I can't help but feel the better analogy to PvE competitiveness is golf. Technically, you are not playing "against" the other golfers. You have your score, they have their score, and where your ball lands or how many strokes you take has no effect on any of the other players. But at the same time, if you saw someone pay the shop pro to start 200 yards closer to the hole and then post his score to the course records, you might take exception.
You may not be facing other players directly in PvE, but it IS competitive. The virtual accomplishments within an MMO only offer a sense of achievement because they are not easily done. How can your guild feel good about finally downing Malygos if other guilds can buy the "Malygos does half damage" trinket and breeze through him? Allowing microtransactions is an admission that your game is NOT FUN, so much so that people would pay real money to NOT PLAY your game!
Actually, an even better analogy to microtransactions might be steroids. Some athletes can offer their time and hard work to accomplish their sports goals, and some athletes can offer their money for steroids. Different but equal paths, right?
I realise that analogies are not suppose to be exact, but I would like to comment on the golf analogy to PVE games. If you play golf casually with your friends, fine. However, golf has a set of win conditions build into the rules, depending on the competition. In other words, there are competitions where players compete formally against each other, and the rules state that the one with the most points (or least shots) win the game. PVE games don't have that. Most golfers I know compete even in social games - i.e. 1 buck per hole or something. Under these conditions the playing field must be level. In fact, golf even tries to level out skill, by means of the handicap system!
This handicap system in golf is real interesting, and may be a way to deal with people putting in more time or money into MMO’s. If I commit 100's of hours or dollars into improving my golf game, my handicap will improve and a guy who plays once a month would still have an equal change of winning certain tournaments. However, the advantage a low (better for the non-golfers ) handicapper has is that his game is usually more consistent, and that he can often enter more lucrative competitions. Surely this can have some application in MMO’s?
There has been some buzz over the past few days surrounding Take Two using the GTA franchise and and developing an MMO around it.
I think it could dawn a new era of MMO types, but I feel it would also raise some very serious questions where game design is concerned; because in a pseudo-real word setting, how can one hope to achieve an end-game scenario?
Or would you even need to?
It also brings a slew of other questions to mind as well, as in how would the developers mimic the current theme of solo play and mate it with an MMO approach?
I think it's awesome that they are even considering it, and I would -definately- be willing to give the game some play time just to try it out.
After seeing E3 Im kind of torn on what I think about all this new motion capture technology and in general the amount of money being spent to lure the typical non gamer types in. Part of me says "What a waste of money and resources on what most likely will turn out a gimmick product!" while the other part says "This may bring more cash flow into the business which overall is better for everyone." What do you think?
I just read an article not long ago talking about how so many Wii owners never bought games after the system and many aren't even using it any more. Sitting around collecting dust like most exercise machines in American house holds. I feel this motion capture stuff will go the same route. Although Sony's presentation showing me how their controller could be used in first person shooters and RTS did give me some hope about the technology.