By Blair Nishkian (Tagspeech)
Answers by Scott Brown, President of Wyrmbyte
I recently had an interview with Scott Brown, the man in charge of the team for Dragons and Titans, a popular MOBA game. With the explosion of various MOBA titles all over the internet, competition has never been more fierce. In this brief interview, Scott talks to me about an alternative payment method for the usual “cash shop” approach to supporting these games financially. Where it would have once taken a player hundreds of dollars to unlock all of the game’s premium content, Scott describes the new system, in which players pay a flat rate and receive all of the game’s content now and forever. It sounds vaguely familiar. Like something from the distant and mysterious past.
Could it be that we’re seeing a return to form for pricing and marketing when it comes to online games? Perhaps one day we’ll live in an age where we can just pay admission and enjoy the theme park, instead of having to drop tokens whenever we want to use the bathroom, look at a duck, ride a rollercoaster, or ride a rollercoaster with up-to-date safety inspections? Being stopped to get charged for things you want every ten steps is a bit tedious. Scott and his team believe they’ve found the solution.
B. Olivia: Alright. So, I understand Dragons and Titans has a new pricing model that was made in response to ‘pay-to-win’ allegations. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Scott Brown: Sure, I would not say it was made in response to pay to win but that certainly was something we wanted to address. We came up with the idea of the Titan Pass after talking amongst ourselves about how would we want to pay. It was really more about if we were players of the game what would be the most appealing approach to payments. We really liked the idea of being able to play the game for free, but when we decided to pay it would be more appealing to unlock everything instead of the more common micro transaction approach of buying smaller things one at a time.
B. Olivia: And do you believe that’s a better way of doing business in general, for these types of games? A flat rate for all of the content?
Scott Brown: I’m not sure I would go as far as its better for all games like this, we just thought it was the right fit for our game and that it reflected what we think is a really great value to players. Now when we announce a new dragon, weapon or skin we announce it from the stand point of “check out this new awesome item in game” instead of “look at this new thing we want you to buy” It just feels better for the kind of game we want to be.
B. Olivia: I’m sure most players can get behind that. Do you think that overall sense of “buy our stuff” in online games has gotten a little out of control in recent years?
Scott Brown: It is certainly an odd change in how players perceive value in a game. When you think about someone spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a game compared to spending a flat amount for a very high production value game like Diablo III or Call of Duty, it got us thinking about how we want to spend money on a game. It was time to try something different.
B. Olivia: It sounds like we’re coming full circle a bit. So, do you think more indie or obscure games necessarily need microtransactions to survive?
Scott Brown: I’m not sure if its related to being indie or not. I think there is a great market for the twenty dollar game, for example on Steam right now. Lots of those games do really well. And you look at big companies like King who only do micro transactions so its certainly not just for the little guy.
B. Olivia: Indeed. Maybe a balanced approach is best.
Scott Brown: The business of micro transactions is one of percentages. You need to feed a huge number of players into your game, a small percentage play and a small percentage of that percentage pay.
B. Olivia: If there’s anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up, feel free!
Scott Brown: I think really for us this is an experiment with a game we really love and and have put a ton of time into as a very small team. We don’t have the reach of a bigger title, but we hope that when people hear what we are trying it maybe stands out as a different way of approaching free to play that might be interesting to them. We are just starting to see the results of this change, some players love it, others wish the old model was still there so they could just buy specifically what they want. We will continue to release content and show value to this approach and hopefully it proves out in the end.
B. Olivia: Well, best of luck with the new approach.
To learn more about Dragons & Titans, check out our profile including a review from earlier this year.