microtransactions

Path of Exile revamps its store interface for cleaner navigation

Look, we don’t mean to shock anyone, but Path of Exile needs to make money, and it does so via its cash shop. That’s the way its business model works. However, that business model does require you to have the most accessible cash shop possible to ensure that people can buy what you’re offering. So it’s probably a good thing that the game’s newest patch will add much-desired filter options to the cash shop, along with a cleaner and more central user interface.

The patch also adds in 3D models for two remaining Bestiary armor sets, along with a variety of other bug fixes and quality-of-life improvements. It’s not a huge set of content changes, but it should make the game a bit more pleasant… and it should make it a bit cleaner to spend money in the game, which allows the team to provide more content in the future. So that’s all right.

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SoulWorker Online opens its cash shop

We already know that SoulWorker Online will not be wiping characters before its full launch, and now we find that the game is going even further into a launch-like state by adding in its full cash shop now. Yes, you can hop in the game and drop money for real if you’d like. Some players are crying that the prices are exorbitant or unfair, so keep that in mind before you dream of spending four dollars to double your experience gains or something similar.

Players can also collect two free daily items from the game’s cash shop in response to the feedback regarding the energy/fatigue system; further player input is being collected and considered by the developers. That doesn’t mean much will change, but at least it might.

The latest episode of the game’s accompanying anime has also been released, letting players see a bit more of the story and lore behind the title. Of course, it’s not exactly a lengthy episode at three minutes, so you can watch the whole thing just below if you’d like.

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EVE Online announces plans to start retiring items from its in-game store

The problem facing EVE Online’s in-game store, according to the most recent development update, was that it was stuffed full of cosmetic items and was thus difficult to navigate. So what’s the solution? Provide better navigation tools? Offer more robust searches and groupings? Or just retire all of the things that have been in the store for a while and ensure that anything new would be retired after a short span of time as well, thus pressuring you to buy it right away? That last one is the one with the link and it requires the least work, so take a guess.

Various sales will be held over the next few month as the team retires more or less all of the cosmetic skins in the shop right now; future skins will have a lifespan of three months before they are also retired. There’s the promise that some of these items may return at various points in the future for seasonal packs, but obviously, the emphasis is on buying any skins immediately if you want them in the future. Which, we must concede, will definitely make the store easier to navigate.

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TERA introduces new lootboxes for purchase, and they’re full of money

A lot of games have found ways to play with the idea of buying gold, usually with some form of currency exchange regulated by the game: You buy an item for subscription time with real money, someone else buys it for gold, you get the gold. TERA has decided to cut out the middleman with the Federation Gem Crates. You buy those, you get gems. What do you do with gems? You sell them to merchants for a lot of money.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a lootbox without some element of randomness, so you’ll never be sure of exactly what you get within a given crate. There are four different gem packages available, each one retailing for a different amount from merchants, so you could luck out and get a lot of money or wind up with very little money on a whole. But probably not, as player trial runs have shown it’s a bad bet.

So yes, it’s a lootbox selling in-game money. That’s a thing now.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Leiloni for the tip!

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds very slightly changes its paid and free lootbox system

A new patch for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds means new loot crates, and that also means that you have an option for one that you can open for free and one that will cost you money. However, the latest patch has at least changed the system very slightly so that the new paid crate is not among those randomly dropped to you on a regular basis. You have to specifically select the paid crate in order for it to turn up.

We should stress, however, that this only applies to the new paid crate; the old paid crate, the Desperado crate, is still in the rotation and will still cost you money to open. So you could argue that if what you really wanted was to not get a crate that asked you for money in the game, all that’s happened is that your odds of getting one have dropped to 20%. Which is still progress, albeit perhaps not the amount of progress you would like.

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EverQuest II adds a level boost potion for crafting

Want to get crafting done in EverQuest II but without all the crafting parts? Well, now you can have just that with the tradeskill level 100 boost. Buy it for 3500 Daybreak cash (i.e., $35) and your character’s tradeskill class will be set to 100. The potion also grants an associated 500 skill in tinkering, adorning, transmutation, and the associated tradeskills. In other words, it’s all the joy of crafting without all of that… crafting part.

Players who are still Artisans will be prompted to pick a specific tradeskill class when using the potion, which serves as a quick boost to start in on the new signature quest line for tradeskills. Anyone with an All Access membership will also benefit from a 10% discount on the purchase. Obviously, players who have already done the crafting work won’t have any need of this, but if you’re languishing at lower levels… well, you can change that, and it’ll just cost some money now.

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Black Desert players are up in arms about a very nice (and very expensive) tent

So let’s talk a little bit about camping! Black Desert recently added the option of setting up campsites to the game, which gives you a chance to repair, buy buffs, and otherwise rest up when far from civilization. It’s time-limited and expensive, but it means that you can operate on longer journeys effectively. Unless you buy the $50 cash shop tent, which affords you a whole lot of bonuses compared to the normal tent. It has no expiration, cheaper repairs, longer-term buffs, and player testing has revealed it gives access to every single villa buff with any villa invitation.

To recap, that’s $50 for repair prices a tenth of the normal tent cost, no need to re-invest money in it, and access to even more buffs for longer.

Players are obviously upset about the item’s addition to the cash shop, with many discussing it as a pay-to-win item due to the overwhelming advantage it gives to any players willing to drop money on it. That’s including the players who think it’s overpriced but still see it as a necessary investment to play the game in a reasonable fashion. If you’re a little unclear on how the system works, you can check out a fan video just below explaining the mechanics from the game’s Korean version.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds adds new crate drops with a 0.01% drop rate for items

Hey, kids, you like random cosmetic rewards, right? The latest patch currently in testing for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds adds two new crates that can drop when you spend BP on a crate drop, and one of them requires a (paid) key to open. The other can be opened for free. Within both crates are a number of new cosmetic items, some of which have an astonishing 0.01% drop rate in the free crate. That means that on average, you would need to open 10,000 crates to see one of these things drop.

A helpful examination of other games with cosmetic crates reveals that those games tend to top out at one best-possible drop closer to once every 10 loot boxes opened. It’s also far easier or cheaper to get those boxes. Granted, we don’t yet know how much the keys for the paid crate are going to cost, and the drop rates are slightly better in the paid box (the rarest paid item has a 0.16% drop rate), but it’s still the sort of gouging for single items that is unlikely to sit well with anyone once the numbers are made clear.

At least the drop rates are right in the patch notes. That’s helpful.

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RIFT puts an endgame currency out for real-money sales

Look, we can all agree that “pay-to-win” is, at the very least, a difficult concept to be certain about. Right? There’s a lot of stuff where you can argue that a game is or is not pay-to-win just by slightly moving the goalposts. But then you have RIFT opening up sales of Captured Intel packs on the in-game store for real money, and we can all agree that yes, this is what pay-to-win definitely looks like.

Why? Because Captured Intel is a currency used to buy endgame gear. This is literally buying a currency used to advance in the endgame. If this doesn’t trip your pay-to-win sensors, nothing will.

A Reddit thread explains the issues with this quite eloquently (and already has at least one person actually arguing that it doesn’t count as pay-to-win if you can just buy endgame gear, so that works great). It also points out that the best thing for players to do at this point is to point out that this is not all right and then go on to not buy the packs; they’ll only be sold if people buy them, after all. Words to live by.

Source: Official Site, Reddit; thanks to Dark Daemon for the tip!

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EA disables all Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransaction crud – for now

Whenever you see a studio call fans “passionate,” it’s almost always shorthand for “rioting with pitchforks and torches.” Guess what Star Wars Battlefront 2’s execs are calling its players this week?

DICE GM Oskar Garbrielson apologized to the game’s “passionate” community about the missteps that EA made in locking its characters behind a prohibitive grind and aggressively pushing microtransactions. He said that the team is disabling all in-game purchases with crystals, at least until the company can figure out a better way to implement them:

“But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right. We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds struggles with rapid growth and microtransactions backlash

With its domination over Steam and 10 million units sold, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has the industry’s direct and rapt attention. But this immense success hasn’t come without obstacles, particularly as the studio attempts to expand and wrangle a monster success.

“The biggest problem we’re having at the moment is the server platform, because we’re trying to develop it on a production system, which is super hard because you’ve got millions of players — literally millions — coming through the doors every day,” said Bluehole Creative Director Brendan Green.

The early access shooter has also seen stiff backlash due to its decision to introduce microtransactions into the testing process. While Green said that the percentage of players expressing dissatisfaction is relatively small, it has still led to a review bombing campaign on Steam.

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EVE Online rolls out major PLEX changes on May 9

When EVE Online releases its next big patch on May 9th, PLEX is changing in a big way. For example, the old days of ships carrying around a huge number of PLEX packages and getting blown up will be a thing of the past; PLEX will now be stored in a central vault that can be accessed from anywhere, meaning that it’s no longer incredibly valuable (and volatile) cargo. It’s also being converted into currency in its own right, broken into 500 PLEX rather than a single PLEX item used to extend subscription time.

This makes the name “pilot license extension” rather inappropriate, but since everyone just calls it PLEX all of the time anyhow, the actual impact will be lessened.

All of the changes will also mean that PLEX will be the new go-to microtransaction currency while being less vulnerable to destruction in the game. A month of subscription will cost 500 PLEX, so that elemet of gameplay remains fundamentally the same, even though it’s possible to earn PLEX in smaller increments over time with the shift. So if you’ve got some vulnerable haulers full of PLEX… maybe just leave those in the dock until May 9th. Then you can have them haul something less expensive.

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EVE Evolved: What’s the deal with EVE’s PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or “30-day Pilot’s License EXtension” is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE‘s business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There’s been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what’s the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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