最近我听到很多游戏设计师在谈论微交易世界中游戏设计的挑战，如《The Hidden Evil of the Microtransaction》和《A Social Game Design Reboot》。在过去设计游戏很简单——即当游戏还是基于统一价格进行零售时，设计师只需要创造出足够有趣的游戏内容，让玩家觉得对得起游戏价格便可。
Game Design & Business Models
by Neil Harris
Challenges of Game Design (in a World of Microtransactions)
Lately I’ve seen much talk from game designers about the challenges of game design in a world of microtransactions, like The Hidden Evil of the Microtransaction and A Social Game Design Reboot. It used to be so easy – when games were sold at retail for a flat price, the designer only had to worry about providing enough hours of fun game play to make the price worthwhile.
That has never been true in online games, and it’s only recently that enough game designers have been working in the space to make this clear.
Way back in the 1990s, in the age of Genie and AOL, the business model for online games centered around hourly fees. In their prime the going rate was $3 per hour, which came out to 5 cents per minute. The most successful games were designed around maximizing play time per month. Retail games bragged about success with 40-60 hours of game play, while top online games averaged more hours than that per month for each active player – I saw players spend 400 hours ($1200!) in a single month of play. 80% of the money came from the top 20% of players. Games were designed for the most hard core, most dedicated.
An artifact of the by-the-minute model were some money-making design “features” like making people sit and bandage their wounds to recover from combat, or travelling space by space over vast distances. Later MMO games sold at flat rates had to un-learn some of these dubious designs when they were no longer part of the business model, because they weren’t fun and they certainly weren’t necessary.
MMO RPG’s Bring Flat Monthly Subscription Prices
With the advent of online MMO RPGs came flat monthly subscription prices. Under flat rate subscriptions designers had to maximize the size of the audience. Remember when World of Warcraft leveling took a long time and game mechanics were more challenging? By streamlining game play the Blizzard designers improved revenue by maximizing the audience size. Hard-core players complain but there are a lot less of them than there are more casual (less skilled?) players.
Under the microtransaction model audience maximization is even more important. If only 2% will pay, you need a truly massive audience to wring enough money from a game to build a success. 10 million WoW subscribers gives way to 100 million Farmville monthly players. Game play becomes even simpler and designers try to build engagement – easier in a hard-core player base but more challenging with a mass audience. Measurement systems and ability to adapt become crucial to success.
Business Models Continue to Evolve
The moral of all this is that business models continue to evolve and that game designers are expected to keep up. There is huge potential in online games – I don’t believe we have begun to explore the full potential yet – and there will be new business strategies and more ways where game design and business model have to play together.(source:heroengine)