The Daily Grind: Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics?

There are few things that bug me more in MMOs than when my character looks like he or she got dressed by sprinting through a Salvation Army and grabbing whatever was within arm’s reach. It makes such a difference to me when my character looks the part of a hero rather than a ragamuffin.

While most MMOs these days allow you to save and equip visuals from gear that you find all around the game world, many of these same MMOs create special cosmetics that can only be purchased in the game store. As they have no bearing on actual performance during play, cosmetic sales don’t draw the ire that, say, lockboxes and stat gear do. While some might avoid store cosmetics because of a lack of funds or because actually earning (or finding) good-looking outfits delivers more of that feeling of achievement, others don’t seem to have a problem with taking a paid short-cut to fashion success.

I’ve bought several outfits in games like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 that I knew I would be wearing extensively on multiple characters. I am pretty choosy in what I do purchase, however; it’s not an everyday occurrence.

What about you? Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics? Have you done so this year?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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112 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics?"

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Hikari Kenzaki

Yes, every damn day. I want to look good while we’re out smiting. It’s doubly important in games where I RP. I’ve spent a small fortune in BDO (I was showing off my costume inventory on my Ranger the other day and said “Oh, wow, that’s about $300 worth of outfits”) and Secret World especially.
I often login to BDO just to see if there are new outfits or sales.
Cosmetics and my character’s appearance makes or breaks a game for me. I’ve refused to play games simply because I can’t make my character look right (Tera… looking at you)

Woetoo
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Woetoo

Are you willing to buy good-looking MMO cosmetics?

No.

Are you willing to buy any MMO cosmetics?

No.

It was never going to be an option for me. It always felt like charging for something I used to get included in my subscription. A sleight of hand, where the players were the losers.
I’d have paid a higher subscription, if it paid for content I valued. Money for pixels was never going to be that.
And that was before entire game designs and mechanics started to invented to make my game experience worse because other people have more money than sense.
Right now, I recognise the cost of subscriptions has fallen (in real terms). But so has my enjoyment of the content that subscription buys. So it feels about right until such time as all this current bu****it dies a death in the AAA market.

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Melissa McDonald

Absolutely. It’s actually just about the only thing I’m willing to buy.

Reader
Alex Malone

I have never purchased anything through an in-game cash shop and hopefully never will. It’s sub or nothing for me.

Reader
Maggie May

Because there is nothing so beautiful as running around in a Subligar …

I am a bit odd in that I think early on in a game you should look funky. You just got there and you’re low on the scale, a lowly novice adventurer. Once I lvl up my main then yea I can deck myself out with matching crafted, looted or store bought.

A few games I played early on, GW2 and FfX1V, and everyone looked hilarious. Especially FF on day one the place was inundated with Moogle hats. By the time I left GW2 everyone was decked out in fancy wear. At the beginning the clothes were not pretty.

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Briar Grey

Yep, I will definitely buy outfits I like, and yep, I’ve done so this year. I believe in paying for subscriptions to support games I am playing and I provide additional support in purchases for fluff items. I don’t like pay-to-win models where you can pay extra for game-changing gear but I like pay-to-support by having cosmetic stuff like outfits, pets, mounts, etc. especially when well-balanced with ways to earn similar items through in-game efforts.

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Rhime

Only if they are on ingame vendors either NPC’s or player made. Never in cash shops or loot boxes.

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drelkag

Yeah. I feel like cosmetics are the best way to support a game beyond subscribing without changing game design.

Nick
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Nick

I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars since I started playing MMOs in 1999 on cosmetics.

A trend I really dislike is having to spend $10 to fix up your characters appearance in the character creator. A lot of games you look different in character creation as opposed to in game. Worst was Aion – they didn’t even let you change your hair style without spending $10.

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Maggie May

I agree totally, GW2 I must have remade my chars a dozen times be they looked nothing like I thought I made.n

Reader
syberghost

I bought Silver in Destiny 2 this week for exactly one reason; to get enough Bright Dust to buy the Eye of Osiris skin for Prometheus Lens.

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

I have and I will if I can buy it directly for a reasonable price or get it cheap off the IG auction house. Further I will pursue sets if they work well when ‘kit-bashing’ (mix-n-match).

There are caveats. Must be account bound. I am not a whale so $10 is a big ask for a single item/outfit.

Any sort of friction (eg. GW2’s Transmutation Tokens and TERA’s equivalent) means I’m just not going to bother especially if the means to acquire the currency is incompatible with my game play (I don’t WvW and I’m not about to use the map completion exploit) or requires a cash shop purchase.

Goettel
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Goettel

I am and I have: GW2 outfits and (mount) skins, some Wildstar skies, a BDO lootbot companion and black robes and some mounts in RIFT. Nothing gives dat opulent first world glow like spending real money on non-existent flair.

Reader
Oleg Chebeneev

Probably not. And for sure not if its more then 10$ for full outfit. But if I love the game, love outfit and care alot about my character, I might.

Reader
Bannex

The store first ruined ESO for me then it ruined all other cosmetic stores in mmos.

Everytime I see a high quality costume in a store I realize where most development resources for said game are allocated.

Nah, these cosmetic stores have replaced in game content any way you look at it.

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Maggie May

I’m not a big fan of the store cosmetics, I either use crafted or the costumes that are unlocked in game . That doesn’t mean I don’t buy from the store, I use the cash from the $$ I get from the sub.

Reader
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Bhima Jenkins

Ehhh… the people that develop a costume are not the same people that design content for a new patch or expansion. Likely get some input from the art director, but for the most part, its the time of a few artists/modelers and a minimal amount of time for an actual developer to add it to the game/shop.

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Armsbend

For every one person whose job it is to create cosmetics for a cash shop – is a person who takes up a desk, sucks up compan y electricity and is not hired to do other things for content. So yes, as Bannerx said, if you allocate even one man to do cash shop then it takes away from real development. It isn’t a matter of opinion.

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Bannex

The reality is that if they have a store and they choose to put a costume in it they’ve essentially chosen not to make it acquirable in the game therefore removing or reducing content.

Reader
Ethereal

Exactly as Bhima said. ESO for example has had major content additions too so I think it’s fair to say that’s not all they’re working on.

Reader
Carebear

The only money i ever spent in a game store is for a nice costume or for re-customize my character.

So yea, i would spent for a nice costume!

Reader
Tweet Master

P2W is for losers so no.

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Ethereal

Costumes aren’t “pay to win” though, unless there’s some stat-point advantage to them which you might find in other less popular MMO titles.

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steve

Yes. On a rare handful of occasions I’ve purchased vanity flair for games I was heavily invested in otherwise. Each of those purchases was for something specific to an outfit I was trying to build. Firefall had a set of goggles I just had to have for my look, and I purchased a few suit dyes and jetpack trails in Global Agenda.

I’m no fan of monetized flair, however. I’d rather we find a way to properly let the players get involved in designing and creating that stuff to sell in game.

Reader
Fred Douglas

Absolutely. Making my character unique in build/appearance/backstory etc. is one of the main amusing parts of MMOs for me these days.

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Tobasco da Gama

*looks over at $20 Steed of the Captain*

Uh, yeah.

Reader
Fair Mores

I gladly buy cosmetics. I have for a long time now. I used to hesitate at the high prices of some in game stores but I don’t anymore. Having control over my character’s appearance is vital to my enjoyment of RPGs.

Somewhat Eclectic
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Somewhat Eclectic

Oh yes. I will, generally speaking, happily pay real money for in-game cosmetics and content as long as it’s at a price-point that makes sense to me and I like the look. I’ll admittedly go for expansions and the like first, but after that (or if it’s a game that has free content expansions) I’ll start looking at cosmetics if I enjoy the game.

Reader
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zoward

If I have game store currency laying around that I don’t have earmarked for anything else, I might indulge. That’s about it though. I always go for content first.

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Little Bugbear

I have no problem buying cosmetics as long the game is not pay-to-win or a subscription game. I see no point to in paying or playing pay-to-win games. Subscriptions only games should not have cash shops (double dipping is not cool). But for good buy-to-play or free-to-play games, I have no problem buying cosmetics (I like to support the games I enjoy). This year I have not bought any cosmetics because do many cosmetics are behind lockboxes, and I never buy lockboxes.

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murmillo

You know, if a company made 500 pieces of clothing, put them in their ever expanding digital clothing store for 1-2 dollars a piece, and without introducing any other pay to progress/convenience items. I would be happy putting together one or two sets of clothing every month for 10-30 dollars. This is what many game companies don’t get, they think they have to try and trick me to spend money, when in reality this just makes me more likely to leave their game.

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Raimo Kangasniemi

No. I want to earn good-looking cosmetics…

Cadaver
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Cadaver

Yeah, I’m ashamed to admit that I have although I wouldn’t say they were particularly good-looking. I bought some crappy wardrobe pieces to replace the dismal starter outfits that my homely, boxy SWL character began with. I regret doing so as I left the game shortly after.

I know a lot of people really enjoy dressing up their avatars and will pay to do so. I get that. And players who don’t and won’t are more than happy to let them carry the financial burden. But I despise the extent to which this has made cash shops such a central focus of MMOs. Costumes, mounts, pets, all of that silly shit. Fantasy worlds turned into shopping malls and everyone was fine with that. Now we’re all upset because developers want to turn the malls into casinos. /shrug.

Reader
Doubleplusgood

I wish I could say absolutely no, I do not buy cosmetics. I just find it so bizarre that we have reached the point where its normal and expected to spend real dollars on pixelated clothing for a character in a computer game.
But I admit, I have broken a couple of times and purchased cosmetic items from cash shops. However, I have to be extremely interested in the appearance of the item and I will never, for sure this time, spend more than $10. I also have to feel like its a game I want to support. If the devs are being too greedy or the item is locked in gamble box then I wont spend.
Like with ESO’s overpriced $50-60 mounts or $120+ houses and scam crates. I will never buy those.

Reader
Jack Tyme

I couldn’t give a flying F*** the way my char looks. As long as it can bust sht up im good.

Reader
Jdawg Playsgames

Apropos to nothing but what is that screenshot from on the article?

ill_logical
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ill_logical

Looking at the image description, Shroud Of The Avatar maybe?

Reader
Arktouros

If I’m sold on the game, then yes I will. But cost ultimately becomes a factor. While I’m not opposed to dropping down some money on cosmetics blasting me out of the gate with $40 or $60 cosmetics without selling me on a game first isn’t going to work. Usually if I’m investing larger sums of money on a game like that I want to ensure I’ll be playing it a while and it won’t be a “dead game” in 30 days. Conversely if the cosmetics are lower priced such as $5 or $10 then I kinda don’t really care if I’ll be playing in 30 days or not and am more likely to buy.

Skor
Reader
Skor

Nope. I’ll buy a game or subscribe or even use the store to buy VIP status for a free-to-play mmo. But I will never micro transaction for real money that doesn’t have to do with core game play, expansion like classes, races, or new content.

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George Wilson III

I often buy cosmetic outfits and gear. I have no problem with that, especially in free to play games. Devs need to get paid.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

Cosmetics and Mounts I’ll happily pay for and do frequently, provided of course they are not presented in an RNG lockbox fashion, but rather a straight up this is what we have buy what you like format. I like my characters to look good.

Noone wants to spend months in mis-matched raindbow armor made up of a dozen mis matching pieces because those are what offered the best stats. We want our characters to look good and more importantly we don’t want to have to wait until endgame to look good, but rather look good throughout the whole experience(well I do :P)

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Stormwaltz

Good heavens, nearly all the money I spend on MMGs goes towards cosmetic gear in one way or another.

I probably spent more on game clothes this year than I spent on real clothes in the last three years.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

For several long, very painful weeks, my WoW druid ran around in lime-green hot pants. With suspenders. I never worked so feverishly in my life to level my leathercrafting so I could make her something, anything, else to wear. Since I actually remember when women did wear lime-green hot pants, this was a particularly jarring experience.

So yes, cosmetics.

Reader
Jdawg Playsgames

Not a fan but have purchased things, I personally believe everything should be found, raised or made in MMO’s.

Devs have other ideas.

butterpanda888
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butterpanda888

Yes.

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camelotcrusade

I do, and I strongly prefer it when items complement the styles and modes you can already obtain in-game. I don’t like it when extra offerings are patently superior in terms of design… and I especially don’t like it when they are fourth-wall-breaking or exist for visual trolling. All that said, when it doesn’t poke me in the eye or make me feel like I’m wearing designer clothes, sometimes I’ll buy things to enhance a character concept.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

Never have, never will.. I think.
First, that dress up meta game just doesn’t speak to me.
Second, I still very much prefer a game where your looks represents your achievements in game (a long write-up on why that invigorates a game, players, could follow).
So well obviously I am not a fan of cosmetics, although on the other hand as f2pay goes cosmetics are in some games less intrusive. It is very much a matter of which type of game it is; in mmos I hate cosmetics with all my heart, but in more lobby based games like Math of Exile and Warframe I like how the cosmetics prevent p2w to a high degree (I assume cosmetics cover a good deal of those games income).

plasmajohn
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plasmajohn

Second, I still very much prefer a game where your looks represents your achievements in game (a long write-up on why that invigorates a game, players, could follow).

Depends on if it looks good (fan-hat anybody?) I have a personal distaste for body horror and yet I’ve found many MMO’s use that style at least once.

As a former office of a mid-core progression raid team I fluctuate between wistfulness and pity. At this stage in my life I simply cannot dedicate three nights a week to the extreme concentration required to pull off the boss kills. Then there’s the personnel issues… oh my dog the dramas.

I’m much happier in a casual raid (beer and pizza night!) even if it means looks a hair less sparkly.

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Bryan Correll

It depends on the game’s business model. If I’m already paying a subscription then I’m highly unlikely to buy extra fluff (though most hybrid model games include a stipend of cash shop currency with a subscription and I’ll certainly spend that.) With B2P games I might invest a bit in cosmetics at reasonable prices. If the game is honest-to-God free to play I’ll gladly pay to look decent. PoE, for example, really is free to play. Premium stash tabs are really the only thing you can buy that could be said to effect gameplay. But if you don’t pay for some cosmetics you will look like a hobo. Sure there are unique items that look quite nice but you’d be hard pressed to make a matching outfit even with those.

Xijit
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Xijit

I am an odd duck: I will pay, but it is usually only for my Female toons … not to play dress up dolly or to kit them out in the summer special string bikinis.

I buy the least slutty / closest to actual armor looking costume and then that becomes their perpetual wardrobe till I stop playing the game.

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Chosenxeno .

I buy…all that other stuff..

hurbster
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hurbster

Got a few costumes in the free crates they give us in eso, bought a few with the coins I get as part of my sub.

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Reader
A Dad Supreme

There are few things that bug me more in MMOs than when my character looks like he or she got dressed by sprinting through a Salvation Army and grabbing whatever was within arm’s reach.

many of these same MMOs create special cosmetics that can only be purchased in the game store.

The truth of this statement is that companies intentionally reward you with brown paper burlap bag armor. They know the reason you wear it is for the stats but also know you want to look “unique” or stylish. So how could they turn your disgust/distaste/unhappiness with the normal reward items they are supposed to provide you for your original fee?

Companies realized during the early planning stages of the game that it’s much more lucrative to direct their employees to make far better/unique looking/functioning gear to be sold exclusively in the shop, and issue “standard” items for reward of actual play.

Companies have noted over the last decade that enough players will happily put out additional money for things that used to be included in the base game, enough so to pay the equivalent of a subscription fee many hundred/thousand times over for those items.

Because of this, it incentivizes companies to hold back content as a starting point, and gives them ideas to probe and test other ways of holding back items in the future (XP rates, lockboxes, DLC, P2W items).

So no. Not buying any cash shop items whatsoever. It started a slippery slope that the industry has already noted players will become numb to after enough exposure to “innocent” items.

hurbster
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hurbster

Standard armour, just sayin’

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A Dad Supreme

Standard armour, just sayin’

*your mileage/game armor experience may vary

hurbster
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hurbster

Depends how fancy you are, basic armour in ESO looks great. And you can dye it as well.

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A Dad Supreme

“Basic” armor also is a mainstay of the Elder Scrolls IP.

You didn’t have over-the-top sparkling horses or weapons simply because that’s the kind of world it was. Your character was crawling around in the dirt among ruins and volcanoes.

That’s why I say your mileage may vary. ESO putting all that stuff in is hypocritical as a company, because they were saying the reason they didn’t add nametags and typical UIs was because it wasn’t canon really and they wanted to give players the “real ES feel”.

Now that they can sell ghosty horses, fancy duds and sparkly armor for a handsome profit that is far from Elder Scrolls original lore, I guess all that principled stuff goes out of the window.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

Those basic armour styles predate the cash-shop. They are from the time when ESO’s payment model was old-school subscription and the game attempted to offer a reasonably authentic ES experience. Had the game launched with its cash shop, those basic designs would probably have looked quite a bit different.

hurbster
Reader
hurbster

Jesus, blame the players who just wanted skyrim online then, I remember all the pissing and moaning about chat bubbles and the like.

Anyway, whatever if I see something I like I’ll buy it, gotta use those crowns I get with my sub for something…

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Schmidt.Capela

That is why one of my requirements for purchasing cosmetic items is that I need to be able to have a good-looking character with just standard cosmetic items.

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rafael12104

LOL! Oh man, so first, I must admit my guilt. You see, years ago, I was an elitist bastard. And the only outfits that mattered were the Epeen ones you got from completing some raid.

Finally with age, maturity, and perspective, I realized that Epeen outfits don’t mean shit. And I started to care about what my toon looked like outside of the status garbage. And the next thing I know, I’m a fashionista!

Now, it doesn’t matter to me where an outfit comes from. I tend to avoid the cash shop because, let’s be honest, spending 20 bucks for colored pixels I’ll wear for a week is insane. And yet, I’m not above it IF the outfit looks great.

BnS dropped a huge bit of content this week. My first concern? Yup. The new outfits.

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Bryan Turner

Damn straight, I have got to admit I come across like that song from the Killers called The Man when I’m flaunting it in GW2 when some one asks me how or where I got some thing. Basically say for most of my adult life I barely got by how ever by the time I hit my mid to late 30s . . .

I got gas in the tank
I got money in the bank
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man
I got skin in the game
I got a household name
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man

(that’s only in game though, I lead a much more humble life in the real world, Hospital Scrubs don’t get that fancy).

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rafael12104

The Killers. Yes! I know the song well. Lol.

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Toy Clown

Gone are the days when devs used to brush off those of us that enjoyed our fluff, now they capitalize on us. Thankfully there are lots of MMO choices now.

I am one of those that will spend real money on fluff since it has more value to me as a roleplayer than gearing up. But I do have my limits. For example, I’m content with how FFXIV does it in that I pay a sub and might spend 3-18$ on the cash shop for clothing in a month. That is cheaper than I was spending in BDO, which was non-sub, but their outfits were outrageously priced at 20-34$ each, per character. When I finally pulled my head out of BDO, I didn’t look back because there were many times I blew my budget to get an outfit, and I didn’t like the guilt I felt at doing that!

ESO used to have fair-priced outfits, in that they ran 5$ each and were shared across all your characters on a region, but in the last year, ESO has been bumping the prices up on everything and I pulled away from it as it was also starting to psychologically tug at me to “buy, buy, BUY”.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

For me to purchase cosmetic gear I have a few requirements:

– It must be aesthetically pleasing for me. Which typically means not being over-the-top. If it looks like there are actual fires on it, if there is lightning racing across its surface, if it’s transparent with stars inside, if the shoulderpads or the helmet ornaments are larger than my character’s torso, etc, chances are good I will disregard the cosmetic item outright for being hideous.
(Caveat: I might make a bit of an exception for good looking steampunk cosmetics.)

– It must not take any inventory space. Not on my bags, not on limited-space wardrobe, etc. If purchasing the cosmetic item means I have less space for other items then I’m not purchasing it. I go for fashion only when it doesn’t hinder function.

– It must be account-wide. I don’t purchase anything per-character, anything that would become unusable if I were to abandon the character I purchased it for.

– It must be inexpensive. I will not purchase any single cosmetic item that costs $25, no matter what it is; a mount, an enhanced costume with custom animations and sounds, a replica of my favorite ever gear set, whatever, it doesn’t matter. I might purchase such items at a $10 price point, but even then I’m more likely to purchase a few dozen minor pieces of cosmetic gear at $1-$2 each than a single exceptional piece at $10.

– I must be able to have a good-looking character without spending a single cent. If the game makes me feel like all good cosmetic options were intentionally kept out of the base game so they could be sold instead, if the game makes me feel like I need to purchase extra cosmetics so my character’s look can be merely acceptable, chances are good I will leave the game rather than purchase any cosmetic; if, on the other hand, I never feel the actual need to purchase cosmetic items, there’s a good chance I will purchase at least some of them, as long as my previous requirements are fulfilled.

Edit: I forgot to mention, no lockboxes, ever.

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mistressbrazen

How my characters look is very important to me so I do buy cosmetics when they look good. Too often, imo, the cosmetics being offered are not good looking or are too fantastical for the game setting. The Secret World allowed players to have a highly individualized wardrobe, but many of the original choices looked like the designers were trapped in a small room with Nancy Reagan and Madonna! Tons of bustiers and skimpy “shorts” with dresses that looked like they came out of the 50’s. There were a couple of player design competitions though that produced some really excellent outfits. I bought all of those. When they went to the lock box (party bag) system of getting event outfits and such, I stopped supporting the cosmetics.

The thing that can irk me about cosmetics is the pricing. I am not going to pay $20 for a virtual pair of pants no matter how good they look. If you charge me $5, I’ll buy two or three. I may end up spending the $20, but I can rationalize it for 3 or 4 items but not for one.

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MesaSage

I like to dress my main and characters to match their race and class, so I will go out of my way to find the right pieces. I “buy” cosmetics from festivals with tokens. I also buy cosmetics from Lalia’s mannequins with Mithril because I’m usually lucky enough to win a stack of 200 Mithril from time to time. I haven’t paid for an outfit with cash though.

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Duane Does not check email

Yes

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Wanda Clamshuckr

Check your email, dammit

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Wanda Clamshuckr

I always have a dedicated crafter in my current game of choice, so generally speaking (depending on the game), I tend to make do with what I can make. In some games, like GW2, the crafted assortment is pretty boring, and they seem to keep it that way to incentivize costume purchases. I’m fine with that. I’ve gotten over my distaste for Cash Shops.

Right now (even though I am taking the month off and doing an ARPG-fest), in ESO, I will occasionally make a purchase for something that catches my eye. I find with the vast selection of motifs that I can mix and match, I do quite well without having to open my wallet. Some of the styles, for me, are outstanding and probably some of the best that I’ve seen in the industry. But, I have a couple of cosmetic costumes, a wizard hat or two, and some very fashionable hairstyles that I purchased for a shiny penny sitting and waiting in my collection.

In the last year? I made 3 cosmetic purchases.

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