I really don't expect many people to read this, but I figured a thought posted on a webpage might spark someone else to think, which in turn might bring on change. I am an AVID mmo player, industry professional (console side, not PC) who loves to talk shop. In doing so there is always the same common theme I hear from my guildmates, friends and players
"Why do I pay to play this".
This is a question that always seems to hit me at one point or another, and for some reason I always want to sell my gold to others for time cards. I know that if a game is fun, that question is one that isn't asked as much, but even then after a while I ask myself the question regardless of how much fun I am having. That is when a non industry buddy of mine who plays CCP's game EvE online told me how the company has taken a new approach to that same situation.
They allow, with the use of a CCP designated system via the web, the customers of their product to sell time cards for in game money known as isk. They also let you buy characters, all via the webpage, the same way. You mean a game that allows people to buy money? But what about gold farmers?!
From my short time playing this game what I found was that CCP goes after gold farmers in a heavy way, such a heavy way that I had all my ISK taken away by a CCP GM because the person who bought timecards from me used a stolen credit card and was selling the ISK to other players also. Sure, that sort of turned me off to ever playing their game again but it got me thinking:
With how much people spend on microtransctions, why aren't more and more companies embracing the fact that just like a society of drug users, we are a society of people who want it now and with as much minimal work as possible? Why not tap into new areas which both make the players and the company happy? For example:
A) Let people buy timecards with ingame money! It makes the end user happy because he can continue to play the game for "free" just by farming cash, you still make money because of taking the risky chance on getting an account banned or stolen from a gold farmer they are buying YOUR time cards which in turns brings in extra revenue to you instead of making sweat shops a profitable business in other parts of the world.
B) Let customers buy characters from other customers, then setup a web interface, charge them 25 dollars to move the character between the two accounts regardless of the original owner. Make sure that each transaction is only dealt with via an ingame interface like the SoE bazaar interfaces where players can list, browse and purchase toons.
C) Quit wasting your time on these free trials!!!!! Even unlimited!! Start looking at Turbines free to play model. Allow a real micro transaction system for players who don't want to pay a monthly fee, but allow those with enough gumption to earn reputation which can be used to buy things from the store. Offer those things that can be purchased for a monthly fee for those who don't want to mess with it.
Players will complain they don't like systems like these but the numbers don't lie. If there wasn't a lucrative business model to be had here, we wouldn't see such a large number of virtual currency farmers doing what they are doing.