Friday, August 15, 2008

Playfish Experiments with New Subscription Pricing Model

In January of this year, Playfish, a UK-based social games company launched their first game, Who's Got the Biggest Brain?. It rapidly grew, becoming one of the most successful on Facebook, currently played by over 280,000 players daily.

Three weeks ago they introduced a Pro Player's Club. For an annual fee of 9.99 dollars, members of the Pro Players' club get access to special features, such as additional mini-games, a performance graph, and no advertising.

Two weeks ago, I was on a panel with Kristian Segrestale, CEO of Playfish, and I asked him about the Pro Player club. He said that it was too early to gauge the success of the Pro Player Club, and that Playfish was looking at it as an experiment.

Playfish's Pro Player Club is the first attempt of a social games company to monetize via a subscription service (that I'm aware of). I doubt it'll be the last. Runescape, the immensely popular Shockwave-based free MMO has for years relied on a free-to-play model monetized by offering premium feature to subscribers.

Another Interesting Monetization Experiment

A few months ago, Zynga introduced an interesting monetization experiment, selling power packs to players of Triumph, their Civilization-lite game. For five dollars, you could get additional resources for use in the game. I'm not sure how successful it was, I have not seen it expanded to other Zynga games.

Oh, and One More Thing about Playfish

Playfish is now cross-promoting their games via a bar on the top of their games. Another smart move that was inevitable, and something that Zynga and SGN have been doing for months.

And since I wrote this post two weeks ago and forgot about it, I should mention that Playfish also released a new game called Pet Society which I'll talk about soonish.