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Want monetization suggestions for your zombie MMO? Head to Reddit

Want monetization suggestions for your zombie MMO? Head to Reddit

April 11, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

"We welcome a serious dialogue about [monetizing H1Z1]. We're listening and if you want to have a say in this, now's the time."
- John Smedley, president of SOE, posting on Reddit.

Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley took to Reddit yesterday to solicit suggestions as to how Sony should monetize its recently-announced post-apocalyptic zombie survival MMO game H1Z1.

"I wanted to take this opportunity to solicit ideas from people interested in H1Z1 regarding how we monetize it," wrote Smedley. "This isn't some contrived thing. I'm being serious. It is a nearly blank slate."

H1Z1 was recently announced by Smedley during an episode of the Game Talk Like show, and Reddit has so far been SOE's forum of choice for disseminating information about the game -- the H1Z1 homepage currently has nothing but music and a link to the game's subreddit page.

Watching Smedley react to public comments on the subreddit offers some interesting insight into the game's development. Reddit user Armor9 suggested that SOE sell ad space on in-game billboards, for example, and elsewhere in the thread Smedley responded that it was a good idea hampered by his belief that "in-game advertising doesn't net much revenue at all" and "licensors can get very anxious about how their brands are used in apocalyptic games."

On the other hand, the suggestion by user Aetrion that Sony sell in-game goods that are usable by anyone -- jukeboxes, workbenches, and the like -- met with approval from Smedley, though other commenters expressed concern that it might give paying players an unfair advantage.

Pretty much all talk of "pay-to-win" monetization systems that might permit players to pay real money for a meaningful competitive advantage in the game was squashed by Smedley and other commenters, though in a different thread on the subreddit Smedley commented that "In reading the monetization thread we saw a lot of people comment about accelerating crafting. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. I want us to listen more."

The comment thread is still pretty active, and it's a fascinating example of how a studio might approach the challenge of developing a free-to-play MMO game in public.

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