The Daily Grind: Should running multiple MMO accounts be considered pay-to-win?

In the comments of a recent Daily Grind, MOP commenter Sally reminded me that a certain MOP writer who shall remain nameless (Larry!) had an absurd number of Star Wars Galaxies accounts, and one might argue that while one sub to such a game isn’t pay-to-win, a whole ton of them might be, particularly in an economy-centric game like SWG.

The interesting thing about SWG was the diminishing returns on all those accounts: The human’s time was the limiting reagent. Yes, having another 10-20 lots per account for harvesters would bring in AFK money, but it might not be worth the human’s time to actually go deal with the harvies (or factories or storage houses) past a certain level of wealth; you could make more money in the same amount of time doing other, far less boring things. But there was definitely a sweet spot in the 2-5 account range, where you could run one of every crafter and create enough busywork to fill an entire day.

I found four accounts overwhelming but self-sufficient – and absolutely pay-to-win, for my definition of winning. (I have always assumed Larry’s stable was more for roleplaying, and might not fit the category.) Likewise, I’d argue that paying to multibox in themeparks, bypassing the need for other people, is also pay-to-win in many games.

What do you think? Should running multiple MMO accounts be considered pay-to-win?

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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66 Comments on "The Daily Grind: Should running multiple MMO accounts be considered pay-to-win?"

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Adam Harrington

Why are you using SWG yet again as an example, live in the now.
Life is good here.
Well not really. But there is still pie. And dammit, that outta mean something.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

LOL! I paid but I certainly didn’t win. I had multiple accounts in VSoH, LoTRO, EQ2 and ESO and spent so much time flitting between a multitude of characters that I rarely (if ever) reached cap. Pay2Dither, perhaps.

Specus
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Specus

As I was reading this, I was reminded of the discussion MOP had a while back on the definition of Pay-to-Win. From some perspectives, I would have to define multiple accounts as a type of Pay-to-Win, but what’s more important to me if people having multiple accounts interfere with my enjoyment of the game or if I’m limited to how far I can go in the game without having multiple accounts. If I can enjoy the game and go as far as I have interest in going while only having a single account, then I would not personally define multiple accounts as Pay-to-Win. I don’t see it significantly different from someone paying for a DLC that I didn’t pay for; just because someone payed more to get more shouldn’t be reason by itself for complaint.

I’ve played several games where multiple accounts were common (and even had multiple accounts in one of them). Never did I feel that I was at a disadvantage for only having a single account. In some cases, having multiple accounts opened up opportunities that weren’t available on just a single account (without grouping), but having multiple accounts usually has a greater cost than just money. It doesn’t bother me when people spend more time with a game than I and end up getting more out of a game than I. Having multiple accounts definitely costs more time to manage, so if people happen to spend more time and more money than I and just happen to get more out of the game than I, shouldn’t bother me. What bothers me are all those lazy asses that think they can solve all their problems by throwing money at the solution (or games that encourage this type of thinking), then lording their new-found “ability” over the other players (it’s not true ability in the game, it is just ability to spend money).

Mewmew
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Mewmew

I think we need more terms. Multi-boxing and multi-accounting can very much be super cheesy and unsporting in many circumstances. But we shouldn’t call the ability to do that pay to win, or we’re calling too many games pay to win that don’t really fit the definition (which we already do, but we don’t need to add even more chaos to that term).

People are technically paying more than they should be for a building advantage that can be higher the more they are paying, so it almost fits the definition better than a lot of stuff, but we really need more terms here :D

This is why some PC mobile emulators are making things unsporting for mobile, people will daisy chain many copies of the emulator on a PC and play a bunch of accounts on a mobile game for an advantage. It’s actually becoming a problem in a lot of games.

How can we stop this stuff while still allowing friends to give each other an advantage playing together? Just having trading in the game lets people who chain multiple accounts up have an advantage. We’d have to remove nearly all mutiplayer features.

Would disallowing multi accounts or multi-boxing as part of the ToS and banning them if they’re caught help? Though then you really need to make sure it’s the same person and not members of the household playing together.

My brain isn’t working so well right now (lack of sleep) so I’m going to stop here, but it’s an idea I’d like to re-visit in the future.

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Sally Bowls

N.B.: there are reasons for having multiple accounts that having nothing to do with multiboxing or playing more than one account at a time!

Hamlet: “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

We had EVE’s fanfest ships “When the ships were finally released, over two months after Fanfest, one was given to every account belonging to those who had bought the Fanfest tickets. As a result, some people were eligible to receive several hundred ships.

Also in EVE, supply and demand means that the skill points you earn in a month can be stripped out and sold for more than the price of a month of Omega time. While there are a lot of multiboxing opportunities in EVE as well, someone with 100 EVE accounts earns more profit (which can be used to buy PvP advantage) than a casual with only 50 accounts.

Especially in games like SWG with limited character slots, then multiple accounts allows one to purchase more inventory and cooldown and reward slots. If you make 5000g per day per toon from a few clicks, then someone with twenty toons is making more than someone with ten even if they never multibox.

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nomadmorlock9

I would say so, from a certain point of view.

I miss the SWG days with a single account and single character. You were known in your community and developed a reputation.

So sad…

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Sally Bowls

Although this article grew out of a discussion of SWG when Larry had not a single SWG account, but had eleven. The single account days were only for those people who did not buy multiple SWG accounts.

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Loyal Patron
Adri

Depends on the game. In a game where a lot of valuable items are account bound it doesn’t make much sense to me to have multiple accounts. Especially if you only main on of them and use the others as farmbots. I personally like to expand one account with as much characterslots as possible so I don’t have that particular deficit. And yes this can be pay to win when you can do daily challenges (or whatever you call them) on multiple characters and you can turn the items into (ingame)cash. Even if you don’t turn them around and just use them for your main character it is like whale-ing.
On the other side you have (yeah depending on the game) to invest quite the time to fully use all your accounts / characters to their full potential. You turn your time into ingame stuff (or RL money depending ..) and that is something not everyone can do.
And you have to manage excel sheets to not get confused all the time :D “What does this account do?”

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Arktouros

Conversations like this is why I don’t take anyone seriously when they call things pay2win anymore. Pay2Win means directly buying power upgrades that impact competitive settings. That means buying cash shop ammo so you deal more damage in a competitive setting or a gun that has an extra silencer on it that you can’t get otherwise that now gives you an advantage cause you have a silenced sniper rifle no one else can get without paying.

That’s it. Nothing else.

Just because there’s something you can do with money you don’t like, doesn’t make it pay2win. If you don’t like that game companies sell “convenience” items that doesn’t make them pay2win because you feel disadvantaged without them. If you don’t like that someone has sparkly rainbow sunglasses and you feel they should be available for everyone that isn’t pay2win either. And, what shouldn’t even have to be clarified, if someone buys multiple accounts and manages all that entails that also isn’t pay2win.

I mean fucking expand your vocabulary already. You don’t say everything is “good.” You say things are good, amazing, awesome, fantastic, wonderful, nice etc. You don’t need to use the same saying to cover everything you dislike related to money and game design.

MagmaFist
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MagmaFist

Thank you. Completely agree!!! I’ve seen this argument enough, people complaining about what is or is not for sale so much I’m tired of it and my general response is “if you wish to keep the servers on and the game running then sure, that is a win.” Companies are already pigeon-holed into offering mainly cosmetics so you want to take another revenue source away from them because your feelings are hurt? And yes, I see people complaining about cosmetics now too. People are going to complain no matter what.

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Peregrine Falcon

Conversations like this is why I don’t take anyone seriously when they call things pay2win anymore.

Thank you for this. I was starting to wonder if I was the only person on the internet who found it annoying that people keep redefining words to mean whatever they want them to mean.

quark1020
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quark1020

This is so true. We really do need to come up with new terminology to differentiate between buying competitive, numeric stat boosting items and buying items that just make other people jealous.

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Sally Bowls

Absurd???

FT4U: AWESOME!

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nobleeinherjar

Depending on the situation, yes. I remember back when I still did PvP in WoW, our team was stymied in Arathi Basin by a multi-boxer of like eight Tauren Shamans. He’d lay down a bunch of fire totems on all his characters and the flames would one-shot anyone who got close.

But it’s also not something I really care about. I guess if you have money to burn, and want to burn it all on a single game in that fashion, go for it. I don’t understand it, but you do you.