For this article I am going to be focusing on discussing monetization in Landmark based on prior experiences and what we know so far about the Daybreak strategy for Landmark.
The Plan As We Know It
Right now the plan is that Landmark will cost $10 USD to purchase and gain access to with additional cash shop purchases available. The currency purchased through the cash shop is called Lumens and will not be tradeable to other players. You can use Lumens to purchase resources, recipes and outfits from the Lumen Store. Of course this is subject to change.
As of this writing, we do not know the cash purchase value of Lumens. We have rough estimates that are devised by players that fall around a penny per Lumen. Again I stress this is simply player conjecture and is not an official number. We will likely have to wait and see once they are available for purchase.
Projected Player Economy
Right now we know that items bought on the Lumen Store will be tradeable. We also know that recipe drops can craft tradeable props. As we are seeing already, players will be trading for materials and whatever props they need.
Currently the rarest resource is diamond and I do not know of any individual prop that is rare. I suspect that diamond is in a pretty good position right now to be the player currency. I’m certain that things will be traded for many different resources but a game economy seems to function smoother with a common currency. Of course with the never ending supply of any resource in Landmark, we will definitely experience inflation over time.
Economy Driving Revenue
Since it currently stands that everything (except Build Sites and Player Studio Designs) can be traded for in game, there is no requirement to spend additional money on Landmark through the Marketplace. So how does an MMO make enough money to keep the doors open if you don’t have to buy things? By having systems in place that drive players to spend money. While this sounds evil, it is really standard for every business.
In Landmark the drive for a player to spend additional money is by emphasizing the value of time spent. When trading with another player for that really crucial prop you have to weigh if the time you spent harvesting a particular resource is worth gaining that prop. If you have an abundance of something it may be worth the trade but if not, you may find it more beneficial to spend a small amount of actual money to get that prop recipe.
In the prior example it really does come down to how much you value your time. If you have a lot of one type of resource then you have decreased the value of your time spent on that because you won’t be concerned with keeping a hold of it. Such as the Dirt resource, you can get it quickly and in large quantity so the value of it is less.
The value that you place on the time required to get whatever prop or resource will drive how often you dip into the Marketplace.
Incentivizing The Marketplace
One thing about having nearly everything available without costing additional money is that there will be a large subset of players that won’t have any need to spend more. These are usually the players that spend the most time in the game.
One way to drive additional sales to those players is have items available for sale that can’t be gained through normal gameplay. Most commonly you will see outfits, mounts or exclusive variants of something that already exists (skins). As of yet these don’t exist in Landmark but I would not be surprised at all if they do eventually get added.
Another common way to increase revenue is to artificially limit how much or how quickly a player can attain something which will cause the player to increase the value of their time spent. As I’ve already mentioned, that is the key value which will determine if a player is going to spend.
After some of the recent official posts about Lumens and limitations on recipe drops it seems clear that Landmark is going the route of artificial limitations. That isn’t bad, we have pretty much all played at least one game that does it like that. World of Warcraft has rare drops and limits on how much loot drops from mobs. Numerous mobile games have currency (often multiple forms) that comes at a limited rate while playing. Call of Duty has a set amount of experience to accrue per action. Even EverQuest has built in limitations on how quickly you earn loot, experience and currency.
What makes this a little hard to swallow for some, in my opinion, is that we are in the development cycle for this whole process. We should be expecting things to go up and down and sideways but many players expect the process to be completed and final.
Then there are some of us that have spent money already and there is no way to ensure that we have received proper compensation during this conversion. It’s hard to be part of what amounts to a one sided discussion about what we get in return.
When it comes to monetizing a game though, the final decision rests in the hands of the developer. They have to make decisions that will make a game profitable. We can make a choice once we have all the information but until then, does it help to rant about being ripped off or how the game is going to fail? Nope.