New World’s cash-shop snafu last week still has a wide swath of the MMO community up in arms, apparently. Readers will recall that a tester leaked info from the NDA-locked alpha that suggested Amazon was adding both cosmetics and leveling boosters to the test cash shop, which of course caused an uproar from gamers who deemed that pay-to-win. Amazon, of course, almost immediately countered the leak by clarifying that the launch cash shop would contain “exclusively cosmetic” items only and that the company is merely testing “ideas on how to offer players quality of life items for mechanics like rested XP and fast travel,” with the timing on the potential release of such items depending on how the launch goes. “Our goal with all items of any type is that they not offer an advantage that imbalances the game,” the company wrote.
The original leak drew snark from all corners of the genre, including from rival developers. Apparently, Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif lashed out on Discord.
“I really enjoyed how it was stated they would include ‘quality of life’ items like ‘LeVEl BOOsTS AnD TRadE SkILl BOoSTs’ but nothing that affects competitive aspects of the game…??!?! Why u do dis Amazon? I was flattered when they drew inspiration from some of my designs… but honestly…who tf made the decision!!? I just want some new blood in the genre ffs.”
The remark was clearly made off the cuff and isn’t even all that objectionable, given that I suspect most MMO players are tired of companies trying to redefine pay-to-win to be just one hair past whatever it is they’re trying to sell us. But in any case, Sharif apologized for his outburst, calling it “unprofessional” before going on to clarify his position, especially in light of the fact that Ashes of Creation has an extensive pre-launch cosmetic cash shop and startling high buy-ins for alpha. Essentially, he argues in favor of cosmetic cash shops and subs as the combination provides a steady income for developers and incentivizes content creation.
“In a buy to play game, companies already have your money and their interest in retaining the user is diminished to a degree (of course they still wish to retain the user, but when that user leaves they aren’t dropping their sub and b2p games can consider the next revenue event aka an expansion etc, as an opportunity to win back the user).
“On the shop side; I cannot express my opinion on this any stronger; Like many in the gaming community I have experienced great games die because the company introduced pay 2 advantage. Whether that advantage is a winning one or a ‘quality of life’ one. It undermines the content, the playerbase’s efforts, the core gameplay loops and lessens the sense of reward a player feels when they ACHIEVE something.
“Cosmetics imo can supply additional revenues in a respectful way SO LONG as there are in-game achievable visuals that match and EXCEED the ornate/complexities of what’s offered in the cosmetic shop AND purchased cosmetics aren’t tradable. That is key. And I know we have taken our own flack for our preorder system, of which I have tried my best to engage and explain how our packages work, and how our cosmetics offered are used in variants to actually help build our world. Furthermore, cosmetics must be actual SKINS. Meaning, the player must first achieve the actual mount or building or armor in game, and THEN can apply the skin they purchased.”