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新探索:在F2P盛行的商业环境里尝试游戏包月付费模式

发布时间:2017-08-25 15:24:32 Tags:,

“很多玩家已经受够了F2P模式”:为什么Lakoo要把包月付费模式应用到手游上

原作者:Matt Suckley 译者:Willow Wu

Lakoo在2011年发布的免费大型多人在线RPG游戏Empire Online的下载量已经超过1200万次,有人或许会认为Lakoo很满意当下手游市场中主导的商业模式。

但是这个做功能手机游戏起步的香港工作室认为,与其在那些疲于免费游戏的盈利模式的玩家上下功夫,不如换种方法,于是他们采用了包月付费模式。

新模式的首个产物就是Pandora X,一款大型多人在线RPG游戏,目前下载量已超9万次。

虽说包月付费的游戏模式并不陌生,但是在PC平台可以说已经过了巅峰时期了,在移动平台还相对来说是个比较新鲜的概念。

在2016年,包月付费模式只有App Store和Google Play开发者们可以用,而且很少有游戏会使用,尤其是那些针对孩子们的游戏都不会采用这种模式。

所以,让我们来深入了解Lakoo的革新举措, PocketGamer.biz邀请到了Lakoo的合作创始人Kin Ko。

PocketGamer.biz: 为什么你决定把Pandora X设定成包月付费模式?

Kin Ko: 为了做出改变。不仅仅是为了玩家,还有我们自己。

1999年,Lakoo开始制作手游,在功能手机品平台上发布,2005年,我们制作了中国的首款在线手游。

那时离App Store的出现还有很长一段时间,但是游戏已经具备了F2P模式,因为付费下载模式的概念还从未出现在中国主流市场中。

近几年,F2P模式现在已经非常成熟了,甚至有点极端化。很多玩家已经对它感到厌烦了,我们也是,因为我们也是玩家。

事实上,2011年的时候我们试图利用一款F2P游戏Empire Online进入美国市场。这款游戏在中国非常成功,但是hardcore风格的免费大型多人在线RPG游戏对于美国市场来说还是时机过早,尽管在中国那已经是主流了。

pandora x(from pocketgamer.biz)

pandora x(from pocketgamer.biz)

为了某些铁杆粉丝,我们还是把Empire Online保留在app stores中。

为什么你认为这种模式在移动平台很冷门?你认为包月付费模式的游戏在这个平台上有市场吗?

我猜这只是因为F2P在商业领域太成功了吧。即使还有跟Lakoo想法一致的开发者,他们也要花时间完善这个想法,然后才能着手开发这类游戏

这种模式需要对游戏进行全方位的改动,核心设计,还有内容都要改,范围大程度深。

移动平台上那么多的免费游戏,你觉得这对Pandora X或则其它采取相同模式的游戏来说会不会是个挑战?

我们确实认为还有其它的因素。除了可以免费下载,F2P游戏都非常容易上手,因为开发者们知道如果不能留住玩家,那么连赚钱的机会都没有。

但是玩家在对包月付费模式的游戏上瘾之前,他们需要更多的耐心。

或许游戏中都没有教程,玩家可能得靠自己摸索。早期的任务可能比较艰难。要花费时间去学习技巧。

就像一些很棒的电影,前15分钟在讲什么观众完全是一头雾水。如果这些电影是“免费观看”的话,就没有这么好的制作了。

你觉得游戏目前的表现如何?

跟你说实话吧,Pandora X的盈利状况并不理想。

就如上述,包月付费模式游戏应该在想法萌生的初期就开始设计。这就是为什么Pandora X混合了包月付费和F2P两种模式,因为我们的想法并没能在制作过程中彻底实现。

所以结果并不理想,游戏玩法和商业方面都不尽人意,但是至少我们已经开始朝着对的方向实践,学习经验。

然而,我们的另一个作品Teon是个彻彻底底的包月付费模式游戏,虽然现在还在测试中,但是感觉还是非常有前景的,也证明了这种模式是可以成功的,对此我们很高兴。

下载这个游戏需要花费1美元,这就能够屏蔽那些休闲游戏的玩家。游戏订购率有20%。

开放订购的7个月之后(iOS去年秋季才开始支持这种付费模式),我们在台湾和香港的订购人数已经超过5000人,玩家需要每月支付9.9美元。这两个地区是我们的测试市场。

我们应该很快就能看到美国和欧洲市场的反馈了。

你认为有多大程度上,玩家被传统的F2P游戏机制束缚住了,你们要如何把这些玩家赢回来?

美国市场我们是不太确定,但是在中国市场我们看见了好多玩家已经对F2P模式感到厌烦了。

我们经常能看见这种玩家:他们对游戏套路知道得一清二楚,当他们看见某种特定的设计,就能预见到之后开发者会用哪种方式让他们迷上游戏。这些人在心里呐喊:“来个真正的游戏啊!”

在早些时候,我们在台湾和香港看到了这样一种迹象:只要清楚地表明我们的游戏是完全公平的,不是花钱你就是赢家的那种,就有可能把那群玩家赢回来。游戏中永远都不会有内购项目。

信息扩散之后,Teon成功占据付费下载榜单前三强之一,还长达6个月之久,几乎没用任何营销手段。

你认同Lakoo的目标群体和普通的免费游戏目标群体之间有很大差异这种说法吗?

是的。通常来说,他们已经玩了很久的游戏了,一般来说都是超过10年的。他们深谙F2P游戏的机制,想要回到游戏最基本的东西。这些人往往会去玩hardcore游戏。

他们在多种平台上玩游戏,包括各种主机设备,steam,这不是什么罕见的事。

你认为随着移动市场的成熟,它能够支持更多样化的游戏体验和商业模式吗?

这是毫无疑问的。我们对包月付费模式有着坚定的信念。要是没有像苹果或者谷歌这样的平台支持,这一切都不可能发生。

幸运的是,苹果在去年秋季终于同意在游戏中使用这种模式了。这就是我们现在采取行动的原因。

为了实现这个目标,腾讯和Sequoia Capital在背后给了你们多大力度的支持?

作为股东,他们总是给予我们支持,帮了我们很多忙。实际上,让我们放手去尝试这种非主流的游戏模式就已经是很大的支持了,这需要他们很大程度上的信任。

Sequoia曾经在总部提供给我们一个服务部门,另外还有业务网络和营销建议。

腾讯游戏平台目前还不支持包月付费模式,所以从这个角度来说我们还没有合作过。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Having racked up more than 12 million downloads for its 2011 free-to-play MMORPG Empire Online, one might assume that Lakoo is content with mobile’s dominant business model.

But the Hong Kong studio, which started out releasing games on feature phones, is now instead reaching out to players who feel alienated and frustrated by free-to-play monetisation, adopting a subscription-based model.

Its first effort is Pandora X, an MMORPG which has racked up 90,000 downloads so far.

While subscription-based gaming is familiar – arguably past its peak, even – on PC, on mobile it’s still a relatively young concept.

The option to implement a subscription model was only introduced for App Store and Google Play developers in 2016, and the games that actually utilise it are very rare, particularly outside of titles targetted at kids.

So to learn more about Lakoo’s novel approach, PocketGamer.biz reached out to co-founder Kin Ko.

PocketGamer.biz: Why did you decide to launch Pandora X with a subscription model?

Kin Ko: To make a difference. Not just for the players, but also ourselves.

Lakoo started making mobile games on feature phones in 1999, and made the first mobile online game in 2005 in China.

It was long before the App Store was launched but it already had a F2P model, since the concept of paid downloads has never existed in the Chinese mainstream.

As such, the F2P model has become very mature and even too extreme in recent years. Many gamers are fed up with it and so are we, because we too are gamers.

In fact, we tried to enter the US market once in 2011 before we retreated, with a F2P title called Empire Online. It was a port of our very successful title in China, but it was too early in the States for a hardcore F2P MMORPG – even though in China it was mainstream.

We are still maintaining Empire Online on app stores for some die hard fans.

Why do you feel that the model is so uncommon on mobile? And do you think there’s a market for subscription-based games on the platform?

I guess it’s simply because F2P is too much of a commercial success. And even if there are more developers having the same belief as Lakoo does, it takes time for the idea to be cultivated and then a subscription-based game developed.

The subscription model calls for changes all the way down to the core game design, as well as content that’s very deep and broad.

Do the sheer number of free-to-play alternatives on mobile present a challenge to Pandora X and other mobile games adopting a subscription model?

We do think there are other factors. Other than being free to download, F2P games are all designed to be extremely easy to pick up, because developers know if players don’t stay there will be no money at the bottom of the conversion funnel.

A subscription game, however, has a much higher expectation on players’ patience before the gameplay starts to become addictive.
There may be hardly any tutorials. They may force players to explore. The early tasks could be hard. The skills may take time to learn.

There are excellent movies which audiences have completely no idea what’s going on in the first 15 minutes. They wouldn’t have existed if movies were “free to watch”.

How happy have you been with the game’s performance so far?

To be very honest, the financial performance of Pandora X is far from ideal.

As said above, a subscription game should be designed with the idea in mind since the very beginning. That is why Pandora X has a hybrid subscription/F2P model, since we only had the direction half way through the development.

Therefore it hasn’t produced optimal result, both gameplay and business-wise, but at least we started to execute the direction and to learn.

We are however very glad that the subsequent title Teon, now in beta with subscription design from the ground up, has shown a very promising result to prove the model works.

It is a dollar to download, which sets a bar to block the casual gamers, and has a subscription rate of 20%.

Seven months after the launch of subscription (iOS only just supported the model since last fall), we now have over 5,000 subscribers of $9.99/month in Taiwan and Hong Kong, our test markets.

We shall soon see how it goes in the US and Europe.

To what extent do you feel that some players are put off by traditional F2P mechanics and how do you win those people over?

We are not sure about US, but in China we are seeing lots of gamers who are fed up with the F2P model.

We often see players know the ins and outs so well, that once they see a certain design, they know in what way the developer is trying to convert them later on. They call out loud, “just give us real games”.
We saw an early sign in Taiwan and Hong Kong, that these kind of players can be won over by making it absolutely clear to them that our game is all fair-play, no pay-to-win. There will never be an in-game store to buy items with real money.

The word has just spread, and Teon managed to stay in the top three on the paid download chart for over six months with hardly any marketing.

Would you say that the target audience for Lakoo’s subscription-based games is markedly different to that of the average free-to-play title?

Yes. Typically they have been playing games for a long time, usually 10+ years. They know the mechanics of F2P games well. They want to return to the basics. They tend to play hardcore titles.

It’s not uncommon that they play games on multiple platforms, including consoles and Steam.

Do you feel that as the mobile games market matures, it will be able to support a wider range of experiences and business models?

Definitely. We have a very strong belief in the subscription model. That wouldn’t be possible without support from platforms like Apple and Google.

Luckily, Apple finally allowed games to use the subscription model last autumn. That is why we’re taking action now.

How big a role has the backing of Tencent and Sequoia Capital played in Lakoo fulfilling its ambitions?

They have always been supportive and helpful shareholders. In fact, even letting us try a model against the mainstream F2P model is a big support and requires a lot of trust.

Sequoia once provided desks in their headquarters, as well as a business network and marketing advice.

Tencent’s own game platform does not support the subscription model yet, and so we have not worked together in this sense.(source: pocketgamer.biz)


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