The Daily Grind: How much worse could MMO business models get?

During the roundtable podcast a few weeks ago, when we had the whole Massively OP staff on to chat, we tackled a question from Teviko on the future of MMO business models. We’ve come a long way from free-to-play, microtransactions, and double-dipping sparkleponies, after all, to lockboxes. Indeed, he asked us to speculate on where we’ll be in 2023, looking back so fondly on 2018’s business models the way we look back on the relative quaintness of $25 flying mounts, and saying, “Instead of X, I’d rather buy a lockbox and take my chances!”

On the podcast, several of us agreed that big data will be our big problem: that business models will evolve further and further into monetized psych experiments as predictive algorithms dictate content, drops, and prices. And yes, lockboxes will seem quaint by comparison.

But maybe you have different ideas. How much worse could MMO business models get? Which games will be winning worst business model of 2023? What exactly will the bad MMO business models of tomorrow look like?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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106 Comments on "The Daily Grind: How much worse could MMO business models get?"

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Alex Malone

From a purely personal point of view, they cannot get any worse. They have already dropped below my value-for-money threshold, resulting in me not finding a single MMO worth playing in years.

For some, it’s due to the business model. I refuse to play F2P games – I’ve tried out loads but yet to find one worth playing. So, that already rules out the majority of MMOs. For the rest, gotta judge the cost of the subscription versus the enjoyment of the game, but the games either don’t interest me due to the content, or I’ve played them already.

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Dobie Gillis

The future will bring the following
1. You will buy a new item called allRNG. The more times you buy it, the more successful you become at all RNG checks; lootboxes, spawn%, drop rates,etc. He who spends more wins more.
2. Housing will be placed exclusively behind paywalls; land, designs, and objects all unavailable through gameplay.
3. Graphic updates can be purchased on cash shops. FTP/trial accounts get gray boxes and placeholder art only.

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Rolan Storm

After all comments the only thing I might add that after reading headline I suddenly recalled Einstein’s phrase about World War IV. So – no idea. But… chances are good it will escalate.

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Sorenthaz

Right now the future of MMOs looks bleak in general in terms of there likely being not many more AAA MMOs in the future. But F2Ps in general will continue to push the boundaries or else start raising prices/taking away free player privileges.

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socontrariwise

I think we will see something of a mix of
– Sim’s: basic game is pretty much useless and every other feature takes month and then costs as much as a new game with the full experience only available 5 or so years after release and for $400 price tag – and then it will get so instable and corrupted-save-ridden that they probably charge extra for backups of your character

– Survivalcraft and others, who make a game available while it is still rather EA-ish and then sell the normal development phase patches as big improvement. And when the game reaches halfway release status you stop development saying that your current version is good enough and you want to do other things added that need more effort than the long ago EA sales support … so now you start development of “Survivalcraft 2.0” and everyone who wants to see this needs to pay again. Not making this up, it has happened and not just with that particular one

I’m only half in jest, the greed and brashness knows no bounds nowadays.

oldandgrumpy
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Kickstarter Donor
oldandgrumpy

Lots

wandris
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wandris

It began in the Earth year 2025, with the launch of the last of the MMO games, located deep in the neutral web. It was a virtual world for gamers, PK’ers, trolls, knights . . . and players from a hundred different games. Could be an exploitative place – but we accepted the risk, because this last MMO game was our last, best hope for no more lockboxes.

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Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

It can ALWAYS get worse. Always.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

How much worse could MMO business models get?

Well, companies could come up with some crazy idea to have people pay their own money to fund games full of promises that will stay in almost perpetual states of alpha/beta for years, while continuing to ask for more and more money from people who have already … wait….

No one would be stupid enough to do that in the future. That would never fly.

*pulled from a time capsule dated 1-1-2000

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Jeffery Witman

Just wait until they start selling the rights to make development decisions. Or games being playable only by the crowd funding supporters.

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Schmidt.Capela

Just wait until they start selling the rights to make development decisions.

This does happen already, though to a point. A number of games include as their top Kickstarter pledge tier the possibility of designing part of the game (typically one enemy) for the dev team to then integrate and implement.

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socontrariwise

You missed the sarcasm Schmidt.Capela.

Reader
rafael12104

How much worse could it get? *nervous LOL*

Well, let’s see. There are already patents for AI and APIs that will fix matchmaking and grouping so that:

  • You will see the benefits of cash shop items and the consequences of not having them.
  • Remove competition from the equation so outcomes are based on microtransactions
  • Loot drops are based on purchases or microtransactions and not random.
  • And all of that, happens under the covers.

    You think Bungie-Vision playing around with XP is bad? LOLOLOLOL.

    No. Loot boxes could become a red herring, while the real shenanigans go in the code itself.

    How bad could it get? The integrity of video games themselves could be compromised.

    Hold my beer

    Reader
    Loyal Patron
    Armsbend

    What was the good result that kid was going for?

    Reader
    Utakata

    I suspect child’s gonads replaced the tonsils. I suppose that’s a good thing if one is having issue with the tonsils. But at that point, I don’t know what happened to the tonsils…as I am sure they where lobbed all the way over to Cleveland at a speed where the frame rate of the video device was unable to capture. /shudders

    Reader
    Bryan Correll

    The most common last words of a redneck – “Hey y’all! Watch this!”

    Reader
    rafael12104

    Hold my BEER!

    Reader
    rafael12104

    Not sure. Maybe a perfectly balanced landing like one of the Walindas?

    What is more likely, like the AAA corps out there, he didn’t think he would get hurt in trying it.

    camren_rooke
    Reader
    camren_rooke

    Don’t poo poo his dreams of being a eunuch.

    Reader
    rafael12104

    Lol! Mission accomplished, I think.

    semugh
    Reader
    semugh

    darwinism at work.