PDA

View Full Version : How to computerise GW games profitably



Jo Bennett
10-08-2009, 17:10
With the inevitable demise of Vassal, I was thinking about the potential for online versions of GW games. Bloodbowl was a no-brainer, as it was never a hugely profitable line as a tabletop game, regardless of it's quality.

40k and Fantasy, meanwhile, it is easy to see how a direct port of the tabletop versions could result in decreased miniature sales. I was thinking, therefore, that the key to a successful business model for GW in this situation would be in the licensing of individual units within the games. Build an engine free to download (or at low cost, say GBP20) with the digital equivalent of the contents of AOBR or BFSP included. Each boxed set and blister has a unique code unlocking that number of models for up to 2 accounts, retrievable in the same way as the bloodbowl keys. This means that when you buy more models, you get the online version free, but also have it the other way around, so you pay maybe GBP3 to activate a boxed set equivalent in the game without the code. I think this would be fairly profitable as people might be tempted to spend GBP15 on a warhound titan to use online who might not be tempted by the same in physical form.

The advantage with a system like this is that GW can tweak the balance of costs between online and tabletop versions to fit their business plan. The fact that a lot of their models are already CADed should help, particularly with vehicles.

Condottiere
10-08-2009, 17:23
Sounds interesting, since I believe that's the business model some game publishers are going for, allowing players to buy add ons to their games.

Jetty Smurf
10-08-2009, 18:48
This reminds me of a game my friend plays, PoxNora.

As far as I'm aware, it uses "models" in the game, which are purchased using real money. Want those new uber units to defeat everyone with? Fork over that wad of cash you were using as a cushion ;)

I can see this working quite well for the GW games, as I would happily play against my friends using my already painted and assembled army online when I can't physically have a game against them normally. Especially since I would still want to get hands on and play proper games with them whenever possible.

Schmapdi
10-08-2009, 20:55
It would work, except people would balk at having to pay more to use their armies they've already spent 3 grand on over the last decade.

starlight
10-08-2009, 21:14
I doubt the average person who has been playing TT games for the last decade and the average computer gamer overlap all that much...and even if they did, they're not paying a dime to use their existing armies, they're paying to play computer games...

Jo Bennett
11-08-2009, 00:17
The other thing GW might choose to do is offer vouchers for money off physical models for a certain amount of online spend, drawing video gamers toward the models.

Condottiere
11-08-2009, 03:50
That sounds more like it, create a synergy by buying a product in one area allows you get a price reduction off a product in another area. Rewards loyalty.

Schmapdi
11-08-2009, 06:26
I doubt the average person who has been playing TT games for the last decade and the average computer gamer overlap all that much...and even if they did, they're not paying a dime to use their existing armies, they're paying to play computer games...

I didn't think this was targeted at the average computer gamer in any way. I thought it was meant to be an official GW Vassal. You'd buy your army and get codes to use in an online version of the tabletop game for free. (Which is where the bitching comes in - as newbs get it for free, and the veterans would have to pay again)

If it's for gamers, it would be very very easy to just make a turn-based strategy game that could mimic all the rules of the game systems. And gamers would rip it to shreds if they were expected to pay for individual units. Why buy "Warhammer 40k: Autumn of Death" to be nickel and dimed when every other strategy game ever made comes with 4-10 races for free.

ehlijen
11-08-2009, 08:22
I'd be completely and utterly against this. I want the products I buy to be complete. The idea of charging for every tiny bit more that should be part of the game from the get go is just wrong. A computer game should always be a finished product, or at least provide the missing pieces for free.

Yes, there are expansion packs, but the only ones truly worth any money are those that didn't just complete a faulty main product but rather took a finished game and did something new. In a way they're not expansion packs but rather sequels using the same engine.

The whole 'pay us more money to use these units' smacks of collectible games. Despite many similarities, Warhammer and 40k are not collectible games. If you buy the rule book and the codices you need, you have the finished product. All you need then is gaming pieces. Yes, GW sells luxury gaming pieces and tries to tell you you have to use them, but that is in fact a lie. Most people want to, but noone has to. Collectible games work on the principle that you don't even know what else is out there unless you buy it all. Only if you have collected all cards/minis do you know and are able to use all units and stats.

A computer game where you have to pay extra for units, is a collectible game, not a wargame that encourages the use of luxury gaming pieces. As such, such a move would change the target audience from wargames and model painters to collectible game players (and thus exclude many former customers such as me).

Jo Bennett
11-08-2009, 11:15
Other ways to tie in would be to give some codes with the purchase of novels, so purchasing a new Gaunt's Ghosts novel would give you the code to include Ibram Gaunt in your armies.

I think your objection, ehlijen, is one of philosophy rather than practicality. For most people, they don't use the unit without the models, barring conversions, so WHFB and 40k are already collectible games, and there is no reason to think that the stats wouldn't be available before purchase, though obviously this has some implications for the sale of codices for the table top versions. What might make sense is for GW to make one unit a month available for a one-off trial with each account, in the same way as you might use proxies or paper counters for a unit you are trying out.

I don't honestly think there are that many people who go for GWs games because of fantastic rules, people go for them for the imagery and the models. Yes the games are fun to play, but by many accounts the rules are the weakest aspect.

Charax
11-08-2009, 11:21
eBay's going to be flooded with people who have no interest in the computerised version flogging off the codes from the packaging.

Condottiere
11-08-2009, 12:17
While I'm fine with that, it may be GW's management won't be, since it was meant to get the gamers sucked into the PC side of things.

Corrode
11-08-2009, 13:51
I'd be completely and utterly against this. I want the products I buy to be complete. The idea of charging for every tiny bit more that should be part of the game from the get go is just wrong. A computer game should always be a finished product, or at least provide the missing pieces for free.

Yes, there are expansion packs, but the only ones truly worth any money are those that didn't just complete a faulty main product but rather took a finished game and did something new. In a way they're not expansion packs but rather sequels using the same engine.

The whole 'pay us more money to use these units' smacks of collectible games. Despite many similarities, Warhammer and 40k are not collectible games. If you buy the rule book and the codices you need, you have the finished product. All you need then is gaming pieces. Yes, GW sells luxury gaming pieces and tries to tell you you have to use them, but that is in fact a lie. Most people want to, but noone has to. Collectible games work on the principle that you don't even know what else is out there unless you buy it all. Only if you have collected all cards/minis do you know and are able to use all units and stats.

A computer game where you have to pay extra for units, is a collectible game, not a wargame that encourages the use of luxury gaming pieces. As such, such a move would change the target audience from wargames and model painters to collectible game players (and thus exclude many former customers such as me).

You appear to have completely missed the micropayments movement within online games (particularly MMOs and competitive FPS) at the moment. The concept of buying a game and then buying addons for it is rapidly becoming mainstream (and in some cases very exploitative - Sims 3 shipped with much less content than Sims 2, but many of the 'missing' features could be rebought). It may not be a fun thing to admit, but it's not like it's a unique concept.

Jo Bennett
11-08-2009, 14:48
I think it would be unreasonable to expect people to pay full price for a game and then pay more for addons. I think a cut price or even free to download starter pack (basically similar in function to a demo) and then buying the components you want to use is a different kettle of fish. If it's GBP2-3 for a regiment box then you're looking at GBP30-40 giving you a tournament sized force for most armies. Another option might be to allow each code to activate a force organisation slot of that unit type, so a space marine squad or an imperial guard platoon, but I prefer the idea of it mirroring the models exactly. Then again, you could just make the codes worth a certain number of points, and have points cards available in stores much like Wii points, and you could have one tabletop army and either replicate the same army online or have a completely different one.

starlight
11-08-2009, 17:46
The problem with mirroring codes exactly is that many people convert their models into something quite different (some of my Marine Scouts started life as Catachans, my Arbites as Necromunda Enforcers, many of my Ork vehicles as Imperials...). I might be up for *X* price spent gets you *Y* points in the computer game...of course price increases would play havoc with that...


In the end, I'd like a basic finished game with the option to buy either complete additions or piecemeal upgrades. Simple, effective, done. :)

xhrit
11-08-2009, 18:11
i think relic almost had it down with the dow expansions. i would go with one race per expansion, so you would be paying for a 'codex digitalis'. and you can play against the other races even if you haven't bought them.

:P

Jo Bennett
11-08-2009, 19:14
It would also open the way for promotions that cost GW little like having a double points day, so purchases would have an extra points code on the receipt, or a loyalty card linked to buying at B&M stores (much better than them trying to drive discounters out of business).

Condottiere
11-08-2009, 19:21
Software costs nothing except that of development and bandwidth for downloading, they don't need to get out the molds and manufacture more models, so the free points for miniature purchases would actually be relatively inexpensive to GW.

Corrode
12-08-2009, 11:22
Software costs nothing except that of development and bandwidth for downloading, they don't need to get out the molds and manufacture more models, so the free points for miniature purchases would actually be relatively inexpensive to GW.

If it's an online game played by any significant number of people they also need to have usable servers, a support team, and a design team dedicated to updates, bug fixes etc. The reason you pay a tenner a month to play WoW is because they throw a truckload of time and money into it, and while a GW strategy game wouldn't be anywhere near so complex it would still require more than just 'write some code and ship it out'.

Condottiere
12-08-2009, 12:36
I was referring to the add-ons, monthly maintenance costs are another matter; once I've set up my PC, I still have to pay my ISP for internet access.

Inquis. Jaeger
12-08-2009, 14:33
Why not just follow the WoW payment model?

Imagine an online version of 40k/WFB, with computerised and animated versions of models, completely customisable, paintable, designable from custom blocks (and retaining ease-of-use so noobs could easily bash together an identikit force) played online against anyone across the world, with a unified and instantly updateable ruleset.

You could pay for this with micropayments or with WoW style subscriptions (probably both). This would make tons of money for GW. Why the hell hasn't someone done this yet?

ashc
12-08-2009, 14:36
You could pay for this with micropayments or with WoW style subscriptions (probably both). This would make tons of money for GW. Why the hell hasn't someone done this yet?

Because it would still potentially take away from miniature sales?

spetswalshe
12-08-2009, 14:47
Micropayments and add-ons might be getting more mainstream, but that doesn't mean people are still going to be happy about it. People are happy to buy Fallout 3 expansions because they add to what was an already complete game. COD; WOW map packs are sold primarily on the basis of the Nazi Zombies extension, with each successive map bringing a better game experience. No one would see it as acceptable if the Fallout 3 expansions were a deliberately planned extension of the main plot, or buy WOW map packs if they just added in actual game details (perks, weapons, etc.) that were expected to be there in the first place.

The problem with 40k is that it's already an existing system, so one would expect everything to be there from the beginning. DOW gets around this by the fact that it's a RTS using a 40k theme. It's not marketed as an alternative to the actual 40k game itself. Hence, new campaigns and new playable races are a bonus, rather than a given.

Ravenous
13-08-2009, 17:43
This reminds me of a game my friend plays, PoxNora.

As far as I'm aware, it uses "models" in the game, which are purchased using real money. Want those new uber units to defeat everyone with? Fork over that wad of cash you were using as a cushion ;)


Thats basically every CCG, he who has the most money wins.

darker4308
16-08-2009, 06:53
Yeah, I mean there are competative CCG gamers who have access to everything, but from what I'm told it can get into spending several thousand at the point of every release and having good exchange contacts.

I'm actually kind of suprised that GW has never had "collectable" characters. Like a 1 time character w/ special rules that is only available for 100 lucky gamers at an event. I mean I know there are "special" models, but these generally are within the rule set and your generally free to model your own. I guess it just seems weird to me that such an "evil" corporation wouldn't have pulled this.

Also, on the original subject ... didn't magic once try to make an online version and have it fail ? I think warhammer 40k could be fantastic i mean if they made vassal plus w/ some little extras and sold it on the simulator market for 100$ a copy ... hardcore players would probably buy it and still play the physical game. Still more would pirate. Either way I'm going to keep playing vassal.

Condottiere
16-08-2009, 07:21
They'd have to come out with limited editions every quarter.

Gazak Blacktoof
16-08-2009, 11:37
I'd rather have good computer games based on GW's IP, than a replacement for Vassal, which I never used.

scarletsquig
16-08-2009, 12:15
Micropayments are annoying if the game is also sold for a large amount.

I only excuse them in things like flash games, which are released for free and really need some sort of modest income besides advertising to support the development.

I'm happy with stuff like Dawn of War 2... it's well-made and brings something new and unique to the mix.

Raka
16-08-2009, 12:33
Not paying for pretend toys at premium rates (or indeed, cheap rates) to play online. would NOT be worth it. I would not pay for units in the favourite game i love the most, let alone something based around trickling cash out of me.