Articles Tagged with: plai

Plai-er of the Game!

A rival to Steam?

This article is split up into two sections with the first one being a look at Plai, while the other half of it is more business-centric.

So, if you’re a gamer, stick to the first part, but if you’re an entrepreneur or want to know more about being an entrepreneur than I’d suggest you scroll a bit further down.

A little update from the team behind Plai:

A little something-something for those interested in starting with Plai, you can use this coupon code “gamescope” in the Plai app and you’ll get €5 free game time on all your games!

Gamer-Centric

I’ve been so fortunate to chat with Frank Christensen, the CEO of Plai, both in person at last year’s Game Scope, but also by mail. It has resulted in this article, where we hope to uncover what Plai is exactly.

Plai (site)

From Frank himself:

First of all, I would like to thank you for giving us the chance to tell you about our service Plai. Plai is a service that enables more gamers to get more value for their money.

Right off the bat, I’m intrigued as like good value and I’m also a gamer. Joking aside, you’re probably wondering how Plai hopes to achieve this and what it will mean for you.

You might’ve guessed by now that Plai isn’t a game, but rather an online store and game library like Steam. But, let’s get the hows and whys out of the way:

We do this by removing the up-front payment for games and allows users to only pay for the time they play until the price of the game is reached. We call this Pay-as-you-Play.

To some it may sound a bit strange at first, while to others it might sound too good to be true — and it’s both and neither at the same time. By removing the up-front cost, Plai has created a ripple effect, affecting multiple aspects of digital stores and online game libraries.

Frank mentions some of them in his mail like:

[…] we would like to think that we are solving the discoverability and competition problem in the gaming industry.

But honestly, I believe Frank is being overly modest, as Plai’s innovative way of “selling” games is like no other. Steam is, of course, the most notable and most recognizable, however, it’s “just” a digital store with the greatest of sales.

Next, you have subscription-based services like Origin Access having you pay yearly to access a wide array of select games. Lastly, you have the console versions like the PS Store, which with its exclusivity comes higher pricing, but exclusive titles.

I guess, if I should describe Plai like I’ve described the other services, I would perhaps call it “reverse-renting”, where you choose a game to “rent”, while you have the game as long as you want to, but you pay for it, ie. rent it until you’ve paid the full price.

If you’ll excuse the confusing wording in the last paragraph, I’ll get to my point. Where my point being, Plai is highly innovative. To my mind being a more user-friendly and transparent business model, than the likes of its “rivals”.

Business-Centric

However, because I had the chance to chat with the CEO, I was a bit curious to know a bit about the business side of things. For example, what Plai’s first milestone was.

Plai took it’s first baby steps back in 2016 […] we only had a proof of concept on the business model and that was our first significant milestone.

Adding to that:

Our second milestone was making an MVP (Minimum Variable Product). That milestone was a huge one for Plai because we had to show Plai to the end-user for the first time and of course it went well thanks to Tobias (CTO) and Peter (COO/developer).

Now. I believe everyone who’s ever gambled on a dream has felt the sting of fear. Although I don’t know if Plai was the biggest gamble Frank has made as an entrepreneur, I was quite interested in hearing what his biggest fear was going into this.

[…] my biggest fear was and still is, people not telling us the truth when they are giving us feedback on Plai. Because if we can’t get honest feedback, we can’t develop Plai to be something people would love to use.

With Plai, Frank and I also talked a bit about what propelled Plai forward — or what spark that ignited the flames under the project. Frank mentioned two things in particular, with the first spark being winning the Danish Entrepreneur Championship in 2016. However, with the second spark being the biggest according to Frank.

[…] I would like to think that our first participation at Game Scope back in 2016 has been the biggest spark that ignited a flame. This is no bullsh*t […] this was the place we introduced Plai for the first time to the end user and the feedback we got from those three days was indispensable.

Entrepreneur Tips

But, what does Plai, or moreover, what are the key principles to being an entrepreneur?

(Here’s the list version):

#1 Our fundamental principles are to define your company’s goals clearly, so the team knows the direction the company is going.

#2 […] don’t be afraid to change those goals or direction as long as you communicate them to the team.

#3 […] adapt and persevere according to your customer’s needs. […] it’s better to develop a product people like to use instead of not using it.

#4 Create small milestones […] and don’t forget to celebrate the small success this milestone gives the team.

#5 […] see setbacks as new learnings and not as failures.

#6 […] don’t forget the individual on the journey in a startup, be sincere and honest to yourself and the team.

Plai, a new kind of Steam

Plai is an innovative new PC game platform, aimed at those who value their time and money when it comes to buying PC games.

The system is based on the “rent-to-own” idea and will offer you the possibility to avoid paying for games you rarely play or outright never see again after buying them. With the Plai platform you pay by the hour while playing, until you reach the retail price. At that point the game has been paid off.

The project is ambitious and enters a market with few but strong competitors, such as Steam, GoG and Origin, but the team is positive that industry is ready for a change for the better. Still in development, Plai participated at Game Scope 2016 as exhibitors all four days and got good feedback from our visitors, other exhibitors and the investors. We are now looking forward to welcoming Plai to Game Scope 2017 and prepared an interview with them for Expo visitors and developers.

Find even more information on their Website or Facebook page.

We had  Plai office visit together with PR crew volunteers to have a nice cup of coffee and talk a bit. 

Plai illustration

Tell us about yourself!

Frank: My name is Frank, and I am the CEO at Plai. I mainly play the business role, as I have lots of experience in entrepreneurship. I have been gaming for several years.

Tobias: My name is Tobias, and I have the CTO role in the company, which means I am the tech lead and also the person responsible for product development.

Peter: I am Peter, and my daily routine here is being a software developer. I am maintaining the product with Tobias, crunching code and being awesome.

Why did you decide to start Plai. You said you were frustrated with current situation with games?

Frank: Since I am older than these guys, I used to play totally different games than they do now. I didn’t play games for some years because I spent my time working and raising up my kids. They are a bit older now though, which means I have some spare time to get back to gaming.

For someone like me, there are clear issues with the gaming industry today, and that’s what we’re attempting to fix with Plai. I either had to spend my limited time reading reviews about a game, or take a gamble and buy a game without knowing if it was anything for me.

Tobias: There are so many games now. It can be difficult to navigate the marketplace and discover games that you’ll enjoy, if you don’t put in the time. Being able to spread out your gaming budget and try games for yourself without putting down lots money gives you more flexibility while still supporting all the game developers that provide you entertainment.

Peter: My angle on this is – I am a hardcore gamer. I have lot of games, but I hardly ever play like 90% of them. I don’t play these games, but I paid the full price for them. And it is frustrating, when you go and realize how much money you have thrown out.

What is the difference between Plai and Steam?

Tobias: Steam is a huge entity, and many see it as synonymous with PC gaming, us included. All of us at Plai have Steam accounts, and have had for a long time. Plai is our way of offering an alternative to what Steam does, for people who prefer to consume their games in another way than what the mainstream platforms offer.

Frank: The spirit of Plai is flexibility and simplicity. You can go directly into the shop, find the game you want, start playing it, and only pay for the time you have played. When you have played enough to reach the retail price of the game, you have paid it off. You can then play it freely, as you’re used to with other platforms.

Is it both benefitial to customers and the developers, that people just don’t refund them on instant?

Tobias: Refunds are obviously an essential part of taking care of your customers. We feel, however, that Pay-as-you-Play is a much more sustainable way of doing “try-before-you-buy” than doing full refunds. The game developers will get paid, and you didn’t spend all your money on a game that wasn’t your cup of tea.

When we attended E3 in Los Angeles this year, we had the opportunity to talk to lots of publishers and game developers who were on board with Pay-as-you-Play. They’ll be able to expose their games to a whole new group of gamers who would love to play them, but aren’t willing to buy them at retail price.

We were following your journey to E3. What was your general impression of E3?

Peter: It was huge for us to go to E3. We talked to lots of people, and were amazed at the size and spectacle of the show. Although the “old timers” told us that compared to previous years, this show wasn’t that big. But for us it was.

I can magine the lines to try out the games and products…

Frank: Yes, we would have loved to try some of the games, but we had meetings, so we weren’t prepared to spend 3 hours in the queue to play for 20 minutes. Also, this was the first year when the show was totally open to the public, so the lines were even longer than previous years.

Have you got any interesting deals or insights on E3?

Frank: We went there with no expectations. We had some meetings with publishers, and they were actually pretty excited about Plai. We got some pretty neat deals with some medium to large sized publishers. Nothing is signed yet, but they were all happy to do business with us. We were really surprised at how little effort it took to get the publishers on board.

Have you met some people who are there purely for business, that don’t make games, but just sell them?

Peter: All the people we met at E3 are very passionate about gaming, and that’s what makes this industry so awesome! We didn’t meet anybody that didn’t seem interested in gaming and only interested in doing business.

You were at Game Scope last year, was it to try out the waters?

Peter: We went there with a proof-of-concept version of the platform, so we could ask people for feedback, and gauge the interest level. We got a lot of valuable honest feedback. We learned a lot about who would benefit from using Plai, and how we can make improve their gaming experience.

Are you excited to visit GameScope once again?

Frank: Of course we are excited to go to Game Scope again! It was the first event we ever attended with Plai, and from what I can see, you have expanded the show a lot! We are looking forward to meeting people from the Danish gaming industry.

One of PR Crew volunteers, Pavel, had very good questions to Plai so we decided to include them in this post.

I am one of the guys whose budget is usually somewhere around 0. So imagine I am playing a game, and I defeated a difficult boss, and my credit on Plai reached 0, and my last save was half an hour ago. What happens?

Tobias: You keep going. Right now we are experimenting with different approaches, but at the moment, your credit balance will just go negative, and then you will have to top it up.

Peter: If your credit goes negative, you’ll have to top it up to start the game again once you close it, but we never take control away from the player.

What stops me from having the PC just being on all the time?

Peter: Your balance will keep going negative. As it is now, when you sign up, you pair your account with your credit card, same as if you would pay your phone bill.

How is it pricing model is going to be? Some games take long time to finish, but they aren’t more enjoyable than other – shorter games?

Peter: For now, it is up to the publishers and developers to decide what the hourly rate for each game should be, but the more information we get about how people use the system, the better guidelines we can set, and help developers decide an optimal price point.

So for now you are letting the free market to decide?

Tobias: For now – yes. We want game prices that are good for both consumers and the publishers alike.

Thank you for your answers! Be sure to check out Plai booth at Game Scope 2017!

Photos made by Ervins Trans

Intro text and questions prepared for interview by Gergana Dimitrova

Interviewer Valerija Trane

Illustration by Slavomir Baca