Hero Complex tells of the epic challenges of bringing a massive multiplayer game environment filled with DC comic superheroes, to market. The illustration, and iconic figures really seem enchanting. But success still seems a gamble as consumers appear to be moving away from the dominant form – of the monthly subscription, business model.
…Numerous games have gone up against World of Warcraft in recent years and failed. But Sony executives say DC Universe Online will succeed because it does more than copy a successful model: It’s the first so-called massively multi-player online game to feature realistic physical simulations.
DC Universe Online also was the only one on the market to play not just on computers but also on a living room console, in this case the PlayStation 3.
“No one can afford to spend that much money on a game and not have a hit,” said Geoffrey Zatkin, a former Sony executive who is now president of consulting company Electronic Entertainment Design and Research. “But if they make it work, it could be an opportunity for them to reach an audience that World of Warcraft can’t touch.”
The straightforward economics make it clear why Sony and Warner Bros. find subscription-based online games appealing. Each of the 12 million-plus people who play World of Warcraft pay $10 to $15 a month, giving Activision Blizzard a profit margin of 51%.
With big opportunity, however, comes big risk. Along with the large development cost, online games require continual updates and around-the-clock customer service. Several attempts based on entertainment franchises such as “Star Trek” and “The Lord of the Rings” have not met the level of success to which DC Universe Online aspires.