Video games refer to electronic entertainment that functions by collecting human input and translating it into the relevant action within a game. These games occupy different platforms from PC, mobile and more recently, the Internet. This eesay seeks to understand the different categories of video games that are currently preferred by most players by investigating into the studies conducted by different organizations in schools, homes and methodical surveys. The ultimate intention of the essay is to elaborate on the potential financial and marketing opportunities in the gaming field that can be exploited for higher profit margins and increased market share. The paper takes the form of a case study that will concentrate on Nintendo’s highly successful video game, Pokemon as well as its position in the market. In conclusion, the essay seeks to conclude and offer recommendations to Nintendo and other game developer who have similar opportunities or challenges.
Pokemon was created in 12996 by Satoshi Tajiri of The Pokemon Company on the Game Boy platform. Over the years, the video game has transformed into a massive success only comparable to Super Mario. The video game is based on a fictional world in which the main hobby is collecting insects. Players are awarded the roles of Pokemon trainers with the task of collecting all the available Pokemon species and training the creatures to compete against other teams belonging to different trainers. The game also includes low-level artificial intelligence particularly among the monsters. For all practical purposes, Pokemon is considered a role-playing game. The reason behind this categorization will be captured in the next section.
Difference between RPG and MMORPG
The concepts of massive multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPG) and massive multi-player online games (MMO) are closely related. This similarity can be summarized as follows. MMORPGs are a type of MMO in that they are played by many people on an online platform (Wesley, David and Gloria 8). However, the key factor separating the two is the game play. MMORPGs stress on the role-playing aspect that allows the player to take on the role of a character within the game. This definition further complicates the issue given that a player also assumes a character in MMOs. Such games are considered MMORPGs since they do not take place in fictional settings and lack a definite role (Zhang, Alexandre & Kemme 28). Lastly, MMOs also have increased interactivity among the players through chat rooms (Wesley, David and Gloria 11). It is imperative that the difference between these two categories be clear as they appear dominantly throughout the argument.
Rationale behind Creating a MMORPG from Pokemon
The decision to undertake the development of a Pokemon MMORPG is influenced by several different factors. From the onset, MMORPGs have emerged as complicated, expensive and tedious projects to run and consequently, this raises the stakes for most video game developers. Several reasons exist for this level of reluctance and risk. One, the magnitude of the gaming world as well as the amount of interactive content and events offered by the game are highly influential in determining its success in the market. MMORPGs contain significantly more physical terrain compared to other games. Undoubtedly, their worlds are bigger. In the same vein, they consume much more time during game play. This is where developer contribution is most taxed. Whereas a single-player RPG can take between 2 to 4 days to finish, successful, and viable MMORPGs require at least 20 hours of gaming content. Increased content implies an extended development cycle, and in this case, it can cost approximately $8 million or more. Coding is also a major aspect of MMORPG development. For a newly formulated universe, developers are forced to develop a solid background to infuse an aspect of reality. In the event that developers choose to license an existing setting such as Middle-earth, they would still have to alter the background to improve its application to the game. The dialogues and quest text are expected to be rational, appealing and legible given that this structures the major component of game play. Gaming companies also face the uphill task of appropriately handling client and technical support. MMORPG are unique since players access them during different hours of the day and this implies that staff members are always ready to intervene and resolve conflicts between players. The same staff also plays the role of watching out for possible unethical behavior such as cyber bulling, fraudulent scams and sex offenders.
Effect of MMOs on the Society
MMO players are affected by the games they play in various ways. The games normally involve creating several characters and accomplishing challenges. This means that players frequently devote a significant amount of their emotional resources on the challenges they attempt within the MMO. In the event that they are unable to finish these tasks, most players are affected negatively by the loss. This contributes towards a dull mood, as well as related characteristics such as aggravation or short-tempers. A study conducted by Nick Yee that was released in 2006 called “The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively Multi-User Online Graphical Environments,” discovered that numerous MMO players recalled the most unconstructive instances they had witnessed within a week as having been in the process of playing MMO games. Passionate involvement in MMORPGs can result in a type of addiction for vulnerable players. These individuals end up being consumed in the obstacles, tasks and affairs programmed within the game, and they strive to prosper and to assist their character progress through the ranks in the shortest time possible. Detaching themselves from the gaming console becomes an impossible feat for these people. R.V. Kelly noted in his publication “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games,” that MMOs work to trap players by rewarding specific actions and supplying the desires and needs of the users (Wesley, David and Gloria 16). The author categorized MMO addiction in the same group as other conventional addictions, for instance, drugs abuse that influenced the brain and body of the consumer.
Excessive immersion in MMOs also has the effect of creating social misfits within the community. The games are designed in a manner that creates an alternate world in which players are immersed. In the long term, players come to shape the fictional world in a way they prefer and gradually entrench themselves in it. At a certain chronic level, players are unable to discern between the real and fabricated world. From the above study, it is clear that playing MMO games act to create a secondary personality within an individual that may be harmful to their self-esteem. The exposure to constant challenging and frustrating environments also creates stressors among players. Stress is directly linked to increased susceptibility to a wide range of disease. Therefore, MMO popularity within the society is closely related to deteriorating level of mental, physical and emotional health.
Success Trends of MMO Games
The growth of MMOs and MMORPGs has taken approximately a decade to mature into a multibillion-dollar industry. These two categories of games have managed to gather impressive numbers in terms of subscribers. For instance, Ragnarok, which was launched in 2002, had about 25 million subscribers (Merchand, & Thorsten 34). Other games that were released later such as World of Warcaft and Guild Wars 2 have shown an ability to perform equally well if not better than their predecessors have. As of 2013, the MMO games were accounting for 20% of the overall gaming revenues (Merchand, & Thorsten 87). However, an eve more interesting find is that the console market is shrinking. Conversely, there is a significant growth in mobile and MMO games. The main reason behind the huge success rate of most MMOs lie in a set of persistence factors unique to this category of games. Nearly all MMOs exhibited an impressive amount of storing persistence. They are able to maintain the consistency of immovable or non-interactive objects. Two, they are able to store the last player location and restore it when the game is loaded (Merchand, & Thorsten 92). The game engine used to develop such MMOs is also vastly different form ordinary mobile applications. These features make it quite versatile and popular across unstable platforms such as the internet and web browsers. In conclusion, the internet platform that hosts MMORPGs is highly dynamic and offers several other advantages such as access to a wide market, affordable marketing and promotion alternatives as well as the opportunity to network with other related service providers.
Benefits of Pokemon MMO to Players and Company
In the process of analyzing whether or not Pokemon should venture into the development of its MMORPG version, it should be noted that the Pokemon franchise has performed extremely well in the MMO department. The recent developments in the gaming company have ensured that most of the players are already enjoying the multiplayer aspect that is enabled through the creation of a network over the Internet. While not exactly clear in structure and definition, it is clear that Pokemon games are largely suited to being MMORPGs more than anything else is. However, regardless of the similarity in concept, Pokemon’s product still lacks the fundamental aspect common in all other thriving and renowned MMORPGs: an active forum that allows for interactivity between the players (Graham 32). The move to venture into online-based gaming alternative such as MMOs and MMORPGs is will prove beneficial in the long term. This is because Nintendo has worked hard to shape its brand value (Lee, Holin, & Chen Yi-Yu 48). Consequently, the strong shareholder confidence in its competence of making corporate decisions is high. Furthermore, based on the outcomes of several studies, it is emerging that online and mobile-based applications have exhibited promising growth rates (Wesley, David and Gloria 35). By analyzing this and other sources of information, Nintendo has invested in the future of gaming technology.
Payment Procedures for Pokemon MMO
Several alternatives are available when it comes to selecting payment procedures that can be applied in the Pokemon case. Globally, approximately around 100 payment methods exist including debit and credit cards, checks, eWallets (PayPal, Moneybookers), bank transfers, and invoices. It is necessary for Pokemon to adopt more than one method of payment (Lee et al., 23). This will ensure security levels are maintained acting as a fail-safe in the event that one system fails (Zhang, & Kemme 43). Most MMORPGs are based on two business models: Free to Play and Pay to Play. Pay to Play alternatives demand a regular registration to play the game for instance, a month or a year while Free to Play models permit individuals to enjoy the game but are plagued by micro-transaction advertisements and locked upgrades that popup during game play (Zhang, & Kemme 82). The anticipated Pokémon MMORPG will adopt an amalgamated business model that seeks to enjoy the benefits of the two while avoiding the limitations. The game can be released as a “free to play” version but restricted to Nintendo’s handheld devices and consoles (Zhang, & Kemme 76). The monthly subscription charges would be eliminated and in the process, act as a promotional tool to draw in new and existing customers.
New players have the option of buying a Trainer Starter Kit in the game’s `stores for around $50. The financial projections predict that a realistic subscription turnout of around 10 million players would originally provide $600 million within the period of the launch. The pricing structure of Pokemon MMORPG demands an examination by Nintendo to establish the most viable pricing scheme given that they are well suited for such functions. The company can also release multiple Starter Kits to increase the variety for players. These efforts can generate enough income to cover for the development costs, network equipment purchases, server infrastructure and bandwidth purchases necessary to take the game online (Zhang, & Kemme 122). However, it will also result in a reasonable profit. Trainer Starter Kits can possess features such as strategy guidebooks, unique items, exceptional Pokémon, physical trading cards with unlock codes, statistics and other additions that are not present in the free version. Pokémon stands to profit well from the adoption of the MMORPG project particularly through the hybrid payment model that ensures the survival of the game by reducing the risks associated with one payment method. Branding measures can also be included through serialization and bar coding (Zhang, & Kemme 15).
While the payment system used for handling Pokemon’s financial needs may be satisfactory, it has several drawbacks. The Pokemon MMO will code with an in-game cash shop that is available on all the browsers. The same cash shop will also be programmed into the mobile and other handheld platforms. This blend of an in-game cash shop connected directly to the alternative payment methods located in the game presents critical implications from a financial perspective. Most of the addicted players end up spending thousand of dollars on upgrades, purchasing new versions and equipment as well as paying for cheats, without realizing their vice. An example of the scope of this vice offers a better viewpoint. Approximately 5 million individuals play Guild Wars 2 and most of them replenish their gPots for about $10 after a month (Zhang, & Kemme 176). This translates into approximately $12 billion by the end of the year. In conclusion, it is easy to envisage Pokemon’s cash shop handling this kind of cash flow every month given its popularity.
Profit Maximization Strategy for Nintendo
For Nintendo, occupying one of the top positions as a manufacturer of game consoles as well as developing games represents the results of several policies and strategies aimed at maximizing profits. Concerning the launch of the Pokemon MMO, Nintendo can implement the following strategies to ensure that they maximize profits (Zhang, & Kemme 63). One, adopt a strict distribution policy that restricts the rights to Nintendo alone. In a manner similar to the way the mobile applications issue was handled, Pokemon and its distribution should follow suit. Another strategy involves reducing the costs of developing the MMO. This may involve cutting back on developer expenditure and embracing technology in the development of the game. Similarly, Nintendo can also place higher prices on the in-game cash shops (Zhang, & Kemme 23).
Game Format and Collaboration with Hand Held Previous Versions
The new Pokemon MMO adopts a modern format that allows it to be played o browsers, tablets and mobile phones with ease. However, it is clear that Nintendo has little experience in developing and marketing MMO games and will eventually outsource the assistance of an expert party such as Blizzard. The issue of compatibility across platforms will require the technical expertise that can allow players to move their profiles and player statistics from the DS to the PC. Fro the computer, it can be uploaded to the MMO. This field of knowledge is very limited given Nintendo’s strict policy concerning distribution and compatibility. However, since Pokemon MMORPG will have a different set of developers and structure, it would prove difficult to make them compatible with their handheld counterparts.
Virtual Reality Possibilities in MMORPG
Virtual reality or immersive media is an innovative technology that seeks to use computer simulations to recreate physical environments. The application of this technology in the gaming world was heralded by the development of the Oculus Rift headset that allows for the inclusion of virtual features that improved the overall gaming experience. In the case of Pokemon, it is possible to use several technological solutions to develop an enhanced version of the game that fits in the MMORPG category (Wesley, David and Gloria 46). In particular, the Virtuix technology holds great potential for bridging the technical gap. It contains a treadmill peripheral that can offer the virtual experience to Pokemon players in a single direction. Virtuix has the ability to work with a head-mounted device such as Oculus Rift or an equivalent. However, its minor set back is the inability to execute corners effectively (Wesley, David and Gloria 25). Virtuix also lacks the ability to interact with the game at a deeper level and can only allow the use to fire weapons. This problem can be circumvented by introducing fourth set of motion sensors into the equation in the form of gloves. Gloves can allow the user to feel, grasp and improve contact with the game at various levels. In this way, developers at Pokemon can combine two inventions deigned to make real things appear like a video game and another to do the opposite to introduce the virtual MMORPG version of Pokemon.
Differences and Similarities in the New Pokemon MMO
The development of a new Pokemon MMO will definitely contain coding, conceptual and interface changes that target greater functioning, stability and appeal. A major difference in the newer version of Pokemon is the introduction of virtualization. This technology will allow players to bridge the gap between characters in the game and characters in real life. Virtual reality in Pokemon means that the player has the alternative of taking on the role of the master and battling other players. The idea of a type of voice implementation system makes the improvements even more alluring even though a clear peripheral to do the task is not present.
Performance of the Current Pokemon MMO
The new Pokemon MMO has the advantage of being able to overlook several fundamental issues that deny a player the immersive experience. It was highly fortunate that the adaptation of Pokemon from the hand-held Nintendo format into its MMO equivalent was a straight fit. Importantly, the Pokemon franchise is not exactly interested in replicating accurate player movements in order to create wholesome immersion. The game lacks any weapons that need direct user tracking, or volatile action chains that may require the provision of a feeling of being thrown off the ground. The largest part of the game consists of the player embarking on a magical expedition and issuing directives to his Pokemon troops in combat, and that marks the highlight of the game (Donovan, Lee, Malmaud, & Yan, 90). Regardless of the advanced types and number of VR peripherals that could be installed, it would only replicate walking and nothing more.
Pokemon battles can be improved to a level where they can be played from the viewpoint of the master, watching over their soldiers and allocating orders. The latest VR products such as Vanguard have displayed creative application of the Oculus Rift’s head-tracking feature as a means of selecting and targeting options, and this could adopted for the Pokemon case. Battle will be transformed into an automated event, with players strategizing the formation of attacks they desire to execute and the adversary to be disabled in the battleground (Wesley, David and Gloria 23). Players have the opportunity of becoming more attached to their captured Pokemon, conjuring them out of their Pokeballs with the intention of relating with them, nurturing them and promoting them to the level of a partner in the journey. This would replicate the same way Pikachu travels with Ash in the television program. The thrill of having a Pokemon by your side as one maneuver through the grass and rushing with the expectation of capturing an extraordinary Pokemon is the kind of experience many players have desired since the game was released.
How to Keep Players Engaged
One of the most conventional ways of keeping new and existing users interested in Pokemon’s MMO is by ensuring that a massive amount of content is created. Developing an immense volume of handcrafted substance is a common strategy in many games, particularly MMOs. This content can include hundred of quests, plenty of accounts or a slight branching. Company normally invest a lot of money to produce a rich quest line with the objective being to capture the player through wide array of quests available, rather than merely branching in a particular direction and omitting several quests within a second. Large volumes of content for the Pokemon MMO are useful since they have the funds to hire scriptwriters, artists and programmers to create the content.
Another approach that can be used to achieve high levels of player engagement is through elaborate game level design. This element is critical for setting the story of Pokemon and keeping the players engrossed in it. Bad level design serves to spoil the overall game regardless of the ostentatious effects and the attention paid to detail (Wesley, David and Gloria 12). For example, in Call of Duty, the most popular video game series, the layout of the hot spots, battlegrounds and surprise occurrences is so synchronized and creative that it is almost impossible to predict the next step or lose their interest. Each of the levels in the MMO version will have to be planned out. Good level designs lead the player in the right direction and leave the rational thinking to the individual behind the controller. Variations in the scenery also serve to pique the contribution and interest of players in many ways. People get easily bored by the same setting. This means that none of the assets in Pokemon can be copied and pasted later on in the game. Player expectations generally rise with the increase in technicality of the levels. The need to see a different and complex environment keeps most players engaged.
The last approach that can improve the appeal for Pokemon’s MMO project is the including difficulty scaling. By varying the difficulty across each successive level, the Pokemon MMO can trigger a large wave of interest. The developers can use the same types of weapons and enemies but make the obstacles significantly difficult to overcome. Similarly, the reverse can be done. The developers can augment the weaknesses of different things for instance, weapons, amour or impact. Caution should be taken in employing all these approaches towards improving the level of player engagement. This is because overusing or under using, any of these techniques results in poor ratings for the game (Wesley, David and Gloria 45). Consequently, by scaling the difficulty of the levels, a Pokemon player can be intrigued and challenged. However, creating an impenetrable level will result in frustration and a consequent drop in engagement.
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Donovan, Joseph , Andrew Lee, Jonathan Malmaud, & Yan, Hanwen. MMORPGs: An Economic Perspective. Preston McAfee. 2006. Print.
Graham, Kerrie Lewis. Virtual Playgrounds? Assessing the Playfulness of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. American Journal of Play. 2010. Web.
Lee, I, Holin, Lin & Chen Yi-Yu. Leaving a Never-Ending Game: Quitting MMORPGs and Online Gaming Addiction. National Taiwan university Department of Sociology. 2007. Print.Bottom of Form
Merchand, Andre & Thorsten, Hennig-Thurau. Value Creation in the Video Game Industry: Industry Economics, Consumer Beneﬁts, and Research Opportunities. Journal of Interactive Marketing. 2013. Web.
Wesley, David T. A, and Gloria Barczak. Innovation and Marketing in the Video Game Industry: Avoiding the Performance Trap. Farnham Surrey, England: Gower, 2010. Web.
Zhang, K, and B Kemme. “Transaction Models for Massively Multiplayer Online Games.” Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Reliable Distributed Systems. 2011: 31-40. Print.
Zhang, Kaiwen, Alexandre, Denault, & Kemme, Bettina. Persistence in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. McGill School of Computer Science. 2008. Print.
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