« | Home | »

A guide to selling extra content

posted on May 8th, 2006 by the marketeer

Microsoft and Oblivion have shown the world that gamers will actually buy discreet bits of additional content for their favorite games. Designing a method that allows a game to create a constant stream of revenue is ingenious, and now that the groundwork has been laid for us all we need to do to take advantage of this lucrative business opportunity is jump on the bandwagon. So then the question is not how do we set up a system that continually milks our fans, but rather what exactly do we use to separate them from their money; what content can we sell and to whom?

Any mildly proactive person can see that things like weapons, armor, and other gear can be sold to players for additional fees. This is exactly what has happened in the game Oblivion. But this kind of rigid thinking will not allow us to maximize profits. We need to push the envelope to capitalize on all market segments. To capture mind share we need creative and unique things to sell to gamers who’ve already bought our game, such as the following:

What’s for sale?
Nudity. Many people will pay to give their in game character another suit of armor. Many gamers would also pay to see their character take everything off. The genius of this concept is that as long as the 3d models were done accurately before dressing them, you’d be selling the player nothing. They would be paying to see what already exists in the game.

* While writing this guide, a hack for Oblivion surfaced that allows players to take the tops off their women characters. This only proves my point that the market is there for in game nudity. Bethesda dropped the ball on this one.

How much will it cost?
In order to properly cash in on the game playing demographic, stripping your male characters should cost $3 and your female $6. If it’s one of those games with a character generator that allows the player to change the woman’s bust size, it only makes sense to integrate a sliding payment scale dependant on cup size. Basically the price structure should answer the question “How difficult was it to pull that shirt off?”

Who will buy it?
Loners, pervs, 12 year old boys. So a solid chunk of gamers.

Maybe Bill Gates and Steven Hawking can tell this is a low resolution, but I can’t.

What’s for sale?
Higher resolution. With the incoming generation of consoles taking advantage of HDTV, games will have resolutions of up to 185,000 by 96,362. This leaves a lot of breathing room for lower resolutions. A good chunk of the world stares at PC monitors running Windows 95 at 800 by 600. Would they notice or care if the games they bought ran at only a slightly higher resolution?

How much does it cost?
This depends on how crisp they want the game to look. Those who have the equipment to view the highest resolutions obviously also have the money to pay for viewing their games at the highest resolutions. Sort of like if someone buys a lake they usually have the money to buy a yacht.

Who will buy it?
Tech nerds and geeks. These people seriously care about things like MIPS and BUMP mapping and a host of other terms I do not understand.

What’s for sale?
Typo correction. The avridge gamer wont’t notis miner tiepohs. You probably didn’t notice any of the words in the last sentence were spelled incorrectly, for example. But to the highly literate, misspellings can be torture. Selling better spelling is ingenious because it is entirely plausible that the typos in the game managed to accidentally slip through editing. Consumers will not see it as us taking advantage of them by deliberately breaking something only to sell the fix because so few consumers can actually write in complete sentences. It is therefore believable that any typos made were just innocent mistakes.

I only counted two typos, and I have a Masters.

How much does it cost?
It would be easy to offer a flat one time rate to fix all of a game’s typos, but it’d also be entirely inside the box. Many creative pricing structures exist and should be explored, such as the pay per word plan. Like a Word document, all of the game’s text can be scanned and corrected, only every word fixed costs ten cents. Some players will not want to spend hours reading through a game’s typos and deciding which should stay and go. They will want a one time fix. For these people, we can offer a percentage fix. In other words, we guarantee that for $4 fifty percent of the game is spelled correctly, but as one hundred percent is approached the prices climb exponentially. Maybe it’s $12 for 95% but $20 for 96%. Of course the pricing is ultimately up to you the producer. Have fun with it.

Who will buy it?
Lit majors and homosexuals. Some over educated people will insist the plot and immersion of the game are compromised by constant spelling errors. The good news is these people tend to have excess amounts of money.

What’s for sale?
The ability to save the game. Gamers tend to dislike starting at the beginning every time they pick up a game. This is because they are lazy, but this sloth can be used to our advantage by charging per save.

How much does it cost?
Do this math with me. A game sells two million copies worldwide. Each of these customers save their game fifteen times (a very conservative estimate) at the very low cost of four cents a save. Each customer only pays an additional total of sixty cents over what they bought the game for in order to use the save feature but the publisher makes an additional $1,200,000. That’s a free advertising campaign for the game.

Who will buy it?


  1. Christian said on May 9, 2006:

    You know, I can see almost every one of these actually selling if a PR department convinced gamers that they needed to.

  2. pat said on May 10, 2006:

    does anyone think this is in any way a reaction by companies to the fact that people sell things for online games in the real world (see the world of warcraft discussion)? publishers felt they were missing the boat and have started doing this?

  3. Stefan said on May 11, 2006:

    As I understand it a lot of asian mmo games have switched from subscription models to selling currency, so instead of buying your gold on ebay you buy it straight from the publisher, and that pays for the game.

Leave a Reply