Friday, March 21, 2008

Busines Model Culture Clash

Kotaku has a post up about the rumored addition of a item-sales/microtransaction model being added to Battlefield: Bad Company, and it's going over about as well as a fart in a space suit.

The rumor is based on the beta test of B:BC displaying some weapons that are locked and labelled as 'available for purchase on Xbox Live Marketplace'. It's not going over well because the Kotakians beleive this is going to lead to people with oodles of spare spending money thrashing the lowly struggling gamer.

The impetus to do this is clear. EA's been talking (as everyone else has) about the popularity of this business model in asia, and are dipping several of their many toes in the water to see if it works over here. However, what is an accepted business model in Asia may not go over so well with traditional core gamer audiences here.

This won't be the last backlash we'll see, and EA will almost certainly botch a few attempts before getting it right. However, they'll likely get some right, and that just means more choice for consumers in the long run. More paths to the cash register is always a good thing in the end.

A precendant:

The B:BC example, and the Kotaku post's jab about 'paying for ammo' reminded me of a precendent that has already been set in the real world: Paintball.

When I used to go semi-regularly with the crew at Matrox (how long ago was that? Yeesh), we set house rules that limited the type of weapons so that everyone was on equal footing, but also allowed for flexibility on ammo. Competing in a round with only 100 rounds, when others might opt for up to 400, became a bit of a personal challenge within the multiplayer game.

On the other hand, I have a buddy that went with a bunch of stockbrokers on a regular basis and they were full-on, buy what you want, so some guys had stock guns, others full automatic, some guys had paint grenades, etc. And for them, that was OK.

Taking this back to B:BC, sounds like EA just has to allow for limiting some matches to 'stock items only', etc.

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