“Pay-to-win” aka P2W is a term used by online gamers for any game system or mechanic that allows a player to acquire advantages over other players using real-world money.
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?
Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”
Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.
On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.
What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?
As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.
For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.
I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Go, since it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.
new progression fresh start server going live today, players are raising concerns that Trion Worlds has slipped in pay-to-win elements in its cash shop mere hours before the shard’s activation.
Some of the questionable items that have appeared on the cash shop include dungeon run consumables, leveling consumables, best-in-slot pajamas, and combat consumables.
One major ArcheAge content creator, Paradox Gaming, called Trion out on Twitter for the last-minute move: “Its not to late to save this fresh start launch of ArcheAge. You have time to fix the ‘pay to win’ that has hit the fresh start marketplace. The community wants to hear that all is not lost for ArcheAge. What say you @hartsman? Can we get a public statement on AA FS P2W?”
Several conversations I saw after our report on the new RMT mounts in Guild Wars 2 got me thinking about how the MMO community uses the word whale. I had used the word to refer to the kind of person who buys a ton of RNG-based lockboxes to get every last one of the shiny bits and bobs within, but the reality is that anyone who pays a respectable flat fee for a purely cosmetic upgrade has also been hooked on some sort of fishing rod or other, even if it’s not a harpoon.
So let’s consider the numbers behind the terminology in this week’s Massively Overthinking. How much money spent makes you an MMO whale? Does it apply only to cosmetics or lockboxes? When does the “whale” term kick in for people who buy early access, collector editions, or 10 expansion boxes over the course of an MMO’s life? Are most gamers more properly dolphins or something in 2018?
SoulWorker is technically in open beta on paper; it isn’t supposed to truly launch until later this quarter. It hit Steam at the end of February. It announced it was done wiping. It opened up the cash shop. And now, it’s got a subscription too – an optional one, mind you.
There are actually two different subscription plans, both 30-days, and they are stackable; the silver sub grants keycards, respawners, battle books, extra auction slots, and an additional 80 daily energy. The gold sub doubles most of those bonuses, adds a few more, and adds an additional 120 max energy. It’s also possible to buy subs and sell them in-game.
But it’s the energy perks that have beta testers particularly concerned about pay-to-win, as energy limits in-game activities in a way few MMORPGs can get away with. In SoulWorker, players start with 200 daily energy, so with the double sub, they can double that number. Gameforge says it’s still considering how to proceed.
Once again, gamers prove that protests can work.
Here’s the deal: Paladins players have been grousing about the Cards Unbound system for months, alleging that the system basically turned in-game purchases made with gold into purchases made only with real cash – in other words, that Hi-Rez had gone way too far over into lockbox-centric pay-to-win territory. At one point, the Paladins subreddit was so fed up that players were “designing” really terrible MS Paint-esque fake cards in protest.
At the tail end of February – the same day IGN posted an article citing an anonymous source claiming that the Cards Unbound system was forced upon the dev team by greedy execs, the studio finally backed down.
If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.
I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.
But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.
At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.
“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”
I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?
Agitators on the Black Desert
subreddit are attempting to whip up press and players
over a range of grievances players have with Kakao
, the western publisher of the Pearl Abyss
MMORPG. Complaints range from the ongoing and well-documented lag problems and bugs to misapplied bans and database compromises.
The biggest post on the subreddit as I type this, however, as well as one of the biggest in a long time, is a Valentine’s poem dedicated to Kakao calling it a “P2W scam.” Readers will recall that Black Desert has been fending off pay-to-win accusations since even before its western launch in 2016.
Still other players are petitioning Kakao for two-factor authentication, which they argue will not only make accounts more secure but reduce the number of gamers whose accounts are stolen and then banned by Kakao with no chance of appeal when the thieves use third-party software.
Bless Online is one of the biggest MMORPGs we’re expecting to launch in the west in 2018. Over the last six years, we’ve watched it blossom in South Korea, switch publishers, and even go back to the drawing board for a revamp before Neowiz pushes it westward. That’s left a lot of gamers, including us, with questions about the game’s future. And to get answers to those questions, we spoke with Game Director Jae-hoon Jeon all about the game’s planned monetization, early access, and just what sets Bless apart in a field of high-quality import MMORPGs. Read on for the details!
MOP reader and commenter Sally Bowls recently sent along a link to an insanely awesome 34″ monitor that costs more than a lot of PC rigs in their entirety. “UltraWide For A Gaming Advantage,” LG’s sale page says in a huge font. It even touts a pro e-sports team using the monitor to “get an edge on the competition.” The idea is, shell out for expensive gear, and you’ll dust those scrubs still peeping through their tiny 16:9 portholes – that’s if they can see at all between the screen-tear, stutter, and input lag! You sure showed them, and it only cost ya $900!
Sally is not amused and wonders why people aren’t enraged at pay-to-win coming from this angle of the market. “This is not subtle. More expensive mice trying to justify their price with more buttons/resolution/tracking has been a thing. As Dr. Bartle points out, it is not that people don’t like P2W; it’s that they dislike other people being able to buy power. Is this a new trend or have I not been hanging out in the competitive end of the pool?”
So what do you think? Is better hardware pay-to-win, or is this just overblown marketing fluff? Why don’t people discuss this more? Have you ever taken advantage of pay-to-win hardware and peripherals? Should this be a thing modern gamers worry about? Where do you stand?