World of Warcraft > Guild Wars
sorry for the lull over the weekend. (a friend of mine pointed it out… heh.) i try not to work on the weekends, so, unless something crazy happens, weekends around here are pretty dull.
and i suppose exo is talking about me when he says ‘so where are all the trolls now that were bashing ncsoft for saying the same damn thing?’ (p.s. hiro, you had to know i’d show up with a topic like this!) as soon as i saw the headline, i was sure someone would mention it.
well. here’s why ncsoft (arenanet, really) are tards and the folks at blizzard are not: their reasons for not integrating with live are comletely different.
on treating their customers different:
where jeff strain was complaining about microsoft getting in between them and their customers, he’s talking about you and i like we are ‘property’ belonging to ncsoft.
paul sams said no such thing. he is more concerned about his customers experience. he doesn’t want to comprimise the well-oiled machine that is wow. he understands that you can’t have a game without players. he understands that there are many other activities vying for our entertainment dollars. he understands that you take care of your players and they stay. *cough* star wars galaxies *cough*
ncsoft? ‘who cares about a quality game, our customers are ours! we own j00!’
on future games:
jeff strain is discussing business models. intimating that no arenanet game would ever come to xbox live until microsoft changed their business model. blizzard, however, just isn’t interested in porting and existing, very refined pc experience to a console. he specifically is talking about wow, not future games.
in fact, when he says “we may be looking at something along those lines in the future” that tells me… i dunno… that THEY ARE LOOKING AT FUTURE MMO GAMES FOR XBOX LIVE. and doing so without whining about xbox live’s business model. *cough* jeff *cough*
on business models:
paul, didn’t mention it, but i think that fact alone is very important to note: he didn’t say that xbox live’s business model was wrong for them.
xbox live is set up to facilitate episodic content rather than 3rd party subscription based content models. YET, HE STILL DIDN’T MENTION HOW THE MODEL FOR LIVE WAS ‘BAD’ FOR THEM.
jeff strain, however, who has an episodic content model — which, directly mirrors xbox live’s — said live was incongruent with their needs.
does anyone actually wonder why blizzard is kicking the crap out of guild wars, despite still charging for a monthly subscription fee?
ncsoft needs to look out for their customers first. paul sams just publicly PWNED jeff strain from a public relations standpoint — illustrating exactly why blizzard makes great games and has a huge fanbase and why arenanet does not.
which, of course, led to the inevitable comeback “nuh-uh! they are saying the same thing! one guy is just more eloquent!”
they are not even remotely saying the same thing. here. i’ll distill down for you exactly what the two different interviews are saying:
ncsoft: we won’t put ANY GAME on xbox live until they change their business model because our customers are OURS and we have episodic content.
blizzard: we won’t port an EXISTING GAME to xbox live because it might break it and our customers wouldn’t have a good time, however, we are looking at future mmo games on xbox live.
ncsoft sux0rs because:
1) they don’t know most customers follow the game, not the publisher or developer. most customers don’t even know who developed their favorite game much less some random game they play. the ones who do? they follow the developer, not the publisher: take two or rockstar? microsoft or bungie? activision or id? ea or will wright (i’d say maxis, but in this instance will’s name carries more weight than just about any other development house, much less any other singly named developer)?
2) they think xbox live != episodic content.
3) they think microsoft will change the business model of xbox live. if ea rolled over, yeah, i’m pretty sure microsoft could care less about ‘the mighty’ guild wars developer.
blizzard r0x0rs because:
1) blizzard realizes that bringing the console gamers into the mmo fold will do nothing but tighten their grip on leadership.
2) blizzard knows they have ‘blizzard fans’ so they don’t want to comprimise that. they aren’t worried at all that these ‘blizzard fans’ will turn into ‘microsoft fans’ just because of live. people appreciate content, not the delivery mechanism. developers who don’t see that are stupid. (that, or they don’t have a brand worth talking about. even then, they should be excited to ride on top of the xbox live branding.) it’d be like joystiq fearing an server host change would get between them and their readers. talk about completely stupid. joystiq readers will visit joystiq even if they swap isps.
blizzard fans will play blizzard games regardless of the ‘pipe.’
3) blizzard all but confirmed they are making an mmo for xbox live without any ‘complaints’ about the xbox live BUSINESS MODEL.
and, i also had to deal with justifying why i think guild wars is hemorrhaging money where wow is raking it in — despite guild wars having ‘1 million subscribers.’
“How is this relevant to this topic? Also, your underlying message here is that Blizzard’s World of Warcraft is more successful than Guild wars because of their customer relations?”
first of all, nothing i said has anything to do with customer relations in an ‘internal department’ kind of sense. i’m talking about a company’s attitude towards their customers. their ‘customer relations’ initiatives grow out of that. your seeing the symptom, not the disease. i’m talking about the disease.
and, it is relevent because both companies expressed how they treat their customers. that’s a big difference between the two interviews — comparing the interviews is the topic at hand.
as to blizzard kicking the crap out of ncsoft, that ties directly to their business models. meaning the whole episodic content vs. subscription services fitting or not fitting within xbox live’s framework.
one would think that ncsoft would want to take advantage, in a fiercely competitive situation, of the natural episodic abilities of xbox live. they don’t see that. blizzard, however, despite having an incompatible business model (separate subscription-based model. see laughing target’s good stuff above.) is still making the move to the platform in the future.
ncsoft is not, despite having a highly compatible delivery strategy.
the takeaway? ncsoft makes poor decisions and is reflected by them doing poorly in the market. blizzard is about what the customers want and, by that, owns the market.
and, yes, guild wars is doing poorly in the market, despite having a million subscribers.
the reason? turnover rates.
yes. guild wars has 1 million subscribers. however, they aren’t even subscribers. those subscribers have all paid for the game and get to play online for free. if those customers never buy another arenanet-made product, arenanet goes under due to support, bandwidth and network server costs.
however, if those customers keep buying arenanet products, they can keep afloat.
let’s look at that.
so, assuming dollars required per year per customer (based on other successful mmo subscription rates) is about $100. technically, at $15 a month, it’s $180, but, we’re assuming jeff’s assurance of low network requirements is accurate. which, makes sense as a technical requirement (an area in which they are outstandingly talented) based on their economic model.
anyway, for each ‘subscriber’ they have, they have to sell them $100 (or about 2 full games or 4 expansions assuming normal industry pricing) worth of guild wars content every year.
what does that model forget?
1) breakneck development speed required to put out 2-4 expansions or games per year. it’s REALLY expensive to build that much content inside 12 months.
2) customer attrition. there are marketing and packaging costs for the expansions/games since they need to be justified as a new game instead of a server addon. especially since a subscriber who doesn’t buy new content is essentially a drain on their resource.
for every expansion they put out, they will lose not only the standard attrition customers (like any other mmo) but the upgrade customers — those who are happy just playing the original and don’t feel the need to pay for an upgrade. so, the hole in the bottom of their customer funnel is really, really wide.
to compensate for that, they need to attract new customers at a larger rate than any other mmo that exists. that means they need to spend more marketing dollars and other customer acquisition costs than any other mmo.
all that added up means a low-margin, high volume business. that means, for them to be considered AS (not even more, just merely ‘as’) successful as wow, THEY NEED MANY MORE SUBSCRIBERS THAN WOW HAS. for them to be ‘as’ successful as any other mmo with 1 million subscribers, they need more than 1 million subscribers.
and, what counts as a subscriber for guild wars?
not people who play the game. a ‘subscriber’ for them is basically someone who has paid for an upgrade. because, if you just ‘subscribe’ they don’t get any additional revenue from you. they need you to the buy the 2 to 4 games or expansions that they hopefully will be able to put out year in and year out.
so, when you talk about ‘subscribers’ in terms of guild wars, it’s more like ‘unit sales/2’ (assuming they can even crank out that much content in the coming years) in order to compare to other more traditional mmos.
they are just treading water in a sink hole.
just thought you guys could use a little more monday morning reading material.