MMORPG: Rise Of The Yuppie

This is so my life

This is so my life

For a long time after I finished University and was forced to get a real job, I used to moan and complain about how MMORPGs rewarded those that had the most time. No longer could I wallow alone in darkness all day hooked in front of a computer screen battling the evils of Norrath with my cyber companions. MMOs, especially older ones like Everquest, were incredibly time intensive and you practically couldn’t play them at the higher levels with anything less than a solid 4 hour window. Time was the biggest single contributing factor to progress, rewarding the unemployed and penalising the money rich/time poor player. All of this meant that my new found 9-5 lifestyle left my gaming progress in the dust and me desperately trying to claw together any spare hours I could to fuel my hobby.

A few years later though and we’re now seeing a new trend emerging: the rise of the yuppie. MMORPG developers/publishers have twigged to the fact that the majority of gamers aren’t poor kids and teenagers but instead 20 & 30 somethings with full time jobs and an income. To these yuppies gaming is a hobby and one they’re willing to spend money on (just like any hobby) and companies are taking full advantage of this fact. Even if we look outside of the MMORPG and PC genres other platforms, such as the PS3, Xbox and iPhone, go as far as requiring a credit card connected to your online account. These devices are obviously not targeted at little Billy who’s only source of income is the $5 he gets every week for mowing the lawn of the creepy old neighbour next door.

However, money takes a job to earn it and that takes time which leads to the ultimate situation of those having the cash not having the time to spend it. A game that requires a vast amount of time to participate in is not going to attract busy people, especially those with disposable incomes. Blizzard caught onto this pretty quickly and through studying the metrics of their player base decided to make their content more accessible. Other MMORPGs soon followed suit.

I don’t believe Blizzard intentionally set out to make World of Warcraft a “casual” game for yuppies, instead I think they just cleverly looked at the statistics of their players and realised that only a small percentage of people taking advantage of raids and high level content is waste of everyone’s resources. They deduced that only a small fraction of their subscribers have the time to grind and jump through all of the time-sink hoops that MMORPGs often require and decided that they wanted to appeal to a more mass market. The resulting side effect (perhaps even purposeful result) was a game ideally targeted towards the modern geek yuppie who wants quick fun, easy rewards and has cash to burn.

So what does the future hold? I think obviously we’re going to start seeing a lot more games designed specifically with the yuppie in mind, games that are easy to access, quick to play and come with plenty of added value incentives in addition to their subscription fees. They won’t be F2P games, they won’t even be subscription games, they will be Premium Reward MMO-Action Experiences. It’s going to be like the yuppie revolution of the 1980s all over again except this time instead of comparing gold Rolexes and business cards, it will be sparkly mounts and dancing pets.


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  1. Tesh says:

    It will be interesting to see how that meshes with the real world shift in values as economies around the world keep imploding. Will the digital world be the last refuge of someone who wants to pimp their ride? $25 for a shiny horse is easier to swallow than $250 for rims, after all.

    • Gordon says:

      I think as more people withdraw into themselves online we’ll definitely see an increase in purchases like these mounts. Life today is usually a case of grinding through some mindless office job in a cubicle with no hope and then coming home and trying to escape into whatever we can.

  2. Longasc says:

    Yo, there are many gamers in that age. MMO gamers are more typically 20-30 than 10-20. Maybe because of subs and parents and so on. :)

    I still hope this does not mean we have to expect more sparkly 25$ ponies because players have no time, but are yuppy enough? I am sure it is totally against the Humboldtian idea of university that students once they have money burn it for sparkly ponies and similar offers! :)

  3. My main concern is tacking expensive (anything over 10 bucks) microtransations onto an already subscription-based game. Yeah, it’s for yuppies. Which means it’s not for me. I have to budget pretty carefully how I spend my gaming dollars, and my wife doesn’t like MMOs at all. So that’s also a big contention. If I could say that I were playing a free game and buying the equivalent of a subscription, that’d be one thing.

    And yes, I know the pony and others are all non-essential things, but still…

  4. Usiel says:

    I don’t think that a Yuppie is the target market for Sparkling Ponies.
    They target for geeks, as Tobold and Larissa mentioned, Geeks have more money these days, but that doesn’t turn them into Yuppies.
    The pony targets the same market, that bought those figures and dolls.

    The poor dogs that have been tricked from university right into Consultants and Financial Auditors, are quiet lonely in their hotel rooms, once the blackberry calms down.
    Besides, if they would have targeted People without time but money, they would have offered other services.

    Tesh made a good point, although he probably thought it another way. With economical values collapsing, your target group for non-existent values, are only those who either have no feeling for values (Daddies favorite with a lot of money), or those who do not care about values.

    Geeks don’t care much about real values, their scene is full of goods that have inexplicable values, just look at comic books, collector’s editions or figures. That’s of course a plain simplification, but in contrary to a Yuppie a Geek does not seek social accepted status symbols.

    Ask Tesh and Larissa for their homes, they will definitely tell you, that they have fine houses, but not fancy around luxurious golden door bells, and they will probably not drappé expensive sweaters over their shoulders when sitting in their cabriolet.

    Blizzard just realised, that geeks have much more money, than they had 10 years ago. They are far away from entering, a market that is tied up in society appropriate and accepted behavior.

    • Gordon says:

      True, although maybe these geeks are technically yuppies? I mean the term just means “young urban professionals” which is actually quite broad and would probably describe a lot of the younger geeks without kids and good incomes.

      • Usiel says:

        I think the marketing group you are referring to would be dinks.
        Double income no kids.

        Yuppie was by definition used for financial service providers in the 80’s, when the former industrial states moved towards service providing. If you look at London City, you know why the definition referred to Urban.

        By definition I would be a Yuppie: a Suit in the financial market, selling services, that have no real value connected. Dealing with ridiculous sums every day, can create the urge to keep surround yourself with values. That’s why many look for status symbols.

        It’s the Yuppies task to create those inflated values, while the the Nerd is charged to keep track of the Data. That’s why the former loses himself in values, while the latter doesn’t show usual valuation.

    • Tesh says:

      Nah, you’ve pegged me well, I just didn’t chase down the implications. I’ve blathered about valuations enough elsewhere that I just didn’t have it in me to get uppity this time.

      I’m ridiculously blessed compared to many in this world, yet I still feel the pull to be pragmatic and almost stingy. I could afford a sub to WoW and the pretty horse, but they aren’t good value to me, so I don’t buy in. We just bought a swingset for our kids; that money could have paid for a year’s sub to WoW, the horse and a RAF to bootstrap the experience, but I value the swingset and our kids’ happiness far more.

      I’m a geeky gamer with a good job, but I’ve resisted the pull of the XBox 360 for years, despite working on 360 games for three years now. I only recently finally broke down and bought one, but I’m still shocked that I spent almost $400 on the dang thing and a couple of games. That’s a lot of food money.

      …and I’ve never even *had* an expensive sweater. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, either. ;) I’m just not wired to be a yuppie, I guess. I don’t mind.

  5. TK says:

    Nice post….but no mention of EVE? It is the ideal game for the yuppie. Train skills during the week, earn data cores while offline, sell data cores, play hardcore on weekends. Also w/ GTC trading, people with money to blow still have a good shot at being able to compete in most aspects of EVE with only playing on weekends or a few hours after work.
    Just need to get over the initial Learning Skill drag, but again w/ GTC trading, just buy a slightly skilled toon with isk.

  6. Merilar says:

    Just one thing about EvE Online. It has extra value service for sale: the time. You can bye FLEX with real money and trade them on the market for ISK’s (game money) and of course, if you have money in the game you can bye the FLEX (HC Gamers can play for free) This concept has bring a new level into the game.

  7. It’s going to be ending of mine day, except before ending I
    am reading this impressive post to improve my knowledge.

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