APB Business Model – Back to the Old

Via Massively, I learned that All Points Bulletin, a game much on my radar, has received a release date (NA – 6/29, EU 7/2) and a pricing plan:

The retail client will be available digitally or in stores ($49.99/£34.99/€49.99) and will include 50 hours of ‘action’ game play plus unlimited time in the social districts. These districts include character customizing, socializing, and marketplace trading. Once you burn through your initial 50 hours of action play, you can purchase an additional 20 hours for $6.99 (£5.59, €6.29) or opt for the 30-day ‘unlimited’ package at $9.99 (£7.99, €8.99). There will also be 90 and 180 day discounts available.

I do like the pre-loaded hours option.  If they were available, I would likely have hours in World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and who knows what else.  So kudos to them for going back to a play-by-hour, and giving the consumer more options.  Yet, from all that I have read All Points Bulletin is more like a Grand Theft Auto version of Team Fortress 2 with a thin veneer of persistence found in the MMO genre.  It sounds like a lot of fun, but I am just not sure about their subscription and pseudo-subscription model. 

To be fair, with my gaming time 50 hours is a ton of game time, especially with all the other MMOs I am involved with.  If I even played the game for 50 hours on its own, the game would be considered a pretty good success in my book.  And, I guess that’s why it feels a little silly, and why the business model might be their Achilles’ Heel.  It feels like they are saying, if you really like our game, then we will make you pay more without really giving you more.  If you kind of like it, then you will get your money’s worth with the cost of entry. 

I am a bit surprised they went this route of “pay for access” rather than following a simple microtransactions route (which they seem to hint at as having also with RTW points).  Honestly, I think EA might be testing the waters here, and it’s sad they are doing it with this unique game.  In a few years, people might be paying more for a block of hours just to play Wodern Marfare Tr3s (developed by EA’s brand new studio) on top of things like monthly X-Box subscriptions.

What do I know?  The devoted seem plenty willing to shell out plenty of money to show their devotion.  Yet, this kind of devotion seems forced.  It’s one thing to want to buy glowponies and shiz because I love the game and want to play it more.  It’s another thing to have to buy more access time because I love the game and want to play it more.  But, isn’t that what subscriptions are anyway?  I’ll be watching this with great interest.

you’re not a dog, are ya Gary

12 thoughts on “APB Business Model – Back to the Old”

  1. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how this settles out. It still doesn’t hold a candle to the Guild Wars “really old school” model of “buy the game and play it forever” that we saw in the now-archaic 90s.

  2. I’d personally prefer a “pay to play” model than a subscription model. Of course I prefer Lotro’s lifetime sub model above both of them, but if I had to choose I’d go with “pay for time played” because then I feel under no obligation to keep playing if the game lulls in fun level or if my personal time lulls in availability

  3. 20 hours play equates to about 3 average days for me, so it would be a terrible deal.

    More to the point, though, these pay-by-hour models would stop me doing what I like to do most – namely logging in to an MMO as soon as I get up in the morning or get home from work and then leaving it idling in the background while I web-browse, listen to the radio, do chores, read, take a bath, go for a walk etc etc. I’d say that in my average weekly evening session I am logged in to my current MMO-of-choice for 5-6 hours and actually playing it for 2 – 3 hours.

    So long as the industry retains monthly subs with unlimited paly as one option, though, iI am all in favor of them coming up with alternatives.

    1. Yeah, I mean it’s easy to just call this an MMO… cus in some form it is an online persistent game played with quite a few people, but it’s less MMO than Guild Wars, and a lot of people are still unsure where Guild Wars falls.

      I am sure some people will play this as their MMO-of-choice, but I think the stickiness in APB is more akin to TF2 than WoW. Really, this feels like a door crack into hourly-type subscriptions for possibly any online game. We’ll see.

  4. I really hate pay-as-you-go models for anything. I’d much rather pay a regular fee for unlimited usage or micro-transactions for specific items/content/features.

    This feels like the old AOL model for internet usage and I can’t see it being popular.

  5. It’s a good sign of things to come although it’s still quite a sneaky model. 20 hours for only $2 less than unlimited (albeit you can use them across multiple months) doesn’t strike me a very generous deal. I suppose it’s structured like that though in order to entice people to sign up to the monthly subscription.

  6. They actually also have the common 30 day subscription for only 10 dollars.
    And i actually prefer to pay per hours in a game that having to resort to a cash shop with all the hassle of buying items that keep me competitive and where i am constantly reminded of my wallet.

    This model is so much better in that respect as well as in allowing more casual players to buy some hours and casually juggle 3 or 4 MMOs if more games followed this model.

    I doubt EA will use this model in non-MMO games.

  7. Considering the nature of the game I think this model works pretty well. In beta I’ve easily spent 3x as much time customizing vehicles and outfits in the social district than I have actually playing the game.

    Missions (“dispatches”) are timed, fairly fast paced and have enough action to let you accomplish quite a bit in an hours worth of game time. I’m not convinced the game is something I’ll want to buy but knowing I could just buy small blocks of time to play at my leisure does sweeten the deal a little.

  8. “if you really like our game, then we will make you pay more without really giving you more.”
    Doesn’t seem quite true.

    Though I’ve said myself weve been fooled into thinking more hours of gaming is a better thing, when if you spend 20 hours to get as much fun as a 10 hour game gives, that’s actually a really bad deal.

  9. My initial reaction is negative…but having played the game, it is A LOT of fun, not sure how long term it is, but at $10 a month for unlimited play, it is cheaper than most other offerings. Then if I get burned out I can buy 20 hours and play here and there until I am ready to recommit. Variations of this pricing model might be effective despite my initial negative reaction.

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