The Daily Grind: Are you an impulse buyer in MMO cash shops?

Mounting problems, if you will? Probably not.

During last week’s podcast, Justin and I were discussing MMOs that seem to make it hard for us to give them money, which led us to talk about a cash shop tactic that drives me nuts: limited-availability items. I understand why MMOs put these types of items in the cash shop; as MOP reader TomTurtle noted, in Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet’s “limited availability tactic works better for impulse purchases” because “a good number of players make purchases that they probably wouldn’t have made otherwise.”

I know he’s right. But I am so not one of those people! As I was saying, I am a lister. I made endless lists of things I want to buy and do, and I let them stew a while before acting on them. I try to avoid impulse anything, and I have a system and a hard budget so that I can plan everything to avoid waste and regret. Guild Wars 2’s system of rotating things in and out of the store to try to get me to buy them just in case doesn’t work for or on me.

So because I cannot plan very well for Guild Wars 2’s sales and (more specifically) which costumes will be available at any given time), I spend far less on the game than I otherwise would. If the thing I want isn’t for sale, I’m not gonna just buy something else, and I’m not gonna buy something I didn’t plan on either. I guess enough impulse buyers make up for my particular type that ArenaNet doesn’t care, but it’s still annoying to me.

Are you an impulse buyer when it comes to MMORPG cash shops? Or do you plan your purchases? And what’s your stance on limited-availability items in cash shops?

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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Bryan Correll

I am a Lister

At least you’re not a Rimmer.

Brown Jenkin

Just the opposite actually. I am all for spending cash in MMOs that I enjoy, but I’ve struggled with GW2 because I know they’ll have one or two sales a year and I’d rather just wait for them. Items in the gem shop aren’t cheap, and even if I’d really like them, spending significant amounts of real money for a digital item always gives me doubts.

Kickstarter Donor

No, even though there are things I want, I haven’t made a cash shop purchase in a long time. Maybe I will buy when I get more of a disposable income, but they will be well-planned purchases, not impulse ones.

I’ve heard a bit of marketing psychology that consumers tend to feel worse about purchases when they have an overwhelmingly large pool of things to choose from. If that is truly the case, then maybe that is another part of why games choose to rotate their cash shop offerings.

Fervor Bliss

When I see something I like I get it. Support the game and all that. So much better than paying a sub and they make nothing for you. Money wasted.

Sally Bowls

Hmm, it seems to me the far more interesting question is “Why is Bree Abnormal?” :-)

It’s just a joke but Limited-time offers (act now!, Bambi is going back in the Disney vault soon!) are normal and work throughout gaming and non-gaming. So they have to work for most people. (Sometimes it is not just time-limited; HSN in the old days wanted a % of their auctions to sell out.)

Besides, MMOs are built on limited time offers. Today’s daily bonus is only available today! login to get it. Daily lockouts, weekly lockouts, … Would you have ground right now for the cape you got from the Summer Butcape Festival if it were available year round?


Would you have ground right now for the cape you got from the Summer Butcape Festival if it were available year round?

Actually, if a MMO is doing some time-limited promotion or event with exclusive rewards, I will not play it at all during that period. After the event is over, if there is any reward that I really wished I had obtained, I will instead leave the game, often permanently.

I hate time-limited events and rewards with the burning passion of a thousand suns.

BTW, time-limited offers similar to the Disney “vault” are one of the few things that can make me pirate something without feeling even a twinge of guilt. If I want to purchase anything that can be easily and cheaply copied, and despite that there is no way to obtain a legitimate copy, I assume the rights owner doesn’t want my money anyway. I treat other out of catalog items, like games, books, movies, songs, etc, in a similar way; if there is some way to legitimately obtain a copy I will either purchase it or do without, if there is no way to get a legitimate copy I will pirate it instead.

Oleg Chebeneev

Im not any buyer in MMO cash shops


I have a monthly budget for games I play, I don’t go over that. If something I want is available within said budget then I tend to buy it. If stores want to rotate items out and I’m not playing the game when something is available oh well. Guess they don’t want my money. If something else is available I want I’ll buy it, otherwise I’ll just go put my money elsewhere.

Robert Mann

I don’t really care. I dislike cash shops in general. I’d like a serious buy to play or sub game, with DLC purchases if B2P. So long as they reinvest the money from either partially toward the game, rather than taking the success for extra bonuses to their high end executives, I feel like such a game would do well.

The big problem is making that a big deal at the start, and showing some integrity so that people trust it. Too many broken promises on simple things are standing evidence not to trust such words, so it really means a studio has to build up the trust and confidence of people in them, then continue to carry that forward.

Do it, do it well, and likely there will be a following not only for an MMO, but potentially other projects including potentially future MMOs. Do it poorly, and the effort is doomed. Hire actual beta testers. Put in the money, effort, and listen to people’s ideas (judge them with a critical mind, but listen!) Be different from the AAA standard of people as nothing but profit numbers.

I’m really more interested in the idea of a much larger amount of craft goods that matter, with gathering taking more effort (and not in the deforestation that is GW2 crafting, that’s just more running around for hours to get enough to do anything!) crafting taking more effort, and the entire thing not being the secondhand status quo humdrum that it so often is. I’d like to see skill trees, mastery effects, different materials and patterns, and even workstations and styles of doing different tasks make differences in the output including looks.

Kickstarter Donor

When it comes to mounts and cosmetics I have little willpower to resist once I see something I want unless its in a lockbox ofc that I can totally resist lol

Toy Clown

I’m right there with the article writer in saying that I dislike cash shops set up with limited and rotating items. The two worst are GW2 and ESO that I’ve seen. ESO is worse than GW2 because once they rotate things out, you’ll only see them again in lock boxes, which is a lot more expensive than if I had bought an outfit in the first place.

BDO is my main MMO and they have the most expensive cash shop I’ve seen. Thankfully they’ve slowed down the creation of new outfits and I rarely buy them anymore. I wish there were more looks, and its definitely one of the things I dislike about BDO. I also wait before spending cash and see if I can snag cash shop items off the player market. I won a bid on a time-limited outfit last week, which saved me 30$ real dollars. My account is also at the point that I have everything: pets, enough bank space, inventory, maids and character weight. Most of these items I got with loyalty, daily log-ins and special events over the past couple of years. I don’t even need value packs anymore. While it did take a little investment and lots of time, my account doesn’t rely on cash shop spending. It was rare I broke my gaming budget in BDO, so it worked out with patience.

Since I’m playing GW2 again, its been easy to ignore a lot of the cash shop items because I’m content with what I do have. I’ve never really cared for flashy, sparkly and glowy outfits, weapons and mounts, and that’s the majority of what they put in there. There is one thing I want and watch lists show it comes back to the cash shop 2-3 times a year. Who knows if GW2 will keep my attention that long, but its not a huge thing to own it. My biggest aggravation with GW2 is the cost of transmutation stones that change one piece of gear’s looks. That’s always been my bane in this game, and I have quit over the cost of these stones before. I’m niggly like that because I like to change my character’s looks every day.

The bottom line is this: I work hard for my money and while I view MMOs as good value for entertainment, it quickly loses that value if I spend over 60$ a month on them.