Posted Fri, Feb 08, 2008 by Aelryn
Some people have time and some have money-- it's an age-old problem.
Matt Mihaly, CEO of Iron Realms and Sparkplay Media, presents an interesting idea to handle the issue of time versus money in online games that have real money transactions.
Effectively, what we did was allow non-paying players to sell the result of their time (through completing activities that require time, like quests and hunting) to the paying players, but only via a currency that had to be purchased from us to begin with. Suddenly, the teenager with lots of free time but not a lot of money could get anything in the game that paying players could get, and a busy professional who has disposable income but not nearly as much free time could gain large amounts of gold without having to spend the time in-game. (Of course, it’s important that paying players still have to play the game to achieve something that matters. There has to be some time investment on everybody’s part.) It was a win for everybody.
The end result of this kind of system, especially with as many frictions removed as possible is that you’ve unlocked a good deal of the pent-up demand that exists among your non-paying users. They aren’t paying you directly but they’re driving a healthy portion of purchases made by your paying users, which is nothing but good for the publisher.