The Daily Grind: What’s the most annoying ‘dark pattern’ in MMO gaming?

    
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The Daily Grind: What’s the most annoying ‘dark pattern’ in MMO gaming?

I’ve been kind of obsessed with dark patterns – that is, intentionally deceptive or annoying interface design – for kind of a while now, so it’s vindicating to see research on the subject. Last year, researchers from Princeton analyzed 11,000 online shopping sites to identify 15 specific types of dark patterns across 1818 instances they found on those sites. If you’ve ever bought anything online, you’ll recognize them; they’re things like fake countdown clocks to make you think you’re running out of time to buy things or hiding taxes and shipping and other surcharges until you’ve handed over personal info.

You probably know where I’m going with this: Yes, MMOs and other online games use these tricks too. Spamming chat when someone gets a floozle in a lockbox? Social proof. Irritating subs that are hard to cancel? Obstruction. Claiming that you have only 4000 lifetime subs to sell (but magically summoning another 6000 when those sell out)? Scarcity and Low-stock Messages.

Yeah, that last one really happened, right out in broad daylight.

What’s the most annoying “dark pattern” in MMO gaming?

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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memitim

“Low Stock” Yeah it’s probably a bit like yours if you’re *that* desperate. :D

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Bruno Brito

What ESO just did:

They adjusted the Assault line so you pick Vigor at level 1 and Rapid Maneuvers ( A speed skill that increases your mounted speed ) at level 5. Everyone who had Assault at less than 5 have now to farm Cyrodiil or PvP to get Assault at 5 to recover Rapid Maneuvers.

Disconsidering the fact that the adjustment bugged out and several people lost the skill point, or couldn’t get the skill back, ESO mount system is that you take 60 days to max your mount speed, OR you buy it from the Crown Store. That forces Cyrodiil alts to buy the crown mount speed if they want to get to PvP. And forces everyone who used Rapid to get to Cyrodiil and die a lot just to get the skill back.

I absolutely loathe these scummy methods of monetization, and ESO is littered with them.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I have been playing ESO since around November last year, and did a ESO+ for a year, and was creeping up on the having to pay again here in a couple months, and this just guaranteed I dropped my membership. I logged in just now and removed it. They enjoyed that spike of a year’s worth of money this year, but it won’t show next time around because of poor business decisions…(Already was questioning sticking around anyway…but this just made sure.)

I need to find another game now, and not much appeals to me lately…or I can’t access it due to boycotting monopolies…

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Bruno Brito

I like ESO, but i play strictly as a B2P. I’m lucky because half of the monetizated shit doesn’t matter to me. I bought the game once and that was all that i bought.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I was really really enjoying all the sneaking around/stealth mechanics/thieving stuff, so I wanted to make that stuff easier on myself, and I certainly wanted to try out the assassins guild…because that’s basically how I roll character-wise normally anyway, but it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Being able to be swiftly forgotten for thieves guild though, that’s really helpful. Problem is, how they did it, you have to re-do the whole story-line for every alt, and if you’re like me, playing all of them through that gets crazy tedious, and just boosting it up by doing the pickpocketing quests is also just as bad, because they put in those stupid long load screens…so you load into the thieve’s guild area, then have to run over to the the thieves refuge and load in there, then once you get your quest, you have to either load back out to zone to wayshrine, or use money to travel to another zone…and that’s another zone load, but to get the max rep for some of those, you have to thieve in 3 areas, so it’s 3 zones worth of loading…then go back and reload…I had enough. That was just dumb. Remove the stupid load screens already, especially since we PAID FOR YOUR GAME!

That, and once you have craft bag open, you literally realize after awhile, that there’s no point in any of the stuff you pick up, except for gear for your character…and once you’ve thieved your hearts content, you also realize there’s not really a point to gold either. Then you start questioning why the heck you’re actually playing…when you still haven’t really found the main story line quest stuff almost 9 months in…(I think it was the Harborage stuff, but I managed to do like maybe 7 of those, and then got annoyed by it being locked away in an instanced area that required load screens…)

Yeah, it’s a fun game in some ways, sure. But there’s a lot of things wrong there…and it’s stuff that’s intended to slow you down/make you realize there isn’t actually that much of a game there…

rafael12104
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rafael12104

Hmm. Most of us who have been around these games for a while know the old tried and true patterns.
-Easy to sub not so easy to cancel coupled with the auto-renew bullshit (I bought a 6 month sub you bastards! That is all!).

-Loot boxes mechanics as keys or crystals, or feathers etc.

-Monetization through currency: Hiding the real cost of items through various artificial currencies. “Heh. This costs 400 guild coins. I just have to buy a few more of these 20 dollar packs!”

And the more recent phenomenon. Super X streamer gets paid to play Fall Guys. Little streamers dreaming of being Super X play the same game. Suddenly a short attention span game dominates the scene as Amazon counts their money.

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kjempff

Not sure I could pick a specific worst.
In general I hate those tricks that insult my intelligence; those that are intentionally masked to manipulate me to buy stuff. Those always have the opposite effect on me, making me defiant to any purchase; usually just a few will make me stop playing or not even try a game in the first place.

Everyone here probably knows that free to play is a lie. Nothing is free, someone has to pay. So even if that in itself is a deception, it is so well known that I let that slide by. Then comes what do I have to pay for? I can research a good part of that and get an estimate for how I would play that game – Ok then, that is how we pay for games now and the alternative is not playing games.
But when I come across these “dark patterns” as you call them, I quickly grow too annoyed. So annoyed that I have quit games that I actually enjoyed, and dismissed a lot of games that might have been ok.
I can’t help it, I just have an oversensitive bullshit/manipulation detector.

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Witches

Never played an MMO that didn’t have multiple of those so i just roll with it.

I can overlook it but spamming me that someone got something is pretty terrible.

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Kickstarter Donor
mysecretid

Lockbox spam can make me quit a game, if there’s no way to turn it off.

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Anstalt

These are things I just don’t notice at all in games.

Mainly, because I flat out refuse to ever spend money in a cash shop. I’ll pay an upfront fee, and/or a subscription, but thats it. If your game is trying to get me to spend extra money, I’ll quit or just not pay in the first place.

Be honest about what the game costs and I’ll be happy with that. Try to hide the cost with anything at all, and it just makes your company seem dishonest, greedy and unethical. I don’t give money to companies like that if at all possible.

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Shadex De'Marr

The one that drives me nuts is the mentality of, “Hey social gamers, if you could just pay all the upkeep on the servers and our salaries so that the power gamers can play for free that would be great…” The very pillars of the heavens would crumble if anyone ever thought to charge a player for a stat item as it would evidently unravel reality as we know it and cause every molecule in our bodies to explode at the speed of light. However, if you don’t give two cruds about getting your hands on the Vorpal Wombat Mallet of Mutilation and are more concerned about hanging out with friends, looking dope, and having a cool house/castle whatever then it is perfectly OK to gauge you for $50 a pop for the things that you enjoy about the game.

Cosmetics in cash shops are no better than stat items. They just piss off a different crowd. So some would say well, the hard core, min-max, raiders are most of the player base. Yeah? Let me check in with Wildstar… no, didn’t go well. Really? Pay to Win depends on the “Win” condition. If winning to one player is getting the phattest uber stat stick then having to pay for that will make them mad. If however winning to another player is making their character look super amazing and setting up a really intricate house for all of their friends to hang out with then charging them for the new cool crossover outfit is going to piss them off.
What’s worse is when a developer will intentionally make the default in game items look like complete crap just to push people to want to buy the items in the cash shop they obviously spent more than five minutes making. Looking at you Secret World.

I am sure someone will want to say that Wildstar’s fall had nothing to do with its focus on power gamers so I will offer this. Do some research and you will find that the gaming market over the last 5+ years has significantly shifted toward casual gamers. And if anyone thinks that a casual gamer is not OK with or even hoping that stat items will start showing up on cash shops, I give you the mobile game market where cash shop sales are destroying the console and PC markets. And they are very much buying that new piece of gear or that new character chalk full of stats. It is only the small percent of competitive hard core power MMO gamers that still have an issue with stats in cash shops. So since as many love to point out. Well they have to make their money somehow, you just want to get stuff for free? Get a job! OK, then let’s fill all the MMO cash shops with all that dope looking raid gear. I guarantee it will sell faster and for more money than that NieR cross over dress… well, ok maybe not that one.

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memitim

You’re not wrong…it’s like RMT, we can blame in on chinese bot farms or the devs inability to ban them all day long but if nobody bought it they wouldn’t do it…I’ve been playing some EVE Echoes recently and I’ve seen a ton of “what do you mean you can’t buy skill points?!” comments…the gaming crowd is really it’s own worst enemy.

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Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

Always hated the Lootbox popups that show up across the top of your screen when someone gets a rare item from them in TERA. You can’t turn it off either. Same thing for enchanting successes.

Memory Fragments in BDO, Cron Stones in BDO. Failing to enchant past PRI delevels your gear. Its a system built specifically to make you spend money in their cash shop to repair your gear and keep your gear from deleveling on a failed enchant.

Fail stacking in BDO… ties into the system above. Really everything about BDO’s gear progression is their to push you to spend money in the cash shop.

Horses in BDO are the same.

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Tanek

No confirmation prompt in LOTRO when spending mithril coins. Players can accidentally spend what is effectively a real money currency with a mis-click or (especially right now) because of lag.

Since the amount spent is usually pretty low (1-3 coins) there are some who will defend SSG for not refunding “such a small amount” and tell the players to stop complaining. To me, though, it eventually starts to look like the lack of a confirmation is part of the plan.

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Sleepy

This is awful. I have a lifetime so the effect is minimal, but it’s deliberately made far too easy to spend them in-game, it’s caught me a few times.