First, Give Away the Game
More videogame companies, angling for larger audiences for big-budget online games, are making their products free to play in the hopes they can make more money by charging players for virtual goods.
Videogame makers in Asia, who years ago figured out how to make money from free services by began charging players for virtual goods on free services, like weapons and outfits. Now that approach is catching on in the U.S., even among makers of big-budget online games.
This week, Sony Corp.’s (SNE) videogame unit said it plans to soon offer a free version of “EverQuest II,” the company’s flagship online fantasy game, while allowing players to upgrade their characters by purchasing better virtual armor and other items.
It’s a big change from the $15-a-month subscription fee Sony normally charges for the game—a plan that will continue to exist for players who don’t want to pay a la carte fees for virtual goods.