Why APB Uses Your Phone's Pricing Plan Instead Of World Of Warcraft's

When the open-world, cops versus robbers game APB hits computers this winter it will include an unusual pricing option that charges per a minute rather than a month.

That's because all but the most hardcore online computer gamers are typically paying for more game then they need, E.J. Moreland, design lead for Realtime Worlds, told Kotaku this week.

Realtime Worlds' massively multiplayer game will still include the option to pay for a month's worth of unlimited playtime for $US10. But Moreland and the folks at Realtime Worlds suspect most gamers will ultimately decide to purchase packs of gameplay hours, 20 hours for $US7.

"We looked at a lot of different pricing plans," Moreland said.

They even looked at the possibility of delivering the game for free and just charging for upgrades and customisation, but ultimately Realtime Worlds' founder Dave Jones decided that offering a pay as you go plan seemed "pretty fair".

Players will receive 50 hours of gameplay when the buy APB, and then will have to either decide to buy additional hour packs or pay the monthly fee.

And the clock of paid gameplay doesn't start ticking until players hop into the action zones of the game. Players won't have to pay a penny to access the social districts where characters can interact with one another and customise their look.

Realtime Worlds settled on the initial free 50 hours after doing quite a bit of research, Moreland said, looking at typical play times in Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty 4, Battlefield and even World of Warcraft.

"There's nothing out there exactly like us in terms of gameplay," Moreland said.

When the found was that most people tend to spend 90 minutes to three hours in a session. And only the hardcore gamers do daily sessions.

"Three hours is a magic number for us," Moreland said. "We found most players don't go beyond that in one session in our game."

The social districts of APB, Moreland said, could also become a place where some gamers spend most of their time. In fact, the developer is even playing around with the idea of making it free for anyone to access, whether they buy the game or not.

"With the social district there is a compelling investigation to be made into making the social district entirely free to play, building that out to be a stand alone," he said. "There is going to be two kinds of audiences in APB: People who want to play the action game and think it's cool and then people for whom customisation is the driver.

Realtime Worlds is already looking into building out the social districts of their game to include more features for people not as interesting in the gunplay.

"We're talking about adding player housing soon," Moreland said.

In theory, gamers could spend all of their time in the social districts creating their own clothing lines, car art or tattoos and selling them in game for APB's in-game currency.

While that in-game currency can be traded among players, there is no way to cash out, Moreland added.

The notion of breaking the game world in half, allowing players to interact, customise and socialise without having to worry about a clock ticking, is an interesting concept. As is the notion of only paying for the time you spend in game.

Perhaps this is the sort of pricing structure that could lead gamers to spend more reasonable hours in the game.


    One of the reasons why I don't play monthy fee MMO's is because I know I'm not getting my money's worth. Uni and life take up a good chunk of my day and shelling out 20-40 bucks a month or whatever for playing what is usually less than 20 hours a month just isn't worth it. I wish more MMO's would introduce a pay as you play system.

    I was all set to complain, but they seem to have sorted out a pretty good system. Its good to know that if I choose to buy a pack of hours I wont be wasting them looking for a group.

    That said there are still a few problem areas for me. Mainly padding. I'd hate to buy 20 hours of gameplay and find that 20 hours of gameplay translates to about 5 hours of fun, 5 hours looking for a group and 10 hours of killing rats for quests (even worse if it has typical end-game content).
    I used to spend about two hours at work every morning doing my daily quests in World of Warcraft. If I put a dollar value on the game per hour then its just not going to be worth it.

    Then there's the trouble with griefers. There's always a way to interrupt other players gameplay and there's always someone who thinks that's the purpose of playing online. Getting camped sucks but it happens, and its not uncommon for it to take an hour before you can get back to what you were doing. Again, if I put a dollar value on each hour its just not worth it.

    Lastly what happens when you're playing with someone and they run out of hours? It doesn't really happen with monthly fees but if you're buying lots of 10-20 hours then it'd be pretty common for people to run out of time in the middle of a session.

      Well looking at the pricing system outlined above.
      The time spent in the social district does not count for the playing time.
      Lets hope the game developers implemented a "Looking for group" system or the game room function so you would probably be notified during the social part of the game?
      That's what I hope, at least..

    Probably the fairest charging system in an mmo so far. Not only are they offering a choice between paying as for a set of hours or paying per month - but not charging for the non-action oriented sections?

    These are the type of people who seem to understand their market. Good on them i say and i hope it proves to be fruitful for them - a lot of other developers would be wise to follow suit if all turns out to be just swell.

    Hah, if WoW only charged for action hours... would they make any money?

    *recounts the time he's spent jumping around in a circle in Ironforge*

    This is now on my do not buy list. Seriously, pay as you go? why?

    Save your pennys and get Red Dead Redemption, open world, multiplayer and free gameplay after initial purchase.

    Anyone looking for extra cash needs to rethink their strategy.

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