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The Lawbringer: What World of Warcraft can learn from other microtransaction models, part 1

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Microtransactions are here to stay. We were wary and scared in the beginning -- it was a brave new world, having the gall to ask consumers for a couple of bucks for horse armor. DLC (downloadable content) and microtransactions evolved over time to include better customization, new missions and levels, convenience purchases, and more. The industry began to shape itself around the growing need for better revenue models, as well as conforming to the needs and wants of players while remaining (hopefully) pure in motive.

With the huge success of the free-to-play model in the United States and Europe, a feat which many said was not going to go over too well outside of the Asian markets, paying for your game over time instead of up front has become a staple, an afterthought, to gamers.

World of Warcraft isn't going true free-to-play any time soon, of course. The subscription model works for WoW in a fairly unique way. The number of global subscriptions for WoW make up such a huge, defined income that removing that income from the table in favor of the "5-percenters," the people who presumably pay for items in-game, would be almost criminal in terms of corporate mismanagement -- unless, of course, you could make more money on those 5-percenters than you do on 11.4 million monthly subscriptions, which seems like a hefty move to make.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Paying for addons and APIs

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Not unlike most topics featured here on The Lawbringer, this one started with a blog post and a subsequent link to said blog post. CCP, the creators of MMO darling EVE Online, recently announced that players and customers could charge for third-party applications, utilities, and websites as long as the creator purchased a license. This is a fairly unprecedented move. CCP is probably the only company who could get away with this right now, but more on that later.

This story got my mind spinning about what this means for data feeds all over the MMO world, how Blizzard's free APIs coming out soon will change the way people make apps and utilities for WoW, and some thoughts on for-pay addons.

MMOs have spawned an impressive gray market of features, apps, utilities, and services that exist only because players are willing to partake in them. From Eve Online ship "fitting" apps to gold selling, the gray market lives alongside virtual worlds, and it is fascinating to think that these industries only exist because of the success of the genre. Recently, Blizzard previewed its own APIs that it would be releasing for web developers and app creators, providing easy-to-parse information to these development communities. This stuff isn't free, of course, which is interesting amidst the news that CCP would be charging a license fee for for-pay versions of utilities that make use of its APIs.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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