The Inevitability of $1,000 Mounts

Ever check out Gamebreaker.TV? It’s a really nice site, and I particularly enjoy the enthusiasm of the crew there, and our good friend Rubi of Massively joins in the fray there to make sure their MMO thoughts are refereed. Anyway, whenever microtransactions in MMOs comes up over there, so does the $1000 mount. I have to agree, the experiment of having one would be awesome. Yet they always add the caveat of “not game breaking.”

Well, hey, RockPaperShotgun tells us that a company decided to make a 1000 euro item. The 10th drone, normally available in game after what appears to be a long grind of getting drones 1-9 was made available for one-thousand quackers (like smackers, but European) for only four days. Then 2,000,000 euros fell in to the company’s lap, meaning for those already under the influence of Thanksgiving wine, they sold 2,000 of the drones.

Let’s recap:

(1) Make a middling MMO-type game.

(2) Put really high-end, long-haul items in game available through normal play.

(3) Sell really high-end items for a ridiculous amount of money for a short time (formerly ????)

(4) Profit.

I am sure the rage in their forums is still red-hot, but money talks. So what about Gamebreaker’s vision of a $1,000 appearance item? What about selling a full tier’s worth of raid gear? How about a $100 dye? People want reverse collector’s editions and the ability to buy time for money. I expect a $1,000 Team Fortress 2 “Grinch” hat for the holidays, Gabe.

–Ravious

9 thoughts on “The Inevitability of $1,000 Mounts”

  1. $1k items are usually sold by niche companies (notoriously the first company to do so was this Russian F2P MMOFPS which sold Kevlar vests for $2,500 – their business model was to sell 100 a month to cover costs).

    If you run a large organization you want to be able to sell to as many people as possible, so a $10 mount or a $100 one might generate much more profits in the long run than a $1K one.

    But said games have a core audience that is different from a sub game, hence do not expect WoW to move into that direction easily without shedding a fuckton of players. They are allo about monetizing the 2% whales, while Warcraft is all about keeping the hardcore raiders happy (was? I have seen the boss fights of the last patch.. *uhm*).

    Anyway there have been $100 and $1000 mounts in Warcraft already to some extent (Big Battle Bear and Spectral Tiger) – even though Blizzard was not profiting directly from them.

    But I have a question for you, when 92% of your audience wont/cant pay a subscription, how would you monetize in order to keep the servers running for years?

    1. I would do exactly this…as well as other conventional in-game items.

      It appears you think I am against this, but in fact I am quite for it. It’s up to the game dev to figure out how to balance profit vs. bleed. Selling power usually results in more bleed, but like you said… not always.

      I was unaware of the $2,500 kevlar vest too. Thanks for sharing.

      1. I suspect the thinking you don’t like the model comes from you putting “Make a middling MMO-type game.” as one of the steps. Dark Orbit is actually a pretty huge game in Germany; they advertised it heavily on TV a few years ago when I was there. (Now, want to talk about a middling game, check out SeaFight….)

  2. I don’t like where this is going.

    But even gamers who buy a lot from the stuff should rather be concerned about the general trend.

    The finest horses, ships, skins… they are all for the store. Not for 1000 but maybe 5 or 10 bucks. THEY are the items milking us, not the rare 1000 bucks outlier.

    The question is where to stop. Every gamer has another point where he feels it’s no longer adequate. STO’s content upgrades for the last months were nothing else but putting ships and ship skins exclusively in the store, which made me sad. I didn’t buy them as I don’t want to support this anymore.

  3. Did anyone ever buy that Allods gem set for $7000?

    And one could easily argue that some of the rare lottery items in games like Atlantica already carry a huge cost. How many $1 boxes will you open before you get the latest stat-pony?

  4. Impulse-shopping, post-purchase rationalization… long live the F2P cash shop concept, amirite? :(
    The murder that these online gaming companies get away with is designing not just the service, but the need for said service. Unlike the real world, which operates on conditions outside of human control (time, distance, physical laws…), online game companies can draft a game’s world to leave a stupidly awesome and lavish item outside of reach forever. Cue cash shop: the ‘fix’ to allow others the ‘fix’.

    It’s an aberration. What used to be pure gaming has now lead way to a cash-grab mindset. The OP indicates where and how it’s succeeding.

  5. I was thinking why these expensive items instintively discourage me and possibly others from playing such games:

    I think it has something to do with the perceived integrity of the developer: If a company adopts these tactics then it is no longer (or just less) interested in doing business by improving the product in ways that matter to me. It’s a sort of betrayal of the implied contract we made.

  6. I second Longasc, it’s not the big pricetag items that slowly but surely eat your wallet, it’s the small ones.

    At about 8 months, and US$70 spent, FW is now the F2P game I’ve spent the most money on. The previous F2P I spent money on (also by PWE), only got US$30 from me, and I never, ever, felt inclined to buy stuff again.

    But in FW, all the little, little items I buy to refine my gear, combine gems, etc… 50c here, 50c there… it adds up, and it adds up fast if you aren’t careful.

    TBH I feel a little like a frog slowly and surely being boiled by a master chef. NoOoOoo little froggy, jump out! Jump out NAOOOO! Butbutbut… it’s so pleasantly warm in here. >.>

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