The Soapbox: Can MMOs eradicate pay-to-win?

You know what sucks about getting old? Apart from the adult diapers and the dying? Yeah, it’s the seeing things you love retconned into things that you don’t love. That’s basically the opposite of fun, and so it goes here lately with me and MMORPGs.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m still playing them in the hope that they’ll dial back the casino stylings in favor of fun gameplay and ambitious feature sets.

But really, why would any for-profit development studio do that when a generation of gamers thinks that gamble boxes, cash shops, triple-dipping business models, and pay-to-win are not only acceptable but preferable?

tunnelsArcheAge is, of course, one of the genre’s most notorious pay-to-win games. It’s not relative or debatable, either, since XLGAMES and Trion are literally making money from whales who think that spending thousands of dollars acquiring top-grade armor and weapons via the game’s RNG-powered equipment treadmill is a good idea. Unfortunately for me, ArcheAge is also one of the MMORPG genre’s most feature-rich games, which means that every few weeks, I think about returning to it even though I know that all such attempts will end badly.

Distressingly, some (most?) of ArcheAge’s population is OK with its pay-to-win nature! How do I know? Well, the game still has players, for one thing. For another — and admittedly it’s anecdotal evidence — but a quick perusal of the ArcheAge forums invariably turns up posts by thirtysomething I’m-too-busy-to-play types admonishing their anti-P2W counterparts for daring to suggest that games should be played through instead of paid through.

From my perspective, paying for your gear or any sort of character advancement is an extremely short-sighted way of approaching MMORPGs. But I’m seeing it accepted more and more often in games, on forums, and in the blogosphere, and it boggles my mind to see just how many people are falling in line.

You can’t lay the albatross of P2W fully at the feet of players, though. The monetization-before-gameplay culture currently infecting the MMORPG space started with developers.

convoLook, I’m going to say this as delicately as I can: Most game developers are not your friends. I don’t care how personable they are on Twitter, how many drinks they had with you at that PAX open bar, or how much they purportedly value your forum feedback. You are a number to most of them (or if you’re a journo, they think you’re an unpaid extension of their PR department). And you’re a potential exploding piggy bank to the ones who have sold their souls in the midst of the ongoing monetization revolution.

Few if any of them will tell you the truth unless it benefits their bottom line in some fashion, and it certainly doesn’t benefit a developer to admit that his game is principally designed to drive its users to the item mall. But don’t take my word on developer duplicity. Take a look at what a former Turbine staffer had to say about his experience working on F2P pioneer Lord of the Rings Online.

“There’s a very strong culture of secrecy there that becomes ingrained, especially amongst the rank and file […] This same culture extends to marketing and community relations: never tell the truth, never admit a mistake, silence criticism, contort the facts even if it means blatantly insulting the intelligence of your customers.

The take-it-as-you-can-get-it nature of the industry means that frequently people aren’t necessarily working on the games they would ideally want to. If I were to say a fair number of LoTRO devs and QA would have preferred to have been working on something else, this wouldn’t be some attempt to malign them. It would be a simple statement of fact. Generally you take the work where you can find it, finish the title, and then move on.”

In other words, gamemaking is just a job to a lot of these guys. Some of them may be genuinely passionate about it, but it’s becoming harder to tell given the incessant focus on business model innovation and metrics. Some of us have been saying as much since the start of the whole F2P thing, which inarguably incentivizes publishers to prioritize monetization design over gameplay design. I mean, “convenience” items? Really? What could be more inconvenient than paying extra to sidestep mindless grindbot mechanics that shouldn’t be there in the first place? But we’ve been drowned out by the contingent of MMO players and MMO bloggers who love free shitaki mushrooms and who believe that all progress is forward progress.

ladderWhile the MMO industry’s move toward pay-to-win saddens me, I can at least understand the motivations behind it. For developers who make less on average in the game industry than their skills command elsewhere, it’s about putting food on the table.

And gamers are OK with P2W in large part because they’re getting older and they’ve outgrown gaming. They have mortgages, multiple jobs, kids, and a dozen other excuses for circumventing game mechanics with real money.

It’s no longer about the fun or the escapism of gaming; it’s about capturing a bite-sized piece of those bygone days when they had time to play, and of course it’s also about satisfying those psychological skinner box urges that MMOs so expertly and insidiously trigger. The need for that next level ding or that next piece of gear supercedes the need for a balanced, immersive virtual world where acquiring those things take time, effort, and cooperation, and this leads directly to the acceptance of P2W.

A while back, MOP reader CazCore posted one of the most insightful comments in Massively’s long history. I’m going to reproduce it in part here both because truer words have never been written about the MMO genre and because it helps explain why pay-to-win is becoming the rule rather than the exception.

“A fun game is its own reward. Having fun is sticky for healthy individuals. The problem MMOs have is that they have lots of unhealthy addicts who don’t play for fun. They get satisfaction from their virtual work ethic, and doing virtual chores, and amassing virtual collections, because it’s so much easier to do than real life chores/work and amassing real life valuables.

Just stop taking advantage of unhealthy people. That’s all MMOs need to do. Quit targeting that audience and contributing to their problems. What those people need is real progression in their real lives to be proud of. Not some easily quantifiable dings and number increases and virtual item collecting, which gives them a hollow sense of reward for wasting their life away doing mindless busywork.”

When you combine this joyless, exploitative design ethos with an aging playerbase that has more disposable income and less time to engage, you get an environment that’s ripe for pay-to-win. When dinging is the only goal, and when players have demonstrated an obsessive willingness to slog through months or years of repetitive grinding in order to get that ding, of course devs are going to monetize it and in effect sell virtual bridges over the virtual river of crap that they designed in the first place!

So what’s to be done about all this? Nothing much, I suspect. The first step in correcting a problem is admitting that you have one. And MMO players, by and large, are firmly in denial about the long-term benefits and drawbacks of both pay-to-win and F2P. Hell, most people can’t even agree on the definition of the former, so good luck building any sort of consensus for eradicating it.

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247 Comments on "The Soapbox: Can MMOs eradicate pay-to-win?"

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Basvalo
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Basvalo

Minitroopers is a small but great mmorpg.Completely free and still not p2w.
http://army-of-chocolat.minitroopers.com

MinionDave
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MinionDave

We are in the age of greedy company’s like Trion AA they will scam people anyway they can in the name of profits while totally running a game into the ground , a great game that could be so much more if handled correctly .
While ever people roll over and let the Trion’s of this world get away with it , the ” I’m allright jack ” attitude we will be stuck with shallow pointless games like we get now .
Another pet hate of mine is Paid for opinion but that’s for another day .

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

LindaCarlson “Players are just numbers? This is just a job to us?”
Its how I felt.  Its why I left AA.  /shrug

LindaCarlson
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LindaCarlson

Not your friends? Players are just numbers? This is just a job to us?

Seriously, Jeff. I expected better from ya. We ARE players. We’re in the gaming industry (as opposed to ones that pay better) because making games is our passion, not just a job.  In our spare time, we PLAY and experience the same challenges, annoyances and joys that everyone else does.

This time, I am answering the thread as a veteran PLAYER with the scars to prove it across dozens of MMOGs.

There is a perfect solution to counter the new model. It’s called a subscription, or perhaps we should call that “pay to have fun.” 
Back in the day of subscription games, I could afford to play one, maybe two games at a time. Now, with the advent of F2P, I keep more than six installed at a time and have a blast in a different game every night, spending money only when they have something that I really fancy, instead of on a set date every month.

There are a number of games where money CAN earn an advantage.

For the most part, this is through convenience (time) vs. money, and it follows this logic: years ago, when we were young, we had plenty of time, but no money; now that we’re older and fully employed we have more money, but hardly any time.  Time is money, as the sages tell us, and so we trade off, each according to our own preference and budget.
Some power gamers will use convenience items to help them get to end game faster. Some players never touch an xp buff, health potion, res scroll or crafting enhancement (which I call pay-to-win-fasta!). Most people are somewhere in between.
I remember a game not so long ago that offered the first ever mount with a speed boost faster than other mounts in game. Screams of pay to win were subsumed under the rational lot that decided it just wasn’t a big deal.
Now, I get that “pay to win” is usually tied to the ability to spend more than other people. Visa warriors is one of the terms bandied about. I’m not one of those, but I could care less if someone else wants to buy fifty (or five hundred) lock-boxes in hopes of getting something awesome that I can’t get in the regular game or marketplace. I also don’t care if this means they get some valuable armor.  All other things being equal, “winning,” especially in PvP, is still predicated on skill more than anything else… well, skill and a robust computer system partnered with excellent internet connection. 

Hmmmm.

Wait a minute… does this mean that people who can afford the awesome PC rigs and Fiber-Optic cable connections are paying to win over me? YES, ’cause I can tell you they have a HUGE advantage over my laggy arsed, hand-me-down PC and my feeble wireless connection from some vague pole across the valley.  Someone ten levels below me can kick me around the curb when I’m having a particularly laggy evening.
So save me the pay to win argument. The entire world is pay to win, or at least it was, the last time I looked.  Maybe one day no one will ever have to pay for anything. I look forward to that altruistic state of being, but it ain’t coming any time soon.

And you’re right. Most people are like me and don’t really care if someone else buys stuff. There are a hundred play-styles out there.
I do spend money in games because I want the developers to keep them going. 

Finally, if I don’t like what a game company has done with a game, or if it stops being fun… I. Stop. Playing.
That’s pretty solid feedback to the company, even if I never post to a forum or social media site.

Now get offa me lawn.
;-)#

Ehra
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Ehra

Bonnenuit Ehra Mark Jacobs 
I just wanted to clarify that I wasn’t saying that buying new content is the same as buying access to a merchant. I was attempting to help make it clearer what I meant by expansions typically enabling “pay for access to power.” People tend to overlook this fact because you have to put some amount of ingame effort into acquiring that power, which is where the merchant example comes in. You’re paying money for access to potential power (the merchant), but you still have to put ingame effort into actually acquiring it.

The way to separate the purchasing of new content from the purchasing of power would be to release your paid content expansion, and add in systems to gain that power in a free update that doesn’t actually require doing the paid content. But then this doesn’t add as much incentive for players to buy the new content, and it requires a lot of thought put into how players acquire gear in your game and how progression is even handled. So I understand why it rarely or never happens.

Thanks for the reply.

Bonnenuit
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Bonnenuit

Ehra Mark Jacobs You bring up some great points here, but I think comparing new content (with a higher level cap) with a merchant, both behind pay walls, is… well, not a strong argument, to put it lightly.

While I completely disagree that an expansion, with new PvE content, higher level cap, etc., should be considered P2W, I fully admit you have a valid argument there. Comparing that to putting the same things behind a merchant, though, weakens your argument. At least with the expansion, money was spent on development and new content. (I’m with you, however, that often it’s a matter of a VERY short period of time to hit cap, at which point all that content is through.) 

There are people out there who take their time and relish that content, though. The same will never be said of a merchant behind a paywall.

That aside, I no longer play WoW, or any of the games that followed, (as always, for other old-timers, through in EQ in place of WoW if desired) because I’m sick of the heavily vertical progression. I’m looking forward, like you, to CU, which at least claims to be trying to avoid that.

Multiboxing is another great example of what could be considered P2W.

Overall, then, I have to say that while I disagree with some of your conclusions, and certainly with the comparison of new content to a paid merchant —
you bring up a LOT of great points. Hopefully some devs take notice, and start trying to figure out some solutions.

Great post, @Ehra

BrianSleider
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BrianSleider

Estranged BrianSleider Knuxson NebHatesYou I use the mythic carries as an example, because I hear people say buying BoEs of the AH isnt ptw cause a bad player will still never see current mythic. 

Well thats just not true a new player with the tokens could proly buy a blackhand kill week one.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

Nreff “h t t p://www.gdcvault.com/play/1016417/-100-000-Whales-An”
Wow.  Just, wow.  The majority of the video is informative.
For those who do not want to watch the whole thing, just start at 21:55, and go for a minute or two.

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

Mark Jacobs RagnarTheDrunk “We are among the minority of MMORPG teams using Nvidia’s PhysX system on
the server and not the client which makes it a lot harder (you never
want to say impossible) to cheat.”
Its too bad you can’t use all the freely available CPU power on the clients for that.  Your poor servers must cry under the physics calculations load (or not??).
Remember reading some of Raph’s comments in his blog series about SWG and how a planned feature got affected by the servers not being able to be powerful enough to support it (think it was z-axis related?).
“I’ll be hanging around here if you have any other questions.”
Thank you for sharing!  :)

Cosmic Cleric
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Cosmic Cleric

EatCandy Estranged The problem is that P2W isn’t just “a certain aspect of the game”, it alters the gameplay in fundamental ways.
Why would anyone play a game where your opponent has an advantage over you that you yourself cannot have (because you make less real-world money than they do).

Rhime
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Rhime

Mark Jacobs Nice to be able to discuss with you personally Mark! As a big fan of DAoC way back in it’s heyday, my wife and I (and a few friends) await the day when CU arrives. Hopefully we can recapture some of the excitement and awesomeness from that great game!

fangGWJ
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fangGWJ

Dystopiq Much like pvp and sandbox…
/snark off

Calren
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Calren

I think before we start in trying to decide what is and isn’t Pay-to-Win we can thin the field with another term: Pay-to-have-Fun.

Calren
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Calren

Nreff I actually remember watching that video when it came out online. I was playing Crystal Saga with a few people at the time and after that we instantly quit. It’s actually what broke me from playing not only most browser games but lots of F2P titles as well.

playerxx
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playerxx

For F2P games it’s hard. When you don’t have the box sales and sub behind your back, it’s hard to find ways to not give P2W to players, to convince them to buy.

There are too few F2P games that managed to not go in the P2W zone ( like PoE).

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Craywulf SallyBowls1 I thought the market research was that mobile and social are currently combined bigger than PC games. IIRC we recently had the year where mobile games exceeded console game revenue.   But certainly M&S are in their infancy and in 10-15 years are forecast to be much larger than PC.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

PurpleCopper  IMO the critics are the older.  I.e. the typical person graduating college/uni may have downloaded 500 f2p games on their mobile devices.  They have seen good and horrific f2p games.  But they won’t see f2p as the heretical abomination that the antediluvian writers here do.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Leilonii Celestial *some* people are attracted. I just prefer any monetization over sub due to the feeling I am wasting money if I am not playing the game I am subbed to.  A sub that sells a lifetime subscription (e.g. STO, CU) is also fine. But I expect to pay $?00 per year for any MMO I really like, regardless of how it is monetized.

Budukahn
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Budukahn

Nreff Sounds like an indication of a large problem then.  In Britain, the law is I believe that the gambling shops can only have something like four or six machines in a single premises.  But because they’re so profitable about gambling addicts, it’s not uncommon, especially in more deprived areas where it is cheap, for a single company to have two, three or more branches in single town just to get around the limits.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Amphax Except B2P 2015 is not the same as a decade or so ago.  The difference between b2p and f2p is $60. Both have the moral hazard of how much and how powerful do you put in the cash shop.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

ultrviolet My experience on forums is p2w is really a codeword for “I don’t like this game” 

P2W is a real issue. but the difference between “just a timesaver” / “can also earn in game” / “but a player had to produce it” and p2w is whether you like the game.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

EatCandy I assume any with the poor taste to still be in business.

Aglethe
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Aglethe

Ehra Mark Jacobs
Well, I’m standing here putting the dogs out earlier than I’d like (not starting Splatoon until after midnight probably wasn’t the best idea in retrospect…) and reading this, that’s at least one person. I’ve always looked at the thoughtful walls of text as one of massively’s better features (the not so thoughtful walls of text… less so ;) ) so keep at it I’d say, it’s interesting reading.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Estranged Ehra Mark Jacobs 
For WoW it’s why play a single character when you can have play an entire Arena team. /sarcasm off
(I sometimes wonder if the dirty secret of gaming, is it’s only cheating if it does not financially benefit the gaming company hosting the game.)

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

ultrviolet 
” Pay-to-win is one of those emotionally charged, vague terms (like climate change or gun control) that covers a lot of ground and a lot of gray area.”
…maybe for those with their heads in the ground.

ultrviolet
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ultrviolet

I know this is a soapbox, but you can’t have any kind of rational discussion about whether pay-to-win is good or bad without first defining what pay-to-win means, and this article doesn’t do that. Pay-to-win is one of those emotionally charged, vague terms (like climate change or gun control) that covers a lot of ground and a lot of gray area.

groo the wanderer
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groo the wanderer

I think I would actually have subscribed long term to Archeage if its pay to win element hadn’t been so awful . It has real potential and it does everything I want in an mmo apart from that . If it had a subscription only server I would play it again in a heartbeat . 

I actually don’t mind elements of pay to win but with AA most people I know who subscribed found they also needed to spend extra money on top of that in the cash shop to get anywhere in a timely fashion . 

Its also more acceptable in a pve biased game such as Rift where you will see little or no world pvp . I know people dislike Trion these days but AA and Rift are night and day when it comes to how bad the pay to win element is .

Flamethekid
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Flamethekid

EatCandy GeekySharp your like golden girl p2w version instead of golden girl casual lite version

both are just as thickheaded

Ehra
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Ehra

It’s always been interesting to me how some forms of pay to win seem to get a pass for seemingly no good reason. As I mentioned in my previous post, paid expansions which include a level cap increase are, to me, a pretty clear form of character power/progression being dolled out for money. Anyone who’s into a MMO for PvP will have their ability to participate competitively in that content held hostage to their willingness to buy the new expansion. But because you have to go through 5 hours of easy mode PvE content to actually reach the level cap and get back to your PvPing, it’s suddenly ok or not even considered a form of paying for power.

And I couldn’t help but notice the posts from Mark Jacobs, and I’m wondering how he in particular feels about this tangent of mine since I feel it applies perfectly well to Dark Age of Camelot (I’m saying this as someone who’s already a CU back and will likely be upgrading to a lifetime account add-on within the near future). Buffbot use was rampant in DAoC and Mythic never even attempted to do anything about it until years and years after it mattered. You had players paying for a second account and running it in the background for the sole purpose of having a full set of player buffs on at all times, wouldn’t this be a form of pay to win? What about the artifacts and ML abilities offered in ToA? It quickly became the case that you NEEDED this stuff to be a competitive contributor to RvR as they all provided incredibly massive increases to player power. Sure you had to participate in PvE content to acquire it, yet that PvE content happened to behind an additional purchase beyond the game itself and the subscription. 
Obviously the deveopment of new content costs money so you need to charge for it, but that doesn’t change the fact that the paid content is providing powerful rewards that are 100% unavailable players who do not spend the addition money but still wish to participate in PvP/RvR. You may not be paying for the power outright, but you’re still paying or access to that power. 
Just as a thought experiment, theoretically a developer could have a cheap cash shop option that gives you access to a merchant, and the merchant sells incredibly powerful gear in exchange for some form of currency earned through ingame means. The player still has to “earn” the gear by playing the game, and earning the currency may even be as difficult as expected for the power of the gear. But you can’t actually access the merchant unless they spend aditional money. Is this P2W or not? I get the feeling most people who are  against the idea of P2W would say this is but then why do expansions get a pass for doing essentially the same thing, only they’re bundling new PvE content in with it all? Why not release the content separately and introduce the power in a way that doesn’t require people to spend additional money? I feel the answer is pretty clearly that it’s because the developers want to use that power as an incentive to get people to buy and participate in the shiny new content they made, yet this isn’t viewed as cynically as any other form of potential P2W is.

At what point does the exchange of money for power stop being “P2W” and instead become an acceptable form of paid content? Also, at what point am I spending way too many words on something that no one’s going to read? This is a comment section, not a blog post.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Leilonii SallyBowls1 Exactly my point. Lots of complaints and indictments of f2p here when f2p is not the problem. changing the existing aa to sub would seem to address few/none of the issues.

Leilonii
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Leilonii

SallyBowls1 You’d need to do far more than merely make it a sub game. The entire game is built around making things hard to do or inconvenient in some way in order to promote purchasing cash shop items. You’d have to revamp a number of things in order to make it a true P2P.

montorrio
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montorrio

I feel like this game is more pay-to-shortcut than anything… I’ve been playing it since it started a d have pretty damn good gear. Still working on things, things that I probably could get if I threw a lot of money at the game, but that’s also part of the fun (at least for me).

Ehra
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Ehra

Detton Ehra 
 The game that’s releasing this year is Magic Duels: Origins. It’s based off of their current Duels of the Planeswalkers series, except now it’ll be F2P. As far as I understand, they will also be releasing all future cards and expansions under this client rather than their previous model of releasing a new client/game every year.

https://company.wizards.com/content/wizards-announces-magic-duels-origins

Aglethe
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Aglethe

RagnarTheDrunk Ehra
I haven’t played in years, so I don’t know how much of this is still the case, but there’s a variety of formats of both sealed deck (brand new packs opened for just that event) and open deck (bring your own premade deck) competitions. A lot of the local tournaments at the flgs (friendly local game store) level seem to be of the open deck variety. So there is a fair ammount of competition that could be said to have a pay to win element, if you want to look at it that way.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

SallyBowls1 You’re absolutely right that the mobile and social network games are heavily monetized, however I would categorize them as very different beast compared to traditional PC and console gaming. Mobile and social gaming are still in it’s infancy and another 10-15 years I think it will have a radically different approach in monetization. Mobile and social games were born straight from shareware, wherein PC and consoles started from the opposite direction. Both are heading in the same direction now.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Craywulf Diskonekted Huh “MMOs dominate the pay-to-win market. “???  I think mobile, facebook, browser and social games are very adept at monetization.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Regarding Jef and commenters being overly fixated on F2P.   What if tomorrow AA was unchanged except a sub was required??? Boom – it is no longer one of those evil f2p games. Would it have that big of an effect?  I thought there were reasons why most people who are serious about the game subscribe. In particular, would changing the nominal business model from f2p to mandatory sub change any of the p2w concerns, many of which are even legitimate?

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Xerandus SallyBowls1 This is a common argument and why I used the skills example.  If I spend RL$ to buy a couple of trading alts with max trading skills and the right reputation, then they are unlikely to ever undock.  In no conceivable situation, would I ever lose the skills I paid for.  Nearly the same for a max manufacturing or R&D pilot.  Spending some $ to buy a top L4 mission runner to fund your pvp is probably essentially permanent.

Yeah if the ePeen kid buys a bling ship, then karma is likely to be quite swift.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Fenryr But here it is not account selling. It is perfectly legal, sanctioned by CCP. Once you sell a pilot, you can start up another on the same account.

Daex
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Daex

Well, for me it’s super simple. Stay the heck away from any fake F2P solution. In principle I REALLY dislike any form of cash shop and I would prefer if we played for rewards as opposed to buying (disclaimer: I am not suggesting the games to be completely free that would be insane.. just prefer the fixed game cost). Not even to mention the boxes/lottery thing that’s just living the dream of the big bad company. I guess I tolerate and play games with Dota 2/Path of Exile style which is truly 100% cosmetic and support those in today’s times.
Now on the part of games where you ACTUALLY have benefits from buying I just don’t get it with the no-time-must-buy thing. Back in the early vanilla wow I was super casual and there were those big guilds raiding and their people with cool gear (also the grand marshals) and I never felt, how to call it, bad form of jealousy there? It’s like, sure, this guy has more time to play and is more proficient with the game so he has better stuff – no problem there. So yea, definitely unhealthy and games do feed that desire to compensate or whatever it is. But I also feel what developers are doing is just a reflection in the mirror of the players. I mean just look at the wow selling gold now – they just took over the market, as demand was already there for years. There is absolutely nothing to blame the developer for in this case. I’m trying to say that developers can’t and won’t force us into “better” business model, we have to do this ourselves. So if you want change, support games that do it right, and let the other type RIP. Or maybe rest in hands of those 10 people who spend thousands and cover all the costs anyway.

Ethan "Isarii" Macfie
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Ethan "Isarii" Macfie

DPandaren Except for the massive statistical benefit, whereas a Legendary is just a cosmetic version of a normal item in Guild Wars 2. One of the neater things about Guild Wars 2’s flat progression is that they can really do whatever the hell they want without even touching pay-to-win.

Amphax
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Amphax

Whatever happened to B2P? We’ve see-sawed straight from one extreme (Pay even when you aren’t playing) straight to the other (Pay or else you won’t have fun playing).

KryptonianGL
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KryptonianGL

Kudos, Jef! Perhaps the finest and most eloquently written articles I’ve read on Massively / MOP.

However, I’m not sure if you or any of the readers are seeing the big picture. This is not an MMO related issue, or even a gamer related one. This is a ‘welcome to the world we now live in’ scale problem you’ve described.
I see it more and more each and every day! Companies are becoming greedy, money grubbing, gold-diggers, more concerned with how they can scheme people out of their money rather than earn their patronage; while the consumers don’t seem to give a shit and like mindless zombies, will continue to throw good money after bad.
This problem you so eloquently wrote about isn’t simply a game or MMO genre related issue, it’s a societal one.

sray155
Guest
sray155

It’s like you’re reading my mind…
NOOOOOO!!! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!!

Arktouros
Guest
Arktouros

Really depends how broadly you view the term Pay 2 Win.  At one point people were applying the term to cosmetic items because it allowed you to “win” over players visually.  These kinds of absurd rationalizations undermine legitimate complaints against systems and in turn create a kind of “crying wolf” scenario where a lot of people have simply become numb to the complaints against Pay 2 Win in general.  Game has a cash shop?  It’s guaranteed to have someone complaining about it and at this point I think most people have simply gotten used to the noise.
That said I’ve always seen paying money a reward for the game developers.  Games like GW2 that consistently please me I give them lots of money.  Games that displease me like Planetside 2, as much as it’s tempting to buy a new helmet here or there, I simply no longer will keep giving them my money.  If the game isn’t designed to be fun or has obnoxious and unbypassable pay walls then I simply move on to the literally endless number of alternatives out in the market these days.

PurpleCopper
Guest
PurpleCopper

If thirtysomethings are admonishing the critics.

Then who are criticizing Pay-to-Win games? 

Tensomethings? Twentysomethings?

Celestia
Guest
Celestia

F2P is the new WoW.  Every design house has to make their game(s) F2P or a large number of players will not touch them. Goodbye WoW Clones and hello F2P Clones.

Diskonekted
Guest
Diskonekted

Leilonii Diskonekted Please provide evidence from a psychologist that people who enjoy….getting satisfaction from their virtual work ethic, and doing virtual chores, and amassing virtual collections are unhealthy people.  Basically what you said has zero bearing on what I commented.

sray155
Guest
sray155

And if you go by the fact that the $15 sub model has been around since the launch of EQ, you’d actually be paying a $22 monthly sub (which would probably be rounded up to $25).
This is to say nothing of the fact that the cost of developing MMORPGs has skyrocketed. Gordon Walton recently revealed that SWG cost 18 million in 2003; Vivendi publicly disclosed the development cost of WoW (2004) to be 63 million. One year apart, one cost more than 3 times of the other. The fact that the average development cost of an MMORPG today is 80 million is directly attributable to Blizzard’s outrageous spending.
Not supporting any particular argument here, just more of my “too much money being spent on too little innovation” mantra.
10% of players in f2p games account for 90% of the revenue.Coincidentally, if 10% of LoL’s daily login population (27 million daily, so 2.7 million) were to spend $25 per month on the game, that would account for roughly 90% of the billion dollar of annual revenue generated by the game. Kind of blows the whole “it’s just a few thousand guys spending thousands per month” myth out of the water.
Random facts are fun.
Please resume useful conversation.

Leilonii
Guest
Leilonii

Really good article Jef. One thing that it gets me thinking about is the reason why I began playing MMORPG’s to begin with back in 2007. I liked that the games never ended because you couldn’t really beat the game. The fun never ended. Up until then I had played a lot of single player games ever since I was a kid. While those were enjoyable, they always had an ending. Replayability was minimal at best. The idea of a game that I could enjoy for a very long period of time seemed amazing to me. That I could really get into my character and develop it in all sorts of ways, never having to put it down, being able to experience a game larger than the limited world the single player games had created. Players need to get back into that mindset. Instead of trying to “win” via achieving temporary incremental goals, we should just enjoy the permanence and persistence of the games we’re playing. Stop trying to pay your way to a victory that, once achieved, only means you’ll get bored sooner. Enjoy the journey instead like these games were originally intended – and stop trying to keep up with the Joneses.

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