No one believes me when I say that I’m bad about making money in my main games. It’s true, though; compared to the people who put a whole lot of effort into doing so, my moneymaking skills are sub-par. Yes, I own a mansion in Final Fantasy XIV, but that’s a result of frugality and building up resources over time. Yes, I’ve got an extensive heirloom collection in World of Warcraft, but I’m not playing the markets (or at least, not playing them well).
Of course, I also might be comparing myself to the wrong people, considering I know other people who would fall over themselves for the moneymaking engines I already have running. So what about you, dear readers? How diligent are you about making money in an MMO? Do you enjoy playing the economic games and live for the big windfalls, or do you mostly treat money as something to slowly accumulate rather than a thing to chase after?
One of my friends in Final Fantasy XIV is engaged in a perpetual trade war with another player who tries to drive her out of the markets by buying all of her stuff and reselling it. We do not know how in the world he continues to acquire the gil for same. For that matter, I can’t understand what he’s getting out of it; I barely understand what she’s getting out of it, since she already has plenty of gil. (Stockpiling to help others when needed, I suppose.)
I’ve never been sufficiently into the economy of any game to dive that deep into a trade war with someone, but in some games like EVE Online it’s almost half of the gameplay. And even in games that reward the mere mention of crafting with a swift punch to the ribcage, people find a way to engage in epic battles of gouging and price fixing. So what about you, readers? Have you ever engaged in an MMO price war? Have you bought and resold in an attempt to corner a market? Or have you never even considered such a thing until now?
If you walked away confused by NCsoft’s most recent quarterly financial report, Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. might be able to sort it out for you.
The Seoul-based analyst firm suggests that the Lineage series, which appeared strong at first glance, actually turned in weaker than expected revenue, in spite of the fact that Lineage M was the top-grossing game on Android and iOS. “The biggest surprise was marketing spend, which jumped 10% QoQ and 69% YoY, despite the absence of any new major titles,” the firm notes. “We believe this suggests the company spent as much on promoting Lineage M’s massive updates as it typically does on promoting new titles.”
That said, the firm still calls the company a buy: “We see little reason for concern in terms of profit and valuation in 1H18 and see potential for earnings growth and a re-rating in 2H18, driven by new releases.” What new releases would those be? Blade & Soul II (first half of the year) and Aion Tempest and Lineage II M (last half of the year).
Look, if you want to call me a doomsayer or a pessimist or whatever when it comes to Kickstarter and MMOs, you have every reason to do so. I’ve been saying unflattering things about it since back in 2012, at least. But when you back a Kickstarter, the explicit assumption is that what you are backing is an idea. It’s not an actual thing yet. Hopefully it will become an actual thing, but it is not one at the time you back it. And that means that some of the projects you fund will take your money and then never turn into actual games.
All part of the experience. But have you ever actually regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO?
In my case, I do genuinely regret a game I helped fund on Kickstarter, although it wasn’t an MMO (Mighty No. 9 had a different set of enormous problems). But sometimes I wonder if people might not just be looking at games like TUG or Embers of Caerus; I can understand someone who funded Shroud of the Avatar or Crowfall and now feels like the game is developing in a very different direction, one that makes the previous funding a source of regret. So what about you? Have you ever regretted funding a Kickstarted MMO, either because it didn’t happen or for other reasons?
This week’s Massively Overthinking topic is a submission from reader and commenter camelotcrusade, who takes the industry’s current fight over monetization in a different direction from lockboxes. “Are modern games too cheap?” he asks, probably slowly reaching into a can of worms with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“When you think about it, many other things we buy have increased in price over the last decade but AAA games are still expected to be a maximum of $60, with many of us waiting for sales (or for free-to-play). Meanwhile, games everywhere are adding shops, post-release content, and DLC galore with increasingly aggressive pricing models. How much of this is to make-up margins they can’t capture up-front? How much should an AA game cost in 2017? $75? $90? Is there a price point where lockboxes, gambling, and in-game stores could focus on value-add instead of survival? And how did we get here? Whose fault is it? And how do we get out of this, or is ‘would you like a game with your store’ the future as we know it?”
Let’s talk money!
There was a time in my life when my budget consisted of two basic line items – things I needed for survival and video games. Everything else was superfluous. At that point, video games made up a good chunk of my budget. My overall spending on games has gone down over the past several years, but my spending on MMOs as a percentage of the whole has gone up; I didn’t buy anything in the Steam sale this summer, but I keep up my subscriptions to games, I often buy cash shop fluff, and so forth.
Of course, we all have different amounts of money to spend on gaming every month. But for some people, $100 on MMOs is barely any part of their monthly gaming budget, and for others $5 on Star Wars: The Old Republic is pretty much it for the month. So today we ask you, dear readers – how much of your gaming budget is spent on MMOs? Do you buy a lot of games and spend comparatively little on MMOs, or do you spend most of your money on MMOs regardless of an actual dollar amount?
A friend of mine who doesn’t really play MMOs asked me recently about buyer’s remorse for free-to-play games. It’s a good question, I think; with subscription games, failing to make use of something is mostly the equivalent of not going to the gym despite having a membership. Awkward and unpleasant, but not really outright remorse. But dropping $10 on something and later wishing you hadn’t is another story altogether.
I do, in fact, have my own story of that; I bought some cartel coins on Star Wars: The Old Republic and was using them to unlock parts of a stronghold, but one part deducted several coins repeatedly without actually unlocking until I relogged. (The customer service staff, I’m sorry to say, was entirely unhelpful in resolving the issue.) It’s not a major problem, and it certainly wasn’t enough for me to make an undying issue out of it, but I did wish in hindsight that I hadn’t bothered.
So what about you, dear readers? Have you ever had free-to-play buyer’s remorse in an MMO? If so, what did you buy and why do you wish you hadn’t? And even if you don’t have such a story, do you think it’s probably more common than we hear?
One of the big announcements from last year’s BlizzCon was the addition of the new Overwatch League, a project Blizzard is using to help push competitive gaming and branding with a dedicated e-sports organization. It’s still a little early to say how successful it’s going to be, but analyst predictions have it pegged as a potential moneymaker of $100 million in its first year. That’s a lot of money for something where the game is already being made and balanced.
The prediction was made by investment management firm Morgan Stanley and outlines several potential futures, with the $100 million figure requiring about 72,000 regular viewers during the season. Morgan Stanley also predicts that much will depend on the future of e-sports as a viable market, depending on whether competitve gaming turns out to have a broad appeal or fails to connect with a larger paying audience.
Valve is determined to keep itself in the news this weekend, apparently: Yesterday, the company announced it’s shutting down the Steam Greenlight platform. That’s no big deal; Greenlight’s been a bit of a joke for a long time, such a weak barrier to entry that pundits have long argued there’s so much on Steam that it’s hard to find anything.
Where it gets complicated is in how Valve plans to replace Greenlight: Instead of the company curating what it publishes or players vetting games with easily manipulable votes, the studios themselves will be paying an entry fee to weed out… well, presumably they think it’ll weed out bad games, but it looks more like the actual effect will be to weed out poorbies, students, experimental games, and folks in developing countries — meanwhile, giant distributors pushing out garbage will breeze on by.
“The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling Steam Direct, is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”
At one point, I picked a bad talent for a character in World of Warcraft, back in the days of talent trees. Annoyed, I schlepped off to the trainer, reset my talents, clicked through… and clicked the same wrong talent. Reset again, sigh, click through… how did I do that again? Yes, three times, three respecs. I am a smart man.
Other great things that I’ve done to myself in MMOs include buying a map in Final Fantasy XI because I forgot that I just had to turn in a quest to get that same map for free, spending a thousand gil teleporting in Final Fantasy XIV because I kept teleporting and forgetting why I had gone there, and spending credits on a shuttle that I never use in Star Trek Online. These are all technically money sinks, but in practical terms, they’re just me making dumb choices and then tossing out in-game money to fix it.
I am certain that this is not just me. Or at least I’m hoping it’s not. So what about you, dear readers? What’s the most pointless expense you’ve inflicted upon yourself in an MMO? How did you throw a bunch of in-game money down a pit only to realize afterwards that you didn’t need to spend any of it?
It’s generally considered impolite in most societies to inquire about others’ financial status and spending habits. Today I’m going to do just that because my curiosity sometimes overwhelms my sense of tact. What I would like to know from you today is what you’ve spent money on in MMOs over the past month or so.
Are you a whale? A spendthrift? Do you have subscriptions running? Have you splurged on a few tempting purchases? Do you buy lockboxes with abandon?
You don’t even need to reveal how much you spent, just what you used your money for toward MMOs lately. For a bonus question, what kind of things get you to drop cash on MMOs? Are you a sucker for sales?
Today’s Daily Grind is inspired by a Reddit thread posed to Guild Wars 2 players asking them what they’d do if they suddenly had 3,000 gold (a very large sum there) to play with. I thought the question was a great one even beyond the walls of Guild Wars 2 because the economy sub-game is such a big component of MMORPGs, even those that traditionally just let their economies go wild.
Personally, I tend to use currency rather than achievements or gear as the mark of my success in a game, so I work hard to accrue it. Having a big pile of money is one of the things that keeps me coming back to an MMO, too. How I spend it tends to revolve around the game, but usually it’s tricked out gear and skins, followed by “rares” like ships and home decorations. I’ve also spent a tremendous amount of my money on my guild, particularly twinking people to get them to play something with me, and I like dropping donations on friendly newbies or server-wide causes and events.
So let’s suppose you suddenly come into a ton of money in your favorite MMORPG — what would you do with it? And if you’re already Scrooge McDuck in everything you play, what do you spend your cash on?
When my friends need to borrow money in Final Fantasy XIV or Final Fantasy XI, they come to me. It’s not because I’m higher-level than they are or anything, they just know I have money. Which is a true fact, but it’s also an odd one because I’ve never once tried to make money in those games. I sit on a huge pile of energy credits and Dilithium in Star Trek Online, but I never sought those riches out. I just accumulated over time with steady momentum and management.
The thing is that I know some players live for that. There are people who get really excited at the thought of cornering materials markets in FFXIV or making a killing in the markets of EVE Online. I enjoy making money, but it’s never more than an ancillary purpose for me, something to consider when I’m doing the stuff that I like to do anyhow. Which raises the question to you, dear readers. Are you interested in making money in your MMOs? Do you go out of your way to make the big bucks, do you err on the side of making money over not making money, or do you really not care as long as you can pay the basic costs associated with playing a character?