People are willing to pay big money for a little extra content in their games. That seems to be one of the lessons Sony has taken away from its Station Exchange auction site, where in its first month, EverQuest II players racked up $180,000 in transactions of virtual goods from the game.
Sony Online Entertainment is so convinced that players of massively multiplayer online games will shell out money for extra content, in-game items, new levels, and expansions that it is developing a subscription-free MMOG. According to a Dow Jones wire report, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley kicked off this year's Austin Game Conference with a keynote speech where he announced that the company's next game will make money not through subscriptions, but through the sale of optional add-ons for the game, like extra weapons or new areas to explore. Smedley didn't announce a name for the game, but he did say the company is "going to be launching this quickly."
While subscription-free MMOGs are rare, Sony Online's effort won't be the first. ArenaNet's Guild Wars has successfully bucked the subscription trend, charging only for the base game and enlisting more than a million players since April. ArenaNet will soon sell additional chapters to the game that compile new skills, areas, abilities, and professions.
Sony Online's other MMOGs, all subscription-based, include EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, The Matrix Online, and PlanetSide.