription-based video games still workable

The video game industry is a lucrative market, as there seems to be a constant demand for innovative entertainment. However, according to a study by The NPD Group, the number of gamers in the United States dropped 5 percent last year to total just more than 211 million.

One of the reasons likely leading to this drop of 12 million Americans is how developers charge consumers for their products. In many cases, new video games are expensive, making them less appealing in today’s turbulent economy.

For this reason, among others, many game developers are turning to the subscription model, charging customers recurring payments instead of one lump sum up front. Online developer Funcom took this to heart with the launch of its new game, The Secret World.

In an interview with gaming news provider GamesIndustry, Ole Schreiner, CEO of Funcom, said the subscription model helped designers and developers create The Secret World for what it is: a new type of role-playing game that appeals to the masses.

“We tried leaving our options open during development so that we could launch with a different model should we have decided during development that’s what we wanted, but eventually we did settle on the subscription model and that’s what informed much of the game’s design,” Schreiner told GamesIndustry.

Is there a market for subscription video games?
There is definitely a market for traditional, free-to-play games, Schreiner said in the interview. New subscription offerings, however, are forcing game designers to raise the bar and introduce new capabilities that capture the attention of users of all ages.

“I believe there is a market for free-to-play, subscription and hybrid business models,” Schreiner told GamesIndustry. “What’s most viable for your project depends on what sort of game you’re trying to make, what your focus is and how you’re going about putting it together.”

In a separate interview with gaming news provider Develop, David Reid, CCP Game’s chief marketing officer, said a monthly subscription model for a massively multiplayer online game, called an MMO, is still a viable option if decision-makers plan accordingly, leverage the right tools and continue to adapt to meet demand.

By deploying an innovative subscription management platform, gaming developers can monitor activity and determine if any changes need to be made to keep gamers happy.

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The Forrester Wave: Subscription Billing Platforms, Q4 2015

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