Your business model doesn't monetize minnows

QuizzicalQuizzical
Hyper Universe Rep: 275
Posts: 34
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in Suggestions and Feedback
If you're trying to make money on a commercial game (hint: you are), there are three basic goals:

1) Get the people who are willing to pay a ton of money for a game ("whales") to actually pay a ton of money.
2) Get the people who are willing to pay a moderate amount of money for a game ("minnows") to pay a moderate amount of money.
3) Allow the players who would never be willing to pay anything to have fun and keep the game populated so that people in the first two categories can have fun, too.

You've got (3) down, as in addition to the rotation system, you've made it easy for a new player to fully unlock several hypers of his choice. I'm not a whale, so I don't know how tempting they'd find the hyper store, but you've at least given people inclined to throw hundreds of dollars at the game a way to do so.

But your current model is a complete failure on (2). Let's suppose that I'm willing to spend $20/month for a game that I like. That's not whale territory, but there are a lot more people willing to spend $10/month or $20/month than $200/month, and that adds up. What can I get for that money?

Well, I could get a premium starter pack for one of several characters--but probably not whichever is my favorite, as only six are offered. Instead of having 4 hypers unlocked by leveling plus 8 more of my choice from hyper skins for free, I could add one more not entirely of my choice, along with a skin for that hyper. There's not much value there.

I could just go unlock four additional hypers of my choice, though without their gear. By the time you substitute out the cost of buying gear, $20 plus 48k game points gets you four hypers, while 54k game points gets you two hypers. Factor in crafting and one could argue that two hypers without spending money is cheaper than four hypers while spending $20. And again, this is in addition to eight hyper tickets that I already got for free. Again, not much value there.

Or I could go buy two skins of my choice. I've already got the skin ticket from the launch event, so this adds my second and third favorite skins, for those rare occasions when I happen to play those two hypers. Again, not much value there, at least if you plan to play more than a few hypers, which I do. For those who don't, this would be a one-time purchase and then no point in ever paying anything again.

There's also equipment slots, a name change, and that's it. If I decide to pay $20, then what I get for my money is barely more than if I'm willing to pay $0. That's not how you get minnows to spend money.

A lot of "free to play" games have figured this out and have something where, if you're only willing to spend $10/month or $20/month or whatever, there's an obvious, best place to put the money. I'm personally a fan of the optional subscription approach. For example, you could say that for $10/month, you get:

1) Twice as many hypers on rotation at a time, or
2) Access to use all skins for hypers while they are on rotation, or
3) Access to play all hypers, though without having all of their gear given for free

Another approach that works is having rotating discounts on items, so that if you buy the discounted stuff, you get vastly more for your money than normal, but a whale who wants everything now can't wait for discounts. The current package deals are not that sort of discount. Instead of paying $9.90 for a skin plus $5 to unlock a hyper, you can pay $15.90 to get both, plus the hyper's gear and some emotes that no one actually uses or cares about. Make it a weekly special of the package deals offered for $5 each for two rotating hypers and you'll have a more interesting discount.

I'm not saying "please make the game cheaper". Please don't make that your take-away from this post. I am saying, there's no point in anyone who isn't a whale ever giving you a dime. And that's not good for profitability, nor for making enough money to keep the servers running.