Something I have been considering is an interesting change in business model (just for the new game, not changing my actual business!). I know it's something that has worked for others, and probably failed for other others. The idea is to make Happyponygate free. Instead of having a demo where you can play the first little bit of the game for free, you'd get to play the whole thing free. Then, of course, you can still buy the game and get more than "the whole thing". I haven't really worked out details, but things like making your own levels, and playing others' levels, would be in the "Premium Pack". But without buying, you could still play the story from beginning to end, and get all the normal weapons, and that kind of thing. There would definitely be limitations and things only a paying customer could do, but what you would have would indeed be a legitimately complete game.
The benefits I see here, speaking in business terms, lie in the fact that the game requires a Dumb Account to play. Free games spread like wildfire (quite unlike non-free games!), and so I would presumably gain tons of new members to the site as a result. Some percentage of those people would go on to buy other games, participate in the forum and chat, and generally make the place better. I think overall, I'd probably get as many or more sales this way (especially if you count other games that those new people buy). It's also easier to implement, given the whole online thing, than a standard demo vs. full. And it's less pirateable, though I think the online thing alone almost kills that possibility entirely.
So I like the idea. I don't have any real objections to this plan or thoughts on how it could be less effective than the traditional demo/full model. I think we'd end up with three (or maybe more at some point...) levels of ownership:
- Free: a complete game
- Paid: adds a lot of the user interaction stuff like level-making and playing, shops for buying and selling items. Stuff that's well worth paying for.
- Deluxe: the "collector's edition" equivalent, with some kind of bonus stuff.
And yes, one thing ruled out is paying monthly. Won't be doing that. Maybe someday with some game, but not this one for sure.