The business model of Order & Chaos (O&C) is irking us a bit more now, and it might help us to have a better understanding of Gameloft’s expenses for this title. Freemium titles are typically free, with profit derived from real money transactions (RMT), where players purchase in-game items for actual cash. Overall, freemium titles are considered profitable, so why is O&C not being distributed under this model? In other words, what makes O&C less profitable than other successful freemium titles, necessitating the monthly subscription1 and up-front cost?
Because of the RMT model, players paying the monthly subscription alone are at a disadvantage; buying gold becomes advantageous when min-maxing, because more gold means more vendor and auction house purchases, which means players who dabble with RMT can level faster than regular subscribers. Plus, since characters lose money whenever they get killed, players who take too many risks, or are simply not very good, could find themselves without adequate funds to purchase skill upgrades. Again, a clear advantage for those who spend on RMT.
That said, Gameloft’s done a good job of relying on craft funds to limit gold expenditures on crafting skills. This means that crafters can potentially see decent profits on the auction house, assuming their better items don’t bind on pickup. The auction house really becomes the only way for regular subscribers to stand any chance of making decent profit for their characters, but there are a couple problems with this, too. For one, the primary auction house location doesn’t have a chest nearby, which means players can’t easily post a lot of items to the auction house at once (because of inventory issues). A good solution would be to combine the auction house and chest system at auction house locations, such that there’s no need to courier items between the chest and auction house. Two, the auction house should be more readily accessible. As it is, running to the auction house takes too much time, especially since there’s no cheap transportation system in the game, unlike World of Warcraft’s hearthstone which quickly transports a character to a major city. Here again, RMT provides players a way to get around faster, because those who buy gold can afford to make use of portals, while regular subscribers cannot.
Finally, while O&C doesn’t run on 3G, a nice feature Gameloft could add is an auction-house/chest/mail interface that’s still accessible over 3G, letting players check in on auctions, post new ones, etc. This would allow players to remain engaged with the O&C world, even though they couldn’t actually “play” because of a lack of wifi.
We recognize that $1/month is cheap, especially for app-fanatics who spend several times that per month on new apps. But, couldn’t one argue that players would sooner spend that $1/month anyway on RMT? It’s not like Gameloft is losing money on an RMT versus a monthly subscription, and players who go the RMT route are more likely to spend more money here. ↩