Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Tale of Two Models

In the past week since I posted about the death of Joystiq and the sites Massively and WoW Insider, there's been a flurry of activity. Most notably, the "relaunch" of both Massively and WoW Insider as Massively Overpowered and Blizzard Watch.*

Both new sites have set up crowdfunding to help support the relaunches, with both garnering a lot of attention. Oh, not even in the same league as the attention paid to The Oatmeal's Exploding Kittens card game or Rich Burlew's Order of the Stick reprints, but they met (and exceeded) their respective goals very quickly.

And, to be honest, the selection of Massively OP's and Blizzard Watch's crowdfunding method is a perfect demonstration of "know your audience".

Massively OP went with Kickstarter to provide the seed money for the site and content, and will eventually use a combination of ad sales and Patreon funding to provide a steady revenue stream.** Given the prevalence of non-subscription based MMOs in the wider MMO landscape, this makes perfect sense to attract the diverse MMO player. When your audience prefers B2P and F2P games over the subscription based model, you go with a model that replicates the MMO online store as much as possible.

Blizzard Watch, however, decided to go straight up with a Patreon funding site to provide an (ostensibly) steady income. Again, this is perfect because of who they are hoping to attract: the WoW player who is used to plunking down $15/month to visit Azeroth. Sure, there will be online ads too, but creating --in effect-- a subscription based model of support demonstrates that they know their audience will not blink twice at another "subscription."


Now, I suppose the big question out there is whether both sites are sustainable in the long run.

I believe that both are sustainable, not only because there's enough interest out there in keeping both sites running, but because each economic model mirrors each site's potential audience.

The people who believe that the Patreon model may eventually bleed subscribers forget that we're talking about WoW here. Sure, the initial blast of subs may eventually go down, but there will always be the hard core to sustain the site. Just like the Castros in Cuba or WoW itself, people will come and go and predict the end of WoW (Insider) as we know it.

Massively OP's modus operandi, getting the seed money up front to get the operation running, works well because they can get everything running without having to worry about keeping subs right away. They realize that their core --those that will support Patreon-- is going to be smaller than a WoW based site, so a greater emphasis on initial startup and selling ad space alleviates those concerns.


What will I do?

Probably not much; I'm on a tight budget that is frequently beset by (seemingly) monthly emergencies such as car repairs and new clothes***. If some money frees up, I'll look into sending a few dollars the sites' way, but I'm also likely to look into Netflix or Hulu as a potential replacement for our satellite service.****

I wish both new sites the best of luck, and here's to hoping both succeed beyond their wildest dreams.

*Massively OP for short.

**A (very) reduced version of the economic plan from the Massively OP Kickstarter page.

***Overheard at our house: "Really, you need new pants AGAIN? Just exactly what are you eating, kid, Miracle Gro plant food?"

****We get our internet connection through our local phone company, which is expanding a Fioptics network. If there were a way to get college basketball --my big sports weakness-- without needing a cable/satellite/FiOS package, I'd jump on board. For that reason, I'm watching Sling TV with a great deal of interest.

EtA: Fixed grammar bugs.


  1. You had be excited by Sling TV until
    The request could not be satisfied.
    The Amazon CloudFront distribution is configured to block access from your country.

    I guess I shouldn't have set my hearthstone to Stormshield.

    1. Well, that sucks. Then again, I'm not too surprised right now, since they're still working out the kinks, and I'm sure that Disney isn't exactly willing to open up ala carte cable channels globally. (Disney owns ESPN, ABC/ABC Family, and the Disney channels, among other things.)

      And I guess that NBC Sports --where I go to watch the Barclay's Premier League on Saturday mornings when I'm cleaning around the house-- isn't going to join this list any time soon. NBC, after all, is owned by Comcast.

  2. I hadn't thought of it like that but that analysis definitely rings true! Massively is Buy To Play and Blizzard Insider has its sub.

    1. Exactly. The difference between SWTOR, GW2, TSW, and others on the Massively side vs., well, WoW.

  3. I agree, I haven't thought of it that way - with subs for Blizzard Watch being like WoW.

    1. I'm curious just how much non-WoW Blizzard stuff BW will actually cover. Given the emphasis on moving in an eSports direction, any coverage over the Blizzard version of eSports could eventually dominate the site because of the eyeballs that would be attracted to it.