The way digital goods sell is in many ways different from physical world. Bank-led and older fintech solutions were not enough for developers and gaming firms. A bunch of payment and money related firms have come up that are helping developers and game publishers with in-app, in-game purchases. Jagex Games - founders of the Multi Award winning Runescape, one of the earliest and most popular MMORPGs along with titles such as World of Warcraft, Maple story & Ragnarok – recently announced the launch of Transformers Universe founders program. This enables players to buy in-game currency, rewards, special edition stuff and the like.
An overview of the Founder Program:
- Players that purchase via Founders Program are given an exclusive suite of in-game gear as well as premium access to the game.
- There are four tiers of pack to choose from, bronze, silver, gold, and cybernite.
- All founders program buyers get their names added to an honour roll, and are given a custom avatar and title in accordance with their level of purchase.
- The extras are completely dependent on the pack purchased, but will range from warrior upgrade, in-game craft items and equipment bundles to exclusive warriors and body kits.
- Founders will also be awarded season passes, in-game currency, free access to timed-exclusive warriors at launch and other in-game bonuses.
- A fifty centimeter long Transformers Universe Figurine is in store for those players that purchase the cybernite pack.
- This figurine will have a limited worldwide run and has been commissioned specially for the game.
“All Founders packs, of varying levels of value and content, are priced accordingly and are available for purchase beginning April 30, guaranteeing all Founders a place on the Founders Honor Roll along with an exclusive Founders forum avatar immediately on purchase,” says their website. The game is currently running in closed beta.
In previous posts I have discussed the serious cash flow and significance that Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games hold, as far as the payments industry is concerned. Transformers Universe (set to release sometime this summer) is not an MMORPG but a MOTA – Multiplayer Online Tactical Arena. However as far as game economics and in-game payments are concerned, the cash shop operates in a very similar manner.
Transformer Universe hopes to replicate the huge success of MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) like League of Legends and DoTa, Defense of the Ancients. League of Legends recently reported that they have a daily user base of 27 Million and Monthly user base of 67 Million! The game employs a cash shop with which let you purchase items for currency. The game currency is obtained by paying real money via Debit Card, Credit Card, Game Card, Phone Recharge and sever other methods of payment.
TU promises however, that any items which can be purchased in game will not offset the balance among players, so as not be labeled as another clichéd ‘Pay to Win’ game, which most modern MMOs seem to be struggling with nowadays. However, their Founders Program may backfire, as Paul Tassi of Forbes expertly explains in his post:
“I feel like Founders Pack can create rifts in communities like this as well. These Bronze, Silver, Gold and Cybernite Avatars and exclusive bots and skins being promised to backers become a giant glaring sign saying that you paid X amount of dollars for the free game. It’s supposed to be a reward, but to me it seems like paying for a giant Kick Me sign on your back,” he writes. “In League of Legends, when you have a gold banner around your profile, it means you made it to a certain league in ranked mode due to your skill. Not that you spent $120 for the Founders League of Legends pack and were granted a special portrait for it. And when you do buy things like skins that are visible to other players, each one is only $5-20. There’s not some giant glowing number next to your name that shows exactly how much total you’ve spent on the game (thank god, in my case). That’s not really something you want broadcast most of the time.”
Having played MMORPGs for 14 years, I can understand this sentiment in its entirety. There is not a single game I can remember, where the general population does not complain about the ‘Spoilt Rich’ who just pay their way to victory. This alienates them from the rest. On the other hand, I have always had high hopes for TU and still do. I guess we will just have to see how it goes.