Hellgate: London Online Scheme to be Determined, Includes Free Mode

Yesterday, we published a story reporting that Flagship Studios' Hellgate: London will contain a subscription-based MMO as its multiplayer mode, using information gained from an interview with company CEO Bill Roper. Today, Shacknews followed up with Roper, who clarified his comments and stated that the monthly fee subscription model is only one option currently under evaluation by the studio and its publishers Electronic Arts and Namco Bandai Games, and that his comments were intended in a theoretical context.

Most crucially, Roper noted that Hellgate: London is guaranteed to include some kind of free online mode that gamers will be able to access without any monetary commitment. This mode will likely not include the full MMO features of the game available to full-scale online users, though it is still unclear what kind of commitment will be needed for that level of access. "If you want lots of great continual content, and all of the services, we'll have to figure out how to do that," said Roper, pointing out that the company will need to derive revenue in some way to support a full team of content developers post-launch. As examples of less traditional revenue streams, he brought up various Korean MMOs which sell items to players, and added that The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion generates post-launch revenue for developer Bethesda by selling downloadable content.

Roper stated that finding a solution that is acceptable to players as well as being financially feasible on the development side is difficult. "For us, it's complex. It has to work together globally, and with three different publishers," he said.

In an interview published on Shacknews today, Roper spoke on some of the services that will be part of the full Hellgate MMO. "What you're getting with that service is you're getting 24/7 customer service, secure servers, databases, and the biggest thing is that you're getting continuing content," he said. "We'll have a full dev team that's on the project from day one. Actually, right when you buy the game, when it launches there will already be content available that you can't get in the single-player--additional monsters, areas, all the community and economy things, you'll be able to form guilds, auction houses, all those things you expect from MMOs."

For more on the gameplay of Hellgate: London, particularly its online aspects, check out our extensive interview with Bill Roper published today.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 10, 2007 6:10 PM

    I like this clarification. It sounds like they were definetly listening to what will be their playerbase.

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      January 10, 2007 6:15 PM

      It sounds like a huge mess to me. They dont know what the hell they're gonna do.

      • reply
        January 10, 2007 6:18 PM

        they just know that they need money to make it work

    • reply
      January 10, 2007 6:26 PM

      The saw the Shacknews comments and shat their pants.

    • reply
      January 10, 2007 6:57 PM

      I agree with you guys. They must've seen the huge negative backlash and started backpedaling faster than a kid on a stolen bike who has just seen the cops.

      • reply
        January 10, 2007 7:01 PM

        I think Dungeon Runners actually has a decent idea, its just not implemented very well from what i can tell.

        Basically, you have access to all areas, but you are limited on the levels of equipment you can get which significantly limits your ability to take on some of the content.

        While i dont think this is the best way to go about it, some tweaks to this would not be a terrible idea. If you throw some in exclusive content, particularly things that change your avatars look and or give access to certain exclusive areas, you make the game fun for free and paying players without breaking the experience for free players, which i believe dungeon runners currently does.

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          January 10, 2007 7:17 PM

          That sounds pretty terrible to me. Just hitting an arbitrary limit in how far you can progress as characters, and then having to pay?

          It is like a bait and switch, almost. I'd prefer a straight purchase or monthly fee.

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      January 10, 2007 7:05 PM

      If they were listening to the "fanbase", they wouldn't charge at all.

      Not that I would want the game to be free online. I think people need to get used to paying for online gaming. It costs money to develop, it costs money to maintain, and the whole "pay one price get online for free forever" model isn't very viable as a business.

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        January 10, 2007 7:10 PM

        the whole "pay one price get online for free forever" model isn't very viable as a business.

        sure it is ... but you have to pick at least one of the following things:

        1. less content in the initial purchase
        2. outsource the development
        3. higher price point for the full game
        4. micropayments for <enter something here> (might be the same as #1)
        5. less innovation - more building/milking the past stuff

        or something else the keeps the profit margin what the owners want them to be.

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          January 10, 2007 7:15 PM

          Uhh, no, it is not. You don't make any money after the point of sale. That is worst business model you could have for an online game.

          That is why most publishers don't want to do it anymore. They keep gravitating towards things like content purchases, expansions, and monthly fees. It is not because they are all flat out greedy, it is because development for online stuff costs a lot of money, as does maintaining and supporting it.

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            January 10, 2007 7:22 PM

            dude, you fundamentally agree with me ... your argument you made fits exactly with what I said.

            My point is that online games can work witout a monthly fee --- but there are trade offs (I outlined some of the options).

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          January 10, 2007 7:17 PM

          Microsoft...they would consolize it and release it as an Xbox360 only game, then surprise us PC gamers with a ported version that would require that you have Vista to play it...THAT is how it could be worse.

      • reply
        January 10, 2007 7:56 PM

        "and the whole 'pay one price get online for free forever' model isn't very viable as a business."

        except it's worked for every FPS, and the MP part of games for the last 10 years?

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          January 10, 2007 8:30 PM

          Only because the servers and bandwidth were being provided by the users. Once you start having to deal with company-owned servers and characters stored in secure databases, costs go up astronomically. And that's really the only reliable way to prevent cheating in a game like this.

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        January 10, 2007 8:21 PM

        I prefer if they would make a huge game with an expansion for some fraction of the initial game. Starcraft has Brood wars, Diablo 2 has an expansion ( can't remember it. I keep thinking of BG2's throne of bhaal ), WC3 has The frozen throne. Each game is complete on its own, yet the expansion added tons of content and additional gameplay for people who wanted more.

        I don't like micropayments, subscriptions, and/or episodic content.

        We have two copies of Diablo 2 and the expansion. If their game is that good, we'll have 2 copies of hellgate also. And if it we still play it til this day, we may end up buying 3 copies like we do with quake3

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