Well I'm part-way through the second day at the Canadian Games Conference, and the presentation I gave with Craig yesterday went spectacularly well. I would have reported on it earlier but I was somewhat distracted by all the great after-hours activities...
If you missed the show - for shame! - here's a bit of a summary. I talked about the problems faced by marketing in today's MMO climate: how the subscription model works and how energy and convenience free to play models contrast with it. I also argued that marketing teams need to look at game communities as a whole rather than focus on getting money from each individual player: non-paying players keep paying players playing (and paying!). Craig followed up with some practical advice on the different types of things you can sell in a game, and explained how each of them might affect both revenue and the number of potential clients your game has. He described how efforts to monetize more players could also shrink the overall player base.
Our conclusion was simple: find a way to enable players to spend money rather than focusing on extracting money from them. Let them want to spend money rather than make them have to spend money. You'll have happier players as a result, and a happy player is a paying player!
In other news, I've spent some time pondering the TCG and I think I'll be going ahead with that this summer. I spoke briefly with David Helgason about using Unity for the back-end and he seemed to think it was very viable. Others I've spoken with confirm that it's a sound idea, at the core, so long as the gameplay pans out. I'm not sure if I'll assemble a team while I'm here at the CGC though; as much as I'd like to pick up some partners for this project I'm not sure I've laid out enough of the framework yet. Then again, if I wait until I can produce a playable prototype, I could probably just follow through and finish it off by that point.
I'm also regretting having worked so closely with someone from Funcom these past weeks without actually covering any Funcom games on this site. How embarrassing. Age of Conan will be going up shortly and I have no doubt The Secret World will join the lineup when it's ready. I'm not sure if I'll dig back into Anarchy Online... I mean, I do tend to enjoy those oldies, and DAoC is, of course, still listed here... I'll give it a try and see.