Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
 
Why the hate? - An answer

If you mentally zoom out and have a look at the situation of the MMORPG market (which isn't easy to do, because most of us are too close to some game or other), you will notice that we live in interesting times. While World of Warcraft is still dominant, it isn't completely smothering the market any more. There are more and more games coming out that are trying new things, new modes of gameplay, new business models. The market is both growing and fragmenting, with everything from hardcore PvP to pre-teen Free2Play games being released and finding an audience. After years of people complaining about there being only WoW and WoW-clones, all this novelty should be a reason to rejoice. But what do we get? An outpouring of hate on all possible game discussion channels!

This isn't just coming from one particular group. This ranges from the hardcore bashing the players of WoW and Free Realms, to the Ed Zitron 2/10 review. From one side calling the monthly subscription model "welfare for the hardcore", to the other side's vitriolic outbursts against everything RMT and microtransaction. PvE players bashing PvP, and vice versa; Everybody has his preferred way to play (and pay), but instead of just leaving everything else be, they feel the need to express a hate of everything different. MMO xenophobia at it's worst. Why the hate?

While I do prefer the Pink Pigtail Inn if Larisa posts herself, her "bartender" Elnia just pulled off a post which is both a perfect example of that hate, and manages to give a glimpse towards explaining that hate. She accuses developers of micro-transaction games to play favorites towards the 5% of players that actually pay for these games, to the detriment of the 95% of freeloaders (her term). Well, didn't we have years of discussion about how the World of Warcraft developers were playing favorites towards the 5% of players that raided, to the detriment of those who didn't? But then she offers a great insight: "When you get right down to it all people who pay to play on-line games are engaged in “rent a developer”"

And that is where the hate is coming from: There is a competition over a limited resource, developer time. None of us have $50 million+ of spare change to hire a team of developers to create our personal dream game. But we all do want a maximum number of games that cater directly to our personal preferences. And because we feel unable to move a billion-dollar market with our $15-a-month contribution, we try to influence the market by arguing for what we like, and against what we dislike.

That certainly includes me. Long-time readers certainly know my personal preferences in MMO features, even if I try to keep an open mind, and carefully balance the pro and contra arguments of everything. I don't generally "hate", but of course it happens that I rant about something I dislike from time to time. The blog would be much poorer if I didn't have an opinion. Other people express themselves with much less words, but much more forcefully. Seen as a battle for developer's time, this becomes understandable.

Part of the hate certainly comes from the market growing up. There is an old saying that every developer creates the game he would like to play most. But while that is a model that works well for smaller companies, the fact that Blizzard makes $1 billion per year from World of Warcraft doesn't quite fit with that. Once a game company becomes big enough, they won't let a handful of developers make whatever game they want. Suddenly you get people with PowerPoint slides full of bullet points about market analysis, customer satisfaction, turnover and retention rates, and so on. Whether you like it or hate it, the current trend towards accessible raiding in World of Warcraft is the direct result of such a rational market analysis. If everybody pays the same, it makes financial sense not to predominantly create content for a small subgroup, but to make content accessible to a larger audience. And on the other hand, once you know a small subgroup is much more engaged with the game than average, various business models in which not everybody pays the same aren't far off either. As a German I could observe first hand how West Germany had a car market with everything from cheap, tiny cars to expensive, big Mercedeses, while East Germany had a car market in which everybody was driving the same Trabant. Guess which business model won once the wall came down! Market stratification is just a fact of life in our capitalist society. But of course it provokes the hate of those who are best served by everybody paying a flat fee for a game that just happens to fit exactly their personal preferences. There isn't really a perfectly fair solution, and any change always provokes a negative reaction from those who are losing out from it.

I think there isn't really that much reason to get too excited about this. Microtransactions and more accessible games for wider audiences have been predicted for years, and we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg emerge now. But that doesn't mean that flat fee games and hardcore games are going to disappear from the market. Are millions of pre-teens and ultra-casual players playing Free Realms really hurting your favorite game, or this a demographic you didn't want to see playing your game anyway? As long as there is a sufficiently large number of players demanding a game with a specific focus and business model, games of that kind are going to be made. There will always be a market for more challenging, more complex, more mature games with a flat-rate subscription plan. No reason to overreact when a different style of game is being discussed or is doing well.
Comments:
Thanks for noticing my post. However, I don't "hate" RMTs and I regret it if the post came across that way. My actual goal was to help people better understand the marketplace. If people vote with their dollars, then that voting has both in-game and real world consequences. I think it is important to understand *fully* what those consequences are. My hope was to contribute to that understanding.

I don't like microtransaction games. But most importantly I know *why* I don't like them. I've taken the time to think through the implications of my actions and made a deliberate policy decision from among a series of rational alternatives about how to spend my dollars. If that is "hate" them I am guilty, but I don't think that's what most rational people mean by hate.
 
My main fear of RMT games comes from lack of self-discipline. I don't mind paying a set fee for a game because I always know how that is going to budget every month. With an RMT micro-transaction game, there is more possibility of going over budget because of impulse buys.

Sure, I could set a monthly budget of 15 dollars on a game like Free Realms, but if I spend that in the first 4 days of the month, will my playtime suffer for the remaining 24-25 days because I can no longer access the entire game? At least in subscription games, the fee gives limitless access, while RMT micro-transactions seem to limit certain playstyles or personality types (impulsive overachievers, for instance).
 
My main fear of RMT games comes from lack of self-discipline.

But what about self-discipline regarding time? Isn't spending 100+ hours a month in a game doing more economic damage than spending 20+ dollars?

On the subject of your RMT spending being blown in the first 4 days of the month, many games offer microtransactions whose effect lasts for a full month, like spending 499 station points for a month of Free Realms membership, or buying a monthly teleportation ticket in Luminary. Even if you spend the money to buy lets say a sword, the effect of that should last for a while.
 
I've taken the time to think through the implications of my actions and made a deliberate policy decision from among a series of rational alternatives about how to spend my dollars. If that is "hate" them I am guilty, but I don't think that's what most rational people mean by hate.

Well, you certainly expressed your dislike a lot more forcefully than my discussion of microtransactions yesterday. :) But of course that was still rather mild. I was grouping everything from blog rants to Ed Zitron death threats under the same heading.

Remember, RMT is just one of the subjects I am talking about. Wolfshead's rant on monthly fees, or the various rants about WoW tourists, or hardcore players, are all included here.
 
I think Elnia is right about how money will govern the developer resources even harder than today with a system where you pay for parts of the game instead of a whole package.

Personally I don't like the system either because the choices will be somewhat overwhelming to me. It just puts me off and gives me a headache. Life is so full of choices as it is. I don't want all that freedom. I want all-inclusive! That's why I won't mess around building my own PC either. I'd rather have someone else think for me and put it together. You could say that the both systems could exist side by side. Let people like me buy the full package, let others pick the small parts they want. However I think it will make the game functions more complicated for everyone. You have to pick your friends among the ones that pay the same package as you. No, I'd really not want to see that payment system implemented in WoW. However, of course you can make such systems in brand new games. I know for sure though that I'd never buy it.
 
Here's the reason I think for the 'hate'. MMOs feel old after about 4 years (imo). It takes at least 4 years to develop a big MMO.

So if devs /now/ are infatuated by one particular model, then the majority of AAA games we see in 4 years time will be dominated by that model.

I do see variety and lots of options (which is good) but I also see strong trends. And I think the trend is against WoW type buffet-style games -- which is reasonable but means that this may be the last generation of them.

So I think we're arguing about the future of the genre. These games take so much time and effort that they're like juggernauts once they get moving. It's not quick and easy to develop alternatives. What gets decided now is what we'll end up with in a few years time.
 
I personally feel uncomfortable with the growing micro-transaction trend in the MMO genre.

I would rather pay a fixed subscription fee than to pay tiny amounts for this or that in games like Free Realms.

Your Brawler/Warrior + 2,50$ sword example demonstrated perfectly why I am hesitant to welcome micro transaction games.
 
"You are playing rent a developer"Insightful comment from Elnia and one that I believe highlights a problem with current mmo payment models. The problem is that you don't get what you pay for nor do you pay for what you get. This creates an economic disconnect. In a subscription game the hardcore raider who plays 60 hours per week pays the same as a casual player who plays 15. In F2P games free-loaders have access to 90% of the content that the junkie pays €200 per month for.

I wonder if the answer to your question about microeconomics is buried in here somewhere. Why not implement a charging model that more accurately reflects the developer / server / customer support resources each type of player uses. For example if raiding actually consumes a lot of developer time then the small group of players who want it will have to pay an extra subscription.

The results may not always be obvious, for example pvp content could be very cheap to develop because it is largely player created content but it may also be very expensive because of ongoing needs for balancing tweaks.

I am pretty sure that a payment model like this would in the long run lead to the most efficient economic balance of what players want and what developers can provide. That should be good news for everybody because most efficient should translate into more content for players and more profits for developers.
 
Ultimately the people will decide. If microtransactions proves popular and makes the industry money, we're sure to see a lot of it in the future. However, if it flops, we'll likely see something else.

I'll be very very interested to see Free Realms subscription numbers in 1 month. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean income as some subscribers may be paying nothing and some a lot...
 
>>But what about self-discipline regarding time? Isn't spending 100+ hours a month in a game doing more economic damage than spending 20+ dollars?

This is an apples and oranges comparison, and it's bunk.

The hate(using your own word here)stems from the fact that you keep making the sweeping generalization that time somehow equals money where games/MMO's are concerned, and that players with a surplus/deficit of either will somehow be able to enjoy a properly designed game "equally".

It's a fallacy. Why? Consider for a moment the person who has a surplus of both.

You also know good and well that greed is what drives capitalism, and that the bean counters would inevitably look for ways to increase revenues at the players expense once they are "hooked".
 
you keep making the sweeping generalization that time somehow equals money where games/MMO's are concerned, and that players with a surplus/deficit of either will somehow be able to enjoy a properly designed game "equally".

Sorry, the one who is making the sweeping generalization is you, claiming that time is worthless (because probably you happen to have enough of it), and even a small dollar payment is a huge burden. For me certainly that is not the case, and I know a lot of other people who have limited time, but can easily spend more money on games.

And as I said in a different comment, there aren't all that many people who have a surplus of both time and money. How many idle rich friends do you have? I have none.
 
My concern is a game will come out which I like the look of and want to play (SW:TOR for instance) but I will have to pay hundreds of dollars to be competitive at the top level.

I don't mind RMT but I think a game should be possible to play to the same level without it. The Free Realms model where if you pay you have a better weapon and a better character class is something that, frankly, scares me. I'm a fairly hardcore achiever type and I really don't want to have to microtransact my way up.

(And yes I did it in MTG too and have the thousands of cards).
 
Oh, another thing.

We all understand these are businesses we can all see that getting obsessively competitive players to RMT for hundreds of dollars is clearly a more lucrative model than $15 per month and we're worried that sub models like WoW, Eve etc which have proved very good value over the years might disappear because the company can make more money doing things differently.
 
I'd like to react on thr "Trabant" example.

We live in a capitalistic (read : unfair) world. True ! This means anyone wants the big Mercedes, but only a few can afford it. Since we won't change our world anytime soon, we have to live with that.

But is it ok in MMO's?

My fear with micro-transactions is that the RL wealth differences would affect IG experience.

What if poor people would be still trying to finish Naxx with their Tata Nano while the rich are farming the Ulduar hard modes with their purple mercedeses ?

This is a virtual world, right? My guild has very different members. Some make 1000 € a month, other 7000 €. I would hate it to see those IRL differences reflected in any manner IG.

I want to fully experience the game I am currently enjoying, while playing with the people I like.

This si why micro-transactions games are of no interest to me.

Sklave

PS : Please apologise my English, no natice speaker here (c:
 
I completely agrre with Géhenne. One of the best expiriences in WoW for me has been to find out that most people I played with were actually pretty poor and thus badly eductaed. One only occasionally realized this ingame (when you tried to discuss the latest EJ-Statistics).

In some way WoW and similar MMOss are a fairer world were it doesn't matter that much which school your parents sent you to. These kinds of communities are always highly valuable for any society.
 
This is a virtual world, right? My guild has very different members. Some make 1000 € a month, other 7000 €. I would hate it to see those IRL differences reflected in any manner IG.My guild has very different members. Some play for 10 hours a week, other play 100 hours a week. I *do* hate seeing those IRL differences reflected in game.

Somebody explain to me why only systems that favor the time-rich are valid, while any system that favors the money-rich is evil.

Unless you make a game where everybody can only log in for 2 hours per day, the current generation of games is already unfair. What I'm saying is that microtransactions are *ALSO* unfair, they just favor a different demographic. You just react strongly because the current system favors *YOU*. You aren't really interested in fairness.
 
Maybe it is about favours. But I think it is more about the MMO- world being independent from the RL.
Differences in log-in times are much less subtile than differences due to RL-€/$.

BTW: I work 50-60 hours the week right now and quite probably for the next few decades. I could spend quite some moneyon MMOs, but I prefer the cheap WoW-type MMOs nonetheless.
 
There is a competition over a limited resource, developer time.There is also a competition over a limited resource, play time. Eventually all companies want your play time. And I can only play so many hours a week.

I personally don't like the RMT games either. As I've said a few times before, I want to progress because of my skill, not my wallet. And I do think Elnia has it right by saying that the developers of those games will prefer their playerbase who pays.

Sure, Blizzard did that for a while with raiders. But they've seen that that is the wrong way to go. They have added multiple difficulty levels. Stratisfying the market from noobs to hardcore raiders just like your car analogy.

@Tobold. You do have a point, it'll never be fair. Someone that raids 5x4 hours a week will progress faster then someone who raids 2x3. It's either a time or money investment.
 
Why not have both systems, on different servers. Seems to me that it boils down to fairness among the people you play with. No one wants anyone to have an unfair advantage, be it time or money.
 
I wonder why the standard way of double exp for the same amount of time you have been offline is suddenly unacceptable?

Wouldn't it make more sense to just increase the maximum rest-time or just remove the max?

This way for every hour you are offline you only need to play 1 hour to have the exactly same exp like somebody who played continuously for 2 hours. Seems quite ingenious to me and unfortunately doesn't work (at all)for other factors than 2.

Perhaps we should think about ways to transfer this to the endgame instead of translating "money in RL" to "not enough time in game".

The problem is the in-game time difference so let's just address this - instead of creating advantages for RL-wealthy people no matter how much time they actually have to play the game.
 
Happily continuing my spam:
:)
Let's just apply the rest-exp system to all herbs / minerals / farming activities.
 
The reason I don't like RMT games is that I'm dislike constantly being pitched. No matter how much money you spend, they will try to get you to spend more. All a monthly sub game has to do is convince me to keep the sub alive; after that they don't give a rats ass what I do.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
TOBOLD WROTE :
[[Somebody explain to me why only systems that favor the time-rich are valid, while any system that favors the money-rich is evil. […] You just react strongly because the current system favors *YOU*. You aren't really interested in fairness.]]

I have to disagree here, Tobold. I never said that any system was evil. I just said thay RMT was not for me and explained why.

As for fairness, my guild is based on a very low raiding schedule (twice a week). We will never hit world first, but manage to kill some bosses in Ulduar. Members are chosen for their attitude not for anything else. I would hate to have a guild where people are choser because of their wealth.

Again, I do not say that such a guild would be evil, or that a guild that asks for 5-7 evenings attendence is.

Gehenne
 
>>..claiming that time is worthless (because probably you happen to have enough of it), and even a small dollar payment is a huge burden.

You, yourself, stated that you spent thousands of dollars on MTG and wound up with a suitcase of materials. How did this affect your time investment in playing the game? Did it shorten it because you could easily win due to having spent so much money on cards? Or did you find yourself still getting defeated because you played someone else who had more cash to throw away on the game?

Diminishing returns?..yes...but you're forgetting one thing; Money is finite, Time is not, and in an MMO this major difference is VERY important in making the distinction that the two can never be equal and should never be compared.

If anything, RMT is more likely to -increase- a players time investment in a game, since it is highly unlikely that someone will pay money for something only to wind up not using it.

Here's a few questions for you, Tobold:

Since you think the two are linked(time and money), what criteria would/do you use to determine how much you would be willing to spend on RMT or Microtransactions for any particular game?

Do you compare your time played with what you would get paid at a real world job, and then calculate accordingly?

Do you get your moneys worth in the end?
 
RMT isn't inherently evil and I agree with Tobold, it's just the flip side of time investment...and time = money.

But coming from a PvP perspective, from FPS games to WoW, I can tell you that if someone has a better gun, or better gear, etc, because they bought it, I would be a little annoyed about being "beat" by that person.

Yes, I can farm raid instances and BGs for gear and outgear someone, but at least it was done through the game itself...whereas just going to a website and buying some high-level gear seems a little unfair.

I know its just a game, and I try to tell my friends and guildmates the same thing when they get angry or annoyed at something. But, you can still earn something in a game, and with RMT, it seems like the players who you are competing with are getting a leg-up not because they earned what they have, but because they bought it.

It's like being the Boss's son with no experience or aptitude and getting a job managing skilled and knowledgable workers...I guess they have that right if daddy hired them, but it just doesn't seem fair.

RMT models in games that are based around RMT can be as fair as any other game. But I think a lot of people who are "achievers" are going to be turned off by that system since "achievements" can, in a way, be bought rather than achieved.
 
Money is finite, Time is not

What on earth makes you think that? If anything it is the other way around, there is no limit of how much money you can have, but everybody only gets 24 hours a day, and a lifetime of usually less than 100 years.

Since you think the two are linked(time and money), what criteria would/do you use to determine how much you would be willing to spend on RMT or Microtransactions for any particular game?

Do you compare your time played with what you would get paid at a real world job, and then calculate accordingly?

Do you get your moneys worth in the end?


I do get my money's worth in the end, because due to being careful based on my MTG experience I never spend more than I want on a microtransaction MMO. The same is true for getting my time's worth, for example I never reached the level cap in Everquest, because I refused to spend that much time.

But you can't simply say 1 hour is worth so and so many dollars. The question is how that time is spent. There is time spent in MMOs which is for fun, and there is time spent in MMOs where you aren't really having much fun, and just grind something for advancement. In the latter case I'd consider the alternatives of either grinding, or refusing to grind and quitting. A microtransaction game might give me a third option, spending a small sum of money to advance through the grind faster, and that is something I would consider as well.

If that sort of time spent advancing a character had no value, then how come people manage to find a buyer when they want to sell their accounts (usually illegit)? How come a Google search for "powerleveling" gives me 2 million hits?

Now I wouldn't buy a character or pay somebody to play a game for me, but that is just my personal valuation of time. But if you say that time has no value at all, you must add that this is only true for yourself. Otherwise you can't explain that some people are obviously willing to pay for time.
 
But coming from a PvP perspective, from FPS games to WoW, I can tell you that if someone has a better gun, or better gear, etc, because they bought it, I would be a little annoyed about being "beat" by that person.

The same company asked me to play and review one of their other games, which is a RMT PvP game. I refused with exactly that argument: RMT and PvP don't mix. But I don't consider PvE games to be "competitive", you don't really get hurt if somebody advances faster than you do.
 
>>What on earth makes you think that?

Because it's true? You are doing the same thing that most all RMT proponents do, you see time as a commodity in -REAL LIFE- and attempt to carry that over into a virtual world where the -design process- dictates the -value- of that time. You may call it "grindy"...another player might call it "fun".....either way it's completely subjective. But it does NOT make your time any more or less valuable than someone elses, no matter how much you want it to be.

You then opine that money is some kind of grand equalizer in that respect and that the design process can be altered to accomodate both with equality. I am simply saying that it cannot, due simply to the subjective nature of an individuals valuation of time.

However, let's pay close attention to those games that are attempting to incorporate both a time treadmill and an RMT avenue of advancement and see how it plays out.

Let's see if players eventually determine that -games- are no place for real world money to influence outcomes on any level.

Let's see how parents react when little pre-teen gamer spends his/her allowance on pixels on a screen while explaining that he/she wouldnt have been able to do their homework if they had to spend the time grinding for the item/advantage they purchased.
 
Lets see how parents react when their child fails exams due to having played too many hours of some game, because he feels he needs to spend that time to keep up with his friends / guild.

So what about my proposal about a MMORPG where everyone could only play for 2 hours a day, equalizing time spent? As I am saying in my post, you are against these changes because the current situation favors you. Everybody is just fighting his corner here.
 
"Somebody explain to me why only systems that favor the time-rich are valid, while any system that favors the money-rich is evil."
When it's about money, it always boils down to envy. The money-rich will be able to reach ingame goals more efficiently and concentrate on the fun parts more easily.
Though, imo, those who envy the time-rich in a GAME and are willing to pay money to make up the difference, should really be scratching their heads.
 
>>So what about my proposal about a MMORPG where everyone could only play for 2 hours a day, equalizing time spent?

Play what you want. I will play what I want. I dislike RMT and what I feel its effects are on the gaming scene. You disagree, and that's fine too.

If games such as WoW have caused this fragmentation as you describe it, then I am very glad that it has occured, as innovation and new ideas are always a good thing in an industry slaved to the almighty dollar. The only problem is that the industry now wants to slave the player to the almighty dollar as well.
 
Chris is the highlander!!


Time isn't finite? Jesus Christ man, you need a sense of your own mortality.
 
i don't think its time isnt finite, its more that time is easier to remedy inequality.

You are not ever going to have equality, because people at base are unequal. But something like time is much less of an inequality in most games than money. You can make plenty of things work in two hours as much as ten, and a good game makes options for that.

I don't see it as easy though for a lack of money. You can design instances to be run in under two hours easily-in ffxi over half of them can be done so. It's harder though to make a free experience compensate for a paid one.

I mean, 2 or 6 hours, there's very little internal pressure to choose one over the other. But paid and free, or high use of microtransactions versus casual? Big pressure.
 
I currently hate the thought of RMT games. But I know it's just because I'll have to accept yet another change in the gaming market.

I plodded along with solo PC games until they nearly became extinct before I finally was talked into playing WoW.

I completely missed out on the old MMOs just because I couldn't wrap my head around why someone would WANT to pay MONTHLY for a game. It was a completely alien concept to me. I now recognize the same thing happening now. Why would someone want to pay for PART of a game?

All of the negative comments in these posts are actually showing me why I might be OK with paying for part of a game.

Also, after playing Combat Arms for a few weeks on and off over this past year, I agree with Tobold that RMT and PvP do not mix well at all.
 
"Somebody explain to me why only systems that favor the time-rich are valid, while any system that favors the money-rich is evil."

I have a demanding well paid full-time job, a family which I don't neglect and I still managed to raid 3 nights a week. I went up to Brutallus before the nerf.

But people don't want to play games, they want to be entertained. Like the guy who just buys a huge collection of coins instead of procuring every coin himself. He may be happy, the seller may be happy. But the "achievement" is a fake and he missed all the fun of coin hunting.
 
"Lets see how parents react when their child fails exams due to having played too many hours of some game, because he feels he needs to spend that time to keep up with his friends / guild."

"Lets see how parents react when their child steals his/her parents credit cards and spends hundreds of [insert currency] on purchasable items because he feels he needs to spend that money to keep up with his friends / guild."
 
1) I would not particularly mind RMT (and think the EVE Online model is brilliant); but definitely would not enjoy microtransactions. I overspend on cable subscriptions vs PPV, have unlimited data plan on my iPone, because I don't want to fret with having a non-zero incremental cost.

2) I give Blizzard far less credit than you; in spite of its size, I think developers still are making the game they want to play, not their customers. E.g., if you want to expand the game outside of teenage boys, you would not make it a twitchfest with Ulduar movement, vehicles, etc. You would also spend more effort on professions, not less. Anyway, so when [excuse the steortypes] older/female users drift away and WoW has declining numbers, the question is what Activision will do? They could fire some people and bring in adult supervision. Or they could say that WoW is a "cash cow" and that resources will be invested in growing brands like GH or Diablo or ...

3) I also don't understand the money issue. I know people who have $10,000 computer systems, RAID disks, dual high-end graphics cards and FIOS connections. Others have an old $500-back-then-then laptop and/or dialup. It makes a huge difference in player enjoyment and performance; and the new designs seem to put more of a performance penalty on reaction time. Similarly, 100 addons and Vent will put relatively more stress on the less powerful system. And Blizzard could easily fix this - force a minimum latency and maximum FPS. But this huge inequality is not addressed. I don't understand why Blizzard knowingly doesn't correct for people who spent more on their computer than my car is worth , but a $2 sword is evil??? YMMV To put it in perspective, $4,500 is not that high-end of computer equipment when some graphics cards are $1,500 and $4,500 is 25 years at $15/month
 
"But the "achievement" is a fake and he missed all the fun of coin hunting."

Wyrm, that's just *your* definition of fun. It may not be that person's definition. That's the problem, and the point of a more flexible system; let people derive their own fun. It's not griefing you in any way, and even if it's silly to you, it's not to them. Live and let live.
 
Yes, some people have fun only when they friends let them win or else they pout.

Time vs money is a fallacy. If you implement a system where someone could buy from the start Sunwell Gear or PvP Gear, how would that be fair?

Besides, "BEHOLD! I AM THE HERO, I WIELD THE SWORD OF ONE THOUSAND TRUTHS! only 11.99$ at the cash shop, shhhhh"
 
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