Tobold is asking who plans to be a tourist in 2010 (continuing his new adult entertainment blog theme in the process), which got me thinking whether 2010 itself might not just be the ‘Year of the Tourist’, and furthermore whether catering to the tourist crowd might not be a viable option.
For starters, I fully expect Star Trek Online to see its fair share of tourists, as once again many will THINK they want Sci-Fi when in reality they do just want more elves. It will (hopefully anyway) be a little different than the traditional quest/profit themepark, which again will SOUND good to many but not actually work out for most. Assuming the game itself is solid enough to keep its core, it should do fine after the masses move on, but expect the first months to be tourist-tastic.
But the biggest tourist title of 2010 (assuming its actually released) will be SW:TOR, again not just because of it’s Sci-Fi base, but also because how long can you be entertained by voice-acted story in an MMO?
But that got me thinking, what if SW:TOR is actually designed around the tourists? What if the goal is to attract as many people as possible initially, give them a good 1-2 months of gaming, and then expect and plan for them to leave? As long as they leave happy, you can bet they will come back in 6 months or a year to see the new story content you have added, and there might be a business around that pattern.
We know SW:TOR will sell big at the start, the combo of Star Wars, BioWare, and EA make this all but certain. We also know SW:TOR will charge both a subscription and have RMT elements in play (I believe this is confirmed?). So lets say the game sells 3-5 million copies (about what a major gaming title sells), and that base, spread out over 12 months, rotates in/out at 1-2 months a pop, re-subbing and also dropping a few bucks for some extra items/story/whatever. As long as SW:TOR overall image or ‘buzz’ is positive, that would still work at attracting new gamers and keeping former players interested in any new updates.
And really, this could benefit everyone in the market. For the players, you know you will have a solid experience to return to every now and then, eating up whatever has been added and then going back to either your main MMO or trying out something else. For EA/BioWare, they have a constant stream of revenue, and high motivation to continue improving and adding to the game in significant ways. And for other companies and the genre as a whole, SW:TOR does not completely monopolize a player like WoW, so those 3-5m players WILL be playing other games and staying interested in the MMO genre as a whole. Sound like a win/win/win to me.