I'm sure I'll be blogging much more about EA's recent announcements regarding the hotly anticipated Star War's MMORPG, but certainly one of the first points I wanted to make was about price points, and simply how stupefying Sony's monthly subscription on their DCUO Freemium Pricing model is in light of yesterdays announcements. Don't get me wrong, Sony are right on the Free and "Premium" accounts, but wildly off base in their pricing on their "Legendary" accounts (i.e. a normal monthly subscription model).
EA on Star Wars upcoming MMO (Gamasutra):
A copy of the game includes a 30 day subscription, and after that, access costs $14.99 per month, $41.97 for three months ($13.99 per month), or $77.94 for six months ($12.99 per month). In the UK, subscriptions will be £8.99 per month, £25.17 for three months (£8.39 per month) or £46.14 for six months (£7.69 per month). European pricing will be €12.99 per month, €35.97 for three months (€11.99 per month) or €65.94 for six months (€10.99 per month).
Sony Press Release on DCUO (Gamasutra):
Legendary: Maximum features and benefits are included at this level. Loaded with enhanced additional features, Legendary access will be available for a $14.99 USD monthly fee and includes all DLC packs at no cost, more than 15 character slots, more than 80 inventory slots, the ability to form unrestricted-sized leagues, and many other benefits.
Hmm, so a game which is pretty much diving towards a Freemium business model, has pretty much decided to price itself at the very top end of the market (before the EA Star Wars announcement), a move and price point, which in light of the Star Wars announcement, becomes now quite ludicrous to sustain. I laughed loudly and shook my head in disbelief when last week Sony announced a $14.99 DCUO monthly subscription, now, barely a week later, that high price point is simply bewildering.
On the EA announcement, if anything, its pricing structure is lower than I anticipated, which is a nice surprise, and particularly the UK pricing looks very competitive. Truth be told, I'm sure they could have set the UK prices for this hotly anticipated product at £9.99 or £10.99 and no-one would have probably batted an eyelid. If the UK produces around 100,000 subscribers, that's not a huge monthly loss to them, but still, taken over a year, that represents an additional £1m revenue which they could have lost. Of course, that's obviously offset (you can tell I'm an accountant at times) by the additional revenue gained by people not unsubscribing because the monthly cost is so low. My research indicates that most monthly MMO prices are set so low on an hour's played to enjoyment received scale, that few gamers who have incomes really are that bothered about costs as long as they are within an "acceptable range" (and what constitutes that is obviously driven by their expectations, and what they're currently paying). It is only when money is a concern for the gamer or they are thinking of unsubscribing anyway, generally does it become a "halo effect" variable which affects (or infects if you like) their perceptions of price Certainly, getting the price points right is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears with the marketing challenge of the customer (Goldilocks) finding your porridge "just right" a serious headache. In this case though, I think EA's Marketing team have delivered, and Sony's probably should be taking notes.