Game’s Economic Models


Gaming industry evolving day by day, shiny new engines game modes designs but I’m not going to talk about them today, my main interest today their economic models. Game’s economic models evolving like marketing. In the past demand more than supply but currently the opposite. Out there you can find dozens of quality Free2play modeled MMO games. Micro payments / normal payments / monthly payments and some more like that…


Games has two main model they can choose;

–          Free2Play (F2P) Model

–          Pay2Play (P2P) Model

–          Truly Free2Play (TF2P) Model

First is free… So games can choose this model or even they can switch to that model later like SWTOR / TERA. I’ll say something about them later on this article. But lets say I’m a Studio Owner doing all Marketing/Economics etc and I’m creating a new game and using F2P model. Before starting to do anything (I mean creating core features/coding game itself) I have to choose which path I’ll take and use for this game.

–          Money shop that effects game only visually

–          Money shop that effects game in minor areas

–          Money shop that effects game in major areas

If I select visual only extra content, I don’t have any chance to made an impact on game this makes all users equal, this method generally not good for heavy server side hosts because your hosting bills will be high and you need some money, but some games mainly P2P which has low server load can use this method to increase their userbase and make money.

What if I select minor, now i have little cards to make my users use to increase something beside free users and i can get some money from it. Like premium potions (Example: normal ingame potion gives 10% HP over 1 min – but Premium potion gives 20% HP over 1 min), some scrolls gives little boost (Example: 10% more XP for 1 hour). But those minor effects are kinda dangerous because if the games can’t balance it right or overprice it, they can see those effects.

a)      Overpowered premium users

b)      Zero income

First one can drive users away other can end your game.
Example; (From real this time) Game named eRepublik, they allow you to buy endless gold and you have no limit to buy Health Packs, this makes a user owerpowered and drivers people out of game.

End finally major areas, what it can be? Easy its kinda creating overpowered premium users, but not like with potion or something. Its more key content, examples can clear things up more.

From ex-popular game Knight Online; Game has some premium types and some items help you upgrade your item.

-          War Premium

-          Exp Premium

Those premium types are making things different in game if you are a Exp premium user it makes you %400 faster (till X level) then %200 … and if you are War Premium user you get more NP (National Point), even you have to spend more time in game or your skills will be ignored by those premiums.

Quick note: NP (National Point) uses in ranking users.

Another example from this place P2P to F2P conversion. Lets say i have a game and P2P model not giving things as I expected. Now I have to do something and preparing game for F2P model and creating Veteran membership, that membership effects key areas of game like dungeons. I don’t let free users to enter dungeons but I let Veteran ones. All looks so evil but they are not, in the end all companies are after profit and they have to pay their bills.

From here we only talked about game gives full acess to every place in game (even for a limited time). But in some free2play games you actually have to pay to access there, game’s some area’s still free but if you want to get that car you have to pay for it. The best real life example for this RaceRoom Online.

Pay 2 Play part

This is actually easy to explain because there is not too much to talk about this.

-          Pay once play forever

-          Pay to unlock and pay to play

What is Pay Once Play Forever?

Its simple you have to buy the game once (like The Secret World / Guild Wars 2) and you can play forever. In here I am not only talking about vanilla game also I mean expansion packs too.

What is Pay to Unlock and Pay to Play?

Its also simple you have to buy the game and its own expensions and you have to buy game times if you want to keep playing (like World of Warcraft).

Those are simple explanations about the system I actually want to talk about how to make this things work, because unstable P2P model crash your game’s economic system, in the end you find yourself like SWTOR. Hardest thing is Monthly Pay (Game Time selling aka). Risky but pays well.

In P2P model you can always add vanity or visual upgrade shops for cash or even you can gift them (how?). My personal system gives cash bonus to monthly payers and they can get some visual or vanity or something only effects visual outfit so people has slightly more interest in paying monthly.

Truly Free 2 Play part

This is the most lovely part for users because in those type of games you get equal in the end. (Sneaky) For who? Actually If you plan your game well, you can cought users off-guarded and some *sneaky* users would be played for nothing :P (Surely they’ll have fun but equality). Low premium points as reward (Its still TF2P) short updates about new items in game, unbalance things for the gamer and force him/her to buy something (Nice right?). But those are bit evil, some games like AirMech allows you to play the game in TF2P model. Actually its way too TF2P model why?

Lets analyise AirMech;

Game offer you some bundles

-          Beta Bundle

-          Steam Pack

Game has two currency Kudos and Diamonds, you can buy Diamonds via real money or you can earn it via some quests. Store has XP/Kudos boosts also Gold VIP option, there is also Silver VIP option which you can get after 10$ spending on game (Steam Pack). All AirMechs has different skills and abilities but all are free to Kudos (non-skinned) if you like one of the skins you can buy it with Diamonds or direct payment which is also a good method. The only items you can’t get in the game with Kudos is “Ultimate” things. What are they btw?

Ultimate items are much more powerful version of normal items (Bucky – Ultimate Bucky). Don’t panic why we are calling this game TF2P the reason is here, totally free players will (may) never get Ultimate items but in PvP mode all Ultimate items are disabled so you are equal at all…

You can discuss lots of lots of things about this models I but those are very basic versions of them.

This writing is written by a student (me) so don’t look at this as a professional advices, this writing may give you an idea to shape your game’s economic model but you can’t hold me responsible for things if they goes wrong.