Posted Sun, Jan 18, 2009 by Ralsu
The latest reports show that the number of World of Warcraft (WoW) subscribers now totals over 57 billion [Ralsu tends to exaggerate. The real number is closer to 12 million.—Ed.], so there are no more adults left to market to in the MMOG player base. Blizzard cleans up on the surface of the market, so new games are left to try to get the spaces in between. Interestingly enough, 57 million is almost exactly the number of viewers the Cartoon Network can claim [Again with the exaggerations!—Ed.]. Since the television network already has “dibbs” on our children, it only made sense to release a new MMOG featuring Cartoon Network characters. The manifestation of that cunning capitalism is FusionFall, and the game just went live the week of January 12, 2009.
FusionFall has a lot of worthy features to discuss, but I’ll focus on just one today and save the rest for my upcoming review; specifically, I want to talk about the ingenious pricing model for this kid-friendly MMOG. Players can enjoy FusionFall for free, but they will get access to a limited number of missions, be able to control only four nanos (think of them as summoning-type spells), and have only read access on the official forums. The free version of FusionFall essentially is a trial, and it may be perfect for the youngest gamers. It’s the pricing of the unlimited version of the game that shows the genius behind the game.
FusionFall costs a paltry $5.95 per month, making it a very affordable method of entertainment for anybody. Subscribers will have access to all the missions and 36 nanos (nine times the amount of the free version) and can write posts in the forums and make twice as many characters as a free account. The value is outstanding for as long as a person wants to play the game, and the low price makes the game accessible to just about any household, almost completely removing the issue of socio-economic status from the equation.
Even better than the deal subscribers get on an individual basis, the Family Plan costs a measly $9.95 for four unlimited accounts. Cartoon Network and partner TimeWarner can afford to run a “buy two, get two” agreement like this because it sucks in the parents. The longer parents and children play together, the longer the parents are apt to subscribe for the children. Futhermore, getting parents to play FusionFall with their children might be to the only way to get those parents to stop playing WoW. The affordable pricing and mass appeal of Cartoon Network characters could propel FusionFall into the limelight with a huge subscriber base.
The value of the gameplay of FusionFall illustrates some keen understanding the MMOG market. As already noted, it’s very hard for any game to find its niche in the MMOG player base, and niches are about all WoW leaves room for these days. Making a game for children seems like a no-brainer, but several other models appealing to youngsters already have a foothold on the market. Parents aren’t likely to enjoy Webkinz or Hello Kitty Online. Without parental buy-in, companies will have less luck in generating revenue. For instance, my daughter plays on the Webkinz site now and again, but our household does not invest any money in the game. Parents are prone to like the offering form Cartoon Network because FusionFall delivers an experience that has a passable story, contains real missions, and provides some genuine conflict.
FusionFall leads players through a variety of environments as the game progresses.
The pricing model of FusionFall demonstrates an understanding of the parents of the typical Cartoon Network customer, too. At roughly $10 per month for a whole household, it’s hard for any parent to argue with a child’s request to play this title. $10 might buy one toy for your child you’ll never want to play with, but that same $10 will buy an entire month of fun gaming together. It’s very easy to pick the expense that brings you closer to yor children. It bears repeating: this pricing structure is pure genius.
I haven’t spoken about the quality of the gameplay experience in FusionFall because I intend to cover that in my review, but I wanted to tip my hat to the folks at Cartoon Network for the business acumen displayed in their handling of the title. It’s not easy to make your debut in this very competitive market, but wise strategies like the ones employed in FusionFall go a long way to helping your game succeed. I encourage any reader with children to check out FusionFall as soon as possible, and keep Ten Ton Hammer in your bookmarks for a review coming later this week.
Got something to say about FusionFall or free-to-play games? Email Ralsu.
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