Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
- Shroud of the Avatar announced an equity crowdfunding campaign during its latest seasonal fundraising stream.
- Chronicles of Elyria players have been grumbling over what backers call egregiously pay-to-win buyables in the pre-launch cash shop.
- We got a letter from a reader asking us to investigate Crowfall, which long before launch is already selling items (a palace, actually) as expensive as $7000.
- Star Citizen is Star Citizen. Most recently, it debuted another concept ship design for sale, sight-unseen, and raised almost half a million dollars from its hardcore backers before it opened to the plebes, helping it break the $150M crowdfund mark.
- And we can’t forget Ashes of Creation, which raised over $3M on Kickstarter, promised additional fundraising in June, and weathered criticism over its pay-to-recruit affiliate system.
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?