Massively Overthinking: Consumer protections in the MMORPG industry

Veteran Massively OP reader Miol says he’s exhausted by a recent string of stories in which MMO companies screw gamers over, one after another: ARK Survival Evolved, Albion Online, Skyforge, and now Black Desert all figure into his list, just from the last week.

“I want to ask what more can gamers do to protect themselves and everyone else as consumers than speak up? It feels exhausting to always stay vigilant and feel upset all the time, since games, as an everchanging medium, give devs so many opportunities to screw us over with every single patch or update. And the worst immediate consequence seems many times a meek apology for what they’ve done, only for them to try out something different that maybe could go over unnoticed.

“You guys have reported about this UK watchdog group ASA, who investigated No Man’s Sky, but even they dismissed the tons of complaints about false advertising. Steam did declare some changes to advertising on their platform, but I still don’t see them taken place. If even those big negative stories don’t have that much of an impact, what hope is there for all the smaller communities, spread thin globally? There was a recent wave of gamers imploring each other to not pre-order, but that ebbed away fast enough, when the next shiny pre-order advantages over other players were presented. But even so, this still can’t protect you from what may happen after the launch!

“As said by Bree many times: Merely quitting won’t help either, as the studio will never know why most of the times. But also sending feedback for nine whole days didn’t help Skyforge players to make its devs to scramble! So what else could we do? Or should we just take rotating shifts to call them out?”

We’ll take the first shift right here in Overthinking.

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Be vocal. I know Twitter and Reddit and Discord are a good start if you can’t do it on official forums, but being vocal on fansites and media sites like this one help too. It may suck to hear, but despite social media’s ability to make it easier for the common fan to approach devs, studios can be downright afraid to engage fans. Standalone communities are taken more seriously because they’ve got history and connections that (usually) show they’re critical and can voice fan opinions and thoughts in “safe” ways PR and community can engage with.

This is also why it’s important to organize. I know a lot of us have full-time jobs, families, schools, sometimes all of that on top of a time-intensive hobby. The thing is, if you don’t take a break from that hobby to make an imprint on the community, you’re going to keep getting stepped on. I think this is one of the reasons TV and movies have more active fanbases that anecdotally seem to get more recognition than gamers. Family Guy, Futurama, and Firefly have all gotten resurrections (or movies) because of fans, but I can’t think of a lot of fan art, essays, or social groups (aside from Firefly) that really stood out in helping those make a comeback. It was largely fans already in industry figuring out (rather simple) ways to show that the program could be profitable.

Look to Mass Effect or Earthbound/Mother 2. The former had a certain title with an ending that disappointed fans. While I don’t agree with what happened, the amount of noise across social media and press sites pressured BioWare into making things right. EB/M2 was similar, but it took much longer, originating with fansites that people who became press would remember and support. I know because I’m one of those people. Starmen.net did more than provide forums and petitions, but displayed fan art, questions, concerns; it centralized the fanbase. Going for international appeal certainly helped as well!

It may take years, even more than a decade, but throwing your voice into the ring really does help, especially when you rally around something larger than yourself. I know it may seem like a lot for “just a game,” but our genre isn’t as old as other consumer products and still has more of a negative stigma. It’s improving, but we can do better. Especially due to the interactive nature of games, we need developers and their PR to fear mistreating us, especially considering how abusive certain practices (like Early Access) have proven to be.

Brendan Drain (@nyphur): I know it’s becoming a tired refrain at this point, but people really need to stop buying so heavily into the hype for games before release. It’s perfectly fine to be excited about an upcoming game and to want to find out more information about it, but keep your enthusiasm grounded in fact and don’t let it become a commodity the developers and publishers can exploit. Don’t let pre-order incentives and artificial digital scarcity sway your purchase decision, don’t pre-order a game unless you want to financially support the developers, and always treat crowdfunding as a donation to a studio that needs help rather than a glorified pre-order system. As long as people keep throwing their money at the screen in response to dodgy business practices, they’ll continue to happen.

On the industry side of the issue, it also seems that studios are having a harder time managing gamers’ expectations lately. When there are gaps in the information on an upcoming game people are excited about, fans sometimes fill those gaps with speculation and hopes that may not be what the devs are planning and may not even be feasible. That kind of runaway hype is an even bigger problem when a game has pre-orders or uses crowdfunding, introducing a financial conflict of interest for the studio if they choose to correct excited fans and bring their expectations crashing back to reality. I think that was part of the problem with No Man’s Sky, as Sean Murray had to be evasive in interviews on issues such as multiplayer or risk losing people’s interest and money.

The fact that MMOs and other online games can change considerably after release is just something I think we have to accept as the norm for this type of game. The gameplay you enjoy now could be completely different in six month’s time and the items you have could be nerfed into the ground with any patch, there’s not really anything you can do about that other than quitting when the game is no longer fun for you and filling in an exit survey. You can reach out to the gaming media with the story of a major developer mis-step and hope that puts pressure on the studio, but the studio will usually only care if it begins to affect its bottom line (as happened with EVE Online’s Monoclegate scandal back in 2011).

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Literally no industry comes by consumer protection the easy way. If it seems easy, it’s because somebody else — many somebodies — worked very hard to raise awareness and pass laws. Be those somebodies.

1) Just quitting is fine if you need out for your sanity and your fortune. Walk away from bad games, put your wallet away, and don’t buy new bad games just because you need a game. You can’t save the world all by yourself, but you can save yourself, and it does help.

2) Complain and boycott, loudly and vocally, across any platform where you can be heard. Don’t just tweet. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a speaker, make videos. If you’re an artist, circulate your posters. Aim for Reddit and the press. That’s so much better than just quitting and far harder for studios to brush aside.

3) But don’t be an assclown. Be civilized, clear, concise, and logical. You’re trying to be heard, not trying to get yourself ignored by those who need to hear you. This means not being abusive trolls, including toward studios and press and fanboys. (It also means no giant pastebins and conspiracy theory gifs. As somebody who routinely gets those in her inbox, I can tell you straight up that they do not convince anyone.)

4) Report genuinely bad business practices to the government bureaus and watchdog groups that care. We lose most of those battles, it’s true, but not all of them, and a loss still raises awareness when the media covers it.

5) But avoid the trap of unintentionally becoming a well-meaning dupe of somebody with a vendetta against a game who does what he does out of self-interest and revenge, not a genuine interest in consumer protection.

6) You wouldn’t preorder a car or a house sight-unseen or donate hundreds of dollars in the hopes of getting a vacation in five years. Don’t do it for video games either. And for skies’ sake, stop giving money to dodgy crowdfunds. Oh no, you might have to pay an extra $15 five years from now if this thing launches. Big whoop. Don’t enable games that don’t even sound clean from the start. If you really believe in letting the market work things out when it comes to the future of our genre, stand back and do it – don’t make things worse by paying for wild ideas that haven’t worked in 20 years and probably never will.

7) And while we’re at it: If you just have to play a thing that has lockboxes, fine, I get it, you want to show support for an MMO. But don’t buy the damn lockboxes. DO NOT BUY LOCKBOXES. Buy anything else to support the game, but don’t encourage predatory business model design.

8) Finally, and this is the most important thing: Support the games, developers, and yes, journalists that do it right. Show up. Be there. Put your money in solid developers, solid games, solid business models, people who start small and stay honest and ethical. Advocate for them. Fight for them. Pay for them. Light the way. The things we don’t pay for eventually die. For caring to matter, it requires action, not philosophy.

People don’t want to hear it, but a lot of the responsibility for consumer protection has to come from consumers themselves, from all of us. We can’t wait around for somebody else to save us. Yes, ideally we need somebody watching the watchers in an otherwise self-regulated industry, and yes, the press can help, but in the meantime: Protect yourself, warn other people, and help us lift your voices.

Eliot Lefebvre (@Eliot_Lefebvre, blog): This is a complex issue, and it’s made more complex by the fact that gaming culture as a whole has a ridiculous amount of entitlement and unsustainable expectations that interact badly with actually identifying when people are getting screwed. Even cases like No Man’s Sky are the sort of thing you can argue back and forth, which is why the watchdog group looked at things and ultimately decided that it wasn’t misleading enough to really push it any further. The biggest problem No Man’s Sky had was less that it sold players on one thing and provided another; it was that it sold players on an idea that wasn’t actually thought through by players who were excited to play it, only to realize belatedly what that really meant.

At the same time, I’m reluctant to agree that boycotting doesn’t work. Sure, a designer has said that you shouldn’t boycott a game because the designers won’t know, but that’s a function of you just quitting and saying nothing. We’ve seen consumer reaction cause reversals to decisions, and these are beyond even just nasty financial decisions; remember Blizzard’s whole RealID forum fiasco? Just the threat and promise of boycotts got things moving there. They certainly don’t have a perfect success rate, but boycotts can most certainly work to force studios into reconsidering actions and changing policies.

And while there’s a lot of entitlement in the mix, there’s also genuinely shady stuff that gets pulled by various companies. I can’t have much sympathy for people who cry foul about cosmetics in a game’s cash shop, because there are lists of reasons why that’s totally reasonable; at the same time, there’s a difference between “cosmetic items in the cash shop” and “extraordinarily expensive monocles for a feature rarely used by players to begin with.” It is, at the end of the day, a case-by-case matter.

That’s why I don’t think you can really have a singular action plan, because so much depends on the moment-to-moment circumstances. Is something legitimately predatory and unfair? And what actions can you take that are likely to actually affect change and/or communicate your feelings? I really dislike the lockboxes on sale in Star Trek Online, so I don’t purchase keys for them even with stipend funds. Do I think they’re actually predatory? Not quite, although they sure do affect my enjoyment. But outside of talking about them, there’s not much I can do to affect the fact that they are actually profitable for the company. If I felt they went further in a predatory direction, I’d stop giving the company money for anything and just move on; it’s clear that they’re still going to make money, but it won’t be mine.

I realize it’s not the most satisfying answer in the world, but it’s the one I’ve got. You have to take it piece by piece, and let people talk it out, and sometimes let cooler heads prevail. The one bright side is that usually in cases where things get really nasty, it’s often indicative of problems in other directions. (For example, I find Overwatch’s lockboxes to be a really nasty monetization scheme… but that’s also in service to a game that really has little actual progression moving and has a problem providing good incentives to keep going beyond moment-to-moment gameplay. So it’s not so much that it’s a nasty way to milk people out of money as some design issues.)

robot robot roooooobot

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Welcome to the world of marketing and shady practices. It goes hand-in-hand, and it’s not only in the video game industry. Companies are stupid good at figuring out all sorts of ways to deceive, manipulate, and milk consumers, and if a questionable action is called out, then the company can easily ditch that and try something else.

Barring a Better Business Bureau-type organization for video game companies where players can register complaints (and how fast would something like that be overloaded?), the response from players needs to be multi-pronged and constant. Do your homework, share information with others, report suspicious situations, petition the media for extra coverage (such as MOP), hold studios accountable for past actions, and be loud without being ranty or incoherent. I wish there was just one easily solution, but companies have a lot of the cards in their hand with this, so we have to do what we can with the few options that we are dealt. Definitely withholding money and being wiser consumers overall would be great — if we could all agree to do that, but we’re fickle and love the “security” of pre-orders.

Your turn!

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49 Comments on "Massively Overthinking: Consumer protections in the MMORPG industry"

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Tarka Roshe
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Tarka Roshe

Personally speaking, I think a “Code of Conduct” should be drawn up by a recognised and impartial body in the Gaming Industry. Think of it like an ISO standards mark. The purpose is to have a list of “consumer orientated” standards which companies can choose to adhere to. Those standards could cover a wide range of subjects, some of which could be considered as “consumer orientated” (e.g. pre-launch treatment of customers, post-launch treatment of customers, quality of the product, etc, etc).

Companies who can show they adhere to the standards laid down are granted the ability to advertise that fact on their marketing and websites.

The point is that consumers may be more inclined to buy products that indicate it adheres to such standards. And that may encourage companies to act more responsibly.

EDIT: Bree’s list is on point. However #5 made me laugh. I think I know where you were going with that one Bree ;)

ceder
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ceder

Eventually things are going to come to a head. The industry always pushes just how far they can and do exploit consumers because they know there is little to no accountability with any teeth. All it will take is agency regulations with stiff penalties to be enacted and enforced or special taxation for games/studios that involve in certain monetary practices(ie lockboxes or other pseudo gambling) before the industry will pull back.

But doubtful(especially in the current political climes around the world) that we’ll see that come to fruition any time soon.

Bree pretty much summed up then the only things that really can be done with point 6 about the faith based gaming/purchasing being one of the ones that really should be hit home strongly. Preorders and “buying on future potential” are 100% a choice issue that consumers need to steer clear of. Buy for the playability and state of the game in the now and now what you hope it will be.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Most of the time we sign away our lives to the MMORPG we’re playing in the Terms of Service. We have little recourse for consumer protection.

I do have a story that I remember quite often. I purchased a premium ship in Star Trek Online years back that had an error in it’s description. It claimed that it had a feature that the ship did not have, and it was the only reason I had bought the ship to begin with. I showed them the error in the description in screen shots, showed them how it wasn’t there and explained how that was the only reason I had bought the ship. I wasn’t asking for a refund, I just was asking for them to fix the error in the description and / or add the function to the ship if it was supposed to be there.

So Perfect World Entertainment not only refunded my money but let me keep the ship as well. I’ve been a very loyal spending customer ever since. Though I guess I’m a bit spoiled, as now I hold every customer service experience up to that one.

They not only did the right thing but let me keep the ship for my trouble. That’s the way we should be treated in these situations, as very valued customers they want to keep happy and spending. That’s the type of way many real life stores who want to keep our business treat us many times. It’s lost on most of the MMORPG industry but it’s how it should be done.

I definitely do pay back good customer service by spending money in games. I’ll go spend extra on a game just to pay back a good CS experience even if I don’t want anything in it at the moment.

I’m still paying back Star Trek Online with spending to this day because of my good treatment there. I’d say it worked out great for the both of us.

I wish I could say I walked away from games where the service wasn’t as good, but I don’t always do that. Sometimes I bend over and take it because I like the game enough, though I do always remember how I was treated and think about that each time I go to decide how much money to spend on the game. I guess it’s the difference between buying the essentials I need to make my game play experience more fun, and spending extra on lock boxes and lots of other frivolous things.

So I do “punish” them a bit by spending less but if the game is good enough I stay and play anyway like a dummy. Though really a nice way to “punish” them is to stay and play and take up server and network resources without ever spending back :P I rarely play a game I don’t spend in though one way or another but the amounts I spend and my long term game and company loyalty are very much tied to my CS experiences.

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Erik Heinze-Milne

Look to Mass Effect or Earthbound/Mother 2. The former had a certain title with an ending that disappointed fans. While I don’t agree with what happened, the amount of noise across social media and press sites pressured BioWare into making things right.

Sorry, when did BioWare make things right? Last time I checked, ME3’s ending is still a bunch of RGB bullshit…

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zoward

There are a lot of factors at work here. Up front, I have to ask this: is it wrong for companies to raise the prices of their digital goods? In RL, prices of stuff go up all the time, a natural consequence of even well-controlled inflation. While the price of computing power and hardware drops all the time, the price of other parts of video game development – the salaries, cost of rent, power – do the opposite. On the other hand, once a digital good has been designed and rendered, the cost of reproducing it is practially zero, so, price increases shouldn’t necessarily follow real world trends, but consider the different in value of a $100 pair of Nikes and a $20 pair of no-name branded sneakers. Is the difference in phyiscal quality worth $80 – I’d argue that in almost every case it isn’t. The brand is as phyiscally inconsequential as a stack of gold in a video game is, but no one can argue it has proven to have a real-world value of $80. The producer can dictate the price, but the consumer dictates what the value of the item (physical or digital) is, even if it’s out of line with what the good cost to produce – as those of us who are trying to get a Switch without being scalped can attest.
Also, compare the cost of a monthly sub to WoW to what it cost a decade ago. It hasn’t changed (at least in the US), even though inflation would dictate that the $US15/month we were spending in 2007 would now be $US17.72 if hte price tracked inflation. Again, the computing power cost is probably minimal at this point, but the salaries of the artists and programmers, the cost of rent (and/or taxes on company-owned property), have all gone up. What’s the right amount of increase in such a situation?
In RL, if people don’t like the prices of a good, various things can happen: someone else starts producing the good. Black markets form. Or, people just stop buying the good, and prices adjust accordingly. All of these happen all the time with video games – the inevitable wave of clones, mostly unsuccessful, arrive soon after a game like WoW or LoL demonstates its popularity. Gold sellers undercut the cost of online goods. Private servers pop up. And most games lose popularity and fade away over time.
At the end of the day, if a game I like raises its prices and I’m uncomfortable with it, I will generally post a sane, well-reasoned objection in the forums, then vote with my feet. People go hyperbolic in the forums all the time, but a well-written objection is harder to ignore or refute – and monthly earnings figures don’t lie.

kjempff
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kjempff

Stop paying for early access.
– You are being alpha/beta tester and should at least get free access as “payment” for your service.
– Having not invested too much, you will also get less disappointed when the game does not turn out as you imagined it.

Accept that it is not your game.
– You just rent the house, the owners has the right to decide what to do with their house.
– A lot of things happen during the building of a game, not always the developers vision and definitely not your imagination of the developers vision.

Stop supporting free to play.
– Just stop. Make games great again by sending a message and curing this plague on gaming.
– Nothing is free, get it into your head.. By not paying you are being fed substandard games.

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Utakata

No amount of finger wagging and/or exposing the poor morals will stop the multitudes of players from investing into and consuming F2P’s. The question becomes is the said business model sustainable and profitable for so and so game. If it isn’t, then the model may change or the game more likely will be made to sleep with the fishes. Also see: Firefall.

miol
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miol

We’ll take the first shift right here in Overthinking.

With MOP in the van, who wouldn’t be able to navigate through those treacherous seas? :)

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thickenergy

I can’t really take talk of consumer protections seriously when it comes to completely optional leisure activities. Not when most of the world can’t nail down the whole food, shelter, clean water, and medical care thing. The necessities for life.

That said, we all have the same protections we’ve always had since we were painting in caves. Be wary, be resolved, and understand that almost no one will ever offer you anything that you cannot easily live without. Place at least as much value on your resources as those who are trying to separate you from them do.

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rafael12104

So… Well, I don’t think it is that complicated to be honest. Bree’s list covers it pretty well I think. And most to the points are common sense if you ask me.

Stop playing the victimization game. You don’t like something, stand up and be heard. You think your voice doesn’t make a difference? BS. It does. Threaten to tarnish a corporate brand and you will have the undivided attention of corporations that are worth something. One reason FFXIV a Realm Reborn worked was because of the player voices and corporate concerns regarding future projects and sales. A rare case? Not really. Just an obvious one.

The only other thing I would emphasize on Bree’s list is simply evangelizing why you quit playing a game if it is a cause worth fighting. And yes, taking your money elsewhere may seem like a drop in the bucket, but in aggregate, it can be the momentum needed to affect real change.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

By all means “evangelize why you quit” if you find it cathartic but I wouldn’t expect to be taken seriously. Gamers frequently flounce out the front door and slink in the back. The engagement that propels their outrage prevents them from really leaving. The genuine leavers tend to do so quietly because they’ve stopped caring.

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rafael12104

No. You misunderstand me. The reason I use the word evangelize instead of “rage” quit is very specific. If you as a player have more than just a vested interest; if you love the game and would return if the inadequacies were dealt with; Then, then you don’t just walk away. You continue to fight for improvements so that you can return.

It is quite a different scenario than the self created drama by the forum warriors announcing the end of the world.

There are times when you have to quit to be heard. And that doesn’t necessarily include post on forums. It could be exit surveys, joining groups or communities hoping to drive the cause whatever it may be etc.

As a consumer you do have power, but sometimes you have to find it.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

All you can really do is be a canny consumer. Be circumspect and patient. Value your money according to the time and effort it took you to earn it and respect the right of others to do the same. I detest gamble-boxes, pre-orders and early access but the prevalence of these practices indicates that my preferences aren’t universal. It’s not my place to dictate how other people should spend their money.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

I’m reminded at what Fernando Paiz (producer of DDO at one time, godfather of free to play) said back in the golden years of free to play; that is, before lock boxes. To paraphrase, since I can’t find the quote, he said to an audience of keen developers, “You can basically ignore everything that players say because they will still buy.”

And that’s where we’ve been for 10 years. Developers free to do any crappy thing they can think of because we, the gaming community, still buy.

There’s a reason the Chinese gold selling industry is as great as it is.

There’s a reason every developer does lock boxes.

There’s a reason essential parts of SP games are cut out and sold separately as DLC by many developers.

‘Cause we keep buying it. Money talks.

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Utakata

“But don’t be an assclown.”

Wait …what!? You mean Manzes’ and Smart’s (to name a few) approach to problematic game issues is not they way to do it? o.O

On a more serious note, I do believe developers need to be much more accountable to their customers then they are currently. From class balance/design, mechanics, content, business modelling to “promises”, stretch goals, feature additions and funding. I think we can start to look at Mark Jacobs more proactive approach to developing game as a good starting point, IMO.

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NeoWolf

Supposedly this is where Community Managers come in, you know the guys who are supposed to pick up on our major issues and be OUR voice to the developers with them (Thats right Eric Musco im pointing at you and laughing while I say this).

When they fail to do the job (and they frequently do), then the ONLY real way players can make a company take note is to stop giving them money. They need money to function, to keep the lights on, to keep the staff paid, to keep the servers up etc.. They need US, we do not need them. So when major issues occur and they are taking no notice, then gather together and stop paying for the game.

Big sudden dip in income you can bet your life they will take notice. THEN you make your point on thier forums or via direct message as a group and let them know why.

Remember to them Money matters, we do not. Stop the money and suddenly you’ll matter a GREAT deal :)

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Witches

This is an impossible task, regulating gaming is like regulating drug use, the target audience is pretty similar, eventually evolution may solve this but don’t expect it to happen anytime soon.

You can’t protect someone who is enjoying whatever it is he’s being subjected to.

Compared to drug addiction or alcoholism, the evils of the shady way the gaming industry operate are pretty negligible, so i expect everything to remain the same for a looooooooooong time.

Gamers are the type of people who would buy the latest collection of the emperor’s new clothes, and if anyone dares say that they’re just going around naked, you’re just aggroing them, with their short enrage timer and the huge damage they can deal , that’s a big mistake.

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Sally Bowls

As said by Bree many times: Merely quitting won’t help either,

This is true and I really, really, really disagree with it. No election that Bree or I ever voted in was decided by one vote. So it is literally true that our voting had zero effect. But at an irrational, emotional level, I reject the “don’t bother to vote it has no impact” argument. Emotionally, I want to do the one thing that does matter. And, just like IRL, while tiny you has a fleeting, minisule impact on a large planet, working with millions and billions of others, you can change things. [ IMO, probably for the worse. :-) ]

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Erik Heinze-Milne

The issue is that it’s not about YOU personally. If everyone thinks “my vote doesn’t matter” then nothing will change. If someone believes their vote DOES matter, others might too, and it is the collective response that is important. Every vote that lead up to the one vote that pushed it over the edge is just as important as that last vote. Any one of those votes being withheld could have changed the outcome. Even if you don’t push it over, simply closing the gap can result in a snowball effect.

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Fervor Bliss

There is nothing as long people are protecting the industry lies. If you remind people that the company took money from them telling them something will happen. People protecting the practice. Will do one of 2 things.
1) Say it is ok they lied to us, because making games is hard.
2) Make you not seem like you are not a human being, calling you names like “troll”.

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Sunken Visions

Every gamer is a developer. Every business cares about its customers.

I don’t think you guys could be more delusional. You invest your time and money into something shiny, so you feel an uncontrollable urge to ‘fix’ it when you find out it’s just fools gold.

If you feel entitled to ‘good video games’, then you deserve nothing but boredom and frustration.

Estranged
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Estranged

Good is also subjective.

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GumpsGang

I had an issue once with Perfect World’s customer service. I know, shocker! I was supposed to get a refund but when I reach out to them is it denied via a “canned” email template that did not even match up to my concern. I tried again and got back an even ruder email template response.

They are HQed in California for US business, so next up tried the same request via the CA BBB. Got another “canned” email reply that did not match up to the concern. Rejected it (a BBB process thing) with my response.

I finally got a reply that the refund was processed. It was only at this point did I feel like anyone actually looked into the issue and saw my refund got missed.

FYI — the next stop would have been an FFC complaint. A lot of companies have their more seasoned “go to” CS work these level of inquiries.

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MesaSage

“You wouldn’t preorder a car or a house sight-unseen or donate hundreds of dollars in the hopes of getting a vacation in five years”

Yet there are people who would do this, probably have done this and are doing this. These are all the same people.

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Sally Bowls

In the first weekend, people pre-ordered over $276,000,000 of a new car (Tesla 3) , without a test drive or even seeing the final version.

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CthulhuDawg

I don’t understand why people are so against lock boxes. I mean if you’re an adult and can assign a value to your dollar then you can decide whether or not you think the money to entertainment value is there. I understand people liken it to gambling but it’s also nothing like gambling. Money is put in expecting to get digital entertainment out, not a pay out of real money. If necessary quest items are not locked behind them I don’t see the issue at all. Buy them or don’t.

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Witches

If everyone chooses “don’t” they lose development money, so they need to make those items appealing, usually by making everything else unappealing.

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CthulhuDawg

All that sounds like to me is being upset that you have to pay money for shinies.

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Shiro Madoushi

Imagine a local baseball league that requires each player to pay equipment rental each time they participate in a game.

$10-50 (Price Determined by type) bat rental fee for each at-bat. Free nerf bat provided for those that can’t pay.

$5 Glove rental fee per inning. A random Glove is given each time. You can pay $5 again to try for a different glove. If you can’t pay, you are free to use your bare hands.

$15 per hour premium cleats subscription. Those that can’t pay can go barefoot.

The default dugout can only hold 2 players. You will need to pay $25 per player for a dugout upgrade if your team has more than 2 players.

It’s not pay to win since you don’t actually need any of those things to participate.

Who do you think will win in a game between the Broadway Bank Execs and the 7th Street Homeless Shelter?

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CthulhuDawg

1. We are talking about digital video games, none of those items you mentioned are digital nor in the same field of entertainment. 2. I never mentioned anything about p2w, I spoke about necessary items of which boosts and cosmetic items are not included. You’re just mad you can’t get something for free that someone else paid money for.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

Isn’t that why we should be upset? Especially in games where the lockboxes are the only way to get certain items, it’s upsetting that the developers are catering to whales and not the average player. I play games for socializing and to overcome challenges, especially with my fellow players. Paying for rewards to circumvent that cheapens both the game and community.

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CthulhuDawg

“If necessary quest items are not locked behind them…” Maybe read my comment before replying.

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Paragon Lost

It’s hot, been outside, no energy. I’ll just say…”What Bree said!”

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Arktouros

There’s generally been a fairly positive reaction to the Black Desert change. While a few are upset, the majority of the players seem to like the change. You can even see the overwhelming positive responses in the comment section here at MOP.

As for how to protect yourself…basically you can’t. If you zig, the companies are just going to zag. We saw this with people “voting with their wallets” against bad subscription MMOs and the result was companies switched to predatory F2P systems instead. When F2P’s image became toxic they switched to B2P with a cash shop for more or less the same thing.

Feedback or disagreement with policies is just noise. Companies see people like giant babies throwing a temper tantrum and are just going to let you cry yourself out. At the end if they know for all the complaints people just going to keep buying games and spending money. I mean Electronic Arts is universally reviled and they still make billions a year.

Fact is unless you move on and find a new hobby, they know they got you by the short hairs and that’s that. The only thing you can really do otherwise is just try to have a good time and if you aren’t then find another game or source of entertainment.

miol
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miol

There’s generally been a fairly positive reaction to the Black Desert change. While a few are upset, the majority of the players seem to like the change.

That’s because the p2w aspect of BDO’s whole progression system has been so normalized for the participants, that with an attempt to fix that against a crept up inflation and invigorate the p2w transfers back up, feels like the right thing to do! ;P

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Arktouros

That’s because the p2w aspect of BDO’s whole progression system has been so normalized for the participants, that with an attempt to fix that against a crept up inflation and invigorate the p2w transfers back up, feels like the right thing to do! ;P

It’s because when you reach the stage many of the Veterans of the game are at you recognize that making 125m a week wasn’t that great of an investment for around $170 and even then making 187m for $170 still isn’t that great when you literally need billions per piece to upgrade. I mean I make 15m/hr when I grind. Paying $13.50 an hour’s worth of grind just ain’t worth it.

Want to know if a system is P2W or not? It’s really simple. Lets imagine you had infinite real life money. You’re the son of an Oil Tycoon, go nuts. Can you spend infinite money and win in the game? In BDO, the answer is no. It’s no because there’s a limit on how much you can sell and having a lot of money doesn’t guarantee you get anything because of how the market works. Summit1G, a popular streamer, was just given 800m and he blew it all and had very little to show for it cause he spent it unwisely cause the high end gear just wasn’t available.

miol
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miol

Summit1G, a popular streamer, was just given 800m and he blew it all and had very little to show for it cause he spent it unwisely cause the high end gear just wasn’t available.

I don’t how serious of an example he can be, if he losing a wagon to a river in front of his eyes is any indication for that, and how many guides are out there, like for aquiring failstacks cheaply! XD

I mean, if a streamer is known for that, he has to stick to his m.o. to keep his streamers happy, don’t you agree? ;P

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Arktouros

I mean smartly building and using failstacks only works up until a point. If the failstack charts are to be believed (which there’s enough consistent data from thousands of hours of enchanting across multiple people that make it fairly reliable data) then things like DUO/TRI/TET/PEN have a 33%, 27%, 25%, and 20% respective chances at maximum stacks. That’s still a high chance to fail.

There’s really all sorts of anecdotes for this but Jewelry is especially punishing and I say that as someone’s at full DUO Crescent/Tungrades/Basi/Ogre Ring with a few TRI failures. I have TET weapons that I could make money if I sold them and I have TET’s that I’d be losing a billion or more if I sold them. It all averages out, but man it takes a lot of money, time and effort. I have 14 characters with their gathering up at this stage so I can use them as gathering alts for hards/sharps because they’re impossible to buy even with me sitting on billions.

And that, ultimately, is the point I was trying to make. Having money doesn’t equate to power in this game because the supply is insufficient for the demand. You can do cash burning techniques like melting Witch Earrings for Sharps but at 12m for 1-2 sharps that money is going to disappear pretty quick when you need anywhere from 25-100 sharps depending on how enhancing goes.

So ultimately what’s happened is people kinda realize having a bunch of money doesn’t really matter that much. It’s nice in a pinch or when you can buy things but as we’re going to find out here in a week or two even basic items like Black Stones are going to be 100% sold out on the market soon as the events end.

wandris
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wandris

The whales are happy getting faster progression, and everybody else is happy with not having to actually pay for pearl items. In theory raising the prices means less competition on the market and more incentive for people to sell them. Sounds good to me.

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Pauleh

Not really sure how the linked article for Black Desert qualifies for ‘screwing gamers over’.

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Jack Pipsam

If you want serious consumer protections then demand them from legislators and make an attempt to hold them to account if they don’t do their job.

Consumer Laws can be greatly beneficial and a powerful tool to those who have access to them.

Long before Steam offered refunds, they used to reject the idea of refunds in an email, that was unless you lived in a country lucky enough to have protections in law, if you brought this up in the email, that threat alone was normally enough for Valve to grant the refund. A famous screenshot that went around was someone from the UK getting a refund after a long and painful email chain, only resulting in the refunding after the UK consumer law being linked too in the email.

I don’t think it’s merely coincidence that Steam started to offer refunds only after they were being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and I believe they were facing pressure from various European nations over it as well around that time.

If a trash and largely irrelevant nation like mine could possibly spook a company as stubborn as Valve, imagine what a strong forceful united and driven American consumer protection act and effort could achieve?

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Armsbend

Gamers have always been all talk and no action. That is why developers know if they just avoid answering questions then eventually gamers will give up and move to something else. Maybe a 24 hour charity stream so they think they are useful on this earth.

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Jack Pipsam

I am constantly reminded of this incident when it comes to the dedication of gamers behind a cause.

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Estranged
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Estranged

Sooooo good. LOL

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