The Daily Grind: Should mature MMOs consider crowdfunding?

    
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Massively OP commenter The_Grand_Nagus recently pointed us to a conversation on the Star Trek Online forum where a Cryptic Studios employee discussed the studio’s games’ revenues and staffing:

Game Development is directly proportional to revenue generated.

So long as a game is making more money than it costs to run, it will continue to run. And luckily, the costs to run a game are very scalable. The Dev team is most of the cost of running a game, and we can have more or fewer devs depending on the money coming in.

STO has a dev team proportional to its revenue.
NW has a dev team proportional to its revenue.
Champs has a dev team proportional to its revenue.

For the most part, there are very few scenarios where a game will simply shut down out of the blue.

It’s a dirt-simple declaration, of course, one that should give comfort to people concerned about Champions Online’s health in particular. And it made The_Grand_Nagus wonder whether the games wouldn’t be better off if players were more directly involved in directing that revenue.

He wrote in to us,

If the community of Champs(or any game) could decide on a specific type of content they wanted(maybe through a poll), could the devs figure out how much it would cost to develop, and say that if the community spends X amount of money in the game store they would be able to fund that content? Would this be ethical? Would the community be willing to do it?

I would like to presume that by playing certain types of content and coming and going as content is added, players are already “voting” for how that revenue is spent (and that someone is actually paying attention to those metrics), but having now seen so many Kickstarters (and run one!), I also know how motivating a visible bar can be. It’s one thing to know that if I buy a minipet from the cash shop, the devs are incrementally, invisibly incentivized to make more minipets. It’d be another thing entirely to see an existing, mature MMO “go indie,” put together a crowdfunding or crowdspending campaign, and solicit votes on specific stretch goals — like, say, from people still plunking $300 down for lifetime subs.

Maybe it’d work. There are certainly games I’d love to see try it. What do you think? Should mature MMOs consider crowdfunding or stretch goals to boost their incomes and grant loyal players more agency in how the game is constructed?

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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WhoaAContrarian
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WhoaAContrarian

Governments have way bigger concerns than weakminded mmo drones.

WhoaAContrarian
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WhoaAContrarian

I think that was just refering to Cryptics or PW policies man. No response to yr other stuff.

thickenergy
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thickenergy

“For the most part, there are very few scenarios where a game will simply shut down out of the blue.”

Sounds like a contender for the Top Ten List of things never said at NCSoft.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

dirtyklingon A_Dad Supreme Which MMO’s have YOU played?
Every MMO I’ve played the devs pretend to listen to the carefully crafted arguments on the forums and then just do whatever the heck they want.
Name ONE major change to a game that happened because of players.
See: NGE, GDN, ED, 2.1 S/RC, etc.

Peregrine_Falcon
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Peregrine_Falcon

Nreff And what if I started riding a rainbow unicorn to work instead of driving my car?
The chances of PWE ditching lockboxes are about the same.

sray155
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sray155

Absolutely not. The idea is anti-consumer. It gives companies the ability to hold new content hostage behind a paywall before even working on it. Crowdfunding a developing project is one thing, but if a live product cannot support the development of expanded content they don’t build it, offer a new service or product to fund it, orthey need to find the funds for it within existing revenue streams.
How about we stick to a business offers products or services of value to me and I pay for those products or services?

dorn2
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dorn2

Why can’t we just pay for exactly what we want?
Nevermind that’s crazy.  Charting **new territory** like selling, or funding, specific things is too risky.

jeremy2020
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jeremy2020

Wratts A_Dad Supreme I think writing it of as “voting” is not the way to look at it. If the vocal minority wants a new raid and throws $500,000 at it then that is something outside the planned development of the game. 

If everyone else wants more fancy hats and throws $500,000 at that. Both things happen.

If you break it down, it would be more like the developer helping fans organize to pool money to hire a developer to make a certain thing for a game.

jeremy2020
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jeremy2020

carsont Styopa That’s oversimplifying by a lot. I absolutely love parts of FFXIV for example. There are other parts I absolutely hate. If I stop paying, the only thing known is that there is not enough in the game to keep my playing.

jeremy2020
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jeremy2020

Styopa when people reference Adam Smith, you can usually be pretty sure they have never actually read anything by Adam Smith.

There’s issues with the current business models as well. A gas station doesn’t really make sense. This would be more along the lines of a gas station saying, “You want the nacho flavored doritos…well, you need to pay me for 1000 bags of nacho doritoes before I start ordering them”.