Michael Pachter is a consumer analyst at Wedbush Morgan, a leading financial services and investment firm, and he believes one of the main reasons software sales for PS3 and Xbox 360 are down year-over-year is due to gamers continuing to log substantial hours into a handful of online games and not picking up new titles regularly.
We estimate that a total of 12 million consumers are playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 for an average of 10 hours per week on the two platforms' respective networks, and the continued enjoyment of this game (along with an estimated 6 million Halo online players, 3 million EA Sports players, and 5 million players playing other games, such as Battlefield, Red Dead Redemption, Left 4 Dead and Grand Theft Auto) has sucked the available time away from what otherwise would be spent playing newly purchased games, Pachter said.
Pachter also noted that Activision needs to make the first move with multiplayer charges, and expects we could see something with Call of Duty: Black Ops, set for release this November.
We think that it is incumbent upon Activision, with the most popular multiplayer game, to take the first step to address monetization of multiplayer, said Pachter. It is too early to tell whether that will be a monthly subscription, tournament entry fees, microtransaction fees, or a combination of all three, but we expect to see the company take some action by year-end, when Call of Duty Black Ops launches.
Pachter says he expects the publisher will apply a World of Warcraft-like business model to its Call of Duty franchise. Activision will likely continue to offer some form a free multiplayer for awhile, he says, but then add a fee to keep playing. He beleives its imperative for a company to gain profit off of everyone only buying one game and spending many hours on just that one game (MW2).
We are quick to point out that the average single player game has an expected play time of under 30 hours, suggesting that a staggering 133 million units of equivalent game play have been spent (so far) playing Call of Duty online, with Activision only seeing revenues from the original 20 million units sold, plus an estimated 8 million map packs sold, he added.
The frustrating thing to think about is that Activision isn't totally against the idea of a paid online subscription to it's titles. They have thought about doing new online experiences to the Guitar Hero and Modern Warfare franchises. You can begin to think of the horror of having to pay even more than your $50 yearly subscription fee for Xbox Live. The economy still sucks, and while we understand the video game industry needs profit, you can't expect all those people on MW2 to just take out their earned money to pay for an experience we get now.
What do you think about this? Would you pay for an online experience you get now?