Here’s My Old New Idea On How (Portal) Games Could Be Priced

Some time ago I posted a blog post with thoughts about how games could be free to play and the comments and further pondering got me thinking about a new type of system for pricing. I don’t know if it could work, but I think this type of approach could be interesting to try out.

Here’s the idea in a nutshell:

  • There would be this Big Game Portal that would have all the games in the world. Well, as many of them as possible anyway.
  • Membership for this Big Game Portal would cost $9.95 per month (maybe with a free 30 period trial).
  • Games wouldn’t be multiplayer games – instead of one big game (think of World of Warcraft) to play, you could play any games.
  • Developers would get a cut based on how many people play their games.

The idea is simply to “play all games for $9.95 per month” (or $6.95 or $14.95 per month could be tested as well). For 10 bucks, it could be a fun deal for players. For some games it probably wouldn’t work, but I think for many developers this could work – and it could mean extra revenue for them as well. For portal, well, it depends.

I’m thinking that if WoW has like more than 10 million players (just a figure I heard some day), then perhaps we could see 10 million or 100 million players each paying $10, I think there could be interest from developers too (that’s 1 000 million bucks to be shared among the developers… per month – plus some for the portal).

The games that would be played most would get the most revenues.

Your comments & thoughts?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. GameTap site:
    “GameTap and Metaboli merged forces in September of 2008 to form a new global network dedicated to the digital distribution of games. We are now a partnered company that spans the Atlantic and can provide the best of both companies to all of its members. We are a company of gamers dedicated to the community of gamers to provide the best value in gaming.”

    Nice. This has passed under my radar.

    So… I new it was an old new idea.

    (although there was no “submit game” nor description of the business model, so it’s hard to say how it works for the developers. From the player perspective, it seems exactly the same)

  2. Well not to advertise for my favourite game site or anything, but Kongregate always seems to me to be like a large ‘game’ where you can play any smaller game you want but hang out with anyone. Personally I don’t use the chat, but if you were so inclined there is always lively conversation going on. Game developers get paid based on [not sure] and then they get significant bonuses based on how they are rated by the players (a certain amount if the game reaches 3 and 4 stars, and prizes for the best game each week and month). Also people can tip any game they particularly like.

    Also players gain “experience points” for voting on games and for achieving badges in games (not all games have badges).

    And the site does not allow games to have in-game advertisements on their site (other than of course credits for developers etc at the start of a game, relevant logos etc. It’s very fair IMO).

    Basically Kongregate is awesome.

  3. There was an MMO company that did this to some extent: Skotos. You pay them one fee and they divide part of that revenue between games based on different criteria. They ran an M59 shard for a bit.

    There are a few problems with this. The first is that as a developer, other games are “the enemy”. If someone goes to try a new game, that cuts into my revenue. You can’t just base revenue on time played, otherwise then the game design revolves around keeping people in the game as long as possible. (Skotos also had people rate games which affected revenue cuts, which presented its own problems.)

    I think the biggest problem here is how to split revenues fairly. At least for an MMO, we made a lot more money per user running our own servers because we weren’t splitting revenues with other games. I suspect that your idea would become like Flash game portals are right now: Where you put a cute little game, trying to lure people back to your site so they can play your games. Or, rather, a site where you stuff ads into your games and let them get played all over the place to give you more revenue. Any any rate, doesn’t sound great for the person running the service….

  4. Kinda like GameFly but for the PC?

    I’m not sure if services like this exist outside of the US, but there are alot of these neat online music services that basically are the same as what you said. Except they have DRM and expire if you quit the subscription. However, there are a few that let you “Keep forever” a certain number of songs per month. So you would pay the monthly fee, download a bunch of music, then keep the ones you like.

    I personally don’t use a service like this (I use Amazon MP3, no DRM so it works on my modded Nintendo DS I use for a MP3 player) but they do sound interesting to me.


  5. I have been working on independent game development for a while now. One of the biggest challenges I face is actually building a community of players around my game. My game is multiplayer only, and it’s stuck in a loop. I can’t get new players, because they logon and leave when they see nobody else is on…

    So how do I get an audience? A portal would be a great way.

    My current project, Battle City (http://battlecity.looble.com) is a multiplayer online game. I would be interested in a portal for multiplayer games, with a central login system. You login to a big chat-room, and see a list of all the games you can play and which of your friends are online.

    This would be great because if such a portal existed and my game was added to it, suddenly the game would be exposed to a big audience of players. Getting past the hurdle of finding players would be a huge step forward.

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