The Daily Grind: What’s the most egregious grifting you’ve seen in the MMO sphere?

You grift single-file, to hide your numbers

    
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MONEY

There was a time when World of Warcraft charging $25 for a sparkly pony was considered absurd fleecing of its playerbase. Times have certainly changed since then, and not just because it turned out that these mounts were a license to print money for Blizzard (hence the studio making a bunch more of them). No, we’ve seen a lot of grifting in the MMO sphere since then, to the point where getting upset for just paying for a mount seems almost quaint.

A full list of all the things that people have been enraged about and referred to as some form of grifting would take a lot more space than we have here, but there’s a lot of examples, ranging from non-games like Wild West Online and Infestation: Survivor Stories to failed Kickstarter titles like TUG to even otherwise respectable games like Lord of the Rings Online charging money for a minor content update. So what do you think of as the most egregious grifting you’ve seen in the MMO sphere?

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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MA_Debsin

An important point that is rarely mentioned is the astoundingly profitable industry of gold selling. There are a lot of stereotypes about who is doing this, but the most obvious truth is that it is the game companies themselves that are doing it. Just think about this: how difficult would it be to just monitor the mailing and trading of high quantities of gold and to ban and blacklist all those who fit the filter? It is very easy. Extremely easy.
Many companies, such as Blizzard or Zenimax, would later make more official ways of selling gold for real-life money, such as with tokens or with crown trading. To these companies that are far more obsessed with money than most of us are, just the concept of overlooking such a money-making possibility would be a terminal impossibility.
The simplest answer is that these companies, or an authority between them, is in fact selling gold to the players, after creating a very large and artificial grind, which requires a lot of gold in order to accomplish more with your pixels and bit copied software.

Another thing: I have often read about how difficult it is to make these games, and how hard developers work: I call B.S.! Many of these engines are standardized, many of the graphics are standardized, and they are built on previous softwares and they have been sharing with other companies for decades. Most importantly: they make a software product which does not require any material resources, and then they copy it over and over again for almost nothing, and then they sell it to you for an exorbitant price. It is likely that the profits of these game and software companies is far, far higher than we know!
~Mindus Amitiel Debsin
Speech-to-text on my Pixel.

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Dean Greenhoe

I long for the days of subscriptions. They saved me alot of money. :)

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EmberStar

Every game with a serious “lockbox” economy. If I have money I want to spend for an item, at this point I just want to know what the price is so that I can *buy the item I want.* I no longer have any desire to throw an indeterminate (but probably quite large) pile of money at the *chance* that I’ll eventually get the item I want. Maybe.

Bonus scam points for every single game where the resulting lockbox item is only PER CHARACTER, and not an account unlock. Oh, you wanted *two* of them? That’s another $15 to $1500, start rolling.

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Witches

Almost forgot this, SWTOR launched a cartel item that gave cartel certificates, those allowed you to buy rare items that were super hard to get, people asked in the forums if the item was working as intended and were told yes, a few weeks after saying it was working as intended, they nerfed it to the point of being useless, the game lost half of the playerbase at the time over this.

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Witches

I bought SWTOR on launch,with a free month, but it turned out you had to pay one month to get your “free” month.

Also i bought a purple equipment permit, but at one point they introduced a system that required you to be subbed to get the best gear and also added gold quality gear, but since the top gear was locked behind that system your purple permit was pretty much useless.

I need to stress out that SWTOR is still my favourite MMO, but it’s really not supposed to be played by poor people, or people that are mindful of their expenditures.

When ESO relaunched, they charged a box price again, even to those who had already pay the box price in the first launch, eventually they reversed that but i expect some people payed a box price twice.

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NeoWolf

Pretty much any bundle coming out of Cryptic with the word “LEGENDARY” in the title lol

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Rndomuser

There was a time when World of Warcraft charging $25 for a sparkly pony was considered absurd fleecing of its playerbase.

I don’t know who was considering it as “absurd fleecing” but personally I never did. I actually bought the Heart of the Aspects mount long time ago because I liked its looks. And I bought the Fat Moogle mount in FFXIV for other person – I don’t really like the looks of this mount myself but if the other person likes it – I have no problem with bringing that person a little bit of joy by buying this if I can afford paying for it.

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Ironwu

I agree with you here. No one HAD to buy the Sparkle Pony for ANY reason.

If truth be told, I would have happily purchased a WoW store mount that could carry passengers. Oh well. Money left on the table there. :/

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

When I still played that game…I paid for the expensive vender mammoth, with in-game money. That one was probably the most expensive in-game I’ve ever wasted money on…never paid for sparklepony…but I got the ones in Rift by ‘accidentally’ buying some ‘enhanced’ package that had extra digital assets, or earned em in-game too. I forget. I know I had some weird octopi looking mount because of what I bought, and some doohickeys that came with mailed to every character I made…

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Fisty

I got the Sparkle Pony cause it was charity based too. Somehow that helped me justify it when I was at peak WoW playing. Turns out I use it most of the time all these years later. For hipster reasons.

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styopa

In SWTOR is it true you still can’t wear HEAD armor without paying? Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I recall was a limit.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Hide Head Slot is something you have to pay for, and it’s just cosmetic. It’s stupid to me, because I didn’t care about hiding my helmets anyway.

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EmberStar

I do. Some (almost all) of the helmets in SWTOR are absurdly stupid looking. Almost to the point that they seem to have been designed to look so awful and stupid that you’ll pay money to hide them or replace the appearance with something less idiotic. Sith Sorcerers and their Traffic Cone helmets with the built-in face mask leap to mind. All the benefits of looking like an utter moron *and* it completely hides whatever effort you may have put into customizing your character’s face. Which just makes it that much more grating when random NPCs give you flak for being a non-human in the Empire, since HOW CAN THEY EVEN TELL?

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Java Jawa

LOTRO
* stat tomes
* content update

SWTOR
* additional toolbar
* ability to dye items
* ability to equip purple+ rated gear

STO
* super expensive ships (they provide substantial advantages over anything offered in the game)

Star Citizen
* everything? it’s like a giant investor scheme that either someone is a genius or i’m just too dumb to grasp

FFXIV
* 30 to 35 dollar mounts?
* 15 dollar outfits? come on . . . . on top of a SUB fee

ESO
* WTF is up with the house prices?

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I don’t know if it holds true now, but STO used to have the doff from store be PER CHARACTER, instead of account wide unlocks. It’s why I left the game again, because one of the main bits of fun I had on that was trying to get a ‘perfect’ set of those for my ship (Not even quality level-wise either…that would’ve been even more nonsense gambling/grifter stuff.). And I’m a ‘lifer’ so I could go back whenever, but I haven’t because of that + the lockboxes crap.

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EmberStar

They did not change the duty officers, which you still mostly have to get as random lockbox junk or in random packs from the store. They did eventually change it for *Bridge* officers though. If you buy a Caitian or Ferassan or Aenar (or the handful of others) now it’s a one-time purchase and that species of officer is available as a reclaimable account unlock.

The tradeoff (because of course there is) was that A) it wasn’t applied retroactively, you still had to buy at least one MORE of each to unlock them and B) it made it impossible to trade those officers to other players. If you had any unused officer “tokens” in the Fleet or Account banks, they’re now Bind On Pickup and will instantly stick to the first character to remove them from the bank for any reason. Any that were in a captain’s personal bank are already character bound and can only be redeemed or deleted. (And obviously don’t trigger the account unlock.)

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Ironwu

For FFXIV, you forgot the bank companions you have to RENT with an additional RL $$$ fee in addition to your monthly subscription. :(

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Yeah, that was the real grift on there..’Pay us to tweak a line of code saying you get more storage! When you stop paying we’ll tweak it back!’

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Rndomuser

To be completely objective, allowing players to add more items to a database of personal items does actually put more strain on servers in terms of storage space and the processing power which also means more electricity usage, including more bandwidth which is required to interact with those extra items. It’s not a lot but it adds up if you have thousands of players interacting with dozens of extra items. And it’s perfectly fair for asking players to pay more for consuming more resources.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Which was an artificially created ‘obstacle’ they themselves made into the game, and used as a excuse. We all know the subscription cost itself is supposed to cover those fees. Adding more numbers to the subscription fee and implying it’s just to keep your items is exactly what we’re talking about here in this Grind.

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Rndomuser

It’s not an artificial obstacle. A subscription cost is meant to cover the most essential services in a most “fair” way to both the company and the players. This includes the amount of storage which would be used by most of the players, without either generating too many complaints of “not enough storage” or unreasonably increasing the costs of supporting the extra storage amount.

Like I said above, it is an indisputable fact that giving more storage space to players increases the costs for the company to maintain that extra storage due to increased demand for more hardware performance and more electricity consumption and more internet bandwidth consumption. Somebody must pay for all of this, pay monthly. The company has basically 4 choices to deal with the costs for extra storage:

1) Give large amount of storage space to everyone and increase monthly fee to cover the costs of maintaining it for everyone, including people who don’t want that extra storage (like me) but will still be forced to pay for it.

2) Give everyone large amount of storage space and compensate for increased cost of maintaining it through other means not including cost of subscription (for example by hiring less people which would make creating new content slower and in smaller amounts)

3) Not give anyone an option to increase storage space at all, even to people who don’t mind paying extra monthly fee for it

4) Give an option for extra storage to people who want to pay for this option extra monthly fee on top of general sub fee, without negatively affecting people who don’t want that extra storage space.

I consider Option 4 the most fair to everyone since I am not a selfish or irrational person.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Amazing that every other subscription based game doesn’t have problems paying for fees with their sub fee money when many of them give you more storage than that game ever did. /sarcasm

Like I said, it’s a artificial obstacle that doesn’t really exist, and even if you try and say it does with all kinds of made up ‘facts’/reasons why it should, doesn’t mean the grift isn’t there. It’s called pulling a con for a reason.

Also, your ‘storage takes more space/bandwidth/electricity’ may have been true in the old days of computers, but not nowadays. The little bit of data that that space takes up in a file somewhere is bytes worth of data, maybe a few kilobytes, max a few Megabytes whereas computers are up to Terabytes now (And servers, are higher end quality, so are even farther along). So that doesn’t cost them more to maintain, and you’re being fooled/taken advantage of if you think that, which helps with the con.

It certainly doesn’t cost $1 per few bytes either, not like they are adding in a SSD each time they change the code line and getting em for ‘cheap’.

But go on believing what you will about it.

Also, considering you are trying to be insulting towards me with your end comment (And probably from a previous article where you disagreed with my stance), I’m not going to continue wasting my time explaining to you.

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EmberStar

STO doesn’t get a pass, because they have lockboxes. (Which negates every positive upfront.) However, the Tier 6 ships depends a lot on if you want a specific ship or just want A ship to do content. Since they usually have about three Events per year that award a T6 ship. Yes, it’s usually some off-brand alien faction and not Starfleet, Klingon or Romulan. But it’s an “endgame tier” ship that you don’t have to buy. They’ve also been filling the rest of the year with recurring multi-part events where the final reward is a “100% Discount T6 Ship” coupon, which allows you to get most of the more recognizable ships as an account unlock.

I say “most” because they’ve countered with the irritating habit of releasing the handful of new ships as “mini bundles,” where the ship comes with a Fleet Ship Module or lockbox key, or some other thing so they can claim “Oh, not just a ship, coupon not valid. Gimme money.”

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Ironwu

Used to be SWTOR F2P version.

But that has been long superseded by Star Citizen.

Star Citizen is classic grifter behavior.

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Paragon Lost

Two perfect examples.