Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Impulse, by Stardock, is an online store and community that once catered
primarily to independent games for the international PC market. It has
recently been acquired by GameStop and now serves as an online storefront
for the retail behemoth. With a vast catalog, professional fulfillment, and the
power of a vast network behind them, Impulse clearly has Steam in its sights,
but lacks the advanced social features and the huge member base. Still, inde-
pendent game developers looking to gain exposure for their games would be
well served to consider a partnership with Impulse. Given GameStop's mas-
sive resources and recent focus on promoting online games through their
Kongregate site, Impulse and the GameStop network is a space worth watch-
ing; it is a somewhat fragmented marketplace, but one with tentacles that
reach deep into the gaming community, particularly in North America.
Gamer's Gate offers direct downloads and retains the focus on indie and
lesser-known games. Gamer's Gate regularly offers products at significant dis-
counts ( Cthulhu Saves the World for only $2.69!) but also features mainstream
games like Dead Island or Dragon's Age . Users are encouraged to foster a sense
of community by offering reviews and are rewarded with discounts or Blue
Coins, the site's virtual currency for helping other users with their gaming prob-
lems and for purchasing games from the site, effectively using a loyalty pro-
gram as a community incentive.
8.3 Subscriptions
Subscription models, in which users pay for access to a game based on the
amount of time they want spend in the game world, has its roots in the tra-
ditional mechanic of paying for server time by amount of use (like the way
CompuServe and America Online used to charge for internet access), as well
as in the pay-to-partake model used by print newspapers and magazines for
more than a century. The provider provides access to a service, fresh content,
or both, and in return, a willing consumer agrees to pay for the time they spend
using the product, typically billed in monthly or weekly increments. For the
most part, the only games that offer a subscription model are those with sig-
nificant backend server components. More specifically, subscription models are
largely the province of MMORPGs. Most MMOs historically have had a retail-
side boxed component as well and then offered the first month or two of sub-
scription “free” in the hopes that their users would get hooked. World of Warcraft
and newer PC and console games like Sony's superhero-themed MMORPG
DC Universe Online are examples of this traditional subscription model alive
and well in the games sector today. It is interesting to note that Blizzard has
managed to extend this subscription model to applications on mobile phones
(like the World of Warcraft Armory App) for which they charge a smaller,
additional monthly fee. Though a dozen or more MMOs have launched, then
been subsequently forced to reduce or drop their subscription fees, World of
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