Monday, February 13, 2012

Monetizing via Crowd Funding

Lately I thought about how I could monetize my efforts.

I personally despise the "Play for free, pay for goodies" business model practices by most MMORPGs. I believe that success in a game should only depend on your effort inside the game, and not on how much real life money you pump into it.

An alternative would be the subscription model, but I can understand that having to pay is a very high entry barrier. It also means that I am obliged to keep the game running as long as people have subscriptions, and any downtime will mean that people are (at least morally) entitled for a refund. It makes management really complicated. Not to mention the bookkeeping and payment handling nightmare.

But an alternative which has (to my knowledge) never been tried before would be to monetize an online game via crowd funding. This would mean that I would create an update, publish some screenshots, and then name my price for activating it. Then I would create a funding campaign on Kickstarter or Crowdtilt, ask the community to donate to it, and as soon as the tipping point is reached I activate the update. Incentives for donating could be:
  • early access to the new content
  • ingame items (which give no actual benefits)
  • Being listed as a donor ingame (as an inscription for a monument, for example)
  • naming rights for non-key ingame locations

I would have the advantage that I can control pretty accurately how much money I make with an update and that I needn't handle any payment details. The players would have the advantage that they can play for free when they want to, and enjoy the game in the same way as those who donate to it. Also, my financial gains are very transparent to the community, creating a relation of mutual trust.

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