Dominion, the next expansion for EvE Online, is looming on the horizon and it sets the stage for the upcoming integration with CCP’s next venture, code named DUST514. DUST514, as most of us know who follow the EvE news regularly, is going to be a first person shooter. DUST514 will also include integrated elements into the EvE Online MMO. What those are and how extensive they will be is the current subject of much speculation (a good speculative article can be found on the EvE forums here)
What hasn’t been openly discussed or mentioned is what subscription model DUST514 will use. Since DUST514 is primarily targeted for PS3 and XBOX360 as we’ve been told, most of the current games on the market for those consoles are one-time payment style games and have a short lifespan (as do the attention spans of the console gaming crowd in general). However, a large amount of online gaming is slowly changing from a subscription based model to a micro payment model. You can see this on a small scale on Facebook’s app games (gasp! Farm Town) where you can buy extra cash for a small credit card payment and increase your wealth. Farm Town itself is free to play. What’s interesting is that a lot of these free to play games are developing this model, and it is racking up quite a bit of followers (and spenders). According to an article on gamesindustry.biz digital micro-purchases for things like in-game money account for more than half digital revenues across the different game genres.
An article caught on Slashdot this morning states that Blizzard, the founder of WoW (World of Warcraft) is rumored to have been developing yet another MMOG with “more broad appeal” and it is speculated that it might be free to play. It looks like Blizzard is attempting to expand their audience into other ages and attract more females, similar to what Sony Online Entertainment is doing with Free Realms
What will DUST514 use as its payment model? Will it be a single payment style game like current PS3 titles? Based on the above, it could be speculated that DUST might utilize a micro-payment method and be free-to-play (probably once the game title has been purchased). Would you pay to add more and better weapons to your arsenal? What might be cool is the ability to have an EvE Online account, and transfer ISK down to your DUST514 persona thus alleviating the need for those that have interest for both games to pay double (even if it is in micro payment form).
How is CCP going to maintain the game as it moves forward in its evolution and how will they garner continued interest in the title (knowing what is known about console game attention spans)?
Too many questions are still left answered and it will be curious to see how all of it evolves.