p2w

See: Pay-to-win

Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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Fortnite: Pollsters and academics examine purchases, pay-to-win, and motivation vs. addiction

Remember the old adage that less than 10% of a free-to-play playerbase pay for the other 90%? A poll conducted by LendEDU and Pollfish attempts to cast some shadow on that assumption. The groups say they surveyed 1000 hardcore Fortnite players and determined that almost 70% of them had spent money on the game – an average of $84 apiece for those who did, the majority of that on outfits and characters. More than a third of them had apparently never spent money on a game before.

However, it seems to have been a self-reported survey of highly invested people who identified Fortnite as their primary game, so it’s not really a fully random cross-section of all Fortnite players; one might assume that the type of people who consider themselves Fortnite fanatics and would answer a survey like this would be exactly the type to pay into the game and thereby skew the results.

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The Daily Grind: What are some useful alternatives to the term ‘pay-to-win’?

Deep into the Relay article on whether Star Citizen is pay-to-win that we covered a while back, the author, Commander Llama, said something I thought deserved illumination.

“I’m also sorry the very term Pay2Win is a bit of a misnomer. It’s often read literally, and it’s also used as a sort of slur. All of this stunts any discussion from the start. Maybe we do need a new term, although we don’t need twenty different terms, each individually defined.”

He’s not wrong that there are lots of definitions of pay-to-win, and each one is dependent on interpretations of the words “pay” and “win,” which sort of makes sense – plus you’ve got the folks who use it for every game ever, or who apply it only to PvP, or who insist that winning faster or winning stylishly doesn’t count, and on and on. That’s no doubt why some folks have proposed other terms, like pay-to-play or pay-to-convenience or pay-to-cosmetic, to provide some clarity.

Let’s imagine for the morning that we’re going to collectively abandon the term and replace it with other terms that are more specific and helpful to genre debates. What are some useful alternatives to the term “pay-to-win”?

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Hands-on: The Jurassic World Alive ARG shows promise, but not for MMO fans

Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive isn’t being marketed as an MMO, but it is an augmented reality game that involves roaming in the real world for virtual dinosaurs so you can battle them against other players. Online. But not near you.

It’s not exactly perfect, kind of like the series, in several ways. It’s not as promising as Maguss seemed in some ways, and suffers from similar design issues, but it also does things differently from Pokemon Go that, with some tweaks, could potentially attract a playerbase, even among our readers.

Just maybe not right now. Let me explain.
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Bless Online players riot and request refunds over missing endgame PvP, cash shop shenanigans, and duping as Steam reviews plummet

If you thought the Bless Online community was in meltdown after two days of early access headaches, wait until you see the reaction to the actual MMO once people started playing.

Reddit is currently aflame over several topics. For starters, the first players are already hitting level 45 and finding that the endgame content they expected based on what’s in the other regional versions of the game simply isn’t there. One poster rattles off an immense list of missing content, including arenas, battlegrounds, the PvP ranking system, hard mode dungeons, daily dungeons, and honor point system.

(Worth pointing out here is that we became suspicious about the state of PvP ourselves when no PvP was shown at the day-long press event a few weeks ago, despite studio claims that PvP was one of the game’s three pillars.)

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The Daily Grind: Should running multiple MMO accounts be considered pay-to-win?

In the comments of a recent Daily Grind, MOP commenter Sally reminded me that a certain MOP writer who shall remain nameless (Larry!) had an absurd number of Star Wars Galaxies accounts, and one might argue that while one sub to such a game isn’t pay-to-win, a whole ton of them might be, particularly in an economy-centric game like SWG.

The interesting thing about SWG was the diminishing returns on all those accounts: The human’s time was the limiting reagent. Yes, having another 10-20 lots per account for harvesters would bring in AFK money, but it might not be worth the human’s time to actually go deal with the harvies (or factories or storage houses) past a certain level of wealth; you could make more money in the same amount of time doing other, far less boring things. But there was definitely a sweet spot in the 2-5 account range, where you could run one of every crafter and create enough busywork to fill an entire day.

I found four accounts overwhelming but self-sufficient – and absolutely pay-to-win, for my definition of winning. (I have always assumed Larry’s stable was more for roleplaying, and might not fit the category.) Likewise, I’d argue that paying to multibox in themeparks, bypassing the need for other people, is also pay-to-win in many games.

What do you think? Should running multiple MMO accounts be considered pay-to-win?

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The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win?

Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”

Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.

On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.

What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?

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Hands-on with Bless Reborn at Neowiz’s San Francisco media reveal

As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.

For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.

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The Soapbox: Three augmented reality game problems (most) MMOs don’t have – and one thing they do so much better

I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Gosince it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.

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ArcheAge players fear pay-to-win practices will infect new progression server

With ArcheAge’s new progression fresh start server going live today, players are raising concerns that Trion Worlds has slipped in pay-to-win elements in its cash shop mere hours before the shard’s activation.

Some of the questionable items that have appeared on the cash shop include dungeon run consumables, leveling consumables, best-in-slot pajamas, and combat consumables.

One major ArcheAge content creator, Paradox Gaming, called Trion out on Twitter for the last-minute move: “Its not to late to save this fresh start launch of ArcheAge. You have time to fix the ‘pay to win’ that has hit the fresh start marketplace. The community wants to hear that all is not lost for ArcheAge. What say you @hartsman? Can we get a public statement on AA FS P2W?”

Source: RedditTwitter. Thanks, Two Tridents!

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Massively Overthinking: How much money spent makes you an MMO whale?

Several conversations I saw after our report on the new RMT mounts in Guild Wars 2 got me thinking about how the MMO community uses the word whale. I had used the word to refer to the kind of person who buys a ton of RNG-based lockboxes to get every last one of the shiny bits and bobs within, but the reality is that anyone who pays a respectable flat fee for a purely cosmetic upgrade has also been hooked on some sort of fishing rod or other, even if it’s not a harpoon.

So let’s consider the numbers behind the terminology in this week’s Massively Overthinking. How much money spent makes you an MMO whale? Does it apply only to cosmetics or lockboxes? When does the “whale” term kick in for people who buy early access, collector editions, or 10 expansion boxes over the course of an MMO’s life? Are most gamers more properly dolphins or something in 2018?

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SoulWorker Online begins selling subs, responds to outcry over energy system P2W

SoulWorker is technically in open beta on paper; it isn’t supposed to truly launch until later this quarter. It hit Steam at the end of February. It announced it was done wiping. It opened up the cash shop. And now, it’s got a subscription too – an optional one, mind you.

There are actually two different subscription plans, both 30-days, and they are stackable; the silver sub grants keycards, respawners, battle books, extra auction slots, and an additional 80 daily energy. The gold sub doubles most of those bonuses, adds a few more, and adds an additional 120 max energy. It’s also possible to buy subs and sell them in-game.

But it’s the energy perks that have beta testers particularly concerned about pay-to-win, as energy limits in-game activities in a way few MMORPGs can get away with. In SoulWorker, players start with 200 daily energy, so with the double sub, they can double that number. Gameforge says it’s still considering how to proceed.

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Paladins nukes P2W Cards Unbound, compensates players, and adds seriously crappy art

Once again, gamers prove that protests can work.

Here’s the deal: Paladins players have been grousing about the Cards Unbound system for months, alleging that the system basically turned in-game purchases made with gold into purchases made only with real cash – in other words, that Hi-Rez had gone way too far over into lockbox-centric pay-to-win territory. At one point, the Paladins subreddit was so fed up that players were “designing” really terrible MS Paint-esque fake cards in protest.

At the tail end of February – the same day IGN posted an article citing an anonymous source claiming that the Cards Unbound system was forced upon the dev team by greedy execs, the studio finally backed down.

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