The following is an opinion post, the views expressed do not reflect Gamer Indepth, advertisers, users, or staff they are solely those of the author.
The free to play market is booming on PC, with tons of games like League of Legends, Tribe Ascend, ABP, DC Universe, Team Fortress 2, and more pushing thousands of units and making money via micro transactions & DLC. Sound familiar? It should because PlayStation Home is probably the biggest Free to play platform on any console ever.
Home makes the majority of its money on the micro transactions via clothing and other atheistic items (this would be your LoL approach). The key to micro transcations is bringing the price down enough that the sales soar because people don’t hesitate to spend the money, the butter zone here is 0.50¢ ~ $1.00. Once you get over a dollar people will stop and think about the item, get over$5 and you have shot yourself in the foot.
But why would selling something at 0.50 cents make more money then selling the same item at $5? Simple. Volume. If you need proof of this head over to http://store.steampowered.com/. As of this post Steam is running their RIDICULOUS summer sale. Almost everything on the site is 50% off with many huge $30 – $50 games getting cuts as high as 75% and some even a stupidly high 90% off. But how can this be good for Valve? Because during their sales they sell so many units they make more money then if they did not have the sale. Valve has stated that if the sale did not make them silly amounts of money they would not even bother, but it does and so the Summer and Winter sales continue to be Steam traditions.
If you need a break down of the low price tactic lets say I sell a game for $10 and sell 10 units a day. I drop the price to $5 and sell 30 a day. I slash it to 2.50 and all of a sudden i am pushing 100 units a day. I am not making more money by cutting my price then i am otherwise, once that surge goes down i just bring the price back up but with a micro transaction you never really need to pull the price back up because you have dozens of other items to bear the load.
So this is the key to the micro transaction, sell your items at a low enough price point that people don’t double think buying them.
However there is another method of free to play in Home, and that is game transactions. Unlike clothing and spaces these have real effects on other players and yourself and these are an utter mess in Home right now.
The most recent example is the Micro Bot game, that allows you to buy access to special weapons. However if you don’t spend money you cant use the weapons, meaning you are at a fundamental disadvantage to other players who have paid. In Asia this is conman, and is reffed to as buying power, but for good reason the North American market has spoken loudly against it. Buying power is a very morally bankrupt style of making a F2P game because you twist the arms of the free players to buy rather then make it a option. For the micro bot game this is easily fixed, allow everyone to pick up the power ups but allow paid users to spawn with a selected special weapon (or just leave the gadgets as the method of making money)
Good examples of in game item selling are all over the place, the current best model is Tribes Ascend which allows you to buy XP boosts and even items. The reason XP boosts are acceptable is that free players can still gain that XP, just slower. So the item is convenient but not mandatory. Guns however would appear to be buying power, but Tribes is very balanced so no gun is flat out better, they are side grades that allow you to tailor you load out to how you plan to play.
Home could make far more money, attract more users, and be less of a clear money grubbing system if it would just adopt the Free to play policies we see on the PC market. And if you as a Home user kept a bit of a tighter hand on your purse strings prices would drop to meet you, simple economics.