The Daily Grind: Who the heck are you people who buy stuff for MMOs you can’t play yet?

This is fine.

I gotta know this. Who the heck are you people who buy stuff for MMOs you can’t play yet? Star Citizen, Ashes of Creation, ships, cosmetics, land, houses, whatever, doesn’t matter.

Look, I get it: If you’re not hustling, you’re going hungry, so I get why studios ask. I’m not saying they aren’t entitled to sell promises. And I’m not saying you can’t buy what you want. I’m not saying you don’t have the right.

What I am is curious about who you are and why you do it. Who fits the profile of “person who pours money into MMO development in this roundabout way but is not an actual investor hoping for a return”? So tell me. Who are you? Are you rich bored dudes and dudettes? Are you buying stuff so your ex can’t get your money? Do you get a tax writeoff? Do you have nothing better to buy? Are you just a getting out in front of other whales, like betting on which games will actually succeed? Do you want to donate but just decide you’d rather get something for that donation? Or are you on a budget such that you scrimp and save for just the right cosmetics knowing this is gonna be your home game for life and you’ll want them when the game launches in five years?

Who are you? How much have you spent on these kinds of pre-launch purchases, and what was your last big spend?

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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Hi @Bree
I am owning up to be this type of person. I have kickstarted Ashes of Creation, Star Citizen, Project Gorgon, Shroud of the Avatar, Empyrion Galactic Survival and the list goes on. I am someone with the disposable income, but more importantly am banking on at least one of these games moving the genre forward.
I was someone who beta-tested Ultima Online (shows my age), so I have seen the rise and fall of many a game(alas poor City of Heroes, I shall miss thee), and know full well what happens when a game loses the support of the community (or the company).
For me, personally it is all about putting your money where your mouth is.
The why, is I am unsatisfied with the current game offerings and want something better!
That said, it doesn’t mean I am happy with the decisions and direction that are being made, even with my current choices (Ashes – I am looking at you).
Because I have a software background, I am patient with the time taken for these projects. I absolutely prefer the publisher not pushing the game out the door before being close to ready (*cough* Fallout 76 *cough*).
I hope that goes someway to explaining it.


I’m not one of those guys. I’ve never even spent money in a cash shop, let alone spent money on a game that I can’t even play! I refuse to give my money to developers who use business models I don’t approve of and whilst I fully understand how crowdfunding has come about, I would still never spend money until the game has reached a point where I can spend my money and then immediately start playing.


I backed a couple of the CoH type games just based on hope. I backed Star Citizen because I like the ambition and the potential of the game itself and I have enjoyed pretty much everything that Roberts ever released. (that said, I’m not paying anything more and am patiently waiting for the game to come out) Ashes of Creation is one that I actually am regretting. The original MMO and what they talked about back then still interests me. However, their focus and PR blitz on the battle royale has greatly lessened my hype for the MMO. Combine that with their poor dissemination of relevant info to testers and I think I made a mistake backing that.

Easy Rider
Easy Rider

I can spend my money on MMO if I really don’t want to wait for open beta for example.

Loyal Patron
Christopher Angeles

I laughed when I read this! I was wondering the same thing Bree, until I realized I would probably spend money on a MMO that hasn’t been released as a sort of “support the devs” kind of way.

Some say the MMORPG genre is dying, but I think the backing of most MMORPGs today is supported by fans and crowdfunding. This to me is another form of crowdfunding.

Fenrir Wolf

Exclusivity is one heck of a drug!

It’s not that different than when people raid for items to lord over other players, it’s all about feeling power over another person. That’s what drives the kind of person who would do these things to… well, do these things. It’s a little sordid, really, and maybe even pitiable but I don’t see a difference between buying an embarrassingly overpriced ship to grinding for a full set of T5 or whatever the new hotness in WoW happens to be, now.

It’s all about being above the serfs, the peasants, the peons, the pissants, and the bugs scurrying beneath your feet. If it weren’t, the mantra of “get gud” in regards to games which don’t honestly require very much in the way of human intellect let alone skill wouldn’t be so commonplace.

It’s the V.I.P. club allure. The golden ticket. A little glimpse of what it would be like to be the one per cent.

And most people are concerned with that sort of thing. If one were to ask almost any person what their dreams are, the answers would include a hot partner, fast vehicle, luxury, a big house, and perhaps even a yacht (which shows just how easily separated a fool and their money are, considering the maintenance costs alone).

This is very, very neurotypical, very extroverted, and it applies to those kinds of personalities who play video games as well. Of course they want to look and feel like the most important person you’ve seen that day. If they can’t achieve this aspiration in reality, they’ll do it in a video game.

What’s being sold here is that “sweet” promise of exclusivity.

“If you buy this ship, now, it’s a limited edition! No one else will have one! You’ll be seen! No, more than that! You’ll be truly respected. You’ll have women! Men! Peons! Slaves! And CASH MONEY! Just give us a little money first. It’s an investment!”

Which is cynical, but I’m old, so that’s to be expected. After enduring so many decades of extremely shallow sorts all after and doing the same thing, it gets a little tiring.

That’s all it is. That’s all exclusivity ever was. It’s hierarchical. And it always comes from a place of insecurity. If these people could accept that they have innate self-worth, they wouldn’t do this.

They worry that they have to build upon their self-worth with commodities. In truth, though, that reduces it and leaves them feeling more empty and unfulfilled. Their conditioning kicks in to do some very impulsive shopping as “personal therapy,” and the cycle begins anew.

The people who bought these ships are likely doing all they can to not feel ripped off, so they’ll be leaning into that exclusivity hard. And when that fails? They’ll try to find something else to give them a taste of this elusive magical unicorn they hunt. It’ll never come, of course, because that’s the very nature of the game.

That’s how many MMOs are designed, isn’t it? Keep the players in the cycle. Belittle their prior achievements so that they’ll be set on struggling for new ones.

When the game launches the “exclusivity” of these ships will be left in the dust, entirely forgotten by the developer. You can be sure they’ll have an entirely sparkly, new slew of digital detritus to fob off on gullible, vulnerable people who believe that somehow being “above” others in a video game will equate to real world merit.

Why can’t they just accept that they have innate worth? Find a special interest, and do something that has real meaning to you. Don’t do it to look important to others, do it to improve your own inner-self. You do that, others will appreciate you. I’m beginning to sound like every self-help book that’s ever preached this, though, so I’ll stop.

Point is? Insecurity, gullibility, shallowness, and the promise of exclusivity and a position above other people are a match made in corporate heaven. Ne’er was there more a suit-encrusted ideal than this.

TL;DR: It’s exploitation. Too many people live to be exploited.


I’m a private tutor, soon-to-be farmer, and over the past eight years I’ve put a very large amount into in-development sandbox MMOs. Particular those pushing forward dynamic player economies.

Games like Star Citizen, Chronicles of Elyria, and Dual Universe.

Now, I’d like to say it was all purely in support of pushing forward the industry, but that is a secondary motive.

My primary motivation was to pursue my interest in entrepreneurship. MMOs with dynamic supply and demand economies, driven by player actions, are the perfect place to practice the things I want to pursue outside of gaming.

The community that I’ve felt in coming together with others around our love for these games, has truly been astounding. I’ve acquired skills applicable to my career, that I never would have expected. I’ve gained friends that I never would have come across otherwise, and we’ve done things that I won’t ever forget.

I now run my own community following Chronicles of Elyria, while I tutor and build my own vegetable farm IRL. I’m not a whale by any means, but I’m persistent and loyal to the games and dev teams I love.

There is a market for innovative mechanics and as long as devs keep pushing games forward, I’ll keep following them. Gaming is community.

Not every project with great scope will succeed, but each project lends something to the collective library of tools that others can use to drive forward the industry. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy every minute spent with my friends and fellow gamers!

Gamers make their voices know by the purchases they make. If we purchase cookie-cutter games, devs will give us more of the same. Let’s change the future.

Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
Dean Greenhoe

I put down money on games I want to see developed. Kinda like putting my money whee my mouth is.

Not all pan out like EQN, but I voted for it with my wallet.

Stewart Moir (Shtewps)

We call them whales.


Long ago I pledged a hundred or so to CU’s Kickstarter against my better judgement, deciding I wouldn’t crowdfund again until it launched and I could see the results.

Still waiting….so have not spent any more money either.

It’s all Mark’s fault.