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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Games: Taking Advantage of Problems

I've been thinking about problems quite a bit lately. There is always problems everywhere and people are always whining about them. Sometimes you solve the problem, sometimes you can't. But, have you ever thought about taking advantage of the problem?

In this post I will give you an idea of what I'm taking about. After you've read the post, think for yourself if any of your current problems can be taken advantage of to your benefit.

Help! People are misusing my product to make $!

There are many different perspectives we can look at this, but I choose the Design & Business perspective for some unknown reason.

Problem: People are farming in-game gold and selling it outside of the game, illegally. There is even an industry for this. Players gets pissed off, abused and many even leaves because this problem grows. You lose revenue.

Reaction: Spontaneously you would just take the aggressive approach to this and just ultra-ban any kind of illegal activity, but if you want to play smart you need to look closer at the problem. What are we not seeing here?

Why is this illegal business model working? Because people want easy ways of getting in-game money. They want a short cut. They enjoy a short cut - it makes them a happier player (even if it some times actually ruins the experience for the player).

So what can you really do? Obviously the need exists and there is a proven market for it. This is actually quite simple: Get into the market, compete with these illegal businesses and make it not/less worth while to buy illegal coins.
Example: EVE-Online was quick to find a smart solution: The introduced PLEX - an ingame pilot license that grants the user, when using it, 30 days of game time. This PLEX was created because a player bought it with real money, from the developer, and received the in-game virtual item. The player could now either use it himself or simply sell it for in-game money to other players to the highest bidding. Actually, there is even an entire market section for the PLEX right now. It is working great, the illegal activites has been reduced and the company is even earning more money now than before they had the PLEX... OR the illegal farming problem. 
Wicked, huh?

Here is delonewolf (damn Frenchie :P) from Youtube that explains a bit about the impact of PLEX in EVE-Online:

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