they handle the server and credit card services, which is a cost you don't bear
So, they will give you servers and bandwidth for free and maybe eventually recoup it? They will do this for every inbound indie and hobbyiest team? That's a huge gamble on their part. I guess the worry should be not how much profit they gouge then, but rather how many months till they fold, or how much they oversubscribe games on their servers so as to not lose too much money.
Now, assuming you are the 1-in-100 that would make it, I've always said that hardware is the least complicated part of an MMO (assuming a scalable architecture). Virtual servers can be had cheaply with 30-day outs. CC processing can be had transactional at the outset; no charges, no bill. You pay a high per-transaction % but you can move it down as you gain customers.
And, once you get past the "my friends play it" stage, it's the operations/HR that's the killer.
Also, for someone with zero dollars to buy an engine, they'd have zero.
Well, if you want to play a specific game, sometimes you don't have a choice but to ante up. Else, there's the "Go Fish!" table with no pot to play into. @gillvane
Using your math, 10% seems a lot better than zero percent.
Actually, that's your math. My math, like any business deal I'm in, involves weighing what I get for the 30% they will take.
Also, this is your chance to make an MMORPG with relatively little risk.
There's little risk in sweat equity and a 30-day-out virtual server lease. And, from what I have seen, all current MMO platforms have big, if different, issues. None of them are a slam dunk.
BTW, and in similar vein, most investors usually come in at below 30% equity share for first-round investing.