新探索:在F2P盛行的商業環境裏嘗試遊戲包月付費模式

“很多玩家已經受夠了F2P模式”:爲什麼Lakoo要把包月付費模式應用到手游上

原作者:Matt Suckley 譯者:Willow Wu

Lakoo在2011年發佈的免費大型多人在線RPG遊戲Empire Online的下載量已經超過1200萬次,有人或許會認爲Lakoo很滿意當下手遊市場中主導的商業模式。

但是這個做功能手機遊戲起步的香港工作室認爲,與其在那些疲於免費遊戲的盈利模式的玩家上下功夫,不如換種方法,於是他們採用了包月付費模式。

新模式的首個產物就是Pandora X,一款大型多人在線RPG遊戲,目前下載量已超9萬次。

雖說包月付費的遊戲模式並不陌生,但是在PC平臺可以說已經過了巔峯時期了,在移動平臺還相對來說是個比較新鮮的概念。

在2016年,包月付費模式只有App Store和Google Play開發者們可以用,而且很少有遊戲會使用,尤其是那些針對孩子們的遊戲都不會採用這種模式。

所以,讓我們來深入瞭解Lakoo的革新舉措, PocketGamer.biz邀請到了Lakoo的合作創始人Kin Ko。

PocketGamer.biz: 爲什麼你決定把Pandora X設定成包月付費模式?

Kin Ko: 爲了做出改變。不僅僅是爲了玩家,還有我們自己。

1999年,Lakoo開始製作手遊,在功能手機品平臺上發佈,2005年,我們製作了中國的首款在線手遊。

那時離App Store的出現還有很長一段時間,但是遊戲已經具備了F2P模式,因爲付費下載模式的概念還從未出現在中國主流市場中。

近幾年,F2P模式現在已經非常成熟了,甚至有點極端化。很多玩家已經對它感到厭煩了,我們也是,因爲我們也是玩家。

事實上,2011年的時候我們試圖利用一款F2P遊戲Empire Online進入美國市場。這款遊戲在中國非常成功,但是hardcore風格的免費大型多人在線RPG遊戲對於美國市場來說還是時機過早,儘管在中國那已經是主流了。

pandora x(from pocketgamer.biz)

pandora x(from pocketgamer.biz)

爲了某些鐵桿粉絲,我們還是把Empire Online保留在app stores中。

爲什麼你認爲這種模式在移動平臺很冷門?你認爲包月付費模式的遊戲在這個平臺上有市場嗎?

我猜這只是因爲F2P在商業領域太成功了吧。即使還有跟Lakoo想法一致的開發者,他們也要花時間完善這個想法,然後才能着手開發這類遊戲

這種模式需要對遊戲進行全方位的改動,核心設計,還有內容都要改,範圍大程度深。

移動平臺上那麼多的免費遊戲,你覺得這對Pandora X或則其它採取相同模式的遊戲來說會不會是個挑戰?

我們確實認爲還有其它的因素。除了可以免費下載,F2P遊戲都非常容易上手,因爲開發者們知道如果不能留住玩家,那麼連賺錢的機會都沒有。

但是玩家在對包月付費模式的遊戲上癮之前,他們需要更多的耐心。

或許遊戲中都沒有教程,玩家可能得靠自己摸索。早期的任務可能比較艱難。要花費時間去學習技巧。

就像一些很棒的電影,前15分鐘在講什麼觀衆完全是一頭霧水。如果這些電影是“免費觀看”的話,就沒有這麼好的製作了。

你覺得遊戲目前的表現如何?

跟你說實話吧,Pandora X的盈利狀況並不理想。

就如上述,包月付費模式遊戲應該在想法萌生的初期就開始設計。這就是爲什麼Pandora X混合了包月付費和F2P兩種模式,因爲我們的想法並沒能在製作過程中徹底實現。

所以結果並不理想,遊戲玩法和商業方面都不盡人意,但是至少我們已經開始朝着對的方向實踐,學習經驗。

然而,我們的另一個作品Teon是個徹徹底底的包月付費模式遊戲,雖然現在還在測試中,但是感覺還是非常有前景的,也證明了這種模式是可以成功的,對此我們很高興。

下載這個遊戲需要花費1美元,這就能夠屏蔽那些休閒遊戲的玩家。遊戲訂購率有20%。

開放訂購的7個月之後(iOS去年秋季纔開始支持這種付費模式),我們在臺灣和香港的訂購人數已經超過5000人,玩家需要每月支付9.9美元。這兩個地區是我們的測試市場。

我們應該很快就能看到美國和歐洲市場的反饋了。

你認爲有多大程度上,玩家被傳統的F2P遊戲機制束縛住了,你們要如何把這些玩家贏回來?

美國市場我們是不太確定,但是在中國市場我們看見了好多玩家已經對F2P模式感到厭煩了。

我們經常能看見這種玩家:他們對遊戲套路知道得一清二楚,當他們看見某種特定的設計,就能預見到之後開發者會用哪種方式讓他們迷上游戲。這些人在心裏吶喊:“來個真正的遊戲啊!”

在早些時候,我們在臺灣和香港看到了這樣一種跡象:只要清楚地表明我們的遊戲是完全公平的,不是花錢你就是贏家的那種,就有可能把那羣玩家贏回來。遊戲中永遠都不會有內購項目。

信息擴散之後,Teon成功佔據付費下載榜單前三強之一,還長達6個月之久,幾乎沒用任何營銷手段。

你認同Lakoo的目標羣體和普通的免費遊戲目標羣體之間有很大差異這種說法嗎?

是的。通常來說,他們已經玩了很久的遊戲了,一般來說都是超過10年的。他們深諳F2P遊戲的機制,想要回到遊戲最基本的東西。這些人往往會去玩hardcore遊戲。

他們在多種平臺上玩遊戲,包括各種主機設備,steam,這不是什麼罕見的事。

你認爲隨着移動市場的成熟,它能夠支持更多樣化的遊戲體驗和商業模式嗎?

這是毫無疑問的。我們對包月付費模式有着堅定的信念。要是沒有像蘋果或者谷歌這樣的平臺支持,這一切都不可能發生。

幸運的是,蘋果在去年秋季終於同意在遊戲中使用這種模式了。這就是我們現在採取行動的原因。

爲了實現這個目標,騰訊和Sequoia Capital在背後給了你們多大力度的支持?

作爲股東,他們總是給予我們支持,幫了我們很多忙。實際上,讓我們放手去嘗試這種非主流的遊戲模式就已經是很大的支持了,這需要他們很大程度上的信任。

Sequoia曾經在總部提供給我們一個服務部門,另外還有業務網絡和營銷建議。

騰訊遊戲平臺目前還不支持包月付費模式,所以從這個角度來說我們還沒有合作過。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Having racked up more than 12 million downloads for its 2011 free-to-play MMORPG Empire Online, one might assume that Lakoo is content with mobile’s dominant business model.

But the Hong Kong studio, which started out releasing games on feature phones, is now instead reaching out to players who feel alienated and frustrated by free-to-play monetisation, adopting a subscription-based model.

Its first effort is Pandora X, an MMORPG which has racked up 90,000 downloads so far.

While subscription-based gaming is familiar – arguably past its peak, even – on PC, on mobile it’s still a relatively young concept.

The option to implement a subscription model was only introduced for App Store and Google Play developers in 2016, and the games that actually utilise it are very rare, particularly outside of titles targetted at kids.

So to learn more about Lakoo’s novel approach, PocketGamer.biz reached out to co-founder Kin Ko.

PocketGamer.biz: Why did you decide to launch Pandora X with a subscription model?

Kin Ko: To make a difference. Not just for the players, but also ourselves.

Lakoo started making mobile games on feature phones in 1999, and made the first mobile online game in 2005 in China.

It was long before the App Store was launched but it already had a F2P model, since the concept of paid downloads has never existed in the Chinese mainstream.

As such, the F2P model has become very mature and even too extreme in recent years. Many gamers are fed up with it and so are we, because we too are gamers.

In fact, we tried to enter the US market once in 2011 before we retreated, with a F2P title called Empire Online. It was a port of our very successful title in China, but it was too early in the States for a hardcore F2P MMORPG – even though in China it was mainstream.

We are still maintaining Empire Online on app stores for some die hard fans.

Why do you feel that the model is so uncommon on mobile? And do you think there’s a market for subscription-based games on the platform?

I guess it’s simply because F2P is too much of a commercial success. And even if there are more developers having the same belief as Lakoo does, it takes time for the idea to be cultivated and then a subscription-based game developed.

The subscription model calls for changes all the way down to the core game design, as well as content that’s very deep and broad.

Do the sheer number of free-to-play alternatives on mobile present a challenge to Pandora X and other mobile games adopting a subscription model?

We do think there are other factors. Other than being free to download, F2P games are all designed to be extremely easy to pick up, because developers know if players don’t stay there will be no money at the bottom of the conversion funnel.

A subscription game, however, has a much higher expectation on players’ patience before the gameplay starts to become addictive.
There may be hardly any tutorials. They may force players to explore. The early tasks could be hard. The skills may take time to learn.

There are excellent movies which audiences have completely no idea what’s going on in the first 15 minutes. They wouldn’t have existed if movies were “free to watch”.

How happy have you been with the game’s performance so far?

To be very honest, the financial performance of Pandora X is far from ideal.

As said above, a subscription game should be designed with the idea in mind since the very beginning. That is why Pandora X has a hybrid subscription/F2P model, since we only had the direction half way through the development.

Therefore it hasn’t produced optimal result, both gameplay and business-wise, but at least we started to execute the direction and to learn.

We are however very glad that the subsequent title Teon, now in beta with subscription design from the ground up, has shown a very promising result to prove the model works.

It is a dollar to download, which sets a bar to block the casual gamers, and has a subscription rate of 20%.

Seven months after the launch of subscription (iOS only just supported the model since last fall), we now have over 5,000 subscribers of $9.99/month in Taiwan and Hong Kong, our test markets.

We shall soon see how it goes in the US and Europe.

To what extent do you feel that some players are put off by traditional F2P mechanics and how do you win those people over?

We are not sure about US, but in China we are seeing lots of gamers who are fed up with the F2P model.

We often see players know the ins and outs so well, that once they see a certain design, they know in what way the developer is trying to convert them later on. They call out loud, “just give us real games”.
We saw an early sign in Taiwan and Hong Kong, that these kind of players can be won over by making it absolutely clear to them that our game is all fair-play, no pay-to-win. There will never be an in-game store to buy items with real money.

The word has just spread, and Teon managed to stay in the top three on the paid download chart for over six months with hardly any marketing.

Would you say that the target audience for Lakoo’s subscription-based games is markedly different to that of the average free-to-play title?

Yes. Typically they have been playing games for a long time, usually 10+ years. They know the mechanics of F2P games well. They want to return to the basics. They tend to play hardcore titles.

It’s not uncommon that they play games on multiple platforms, including consoles and Steam.

Do you feel that as the mobile games market matures, it will be able to support a wider range of experiences and business models?

Definitely. We have a very strong belief in the subscription model. That wouldn’t be possible without support from platforms like Apple and Google.

Luckily, Apple finally allowed games to use the subscription model last autumn. That is why we’re taking action now.

How big a role has the backing of Tencent and Sequoia Capital played in Lakoo fulfilling its ambitions?

They have always been supportive and helpful shareholders. In fact, even letting us try a model against the mainstream F2P model is a big support and requires a lot of trust.

Sequoia once provided desks in their headquarters, as well as a business network and marketing advice.

Tencent’s own game platform does not support the subscription model yet, and so we have not worked together in this sense.(source: pocketgamer.biz)