Crystal ball gazing game guru and Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst, Michael Pachter, has said that Activision must start charging a fee for online gaming. He has been giving his opinions on why video game sales have declined for the fourth month in a row and lays most of the blame on online gaming.
“We think that the overall decline was due to a very large number of people playing multiplayer online games for free on PlayStation Network, and for an annual fee with unlimited game play on Xbox Live.”
“We estimate that a total of 12 million consumers are playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 for an average of 10 hours per week on the two platforms’ respective networks, and the continued enjoyment of this game (along with an estimated 6 million Halo online players, 3 million EA Sports players, and 5 million players playing other games, such as Battlefield, Red Dead Redemption, Left 4 Dead and Grand Theft Auto) has sucked the available time away from what otherwise would be spent playing newly purchased games.”
A sensible argument, everyone has less cash these days so we are spending more time with the games we have rather than buying new titles. Pachter continues,
“While the shift has been great for consumers, who are enjoying an unprecedented, and largely free, game experience, it has been devastating for publishers and shareholders, who are seeing sales and profits decline.”
I am no economist but even I know when money is tight luxury items are the first to be cut. Games are expensive so in the current climate they are going to suffer. Publishers are profit driven so if they are losing sales they must look for other revenue streams. But are they missing the point? Perhaps people are buying less games as they have less money?
You may recall Uncle Bob saying he wanted to charge for Call Of Duty online – Pachter agrees.
“We think that it is incumbent upon Activision, with the most popular multiplayer game, to take the first step to address monetization of multiplayer. It is too early to tell whether that will be a monthly subscription, tournament entry fees, microtransaction fees, or a combination of all three, but we expect to see the company take some action by year-end, when Call of Duty: Black Ops launches.”
Pachter has been known to be wrong, but the indicators from both him and Kotick are Black Ops will have some sort of online payment scheme.
One other thought occurs to me: If games companies would prefer us to buy new games rather than play online why are they insisting on shoe-horning multiplayer in to games that, as far as the storyline goes, really do not need it. Uncharted 2, Assassins Creed 2, BioShock 2 and Dead Space 2 spring to mind.