MMO designer Raph Koster talks about what makes the subscription model a success


Playable Worlds CEO Raph Koster, as we all know, has opinions about MMO gaming and multiplayer gaming, especially on the business side of things, so if you’re the sort of person who likes to hear his thoughts on those topics, then you’ll absolutely want to dig in to a VentureBeat interview that discusses the subscription model and what makes it work (or not work).

“In terms of what works, the number one answer is a game that deserves to be subscribed to,” reasons Koster. “The ultimate intent of a subscription is to offer a service that holds players for terms of years. And making a game that will hold somebody for years is very hard, and a completely different proposition from making consumable content games. In order to keep someone subscribing and re-engaging you need to prove your value every month.” Doing that involves keeping things dynamic with new challenges and content along with a sense of ongoing evolution and fun.

This probably seems obvious to MMORPG fans, especially since our genre has been doing this reasonably successfully for about 25 years now. That said, there are also best practices that can be extracted to apply to other game genres as well as MMOs such as pivoting to free-to-play once you start dropping below a certain user threshold, using season passes, and making the release of expansion packs into events that drive engagement for players, press, and influencers.

That said, driving loyalty is also about making players feel that devs are part of the community they’re creating. “The most successful ways to drive long-term community all have to do with the audience perceiving the operator as being part of the community, and not above it,” says Koster. “That sense of, we’re all in this together, is absolutely crucial. It’s the number one driver of loyalty.”

More on this subject can be listened to as part of a panel discussion that features Koster as well as Xsolla VP of marketing Berkley Egenes and senior VP of Zynga and online puzzle game Words with Friends Deepthi Menon.

source: VentureBeat
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