by Jessica Holyoke on 16/06/10 at 1:26 am
I have been taking a break from Second Life lately by playing the MMO Allods Online. Its a free to play MMO similar to World of Warcraft developed by Russians. Seeing how their players respond to a situation is very telling on how MMO’s and virtual worlds might be paid for in the future.
World of Warcraft is a subscription model, similar to SL’s premium membership. People sign up for automatic billing and tend to forget its there. Allods has an item shop but the game developers provided players with opportunities to avoid using it, which players tend to do, even when it makes no economic sense.
One of the items you can get is a bigger deposit box for banking the weapons, armor and other items you accumulate in the game. This box costs approximately $10 US. You can pay the $10 or you can perform a Wandering Alchemist quest. The Wandering Alchemist quest is; a player must find the Wandering Alchemist, a non player character or NPC, in order to obtain a potion. The potion has 14 constituent parts. Each time the alchemist is found, one part, at random, will be given to the player. The Alchemist can be found in ten different locations. Each time the Alchemist is found, only one player may interact with the Alchemist. After a player talks to the Alchemist, the Alchemist disappears for four minutes to reappear at one of the ten locations at random. After receiving the 14 parts, the player must find the Alchemist again and give him the parts to make the potion. Then you must take the potion to another NPC in order to get the deposit box. Or you can pay $10 US.
The interesting part is that based on the chat, and people looking to form parties to make the quest shorter, players choose the quest frequently, even though at a minimum, with no other players interfering, being able to travel to the correct location where he appears next, and the parts being given in the correct number and order, this quest will take at least an hour. Which means players are willing to give up well over an hour of their time either running around or waiting in order to avoid paying $10. In the meantime, the game is still running and the company needs to keep the servers going.
Without money coming in somehow, servers do not run. And if a player is willing to put up with the Wandering Alchemist, game developers need to come up with new ways for payment in order for games to run.