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Jun 10, 2005



A viable model. However, maintaining these accounts in "rental shape" and charging back for misuse is a nice fraud/billing nightmare. Manufacture costs must be low enough (compared to rental prices) for this to be viable when factoring in misuse.


The model would probably work a lot better if they actually had accounts to rent. I went through all 13 MMOGs listed and they all said they same thing: "Sorry, there are no accounts for rent at the moment. Please check back later." I assume that actually have accounts is phase two of their business plan.


The terms and conditions, when taken in conjunction with the horrific prices, would seem to make this (in general) a non-starter in my opinion.

I predict it won't matter if they set up a few available accounts, as the odds of anyone agreeing to those terms and still having to pay $300 per month and up seems like a vanishingly small target audience.

The terms are written to make fraud on the company's part far more likely and even profitable. There are so many out-clauses for different reasons to charge you the full amount AND take the account back. Mega-risky, IMO.

After all, there's no publicly-available record of what percentage of these particular transactions were fraudulent on the company's part.

Even if there were such a "rating" opportunity, given that they also sell currency, and there are sure to be vastly more of those transactions than high-priced rental agreements, it would be trivial to swamp the high-end fraud "signal" in the "noise" of hundreds of successful low-value currency sales.

At $99 a month or less, they might have a model that could get decent traction IMO. At $300+ per month, I seriously doubt it. But at those prices, the "rental shape" reconditioning work might be prohibitive when compared to just selling the accounts outright and then offering a simple "trade-in" option for non-fraudulent repeat customers.

I'd be quite interested in seeing a well-modeled implementation of "XP insurance", though... =P


Fraud is always a problem when dealing with an activity that is basically fraudulent. If a borrower sells the account they're renting on eBay, what have they done that's all that different to what the lender did, ie. leasing out something that wasn't theirs to lease out?

If by some fluke this market did become viable, though, would developers want to enter it? they can create as many Jedi accounts on SW:G as they need to meet demand.



Although I doubt that their model will have much traction or appeal (especially at $300 a month), I can't help but imagine someone saying "We need a healer for this instance, let me go rent one for a few hours" instead of actually finding the needed component for the mission/quest/raid via in-game social means.


I've always wondered why companies haven't already done this. It seems the next logical step beyond buying characters.

Mentally, we're already "renting" characters in these games, under the perception of ownership (a concept still being debated). The big difference is that we control the length of that rental.

I don't think the Gamepal service has any more longterm potential than PlayVault does, but I do feel the idea itself has merit.


We're already playing around with similar concepts for the tentative "provider-to-player" pro-RMT ruleset servers in our offering. One advantage that we would have over the offered service is the very real ability to deliver any number of pre-balanced characters literally on-demand. There would be substantial extra overhead in any such third-party offering.

We could give them in seconds what might take hours or even a day-plus for a third-party service. A longer wait means a substantially reduced marketplace of people who would want to "rent a healer for this instance run".

We can programmatically enforce any restrictions we like (not allowing renters to trade away rental equipment, for instance, auto-repair of damage, elimination of faction changes, etc), and have a natural vehicle for an "up-sell" opportunity if the player discovers a combination they really like, and want to purchase a non-rental version outright.

In that context, I agree that the idea has merit. I just can't see it being an attractive model if the game provider isn't an active and natural participant.


Greetings! My name is AJ Robey, and I am a representative at GamePal.com.

I'm not sure where this explosion of word about our rental service stemmed, but as you can see it has not officially been finalized.

Basically, our plans and intentions are to provide a customer with the ability to sort through a variety of character classes instead of purchasing an account, and selling it back for significantly less, if they can indeed find someone to sell to that satisfies their needs.

Our rental service will be able to be used for various reasons, such as a customer signing up for the rental service to fit in well needed classes that are missing on raid nights (this is a bit extreme, we do realize =D), and as stated before, allow a customer to see which class they like the best before making their final purchase, therefore in the long run making the process 100% easier and less expensive. Also, some find themselves getting bored with their classes extremely fast, and may want to keep switching off to keep themselves entertained. These are just a few examples.

We are also crunching a few numbers, and deciding our policy for buying an account outright once a rental subscription has been paid for, or even multiple subscriptions, perhaps taking a percentage of the subscription charges and placing them toward that account. And yes, that would mean that the system may allow someone to obtain a free account if their % of the subscription fees toward that account matches the account price itself.

We do believe we have the inventory to kick things off, but still have a few policies to really nail down so there is no confusion, which is why you see that no accounts are currently offered for rent.

Thank you all for your comments/suggestions we've surely enjoyed reading through them, and thank you for your compliments on our newfound idea. We hope to turn this into something huge, and will work really hard to do so.


This model would work rather well with an ingame setup like the Station Exchange where everything is already tied to the game. I can't imagine this is the last we'll hear of rentals, although the market might not be ripe enough yet, it has yet to mature into the "fully accepted" RMT phase as of yet. However it does spark the beginning of what is most likely to come next instead of just character sales.

A deposit system would probably work best, where a person deposits a large sum (assuming around the value of the character) and then recieves most of that money back on return of the character.

An example might be I rent a level 50 Berserker for a week (most likely shortest time period acceptable) and deposit $300. Come monday I return the character (they switch the password) and I recieve $270 back. This would probably be the best model as such $300 is currently the actual price of the character. We'll also see drawn out "rent-to-own" models where the character is more expensive in the end ($100 payments for 6 months) than it is to buy it straight up ($300 flat).

This could also pose a problem if this was not an accepted policy of the game, especially once a botter who can turn a good profit off such characters rents 10 characters and bots with them, getting them banned in the process.


another way to think of this is as the monetization of guild services.

it's the economic history of western europe all over again!


Edward>another way to think of this is as the monetization of guild services.

Fortunately guild/clan services have been available for awhile. Unfortunately it is because of this that most non powergamers feel overwhelmed when trying to compete with these type of powerguilds, crying for a level playing field when in the real world, or virtual world, level playing fields don't actually exist.

When reality meets virtual reality, reality wins everytime.


I love the cartoon of the big-breasted blue-haired hentai chick cooing over her rental account that just arrived in the mail. Now that's a class act.

Yeah, I'd trust you guys with my account name and password to powerlevel me. 8P


This story has been picked up by Wired News.

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