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We present City of Titans, a spiritual successor for the superhero MMORPG City of Heroes, being developed by Missing Worlds Media.
5,003 backers pledged $678,189 to help bring this project to life.

What's The Plan: Finances

Posted by Missing Worlds Media (Creator)
95 likes

 It’s one of the trickiest questions to answer for any game: how do you make sure it all pays for itself? Once those servers open to the public, the costs to run skyrocket. But if sales haven’t been built into the game design from the beginning, it can all become an over-bloated mess. And most of all, it has to be done tastefully and with fairness to the players. How do you make a system designed to get money from your customers that does not take advantage of them?

THE BIG PICTURE

In the beginning, all MMOs used the same sales model – the subscription. People paid between $10 and $20 per month to get unlimited access to a particular title. However, this model has lost a lot of ground to a new model, the Free to Play. The Free to Play approach has obvious benefits: people pay as much as they want, for what they want. Of course, it also has drawbacks: that upfront cost is a very reassuring thing to developers, who often have a lot of investors waiting for payback.

A few games, however, are a hybrid of the two, and City of Titans will be one of those.

THE DETAILS: Overall

The model we’ve embraced includes an up-front cost. This buys you full access to the game: all content, all systems, all features. This purchase also includes a set number of months VIP status, and the up-front cost is gauged by the cost of subscription. By default, you will pay the equivalent of three months subscription status up front, and then receive three months of VIP status before defaulting to Free status.

Once in the game, it’s much like any Free to Play - there will be a cash shop, and the option to subscribe for benefits. Subscriptions will get, monthly, a stipend equal to their subscription fee, plus a bit more. So, a $15 subscription gets you $18 in store credit, every month. They also get earlier access to new material in the store, typically two months before the free to play can gain access to them. To be absolutely clear: no game content or features will be locked behind a paywall or require a subscription to access. All who buy the game will have equal access to content, features and systems.

THE DETAILS: Subscriptions, the Kickstarter, and you.

By tying our sales price to subscriptions, we create the opportunity to make limited time offers, or discounted sales, simply by including fewer months of subscription. Three months is the default sales unit, as market research shows people who play for 3 months are more likely to play for the first year.

There are also rewards for those who stay subscribed for longer. These loyalty tokens can be stored over time, to be redeemed for various bonuses and unlocks.

We want to make sure everyone understands how all this works with their Kickstarter perks, particularly the tiers that included game accounts and VIP status. The months of subscription our Kickstarter promised along with game accounts at certain donation tiers are in addition to the VIP months a game purchase comes with automatically. The default purchase includes three months subscription, so donors who qualify for the $50 tier will have those three months plus the bonus month mentioned in the tier description for a total of four, and those who elected for the $75 tier or above will get 5 months total subscription upon launch - the three default plus the two promised bonuses.

THE DETAILS: The Cash Shop

The cash shop will use a currency we’ve nicknamed Stars, and will primarily sell in-game global unlocks. In-game unlocks will cover a wide range of things, from costume pieces to Aesthetic Animation sets, and are, again, global. When you purchase an unlock through the store, it is unlocked for your account in perpetuity, available to every character you have made or ever will make.

If you can’t or won’t buy though, you can unlock any of the in-game store items for a single character through gameplay, by earning certain in-game badges. A few badges will be global, but only a few. Purchasing these items does not grant a badge: badges themselves are exclusively earned in-game.

Character slots are a special case. While these can be purchased normally, the free unlock works differently. Instead of badges, you will unlock a new character slot each time you level a character to maximum. Every character that hits level cap will unlock a new character slot. We did promise Alt-City.

THE PROMISE: No Lockboxes

One large problem in MMO’s today is something called Whale hunting. Whales is an old term for high stakes gamblers in Las Vegas, who would generate the lion’s share of any casino’s profits. When Free to Play became popular, those who paid the most were given the same nickname as these high stakes gamblers, Whales.

One unfortunate consequence of the Free to Play model were games that began to hunt these Whales at the expense of your average player, with exclusive content hidden in “lockboxes” or the like, designed to catch Whales and milk them for all the game can get. The gambling mechanism these boxes use can fuel an addictive cycle, which is good news for the game revenue but bad news in many other ways.

This is something City of Titans plans to avoid at all costs, and we’ve put a great deal of thought into how to finance profitably but ethically. We recognize the reality of game addiction, and want to ensure this is difficult for our players to develop. We call our solution, our alternative to lockboxes, Whale Watching.

Instead of lockboxes, we will include bonus random chances within booster packs - bundles of related unlocks sold together for a discount. So, for example, you might buy the Ninja Pack (just a random name for now), and you would gain the ninjitsu animation set, multiple props associated with the Ninja, Ninja costume set unlock, and a random extra piece from somewhere else in the game. So instead of buying a slim chance at rare exclusive loot, you get a chance to get a special cash shop item free along with your booster purchase.

Everything evolves, and each generation improves on the last. We at Missing Worlds Media studied the best and the worst out there very closely to find the best solution to an ethical business model that profits us and you, and we look forward seeing all you Titans in Titan City one day.

Kyle MacLean, Maria Adams, and 93 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Scott Alex
      Superbacker
      on

      Since you're talking financing, can we assume you're getting closer to a release date or beta release?

    2. Randy Graham
      Superbacker
      on

      Will likely take 2 subscriptions on Day 1 for 2 accounts, but I like the option of free-to-play. That lets my kids join me without them paying money they often don't have. Sound like I great plan. Looking forward to it!

    3. Missing avatar

      Ronald Absalom Harrison III on

      No wait.
      I do have one more comment on whale hunting and whale watching.

      I strongly urge you to observe one simple rule.
      Never have a random change to acquire anything that cannot be bought straight out.

      If I buy a booster and get a freebie that's fun.
      If I have to buy and buy and buy and still have no guarantee of getting what I wanted...
      That's ugly. It is in fact, a business relationship ender.

      If the thing is available at a set price AS WELL as randomly occuring...it's not so bad.

      So...never have a chance for something that can't be bought outright.

      I think you've actually said this but I'm skim reading like mad and not finding it so... I thought I'd speak up and embarass myself on the off chance you had not...

    4. Missing avatar

      Ronald Absalom Harrison III on

      No Lockboxes and no Whale hunting!!! YAY!!!

      I've generally preferred the subscription games, and found free to play to be a bit of a troll pen.

      I don't think I'd say (not that I think you guys did either) "No free to play, it lets in the riff raff and we don't want them here."

      I think the truth is both stronger and far more subtle than that.
      I would say that when everyone (pays) "does the lifting and carrying" it builds a mutual respect.
      and from what I've heard, that's a BIG part of what we want. To be respected. To respect each other. To respect our community.

      It's why M&M promised no lockboxes and no whale hunting.
      MWM doesn't feel that's treating a customer with respect.

      Come launch day, as a customer, I'll have to reciprocate that respect...
      And if that's a subscription fee, I look forward to it.

      Missing Worlds Media.... GOOD LUCK!!!

      /em climbs back up into the crows nest, looking for sight of land. Feels eager!

    5. Doug McNabb on

      This sounds reasonable I dislike lock boxes and Pay to Win games so I'm glad that this won't happen in this game. Looking forward to playing it.

    6. Jaed on

      I like hybrid F2P methods. Being able to earn the currency to buy anything through gameplay is a win.

    7. ChemicalCrash on

      This sounds like a reasonable financing construct. I know cosmetic items will be a decent revenue stream, since character customization is very important and sought-after in superhero games.

    8. Cybin Monde on

      This all sounds incredibly well thought out and as respectful of everyone as possible.
      I'm loving what I'm hearing in all of the plans!

      Sign me up for a Lifetime!

    9. Marcelo Cardoso on

      Honest, straight to the point and deserving of the continuous support. If there's a lifetime sub I'll even try saving up to get one. <3

    10. Missing avatar

      Suicide Squid on

      You had me at "no lockboxes"... �

    11. Chris on

      As long as every item is directly purchasable I'm okay with this. But I absolutely detest gambling for virtual items in MMO's. If you want to add it for a discount, that's fine as long as the actual item is of a fair price for direct purchase.

    12. Cobalt Azurean on

      Sounds good. Looks like I'll be a subscriber once again.

    13. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      Lifetimes: We have several plans, but we're keeping it fluid until closer to launch.

    14. Missing Worlds Media Creator on

      Discuss this update, as always: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-whats-plan-finances
      Support City of Titans at: https://www.patreon.com/HiJinx
      And we're doing livestreams, so check: https://cityoftitans.com/forum/twitch-stream-live for times and dates!

    15. Missing avatar

      kindar on

      out of curiosity, is there a plan to include a lifetime membership in the subscription options?

    16. Shaun Olivier on

      Once again I'm glad to see you guys are being open and thoughrough with the development of the game and would agree that the 'buy-to-play' model we have seen pop up in MMO's such as Guild Wars 2 and recently Elder Scrolls Online does seem to strike the happy medium. Especialy if you don't have the initial clout of a company like Blizzard or Square.
      Its also good to hear that you will be trying to avoid the addition of the dreaded lootbox system. Although there can still be ways to include them and not make them completely unethical so long as there are plenty of ways to aquire them without spending real money, either through daily or weekly missions. Huh, now that I think about it a weekly lootbox mission might be an interesting incentive to encourage players to log in often. And it doesn't have to have cashop items, just a chance for uncommon or hard to get resources/items as well as maybe a chance for a handfull of 'Stars' that they can start saving up or put towards something they might like in the cash shop?

    17. Missing avatar

      Charles McGinniss on

      5 or 10 would be better and get more people.