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Old 05-18-2008, 09:58 PM   #1
Valg
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MMORPG business models in China

Gamble your life away in ZT Online

A friend pointed me to this article-- it's about the economics built into a big Chinese MMORPG. (And by "big", I mean 2.1M concurrent users in the case of ZT Online.) There's an interesting Chinese take on the perks financial model there-- the game's take seems to be that in order to have that many players and a 'kingdoms' milieu.... not everyone gets to be the king, and a lot of people have to be peasants. So unless you're spending real money... well, get ready for a lot of hours doing menial labor for limited rewards. If you promise to play for 120 hours/month, the game will credit you 100 yuan (~$14) worth of perks-- for many Chinese, that's more money than they could readily spare from hard currency.

So they've built up a very steep perks system-- the player covered in the article, Lu Yang, describes her investments of 10,000+ yuan (around $1400 US) just to get the equipment needed to rise about 5 levels in the game's 170-level tiered system. A lot of it is essentially a gambling system-- you buy keys to open chests, and most chests offer nothing useful. It takes around 5,000 chests (~$700) to get a decent set of equipment at the higher levels (which will be completely replaced in 5 levels), and you need to be the biggest spender on a given day to win certain rare prizes. Since it's a blind auction, you might buy 1,000 keys and find out that someone else bought 1,001, and miss out on the rare prizes. Want to add power-enhancing stars to your weapon? Those cost money, and the more you add the higher the chance that they'll blow up, forcing you to start again from zero stars.

The company is making 290M yuan (~$40M) per quarter under this model.

There are many more examples in the article-- I'm boggled that it's so successful in a country with so many working poor, but I suspect that China's RL economy may leave many people to accept the 'cog in a machine' role that the game seems to require. You can't have an army of kings, of course.
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Old 05-18-2008, 10:41 PM   #2
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Re: MMORPG business models in China

Quote:
Originally Posted by Valg View Post

There are many more examples in the article-- I'm boggled that it's so successful in a country with so many working poor, but I suspect that China's RL economy may leave many people to accept the 'cog in a machine' role that the game seems to require. You can't have an army of kings, of course.
China's population is mad for gambling, and many of ZT's mechanics play off that (particularly the opening of the random treasure chests). I suspect that has a lot to do with it.

--matt
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