Thursday, August 04, 2005

Game Industry Concept: MMO Avatar Rentals

Hello All,

In a recent column of "road to nowhere" in the September 2005 issue of Computer Games magazine writtened by "Cindy Yans". In an article titled "Rent-a-'Tar", discussing the concept of the secondary gamers market of selling or in this case the rental of a avatar game account.

This let sparks in the good sense fly in my minds eye. With admission I do have business tendencies that could classify me in gamers terms as at least a hybrid suit. (part business minded and part gamer) With that disclaimer aside allow me to explain a potentially different presentation of such a rental avatar service than what Cindy Yan spoke of in her column. The link to whom she wrote a partial piece is: http://gamepal.com/rentals

My suggested concept on this spin of MMO avatar game rentals would include the game publisher from the start. And, not such a version as wholly presented by "Gamepal".

Here we go, those of you who may have played UO (Ultima Online) by Origin Systems owned by EA (Electronic Arts). May remember a service they offered of a souped of avatar that isn't a noob in level and skills. Now take for instance a game publisher like SOE (Sony Online Entertainment), which is embracing now the secondary market of game currency, item, and avatar sales in their "Station Exchange". Via their MMORPG of EQ2 (EverQuest 2), where SOE would offer the rental of their game avatars at various price tiers. Whether the avatar is at level 10 or tricked out in class & skills at level 50. (higher rental fee)

So for a casual gamer who isn't interested in their trial version of EQ2. Or a former EQ2 subscriber that cancelled the game a while ago. May wish to return to perhaps sample the game world with their new action pack or expansion. Then there are two routes on how to get the game client installed on the consumer renters computer. One is to go the "NetFlix" way where they rent the game client and return the DVD-ROM afterwards by snail mail. Or have the game client streamed into their PC system for the allotted time of their avatar rental.

The gamer renter of this MMO title can have a on the fly character rolled during their rental period, Including naming it if they so wished. If the renter tried EQ2 and enjoyed it they have the option to upgrade their account to a full subscriber. Or if the renter liked EQ2, but allowed their rental period to elapse their avatar would be their if they ever chose to rent a toon again in EQ2. That's how a game publisher could go about it this way.

Also, let's say that a full subscriber has cancelled their game account. SOE could make the offer to buy their game avatar(s) at a wholesale price. Where they credit the former full subscriber with a gift card, merchandise, or a game title, maybe even cash. Then SOE in turn offers these as avatar rentals to others with all gear on the toon. (at a premium price according to the gear)

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Now this is how a EQ2 game subscriber could go about it when SOE would allow such rentals but by the players. Picture the SOE Station Exchange where a full game subscriber can take one of their avatars on a server and rent it out. Whilst still maintaining their account in gameplay. The avatar that is spun off goes into escrow. Where the renter gets a surrogate account for the duration of their rental period. The player that spun off a avatar since full subscribers can have up to 8 avatars per account. Would be the one responsible in it's upkeep in leveling and what not.

SOE gets their regular 10% for the rental fee for each time the toon is rented. Including the listing fee that Station Exchange requires for listing a auction. The renter would get a limited download of the game client much like these limited Mp3 playback sites. Where after a period of time the game client deletes itself or needs an additional activation key for the next rental period.

This would mean a residual income for the full subscriber and the game publisher.