[casual_games] Different Payment Models

Dave Selle Dave.Selle at wildtangent.com
Mon Oct 9 02:40:57 EDT 2006

A micro currency API doesn't get you there. Even if you can get the major portals to agree in principle (and there are lots of reasons for them not to), they would have to accept the burdens of processing micro-transactions on their own billing systems. There are several of these but two of the larger ones include minimum credit card transaction fees and volume of transactions. 

What is more likely to work is a payment service that is easy to use for customers, can aggregate micro-transactions, and mail checks: This is essentially digital currency. Sure, the portals could each roll their own and set up their own system of golden shells, points or whatever but this will never be universal: some will do it, but most won't and those that do will get all fired up with their own way of doing things. 

The winner in the digital currency realm must 1) have a very broad reach to introduce it, and 2) develop a product that is both easy to adopt and has real business value that outweighs any negatives for the portals, service providers, and developers. This would mean it needs to do things that no current payment method can: like bring advertising dollars, share future revenue, or allow monetization of customers that can't be reached through any other means. 

-----Original Message-----
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org] On Behalf Of John Foster
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 10:34 PM
To: 'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'
Subject: RE: [casual_games] Different Payment Models

I don't know how we arrived at a standard 60 minutes trial period. I worked
on a golf game where we set the trial period at 15 minutes. Based on game
play - the length of time a reasonable player could get to the 14th hole.
Any more time and the user could finish the game in demo and have no
incentive to buy the game. I think the trial period is a game based

I've been looking into the microtransaction issue for a while and I think
idea has a lot of merit. Some consumers will want to pay for single plays,
play packs, and others will pay one price for unlimited play. It may also
depend on the game - arcade games are level-designed with "feed me to
continue" strategies that we don't see in PC/console/casual gaming. The
business idea "pay $0.10 for additional crap" can also be supported if that
makes sense for the game. So the microtransaction business model seems to be
a logical next move for our industry. We see it's very successful abroad but
hasn't taken hold in the US. Part of this is the inherit problems taking
small amounts of money from consumers (VISA fees on $0.25?) It may have
something to do with the American consumer's desire to own things. A game on
my computer is a different product that an arcade console at an arcade. How
successful is the game rental market compared to full purchase? Also the
communication games will need with their supporting infrastructure will be a
lot more complex, possible turning off lower-level developers. The barrier
to entry will be a lot higher.

In order to support this we are going to need an ubiquitous API supported by
all portals. The Wild Coins idea is interesting but we'll have to see if it
catches on. I'm skeptical a one-portal proprietary idea is going to achieve
industry-wide acceptance. Developers and publishers aren't going to be too
happy about supporting different APIs and the conceptual differences for
each portal opportunity.

We in the IDGA need to spearhead this effort but I don't see it being a
realistic endeavor without direct participation and leadership of the top
portals. That's how other standards committees operate, they take a cross
section from the industry representing all levels of involvement and work
out a standard. Not easy to do! The cool thing is to imagine all the new
opportunities for monetization of our games and the ideas developers will
come up with to exploit these features.

--John Foster

-----Original Message-----
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org]
On Behalf Of Jónas Antonsson
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 4:17 PM
To: 'IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List'
Subject: RE: [casual_games] Different Payment Models

How about a mutual effort? A Casual Games "Paypal" system? A standard?

I'm talking about a unified micropayment platform with a single registration
interface (webservices?) that could be incorporated into portals, straight
into games, etc. A player can register on a master site, through a specific
game or through a portal. He has one global account which is accessed by all
the games that implement some kind of a payment interface (again -

Single centralized point and a common interface that can be used to register
playtime for a specific game. The games could reside on different portals,
on different platforms, etc.

The only thing to consider would be setting this system up and agreeing on
technology / standard, etc. Also ownership and responsibility issues. One
way to go would be as an investment by a group of companies. This could also
be financed separately. Or this could be an Open Source project - sponsored
by the Casual Games industry - open for everyone and usable by all. Making
the cake bigger?

I've formulated a few more thoughts on this issue and I'm trying to create a
better foundation for the idea. I just wanted to throw this in here because
of today's dialogue, which directly related to these thoughts.

I, for one, would be very interested to see this happen and participate in
making it happen.


-----Original Message-----
From: casual_games-bounces at igda.org [mailto:casual_games-bounces at igda.org]
On Behalf Of Chris Dillman
Sent: 8. október 2006 19:31
To: IGDA Casual Games SIG Mailing List
Subject: Re: [casual_games] Different Payment Models

>By having a small monetizeable unit to buy games with, we can start 
>doing a lot of new and interesting things that allow us to maintain our 
>IP while still working with big advertising companies. And again, for 
>fresh young developers, that's good too, no?

>To be honest, I was really excited about this model when I heard them 
>walk through it - and was hoping:
>1) To hear other opinions on the model or other possible models for 
>extracting money at lower price points.

You would probably call this model micropayments.

You might want to read the

Tho a true micropayment is supposed to be like pennies or less any how.

There was a lot of MMO style games moving to or playing with this idea out
at E3.


for instance runs subscription servers and micropayment servers where you
can play for free if you want or pay for additional features.

They report making a long more revenue off of micropayment servers then off
of a normal full subscription server.

Personally I love the idea for both MMOs and casual games...
I also like teh idea of ads in games.

There are MMOs I would play... like D&D online... but not for 15$ a month.
5$ maybe... or free plus ads would be great.

So downside.

I think micropayments might work well for WT and other large portals.

But they will not work well for a small game developer with a few games.

Some problems.

1. There is no standard way on the web to easily pay a micro payment.

2. Its work to even get people to sign up for any service.
Which means its even more work if a new player need to sign up for a micro
payment service. Or 10 services if they are using 10 different game

What might work well is having it offered in addition to normal $20 fee etc.

3. Wild Tangent offers a in game Ad SDk now also.
You might want to take a look at that.


Email: chrisd at plaidworld.com
iChat / AIM: crackbunny at mac.com

Plaid World Studios http://www.plaidworld.com

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