Readers may recall our interview with John Smedley, where we talked about SOE's controversial decision to implement Station Cash into EQ and EQ2. During that interview, Smedley justified SOE's choice, but he only briefly touched on their goals with microtransaction payments.
Recently, Virtual Goods News had the opportunity to clarify SOE’s aspirations in another interview with John Smedley. Smedley notes that SOE has “been intrigued watching the Asian free-to-play model,” however, he also clearly states that they won’t be making EQ and EQ2 free to play as a result of introducing station cash:
The reason for the Station Cash store is very simple. It’s an additional revenue stream that gives customers something they want. The evidence of that is the sales numbers we’re seeing. We aren’t going away from subscriptions, this just gives us another avenue. I believe virtual goods sales are an ancillary revenue stream. In fact, I think in World of Warcraft and in our games, there’s a strong sense that people understand that subscription model. I don’t see it going away any time soon.
Following this, Smedley re-mentions that “Station Cash won’t go into Star Wars Galaxies, it won’t go into Vanguard, and it won’t go into future games where it doesn’t make sense. It will be in EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and some future titles like DC Universe Online, though items we sell there in upcoming games may be very different from what we're seeing now.” While Smedley did confirm this with Allakhazam earlier, he did not mention the fact that the items SOE sells in upcoming games “may be very different from what we’re seeing now.”
One game that Smedley re-confirms will revolve around microtransactions, however, is their all-ages MMO, Free Realms. Free Realms, Smedley notes, is designed “with microtransactions from the ground up.” He believes that virtual goods are there to “to capture a market [SOE] couldn’t otherwise capture, like kids who don’t have credit cards. If my son wants a $5 gift card for a game, I might buy it for him or he might use his allowance. To me, that’s a very powerful thing. It gives kids some ability to control their own destiny when they can buy things in a game.”
While microtransactions are certainly not very groundbreaking for the Asian F2P (free to play) MMO market, it will be very interesting to see if Blizzard or EA Mythic will follow SOE’s lead. Smedley predicts that “over time it’s going to become a mainstream thing,” but over the next few years, we’ll see just how this develops.
Source: Virtual Goods News.