The Most Profitable Content
Posted by SERIAL GANKER [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 April 2010, 5:51 pm
I think what I find most entertaining about all this Celestial Steed stuff for $25 is that the Wrath of the Lich King Expansion sells for $40.

Now consider how much development time (YEARS!) went into the Expansion and how much went into that Steed (maybe 1 artist for a week?). And by all accounts, they've sold at least a couple hundred thousand of the things.

  • $25 x 200,000 steeds = $5,000,000

OK. So let's say it took 3 artists an entire week. And we pay them each $100 an hour.

  • 3 artists x $100 = $300 per hour
  • $300 x 40 hour week = $12,000

Now I'm going to triple that amount just because I want to be conservative. I think 3 artists at $100 an hour is generous, but there might be some extra hidden costs. Heck, it probably cost another $12K just to list on the Blizzard store.

  • $5,000,000 Revenue / $36,000 Investment = 138:1 ROI (Return on Investment)

It's a bit like printing your own money.

What next?
My example is a bit unfair in that 200,000 people wouldn't have bought that steed if Wrath of the Lich King had never been released.

Or put another way, Wrath was needed to keep people playing. And now that people ARE playing, they can start paying for premium content.

The cynic (which I am) would say that means that more development time will be spent on these luxury items and less on other content.

That's my take on the Steed. By itself, it's merely cosmetic. But I think the precedent it sets is that we'll see less content "for free" in patches and more "for fee" enhancements.

I think the danger for a company like Blizzard is when they start to look at these "for fee" enhancements as the primary revenue stream and not the actual content updates. Once that starts to happen, I think it may quickly turn into a situation where you pay for "keys" to access certain dungeons and other content.

Perhaps not an entirely bad idea on it's own, but it could make for an interesting trend where the most valuable people in your guild aren't the most skilled -- but the ones able to afford the premium content.

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