November 3rd 2004: MMOs Are Huge Ripoffs

Our friend Justin wrote this about the monthly fees of MMORPGs:

"It's impossible to support the servers. Period. It is the only way to keep the memory and bandwidth flowing. I think they charge more than is needed, but I do think that it costs them a lot more than it would for a non mmo game."

Kirk responded (taken from email so there are typos):

First i would concede it is possible that some fo what he says is true. perhaps. maybe. they do need some. SOME money to support their servers. perhaps.

but the truth of the matter is we know they charge ALOT more than the SOME that the require. in fact. its almost a certainty they now gouging the fuck out of us.

you might ask why i think that? very good. i believe this to be so beacuse I have noted that monthly fees have gone UP not down as one would imagine they would over the years.

this seems odd since usually as technology gets older and becomes more main stream, prices become less. lok at TV's, Computers etc. this is the general trend.

now when is this trend broken. well the most glaring that come to mind are cds (perpetuated by the loathesome and bottom feeding RIAA) and DVDs (the MPAA. The RIAA's very quiet shadow).

the process of making the physical media (the disc itself) has plummeted in cost and the cost of the actually putting the data on the disc has also plummeted. making a cd today costs a fraction of what it cost say 10 years ago. when prices were as high as they are now btw. back yhen one coudl say, oh well the tech is new so cd's and later on dvds cost alot. and for awhile we believed that. fast forward 10 years and a funny rthing happened. the prices of cd's and dvds havent fallen a dime. and yet now i can buy 100cd's for 20$ and burn them myself whereas 10 years ago that process woulda cost an ungodly amount of money.

so what has happened here? why are the MPAA and RIAA able to keep prices so high? without anyone able to do shit? its called a monopoly. they have no competition to speak of and so they can do whatever they like and there is little any of us can do. they h9ld all the cards. and they exploite that by keeping prices high. even though we all know very well their profit margin has increased a ton from 10 years ago to now.

lookin at MMO games we see the same thing. they have little to no competition. sure 1 company does not control them alll....not quite anyway (Looks at Sony Online Entertainment. Fuckers). stil though. there is little competition int his industry and so companies can basically charge what they like. they know you have no one else to go to. choices are quite limited. they also all know compettion wouidl only hurt them. why compete with the other 2 companies in the industry when we can all get disgustingly rich by keeping the prices high. just like the current telecommunications giants are doing right now. why do you think broadband costs so fuckoing much? these guys got together and said, lets not have an price wars. and so it was done and so they made sure prices stayed high.

MMO have pretty much done the same as the people above. they know they have something people want to play. they know they pretty much control the market *cough* SOE. so they charge high prices, HIGHER prices, even as the technology gets cheaper.

the more i think on this i realize how much more complicate di could make it. so ill try and summarize this somewhat.

you ask us to pay 50 for the game itself. which we all know is overpriced. thoguh ive noted alot of game compnaies are saying this isnt true. but im sorry. until you put some numbers up for the public to read, this argument holds NO water. Your word means NOTHING. I can look at the trend in tech and see that by now. things shoudl be cheaper.

then you say to us. 10$/month to play. uh huh. i see. so the 50$ originally was fo rwhat then? the pretty box? man boxes are getting expensive then right?

you say to me its server costs. PROVE IT. why dont they? because they are afraid of what would happen if we knew the truth.

if you look at this logically there is no way that whiole technology has gotten cheaper and more advanced, yet companies are forced to pay MORE to maintain their servers. that just does not seem to flow with the obvious. there is no way i can really believe server costs are rising. what i can believe is that these companies just want more money.

the business model these gusy currently have is.

sell game = +$ for us monthly fees = +$ for us

an acceptable business model would be something mroe like this.

sell game = +$ monthly fees = breaking even.

you cant tell me that they arent ripping us off by charging us and making money for both of these costs. thats the most outrageous idea ever.

this would be like.

you buy a car.

but then if you want to drive it. yo uhav eot pay ford a monthly fee or else the car just stops working. no youve got a car, but what use is it? this is kinda what the MMO industry is doing to us an dit is unacceptable. wow i need to stop.

bottom line.

if you expect me to pay you your insane 10$ and MORE monthly fees. well. PROVE that these prices are reasonable. Put your profit margins on the games sales and on the revenue for the monthly fees. then post your costs. server costs. and hell you can even include your overhead costs too like server technicians and stuff.

but we know itll nevef happen. because we know that what wed find out would destroy their reasons for their prices.

so prove it or els eyour just ripping me off.

fuck MMO games. ill stick with games like tribes. and maybe someday there will be a MMO game that the general public can afford. but in the next 10 years. i admit. i see that as unlikely. they are making way to much fuckin money.

Justin's Rebuttal:

Hereís my summation. They charge what they charge, because thatís what people are willing to pay, not because they are trying to rip people off. If more people felt like you that it wasnít worth $10 a month to play a single game, then the prices would drop.

This is a different situation from the MPAA and RIAA, because they are to stupid to realize that the drop in sales is shitty music and overpriced merchandise, and not piracy. Thatís their own fucking fault. The point about dropping cost of older technology is moot, because the cost of internet services is not dropping. They have to make initial investments in the server computers and the fat pipes into the internet, not to mention all the programmer hours put into it. Making a movie gets its money back and then some just from going through theaters if itís a half decent movie. Selling DVDs at ridiculous prices is starting to fade and you can pick up new DVDs at walmart for about as much as a new music cd, which is ridiculous. This is because the cost to produce a album is many times less than that of a movie. The gaming industry struggles on the other hand, because they have to invest so much time and money into developing a game that if their game doesnít sell well (which is most games), they may barely break even. Shitty games usually cost less to produce and also sell fewer units. Well, that or the programming studio just sucks.

I donít think the goal for the companies is to make a huge profit on monthly fees, as well as selling the game units themselves. I think that if the game takes off then the game units should more than cover the cost of developing the game. But think about what the monthly fees need to cover: server maintenance, customer support, game updates, and huge amounts of bandwidth. The problem is really, that there are too many variables when it comes to how much of these things theyíre going to need. If they donít have many subscribers, theyíre not even going to touch the bandwidth of the brand spanking new OC-38 line they just paid 10k to install and make a down payment on the service. They also donít know how many problems theyíre going to have with the servers breaking down. Also, they donít know how long it will take before subscribers start coming in. Look at all of this and tell me youíd rather underestimate than overestimate these costs on a per customer basis. If you donít meet your projected numbers, then youíre going to get fucked hard in the ass. And I personally would rather not get fucked like that. MMOs arenít guaranteed to last or even take off in the first place.

In the event that the game does take off, they will know how much about itís costing them per month. They can use that money to develop an expansion or free extra content. They *could* go back and lower the monthly subscription rate so that people were paying less, but that causes other issues. Maybe more people would come play their game, but then people that got in on the ground floor feel like they were ripped off. So, they just leave the prices as is.

On top of that, what the fuck is wrong with making money? They worked their asses off for like 3 years developing this huge fucking piece of software and they want to cash in on it. If you donít want to pay the prices, thatís your decision, but to most people $10 is nothing. Thatís less than a cell phone bill. Thatís like going to see a movie and buying popcorn once a month. Itís like picking up a new DVD every month. If people are willing to pay those prices, then thatís not the software companyís problem. Theyíre just going along with what the general public is saying. Depending on your salary, it should be around .5-2 hours of work one day out of every month going towards playing this game.

SOE are bitches and have become like the EA of MMOs. EA fucking pumps out more sequels and expansions than anyone, but you know what? People buy them. And because people want the newest madden, or newest Sims expansion, they keep making them. Itís fucking unreal, but thatís the stupidity of people, not the stupidity of the game companies.

Your car analogy is inherently flawed. This is because, you have to pay money for your car in order to use it, just like a MMO. You have to pay to keep it running. Take these for analogies:

Car ŗ MMO

Gas ŗ Bandwidth

Car Maintenance ŗ Server Maintenance

Insurance ŗ Customer Support

Performance Upgrades ŗ Expansions and Added content

How about that? There are costs for your car. If you donít buy gas, your car wonít run. Why do you buy gas? Because without it, your car is a piece of shit sitting in your driveway just taking up space. Yes? Yes.

I agree with what Cliff said in his email response to me earlier saying that he could see my point, but it didnít make sense for him because he doesnít like to play the same game over and over. That makes sense, and as a game to play when youíve got nothing else to do doesnít really work well in MMOs. Itís just not the play style that any of those games can cater to, when there will always be powergamers out there who want to be the best and put in the most effort and the most time to do it. They are the ones that get the most use out of their money, and in my opinion, get the best experience of the game. MMOs arenít action games, they canít be successfully. Look at Planetside, that game fucking sucked. No one liked it for very long, and I donít suppose they make very much money off the monthly fees for that game. Theyíre primarily games for people to try and build the best and strongest character w/ the most advanced equipment in a very very large world. Thatís the only way to keep people entertained. There always has to be something more to do. If you never experience what itís like to be on top, then youíre missing out on the best part of the game.

Kirk finishes off:

yes i know. we could argue this for the rest of our lives. as with everything there are 2 sides to this coin. 2 perspectives which to be honest are probably both right to a degree.

But in this case we have chosen different sides of the coin.

since i dont want to go on forever. ill try and not say much. since god knows i have tons to say.

for 1 the car thing. i liked your point. BUT. it wasnt related to what i was saying.

Car --> MMO
> Gas --> Bandwidth
> Car Maintenance --> Server Maintenance
> Insurance --> Customer Support
> Performance Upgrades --> Expansions and Added content

its more like this:

gas->upgrade PC to run game, Your ISP costs, heh electricity
car maintenance-> same as above. somethin on PC breaks. you pay to fix.

performance and upgrades- we pay for these anyway. i dont have to pay VUG for further patches on Tribes Vengeance. That inherent in the original cost and therefore doesnt count towards a monthly fee.

nor do expasions which you must buy seperately anyway. thus these do no contribute to a monthly fee either.

my point is. the way in which MMO makers charge a monthly fee is not the same as car maintenance. MMO force you to pay them to play their game, even after you already bought it. Ford does not force you to pay anything to use its car once you own it. true. you have to pay maintenance. and same with MMO games. but not in the form of the things you describe. you have to pay the maintenance on YOUR end. not the MMO makers end. thats just silly. they have you covering both ends of the cost. ford cannot charge me a monthly fee to maintain their factory so they can keep making cars and then when the my car breaks down make me pay to fix it. similarly when i pay a monthly fee and support MMO makers costs, why do i also have to pay for my ISP and to maintain my PC in addition? that doesnt follow logically. basically its like saying pay my maintenance and yours. how about no.

complex huh?

sure MMO devs have costs to cover. but so do the consumers. they would like to forget that fact.

i thinbk it is the goal of these companies to grossly over estimate and price these games in orede to make truckloads of money. that way in case as you say the game fails they will break even. id say its unlikely most of these game makers are risking a ton of money on some game on the game players behalf. nope. the prices they charge will make them money if if a game only does so so. hell you can look at how cheap some games are pretty fast. like you can buy KOTOR for 20 bucks now. id say its almost a certainty they are still making money at that price. it started at 50$. sounds like quite a profit margin to me.

sure its ok to make money. but when your gouging people its not ok.. the RIAA is out to make money. is it ok for them to rip us off? the answer is undoubtedly no.

true some people are willing to pay monthly fees. but not many. look at the number of MMO games and the number of players they have. dysmally small in the grand scheme of things. thsi small number just shows that the majority really arent even going to give games like this a shot if they have to pay on top of the original purchase.

ok ok. thats more than enough. i said to much already. there is definitley shit i should be doing.

Red Power.