A new business model: give away the game and charge avid players for extras

For millions of East Asians, online gaming is not so much a hobby as a way of life. “Massively multiplayer” online games such as “Legend of Mir 3” and “MapleStory” have legions of devoted fans who spend an alarming proportion of their waking hours sitting in front of their PCs, at home or in internet cafés, doing battle with elves, wizards and mythological beasts. Some players take their parallel gaming lives very seriously: one man murdered a friend in a dispute over a stolen virtual sword.

Many of these games rely on a business model that is different from the way the video-games industry works in the West. Rather than selling games as shrink-wrapped retail products which can then be played on a PC or games console, the Asian industry often gives away the software as a free download and lets users play for nothing.

Revenue comes instead from small payments made by more avid players to buy extras for their in-game characters, from weapons to haircuts. In this way, a minority of paying customers subsidise the game for everyone else.

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Published by Reinout te Brake

Reinout is a games investor and strategic business consultant specializing in the games industry. Reinout established his credentials through his own successful investments, start-ups, consulting and (advisory) board positions that led through time to strong bonds with key stakeholders in this fast paced industry. He is known for his outstanding results in the gaming industry. He has worked with many game studios around the globe and is therefore well known in the international gaming industry. Check out his games podcast; https://www.game-consultant.com

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