Sunday, December 21, 2008

Even Freedom isn't Free

One of the most common inquiries sent to ourWorld support are requests for more free stuff. Its not surprising as the ratio of free vs for-money content has shifted, gradually at first, but more so lately, towards stuff that only paying customers have access to.

We have a lot of kids playing, particularly younger teens. I understand they don't have control over whether or not they become customers as a credit card or PayPal account is required (we do accept by-mail payments, but its not a popular option.)

Just today we got a from a player who wanted us to make items cheaper because, and I quote "I honestly don't want to spend money for a online game. (No matter how cool the game is!)"

Her honesty is nice, but she is saying explicitly what the cynic in me thinks every time I read a message requesting we give more away for nothing. If she's never going to become a customer, her value to ourWorld is based on her contributions to the community and the number of paying customers she refers to the site. Statistically, that's not a huge value to us, so I have to say no. Over and over again.

We could give more away for free if:
  • Doing so will radically increase the retention of Tourists, leading more to eventually become Customers. The numbers don't currently support this.
  • We can increase the value of Tourists (through ads, promotional deals, or something else I haven't thought of.)
  • The free items lead to additional purchases by the players who do spend.
If the players' requests don't have an impact on one of those three things, the answer has to remain a polite, but firm, no.


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