What to Call the New Breed of Payment Models/MMOs

I have posted many articles that were written in response to other blog articles or news items. This will be the first one written in response to a Twitter post, this one from Beau Turkey, he of Massively, MMOVoices, Voyages of Vanguard, et al. To wit:

So, what do we call the newer payment models (EQ2X, LotRO, DDO) — blended models? Tiered? My jury is still out how I feel about them.

I and others have been doing all kind of gyrations of nomenclature over this. In my response to Beau’s tweet, I suggested that they be called “Non-Subscription” or “Semi-Subscription” models (and therefore MMOs,) in contrast to traditional subscription-based models, partly because I’m really tired of typing out the word “microtransaction.” But to be honest, this is a bit clumsy, and not much less work. One could shorten it to “Nonsub” or “Semisub”, of course. But the former implies a complete lack of subscription, while the latter implies an exclusion of games which don’t have a sub option.

So I suggest we call them minipay games. It seems to fit, in that it lets you play while paying less than what a traditional subscription would cost. You can pay the sub, or pay more in microtransactions than what a sub would cost, but paying a lesser or “mini” amount doesn’t exclude you. Just as importantly, it’s a very convenient term to use in a discussion.

It’s not airtight terminology, of course. What about EVE Online, which in principle lets an advanced player pay for his or her account with in-game money rather than real-world cash? (Yeah, EVE has come up a lot lately and is likely to continue to, for reasons previously discussed. But it’s not like I don’t have a long history of writing about it.) But I submit this to be a borderline case. So I think I’m going to adopt this terminology from here on out.

Fun Latin Fact of the Day: “To wit” does not come from Latin. It comes down to us from Old English instead.

5 responses to “What to Call the New Breed of Payment Models/MMOs

  1. I like it! I keep trying to find the loophole (what happens if someone pays this — or this?) but I think it works. If it does, let it be known the source! lol


  2. I just posted on the thread on Beau’s Massively piece.

    It’s surely past the time now that we could just accept that MMOs have to be paid for somehow and there are many ways that can be achieved. If we absolutely have to discuss payment models, then I’m happy to use any term for the hybrid model that gains currency. If that’s “Minipay” then so be it.

  3. I’ve taken to calling these games ‘open access’ because access to the world is free, but the things you’d actually want to do when you get there may cost money.

  4. Were you to skim a lot of blogs and news sites the dichotomy seems to be “sub based” (ala WoW, sub or don’t play) vs “FtP” (Free to Play) which encompasses every other payment scheme. Regardless of the confusion that calling micro transaction or hybrid model MMOs “FtP” causes, that’s the usage that has the most traction at present. That’s why I use “FtP” so loosely on my blog.

    I don’t have a pony in this race. I’ll use whatever terminology seems to have the most traction (i.e., that I think will be clear to the greatest number of readers). I assume that I get hits mainly from folks that follow MMOs in general. They by and large know full well that “FtP” in common usage means “free to try, but you will likely (at the very least) have strong incentive to pay to keep progressing at some point.” At this point only someone incredibly naive or new to MMOs as a genre would think that FtP actually means “Free to see the entire game without any hindrance.”

    There are few MMOs that are well and trully “FtP.” Myst Online is the only one I know of that is a full featured MMO.

  5. I should add that I think it would be useful to distinguish “sub optional” MMOs from “micro transaction only” MMOs. “Hybrid” seems to be the most popular at present, but I’ll happily follow whatever the crowd decides for the sake of clarity.