Friday, November 21, 2008

Why don't they milk it?

When a new MMO is released, about a hundred websites pop up offering some kind of service relating to the game. These websites include wikis, forums, item databases, 'armories', games stats etc. I would imagine that a professional website for a popular MMO would receive daily hits somewhere in the millions (and then some if the game is something like WoW). I'm no business expert, but I could image that the advertising revenue for a website like that would be considerably high. It wasn't that long ago that Wowhead.com sold for over a million dollars. Not bad for a database with a 'pretty front end'.

So this raises the question: why don't the games companies build these kind of websites and make a few dollars on the side? After all, they own the data. It would only be a matter of slapping a 'pretty front end' on it. Given that they could build the website prior to the release of their game, they would have a good headstart on the competition. I wonder if there is a particular reason as to why the game companies don't milk it? To me it seems like a wasted opportunity.

You're probably wondering, why should I care?

I care because if game companies have an alternate source of revenue to the usual sales, subscriptions and micro-transactions, it might encourage them to lower their prices. Better yet, make the game completely free. Some time ago I explored different pricing models for online gaming and I think this constitutes a new model. Profit through indirect advertising. I can't actually think of any bad points for this model. The gamers get a cheaper / free game with supporting websites and the game company has a source of continuing revenue. Am I missing something or does everyone benefit?

4 comments:

Thallian said...

You're not missing anything.. but they are.

Melf_Himself said...

38 studios recently bought Azeroth Advisor, which is a free newsletter delivered to you with information depending on what class/level you're at... tells you skills to pick, how to do whatever dungeons you're eligible for, etc.

It currently services only WoW, but they're going to be using it for their upcoming 'Copernicus' MMO as well.

I think the main thing holding people back from milking such a service is that the developers don't know how to play their games properly.

If you want guides like that done right, you really have to find who the mosty leet players of your game are, and pay them to put the information together.

Ixobelle said...

wowarmory does this, in effect, but yeah... there used to be a community driven site where you'd DL a little app, and upload your current gear and stats into the sites database, and it was a way to link your gear. it was part of the CT family f mods if i remember right, CTprofiles or something it was called.

when you think of how many people troll the wow forums everyday, it would be a nice little lump of change to have a banner up there. then again, for a company like blizzard, that would be a drop in the bucket AND they would have to have someone in charge of deciding who gets in the ad rotation etc. nice if you already "have that guy on staff", but a p.i.t.a. if not.

generally, a corporate site only has 'banners' for their own crap. Adobe.com is advertising the latest version of photoshop, ford.com is showing off their new cars, etc. to see a banner there would be... weird.

laurenmichele63 said...

The tool that Melf mentioned is what immediately came to mind. If I was still playing WOW I'd be using it for sure. Sony's EQ2 Players website has been around for ages and has yet to be copied - its Armory plus player customized information.

Why hasn't anyone else done it? I think developers really under estimate how much time avid gamers are will to spend researching, thinking about and planning how to play their games, and that's on top of how much we enjoying talking about our favorite games.

The other side of the advantage is the personal connection / offline RP if you will, of having something accessible from my character that I can tinker with when I can't play. Seriously, the most minor aspects would be so appealing like inventory management, spec management, etc. All harmless tasks that people would chomp at the bit to meddle with offline.

Great post.