pay to win

“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.

The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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?

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Black Desert players protest lag, bugs, pay-to-win, and lack of account security

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.

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Bless Online interview: Soft launch plans, why Gamigo bowed out, and avoiding pay-to-win

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!

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Massively Overthinking: Considering pay-to-win MMO peripherals

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?

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Life is Feudal MMO has launched into early access on Steam

Builder-centric sandbox Life is Feudal has officially launched into early access with a buy-in of $29.99, and that’s the MMO version, mind you, not the Your Own survival sandbox. Consider it a bit like part two of the open beta, which has been running since autumn after initially being plagued by exploits and bugs.

“The Steam version contains all the features and content of the currently active Open Beta version, which means Steam users can join the tens of thousands of Open Beta players already building homes, keeps, and castles in the game. They will also be able to work with those same players to forge alliances that will over time form mighty guilds who control vast kingdoms. There’s a place for every type of player in Life is Feudal: MMO, from the butcher or baker, to the royal guard, regal knights, vassals and kings or queens.”

Last month, Bitbox implied it had “tens of thousands of players” romping through the game, though reviews are mixed; in the most recent reviews, players seem to be complaining chiefly about expensive P2W microtransactions, bugs, confusion, and grind.

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RIFT pulls pay-to-win packs out of the store — for now

Reacting to massive community pushback over what is perceived to be pay-to-win packs in the RIFT store, Trion Worlds announced that it is pulling the items — at least for now — to reevaluate the situation and ask the community for more feedback.

“We’ve seen the feedback on the limited time Collected Intel packs and have decided to take the short term action to switch them off for the time being (the holiday packs remain up),” CM Linda Carlson said. “Taking them offline now gives us time to review ALL the feedback, together with in-game data, next week when the dev team is back in office, and make careful, reasoned decisions.”

The Collected Intel packs in question involve a currency that is bought with real money and can be used to purchase endgame gear, which some saw as breaking through the P2W barrier. Trion is asking for players to submit all feedback to this thread, although we will not stop any of our readers from sharing their thoughts on this move below.

Source: Official forums. Thanks Clowd and Boom!

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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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Bless Online addresses Steam launch questions, but still has no public monetization plan

Pretty psyched that Bless Online is coming to the west on Steam in 2018? So are we! But there are many questions about this launch that are still unanswered, even after reading through Neowiz’ recent FAQ on Steam.

Neowiz said that the early access launch will happen globally and initially include English, German, and Russian localization. Some players will be invited to check out the game prior to early access, although the studio didn’t clarify how it would select these lucky few.

The studio was also non-committal on a business model but made the expected statement against pay-to-win tactics: “While we are still determining what the right monetization plan is for Bless Online, you can be assured that we heard everyone’s feedback loud and clear to avoid any P2W elements. We promise to continue to solicit and gather your feedback and choose the business model that works the best for Bless Online.”

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s free-to-play upgrades are pretty damn generous

You’ve probably heard by now that EVE Online is giving its free-to-play alpha clone characters a massive boost in power in December about a month after the launch of the Lifeblood expansion. The news has been spreading through the gaming media since it was announced last week at EVE Vegas 2017 and the reception online has been generally positive. Some existing players are worried that the change might even be too generous, with fears that veteran players may let their subscriptions lapse and play for free, or that the new skills might be abused to create an endless army of ganking alts.

There’s no doubt that the changes will help to close the power gap between subscribers and free players and will open up new avenues of gameplay. Free players will finally be able to fly tech 1 battlecruisers and even battleships, and cross-training for multiple races will unlock multi-faction ships such as the Sisters of EVE exploration ships. Alpha clone players will also finally be able to use tech 2 weapons and fly many of the ship setups flown in massive nullsec wars, though the way that the new skill limit is being implemented may actually benefit old and returning players more than new ones.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into the free-to-play changes, briefly examine the power gap between free and subscribed players, and look at who will benefit most from the change.

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Camelot Unchained’s Mark Jacobs on guilds, groups, and the social systems that make an MMORPG go ’round

Over the weekend, the studio behind crowdfunded RvR MMORPG Camelot Unchained released a hefty chunk of its ongoing beta one document, revealing extensive insight into the way the game’s social systems will be laid out. Parts of those social systems will look familiar to MMO players, such as groups (Warbands), guilds (Orders), and raids (Battlegroups). But there are more layers to contend with, including perma-groups or mini-guilds (Permanent Warbands), as well as project-oriented raids (Campaigns), all designed in the service of an ambitious RvR-centered MMO that makes space for soloers and small guilds by not over- or under-privileging the largest teams in the genre. That’s the goal, anyway!

CU boss and MMORPG veteran developer Mark Jacobs, whom many of you know personally thanks to his ubiquity in our comments section, gamely answered about a thousand of my questions over the weekend, which we’ve compiled into an absurdly long interview about how to properly smush together all these groups into a social system sandwich that makes everybody happy. There’s even a Star Trek quote and a bonus question about Warhammer Online’s development and CU’s budget at the end!

I strongly urge you to check out the original doc first, as the interview assumes knowledge of the basic terminology and structure of the game. Fair warning: While Camelot Unchained’s document is almost 6000 words, this interview itself is close to 4000. You put Jacobs in a virtual room with me and my questions go on forever, and damn if he doesn’t answer them exhaustively. It’s a whopper, but it’s worth reading for a glimpse into what could be the future of MMO community planning.

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PAX West 2017: Chronicles of Elyria’s monetization philosophy, tribe evolution, and the PvP sandbox stigma

What is Chronicles of Elyria? We first learned about the game and its goal to redefine the MMORPG genre back in 2015. Since then, CoE has been developing steadily, especially after the huge influx of capital gained through Kickstarter and then on-site crowdfunding. Folks could follow the progress through numerous dev blogs, videos, and even the chance to test bits of gameplay at various PAXs. Some bits of that development, however, have raised questions; prospective players have voiced concerns about the pay-to-win and gankbox stigmas, the complex tribe system, and the admittedly broad scope of the game.

I sat down with Executive Producer Vye Alexander and CEO/Creative Director Jeromy Walsh at PAX West to discuss these issues and more.

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Paragon players rage over ‘pay-to-win’ monetization changes and loot crates

No exaggeration: The Paragon subreddit is in absolute uproar over the MOBA’s newest monetization tactic. The board is currently covered with dozens of threads angry over the game’s new buyable packs as dedicated players express rage over what they’re saying amounts to pay-to-win, mobile platform strategies – a moneygrab.

The most expensive pack, the Diamond pack at $150, does include a ton of stuff. But what it doesn’t include is a guarantee that the loot crates tucked inside it will actually grant all the unlocks, meaning you could shell out a ton of money and still be outta luck.

Redditors are also speculating on the decision-making process itself, pointing out that the game’s former director, Steve Superville, who left Epic after 15 years with the company last spring, was adamant that the studio would never sell cards and heroes, that they’d be earnable only through gameplay.

“Vote with your wallets,” one Redditor urges players. “This game cannot thrive with a P2W platform, and the best way to prove this is to NOT BUY THE PACKS.”

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Dauntless holds AMA covering free-to-play, Steam, wipes, and Monster Hunter Online

Yesterday afternoon, the 40-odd-member Phoenix Labs team held a Reddit AMA on Dauntless. Let’s run down the highlights!

  • There are no hard dates attached to the different phases of beta and no details on wipes are available yet. The devs aren’t saying whether test progress will transfer to launch.
  • Zero plans to come to Steam.
  • Ranged weapons “and something else” are under construction. Phoenix wouldn’t talk about more except to say hammers are “getting love.”
  • Damage and efficacy display, especially for combos, is something the devs are considering and seeking feedback on. Ditto hunting/gathering balance, flares, consumables, and weapon appearance evolution.
  • A question about hardmode was met with a vague response.
  • Housing and a replay feature are “possible in the future,” but the devs made no promises.
  • “We are definitely looking froward to supporting guilds and know they will be an integral part of the community. More details at a later date.”

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