As explained in last week’s post – in order for Cosmic Brawl development to continue, we have to define a new pricing model that meets the following criteria:
As explained by Maile and others in their comments to last week’s post, keeping the game free-to-play is essential in attracting a large player base. Which in turn is essential for a successful PvP game.
So let’s take a look at free-to-play pricing models.
Free-to-Play (F2P) Pricing Models
Based on our research, there seem to be only three types of F2P models that have been proven viable in modern video games.
- Grind-to-Play (Pay-to-Win)
- Example: Most digital CCGs, League of Legends
- Example: Clash of Clans, Candy Crush
- Technically, Clash of Clans uses both models i.e. Wait-to-Play and Grind-to-Play.
- Cosmetics Only
- Example: DOTA 2
- DOTA 2 has Grind-to-Play in addition to cosmetics.
Let’s take a deeper look at these three models.
You can play an unlimited amount of these games without paying any money.
However, certain characters/cards (usually including the most powerful ones) are locked away.
You can unlock them by grinding a lot (usually an insane amount beyond the reach of most adults with jobs), or pay to unlock them.
Paying gives you access to the most powerful characters/cards – which in turn help you in winning matches. This is why many players (but not all) consider these games Pay-to-Win.
In these games, you get access to all the characters without paying any money.
However, there is an artificial delay mechanic built into the game. This delay can take many forms, but usually involves waiting a certain amount of time before being able to play another match.
You can either wait out the delay, or pay to skip the delay.
Paying removes the delay, but doesn’t help you in winning matches. As a result, a game that only uses Wait-to-Play mechanic can avoid being Pay-to-Win.
In these games, you get access to all the characters and unlimited play without paying any money.
These games make money by selling cosmetics – i.e. items that make your characters look cooler but don’t provide any gameplay advantages.
This is perhaps the purest of F2P models – but it’s also the least proven as the primary pricing model.
Our original plan was based on this being the primary model. However after our poll, we’ve changed our mind and added criteria #2.
Please note cosmetics are a great secondary pricing model used by many successful F2P games.
Proposal – Pricing Models for Cosmic Brawl
The only viable pricing model we (Able Apes team) or the players who posted comments can think of that meets all five criteria listed at the start of this article is Wait-to-Play.
I’ve proposed two Wait-to-Play models below – please review and let me know which model you like best.
A) Token System
This model is based on suggestions by Jacob Rickabaugh, ‘Guest’, and ‘Randomplayer1’ – thanks guys!
You get 5 tokens to begin with. To start a match takes one token. You earn a token every 2 hours, but you cannot have more than 5 tokens.
If you want to, you can buy a token using Crystals. If you don’t want to, you can simply wait until a token is refilled.
Crystals needed to buy a token will cost around $0.10-$0.25.
- Players won’t actually be spending $0.10-$0.25 in the shop every time they buy a token.
- Players willing to spend money will actually buy Crystals in bulk (such as for $5 or $10) and then use them whenever they want to.
Thanks to David Wisar for suggesting lives. This model is an adaptation of the Token System, using lives instead of tokens.
You’ll have 3 lives to start with. Each match you lose, you lose 1 life. You earn a life every 2 hours, but you cannot have more than 3 lives.
If you want to, you can buy a life using Crystals. If you don’t want to, you can simply wait until a life is refilled.
Cost of Crystals needed for this model will be comparable to model-A.
The pricing models proposed above are for Constructed mode (casual, ranked).
Other game modes will have pricing models that are more familiar to CCG players.
- Draft Mode: Entry fee using Platinum. No wait-to-play mechanic.
- Tournament Mode: Entry fee using Crystals. No wait-to-play mechanic.
Post a comment and let me know your thoughts on the proposed pricing models and which one you prefer – a) Token System, or b) Lives.
- If our community is open to the proposed models, we’ll pick a model based on community feedback.
- If our community is not open to these models, we’ll also consider alternate suggestions from the community that meet our 5 criteria.
- And as you know, if we’re unable to find a viable pricing model that the community likes – we’ll have no choice but to cancel the game.
- Once the pricing model is picked, the next step is to run a Kickstarter in a few weeks – to confirm that the player community really supports the game idea (including the pricing model).