Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
 
What you get for your money

In the comments of the previous post some people were asking what I thought of this or that game item one can buy, e.g. in The Sims 3 store, or whether I wanted to transfer real-life success into MMO success. To answer that, lets have a look at what you can get for your money in video games and other games or hobbies.

You can buy a chess set for $9.95, or for $500, or even $500,000. A set of golf clubs can cost anything between $50 and $32,000. Obviously the cost of your chess set has zero influence on your chance of winning at golf, and the influence of high-tech golf clubs on your handicap is minor at best. Nevertheless most people spend more than the absolute minimum on a chess set or set of golf clubs. Why?

Part of the answer is certainly that expensive items are status symbols. But that isn't the whole answer, because ultimately you'll fail to impress if you keep losing in spite of expensive equipment. But another big part of the answer is that people simply enjoy a certain degree of luxury for themselves. Just like that big car is not only there to impress your neighbors, it also is nicer to drive than a second-hand Honda Accord, people like to enjoy the fruits of their real-life success. After all, what good is it to work hard and earn lots of money if you end up not spending it?

As the demographics of video games spread into age groups that have more money to spend, a market for luxury video game items naturally develops. And if the game companies don't supply this market, third parties certainly will, and not always in the best possible way. The whole grey market of RMT, power-leveling services, and selling of accounts with high-level characters on EBay, is the effect of unscrupulous business men seeing that opportunity and going for it, regardless of what their action is doing to the game they sell stuff for. If the demand is there, somebody will always supply. Wouldn't it be better if the supplier was the game developers themselves? Not only could they use the profits to make better games, but they could also make sure that the only things for sale are those that don't destroy the fundamentals of the game.

So, as I said about the example of the Free Realms weapons that are better than every other weapon in the game, badly designed video game items for sale can destroy a game, by making playing that game obsolete. But that doesn't mean that the sometimes rabid opposition against all sales of video game items is justified. There is a legit market for well-designed luxury video game items, just like there is a market for marble chess sets and carbon-fibre golf clubs.

I'm all for the ability to spend money on video game items and services, as long as these items and services are basically for higher comfort, added content, and status symbol purposes. I would have no problem at all if Blizzard offered WoW epic mounts for cash, or opened a premium server with a $50 monthly fee and GM-run events every day. I have no problem with the possibility to buy more furniture or hairstyles in The Sims 3 for real money, even if in that case I'm not personally interested enough in that game to buy those. I am however interested enough in Luminary to want to spend money on lets say a one-month teleport ticket, allowing me to get around faster, or a mount, or added inventory space.

That does mean that people with more real-life success would have a more comfortable life and access to more content than people without money. But just like you don't win every game of golf because you have the more expensive clubs, the luxury items in video games can be designed to not eliminate the need for skill. And if that pricing segmentation is making the game company more money, that is perfectly fine with me. Unlike some people I do believe that game companies making profits is good for everybody: The game developers, because they end up making a good living and being rewarded for good games. And the players, because some of the profits of the game company are going to be invested back into making the next great game. Who would want to live in that alternate universe where Blizzard is losing money on WoW and can't afford to develop Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, and the next MMO?

Not only am I for pricing segmentation, I would also argue that it is an inevitable development. Once video games move from a narrow, homogeneous audience to a larger and more segmented public, egalitarian business models become less and less attractive. Video game companies aren't charities, and they do notice that with flat fee pricing other people end up making all that extra money from their players, be that gold sellers or the people who sell faster computers and high-speed internet connections. The writing is already on the wall, from The Sims 3 store, to downloadable added content for Fallout 3 costing money. With every other consumer item having gone down that way, it would be bizarre if video games didn't. Welcome to the real world!
Comments:
Obviously the cost of your chess set has zero influence on your chance of winning at golf, and the influence of high-tech golf clubs on your handicap is minor at best.

Once players start to play golf more seriously they will however decide to use standards to give all the golf players the same chance.
Every sport has extremely restricting rules as soon as you start to spend more time on it.

I play Badminton in tournaments and, believe me, it is almost absurd what amount of work is done to make all the players feel like starting on a common ground. It's called 'fairness'.

Welcome to the real world, Tobold :)
Games - all of them - as soon as you spend even a little bit time playing them, require the players to win only if they are better.
Becoming better by training more (and therefore spending more time) is always considered quite ok, even desired.

Actually the only game I can think of where more money means better chances at winning is unrestricted poker in casinos.
 
Only at the tournament level, Nils. On any average sports field you'll see a mix of people, some wearing Nikes, others wearing shoes from Walmart. On a golf course you'll see all sorts of qualities of golf clubs. etc.

And I would be perfectly fine with MMOs in which you "win" only if you are better. Please name one. There aren't any.
 
You are, however, correct in stating that those services that are nowadays supplied by third parties (like gold) could be integrated into the game itself.

But that may just be the better one from two bad choices.
The proscription that known gold-buyers and known character-buyers receive in WoW, for example, is massive. (Also because, Blizzard shaped player attitude that way).
Integrating gold selling services into the business model could direct these hostile emotions against the game company.

Finally:
The current problem in the MMO market is not missing (monetary) incentives to produce a good game.
Business people from all over the world have wet dreams about producing WoW II.

The problem at this time is just that nobody seems to be able to do it. *sigh*
 
On any average sports field you'll see a mix of people, some wearing Nikes, others wearing shoes from Walmart.

Agreed- but the difference is almost nonexistent.

Would you even play a casual game of dice against somebody with an improved cube?

Would you play a casual game of golf against somebody with shoes that make him hit the hole with an improved chance of 10% ? ;)

What were your reaction if he claimed that this is quite ok, because he has just inherited a lot of money?

Very small differences are accpeted - but only because on the non-tournament level it isn't worth the effort to change it.

Time however is rarely a problem:
Do you mind to play against a friend who trains golf three times week? You would probably play the game, knowing that you will lose, and then thank him for his time.
 
Do you mind to play against a friend who trains golf three times week?

No, if the only advantage of that added time he gained was the training. Yes, if because he already played the hole three times this weeks the rules say he can start 30 yards closer to the hole.

You argument is a fallacy, because it doesn't apply to MMOs. It takes hundreds of hours to get lets say the Lore Master achievement in WoW, but there is no "training" involved. And even in the "hardest" part of WoW, raiding, the amount you spend training a fight is low compared with the time you then spend doing the fight every week until everyone in your guild has all the epics he wants from there. Success in MMOs is almost linear with time spent in game, with very, very little correlation with skill or training. How much training do you need to get an epic mount?
 
So the problem is not that more time results in better performance, but that this improved performance is based on "unfair" elements of the game.
I can comprehend this opinion.
I, personally, like it this way, because I think in roleplaying terms. But I am part of a minority here, I fear :)

However, RMT does not really solve this problem. Replacing or supplementing time with money is not really an improvement in my opinion.

"Success in MMOs is almost linear with time spent in game, with very, very little correlation with skill or training."

You know that this is wrong with high end raiding and high end arena. For a "casual" ansatz at raiding it is probably true and certainly for the leveling game or BGs.

Ironically your problem could partly be solved by adding much more very hard dungeons to the game. ;)
 
I suspect the reason you don't mind so much with the golf is because when you're playing for fun with a friend, winning isn't as important.

MMOs tend to push the competitive side of achievers though, we've seen what PUGs can be like in terms of demands they make. Sure, it's probably a flaw in current games (or their players) but you could probably assume that high end raiding would count as competitive (for the purposes of needing restricting rules as per sport). I would love to see designers try to tackle this with a view to making fun less of a dirty word.

From a social pov though I have no issues with RMT. If someone is willing to run an instance with me and the only thing stopping them is that they didn't have enough time to grind some gear/levels then have at it! I think if it can make games more accessible for more people then it's a good thing.

But if it ends up meaning that you need more money as well as more time then I'm not seeing the benefit for the player. Sure, I have spare income, that doesn't mean I /want/ to throw it at game companies unless I see the value. And I think an interesting side effect is making think more about how they value their time/effort in games.

I thought it was interesting in this article in gamasutra that they said specifically that RMT games were likely to be lower quality.
 
Take a look at Team Fortress 2. I bought it two years ago. Now, with the *free* content patch that was released two weeks ago I'm picking it up again. Thanks to that patch the game is all over the gaming media again (just google Jarate...). Thanks to that *free* patch people buy the game again, even two years after it's out.

Giving out free content is not charity, it's a clever business plan. Thanks to the continued support for their games they gain a big fanbase. Blizzard did the same with their games. Take starcraft, Blizzard released a patch this year for their eleven year old game. Now these are companies I respect and they can expect me to buy their next games.
 
I think the fear is that at some point many games that we want to play at competitive levels may introduce RMT simply because the economic sense is better business than the fairness sense.

Suppose in WoW you could buy the legendary Ulduar healing mace for $1000. A tiny minority of people might cancel in indignation but Blizzard wouldn't need to sell many maces before the revenue out-weighed the lost subs. Then any healer wanting to join a really good guild would be under pressure to buy it. In guilds like Ensidia, Method etc it would become a requirement. Because if you don't buy it the other guy will and he'll heal the pants off of you with it.

Then in 3.3 you can buy legendary Frostmourne for $5000. A Ret Pally, dps warrior or dps dk would play completely different with such an uber item as those classes are pretty much defined by their weapon.

When people oppose RMT this is the nightmare scenario we have in mind. And it seems intuitive that, at least in the short term, the games company would make more money operating like that. A lot more.
 
>>You argument is a fallacy, because it doesn't apply to MMOs. It takes hundreds of hours to get lets say the Lore Master achievement in WoW, but there is no "training" involved.

Please explain to me how one needs training for achievements? I spent the time and got the Loremaster Achievement long before anyone else in my guild was even close. It was worth the hours spent grinding quests to get something that no one else has. I couldnt buy the Loremaster title, as that option doesnt exist in the game, so my character now has something that not many players have attained due to my "own" persistance and effort.

Please explain why something like this is not valuable to you?

>>but they could also make sure that the only things for sale are those that don't destroy the fundamentals of the game.

And these items that dont destroy the fundamentals of the game would be?

Luxury items?..heh...surely you can see where this is going.
 
Please explain to me how one needs training for achievements?

Perhaps you should re-read the quote:

but there is no "training" involved.
 
@Chris

Things that could be added by RMT without affecting game balance too badly:
- new haircuts, colours etc
- exotic looking mounts of the same speed as current ones
- start a new alt of any class under the same terms as DKs
- customised items appearence without changing stats
- "catch up" gear sets two tiers below the current raid max
- teleport to major city rings with 30 min cooldown

Those were just a few examples off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many more
 
so my character now has something that not many players have attained due to my "own" persistance and effort

We obviously have very different views on the value of grind, or what you call "effort". My point is that there is not a single WoW player who could NOT attain the Loremaster title. The only requirement is a huge time investment. You don't need much knowledge, or skill, or training to get this achievement.

The only reason not everybody has this title by now is that most players decided it wasn't worth it. The only reason you got it first, is because you started early and probably spent more hours per day on it than your guild mates. And you are proud of that? What about a title you would get when you write "lol" in chat 1 million times? Would you be proud of achieving that first too?
 
While I mostly agree with Tobold on the 1mio 'LoL's, you have to keep in mind that once you DID such a thing you are proud and have some right to be so.

There is a Guinness Book of (stupid) Records for a reason.

If you are unemployed, really cannot find a job, and start to give your life some meaning by, for example, sleeping only 4 hour each night and rushing to max level you HAVE achieved something.

To deny this is not fair. If Tobold mentions that he doesn't have enough time to be able to achieve this, and that it is really easy if you have the time he makes a mistake.

Repeatedly sleeping only 4 hours a night and playing WoW efficiently for 20 hours is not easy. It might be stupid, but it IS an achievment and, especially if you were not born in a family that sent you to a good school, you should be proud to have done at least something. ( I know that sounds evil - sorry).

It's not like working as a bouncer is more demanding, after all.
 
There are plenty of achievements in the world (of Warcraft) that are skills-based. For instance I am trying to achieve [Ironman]. This is a real hard achievement, especially for a squishy mage, and I'll be inordinately proud of it if I manage it. However, if you could just buy an in-game item using my out-of-game wealth that would make this achievement easier to get, it would devalue the achievement for everybody, even those who had done it by using skill.

That's why people are so against RMT: when you can essentially buy achievements, they are no longer recognised as achievements of worth.
 
"to work hard and earn lots of money"

more and more those two factors seem NOT to go hand in hand...
 
"That does mean that people with more real-life success would have a more comfortable life and access to more content than people without money."

Because what we need is more inequality in every part of our lives. Just to get us used to it. Preferably since children: they will get used from early on that the ones with richer parents have it all. As it is with grown-ups :)
 
Let's make a quick example:
We have Tobold + Basement boy
Assumptions:
1, Both have the ability to work 4 hours a day.
2, Both earn the same amount of money per hour $10 per hour
3, Leveling takes a set amount of time. Level 1 per hour

So Tobold decides to work 4 hours straight and earn $40, while the basement boy plays for 4 hours and got to level 4.
Now Tobold's all sad cause basement boy got 4 levels over him and calling him a n00b which drove him to write the rant.

Now let's introduce microtransaction into the story, for $10, you could buy 1 level.

Now Tobold could spend his hard earn money, and start at equal ground as basement boy! while they both invested the same amount of time. (+ We wont' have to read Tobold's rant). So basically microtransaction is just there to help you "catch up" but never surpass the real gaming contents.

The company that can correctly balance the effort/time/money trinity would bring the best possible outcome for both the basement boy and Tobold!

(And let's face it, by purchsing the level, Tobold's really missing out on all the "FUN" grinding in the game, he's somewhere cutting other people's lawn!)

Another note: If you needed to use microtransaction in the first place (no time to leveling) , then he/she probably won't have enough time to raid ^^
So microtransaction, as long as it doesn't make playing the game obsolete, in my opinion could be one of the better business model.

I think Sven provided a list of great examples of the "catching up" items that could be bought with microtransaction, who cares if you got full Tier 4 while all the top raiders are rocking full Tier 6?
 
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I've found your last couple of posts fairly horrifying.

Would you feel the same way about buying success in games, if you did not have money to waste on all the extra bonuses?

Can you explain to those of us of finite means why it is that you should beat us in online games?
 
@Arkenor:

How could someone beat you, if all the microtransation items are purely for : Convenience (Epic flying mount), time saving (3x exp from recruit a friend), or ones that's not "best" in the game (say buying tier 4 while the highest is tier 6).

I believe Tobold doesn't want a microtransaction system that provide every single end game items in the game, because that would just take out the point of playing the game in the first place.

Rather, we want a microtransaction system that brings harmless cosmetic changes/time saving methods (which won't affect other people at all).

Because a game that allows you to pay gold to be the best = a game that's doom to fail (or a bunch of people making a lot of money selling accounts =P)
 
Hmm, I guess, though it is hard to believe that items that level you 3 times as fast are not providing an advantage.

Perhaps statements like this make me so angry I have trouble taking in the nuance.:

"And if somebody absolutely wants those advantages one has to pay for, well, maybe he should think about leaving his mother's basement."

That is just offensive to people who have children, healthcare bills, or a crappy job they work their guts out at.

The idea that poor people are poor because they don't work hard enough is something that has been popular in certain circles for many years.
 
Yeah, I don't fancy Tobold's more exaggerated example either, they are just mean!
That's why I made him trim other people's lawn >=D!
 
"Can you explain to those of us of finite means why it is that you should beat us in online games?"

In PVE games, you can't beat any other players anyway. WoW, especially, has mastered the single player MMO design. it works well. Worry about your own play experience. Who cares if the guy you ran into has UBER RED HAT. You have no clue whether he bought it, or grinded (ground?) LEET INSTANCE 47 for 4 months. It has absolutely no bearing on your gameplay experience either way.
 
Can you explain to those of us of finite means why it is that you should beat us in online games?

Can you explain to those of us of finite time why it is that you should beat us in online games?

Salxis already explained my point of view, why I think microtransactions to exchange money for time are justified.
 
Tobold:"Only at the tournament level, Nils. On any average sports field you'll see a mix of people, some wearing Nikes, others wearing shoes from Walmart. On a golf course you'll see all sorts of qualities of golf clubs. etc. "

You won't actually, the type of people that spend a couple thousand on clubs also go to golf courses that don't service the wal-mart crowd. They charge high enough membership fees to keep the course market homogenous within income.

Market segmentation tends to separate people into groups, and to maintain it, has to keep them separated. It's simply no good to have the wal-mart crowd come in and muck up your 5-star resort, so you set the barrier to entry too high for them to afford. Or in the reverse, you build a cheap dive just to draw in the most heads to make money.

Luxury is about status, and status requires a measure of exclusitivity. That $500,000 chess set is worth that only because so few people can afford it-it could easily be made much cheaper and yet still be the same design.

What this means for MMOs I think is that segmenting them into luxury models is going to need player segregation, either in the same game, or excluded entirely. If you want people on a 50 buck a month server to have an expanded play experience, you'll have to limit the 20 buck a month or free players from it.
 
Can you explain to those of us of finite time why it is that you should beat us in online games?

Salxis already explained my point of view, why I think microtransactions to exchange money for time are justified.


You're assuming we have more time than you, just because we have less money.
 
Tobold! They're making a plush version of the Evil Raccoon from Luminary!

http://images.mmorpg.com/images/newsImages/242009/P1010194.JPG

Waah! Now there's something I'd pay EUR 15 for. And maybe they could attach an in-game item to it.

Isn't that the cutest bubble-with-a-tail ever to grace a video game?
 
>>The only reason you got it first, is because you started early and probably spent more hours per day on it than your guild mates.

Or, maybe I decided early on that doing the quests -AS DESIGNED IN THE GAME- was worth my time early on because I was fascinated by the story lines in the quests and how they helped develope the lore of the game for me?

You have to remember that achievements came much later in the game, and Blizzard decided what to include into that list of achievements and the associated meta data to qualify a player for them.

The reason I got the Loremaster achievement, was because from day one I decided that I wanted to experience the storylines and quests as they were designed in the game. Not because I saw them as a grind or barrier to my having fun in the game, because I had a blast doing them before such a thing as -Achievements- even existed.

Now, once this achievement entered the game, I saw that I didnt have many more quests to finish in order to get the achievement outright, so I did.

I'm sorry that you dont see the value in attaining something like this, I really am.

And for the record, I work a fulltime job and have done so since I left school well over 20 years ago now. I'm a semi-professional, own my own home and do very well for myself otherwise. I also have an abundance of free time when I'm not working to spend on playing games. I'm sorry that you dont.

But, I'm the player here, and you have to remember that I didnt create the game, the subscription model, or the grindy elements of the games design. However, I did have a blast playing the game for the 4+ years that I did before I finally quit.

Ask yourself this: If, at the end of playing an RMT game for over 4 years you decided that it was no longer fun and quit. Over the course of that four years you made a HUGE monetary investment that allowed you to maintain your enjoyment of the game. Do you question the amount of money that you've spent playing the game, do you question the amount of time that you've wasted playing the game, or do you consider the past 4 years as a wash in the fact that you had fun while playing?
 
Ask yourself this: If, at the end of playing an RMT game for over 4 years you decided that it was no longer fun and quit. Over the course of that four years you made a HUGE monetary investment that allowed you to maintain your enjoyment of the game. Do you question the amount of money that you've spent playing the game, do you question the amount of time that you've wasted playing the game, or do you consider the past 4 years as a wash in the fact that you had fun while playing?

That is exactly what I'm trying to explain: For me the money investment isn't huge at all. I could easily spend $50 or more per month on an MMO and still consider it cheap. But the HUGE time investment is a killer, because I don't have that much time.

Of course that wouldn't be a problem if all time spent in the game was fun and there was no grind. But MMOs don't work like that, they are by nature repetitive, and you often end up doing something you don't inherently like just for the reward. And that is time badly spent I regret.
 
Maybe you should clarify, Tobold, what you think is and isn't OK in terms of RMT transactions.

I've asked before and had you answer that you don't think RMT and PvP should ever mix. I'd agree. I also don't think that you would want people to be able to buy the very best PvE gear in the game.

It seems like half the people disagreeing with you think that you are advocating RMT transactions to get full Tier*Best* gear along with full *Best*PvP gear, weapons, etc. I'm pretty sure you aren't through.

Hell, even WoW has a good deal of RMT. Refer a Friend is RMT. It doesn't have any detrimental effects on players who do not use it, but it gives an advantage to someone who wants to level a character from 1-60 in a few days rather than a few weeks.

But Refer a Friend is a lot different than allowing a person to buy full Tier*Best* gear or full *Best*PvP gear.

You can argue about luxury, or lore, or immersion in the game, but some forms of RMT have 0 effect on other players, unless they choose to get upset that they can't get the same thing by grinding all day long.

Ever see someone riding the spectral tiger epic mount? Or the spectral tiger stationary toy?

Those items cost money. Are they allowing someone to "beat" you at WoW? Or are they fluffy little items that don't change someone's effectiveness at PvE or PvP?

Just like everything else in the universe, there are degrees, gray areas, whatever. At least be clear with what kinds of RMT you are against if you disagree with Tobold. There is a good chance that, in fact, you don't disagree with him at all.
 
>>Just like everything else in the universe, there are degrees, gray areas, whatever. At least be clear with what kinds of RMT you are against if you disagree with Tobold. There is a good chance that, in fact, you don't disagree with him at all.

What I disagree with is the fact that he consistantly talks about games such as WoW, and justifies RMT by railing against the huge time committment that WoW requires -BY DESIGN-. WoW was not designed, nor does it include Blizzard sanctioned RMT as a means of -levelling the playing field- where the time commitment is concerned.

I could care less if Tobold decided that he was going to play a game that was released with RMT support from the get-go.

We've already seen how he was heaping praise on Free Realms early on, only to find out later that certain types of RMT will ruin the game when inequalities are introduced as a result of the "people who want to -get ahead- of the time curve because their time is more important than money to them" who play the game. I just think he's a little misguided when he thinks that such a system could introduce complete and total equality from a time versus money perspective. On one hand he's arguing "luxury" items arent a bad form of RMT, and I would agree, but he has yet to address the points of contention raised my many commentors here on how he would equalize the time factor with the use of RMT, and how it would benefit him without giving him an unfair advantage over those who couldnt, or wouldnt use RMT.
 
Time is money.

How do you equalize the two so that no one has an unfair advantage over the other? You can't, because both are subjectively vaulable. i.e. you are asking a question that you should know, has no "correct" answer.

The guy with 20 hours to burn will complain that he can't afford $200 to get item X. The guy with $200 will complain that he doesn't have 20 hours to play to get item X.

No matter how well you articulate it, time-guy and money-guy won't see the situation the same. They see someone spending money to get an item...RMT!

The money-guy sees the guy with 20 hours grinding away at something knowing that he probably can't get it.

Trying to say one is better than the other will pretty much show your bias...whether you think grinding is more legitimate than spending real money.

But again, Tobold isn't for people being able to buy the bestest PvE and PvP gear in WoW, or necessarily in any game.

But you are attributing to him this argument because he will sometimes post that RMT can be "legitimate".

If Tobold doesn't think you should be able to get a full set of the bestest gear available, and instead just little items like teleport scrolls, or epic mounts, how...again...is it giving anyone an unfair advantage over another player?
 
All games, especially progression-oriented RPG's, need a way to differentiate their players. No one wants to look like everyone else, or have the same skills/talents as everyone else. Games traditionally do this through a combination of time and skill. In WoW, it breaks down like this:

High time, low skill: Alts, BG's, achievements.
Low time, high skill: Arena
High time, high skill: Raiding

Blizzard has constructed a world where real money cannot get you ahead, or serve as a replacement for time or skill (except Recruit-A-Friend for 1-60). That egalitarian worldview is attractive to a lot of people, especially people who don't have success and achievement in real life. By adding more ways for rich people to enjoy/flaunt their wealth, they risk pissing off their poor user base. I'm not sure what their best approach will be. Perhaps their next MMO will be much more expensive and include RMT, to basically siphon off the rich people and provide more "white glove" service like an exclusive country club golf course. Then they can achieve perfect market segmentation: WoW for the poor, and New-MMO for the rich. To complete this vision, poor WoW players will be able to earn WoW gold by working as a servant in New-MMO.
 
>>But you are attributing to him this argument because he will sometimes post that RMT can be "legitimate".

And I mentioned as such based on your own request to list a form of RMT that I felt was ok in an MMO when I mentioned "luxury" items in my last comment.

But Tobold cannot continue to make mention of games like WoW, how much time it requires, poke fun at players by calling them "basement dwellers", and -NOT- expect it to give the impression that his support of RMT is time based in principle.

>>The guy with 20 hours to burn will complain that he can't afford $200 to get item X. The guy with $200 will complain that he doesn't have 20 hours to play to get item X.

So either design a game where everything in the game world can be altered with RMT, or suck up to the fact that any game will require a time investment to play. Is it really that difficult of a concept to grasp?

Just as most of have agreed that RMT and PvP wouldnt mix very well, why cant we also agree that introducing RMT to alter the amount of time a player spends in the game would also not mix very well?
 
>> Just as most of have agreed that RMT and PvP wouldnt mix very well, why cant we also agree that introducing RMT to alter the amount of time a player spends in the game would also not mix very well?

Because pvp = competition against people, thus both party will argue for a game that's based on SKILL not the amount of time invested, or the gears (Guild War is one of the better example). So any introduction of RMT regarding this matter = whine = people leaves = company cry.

But pve, is playing against the environment, i.e. in all senses it won't affect other players at all (Unless you count the server first title, which I think shouldn't be allowed in RMT anyway)

What I am getting at is, as long as the RMT products provide you character to achieve everything that's achievable via SOLOING only (i.e. epic mount, getting more alts to max level, soloable achievements)

Take loremaster for example, you 've had your fun getting the title as you said, so... how would using RMT to get the title(since it's pretty much soloable untill grouping content in WoTL)

At the end it's just a pixel reconfiguration of a statue symbol, it's not like it would make you fly at 310% speed (Okay Deathchill cloak, but that's kind of redundant now). Also, you've enjoyed every moment of grinding to this exam, while RMT people... paid money for it without having the "fun". So who would you say is actually at loss here?

For me, as long as the RMT doesn't provide advantages over people that are doing heroic 5men-raiding, it would be a good business model.

Freerealm is a good example, a sword you can buy that's better than any of the current free2play content = broken.

Say we got 4 kind of people:
1: Lots of time, lots of money
2: Lots of time, little money
3: Little time, lots of money
4: Little time, little money

In the current model of Wow, only person 1 and 2 will ever achieve something, while 3 and 4 gets pretty much nothing.

Now with RMT, person 3 would be able to CATCH up (note, not going to be equal with 1 or 2 ever, cause of raid and such) So... how would this ever affect anyone else?

If you say person #4 would be at disadvantages ... he probably shouldn't have been playing in the first place.

Please explain to me how would other people saving time via money affect you in any way?

Oh and I think Tobold only uses Wow extensively as an example because it's the last non-RMT MMO that he has played, so it's just natural for him to use it. If he was playing LoTR online I am sure his examples would've been basement hobbits.
 
I thought I had stated often enough the list of items I find okay for microtransactions, and what I find not okay. But here you go:

Okay: - Any fluff and status symbol with no game function
- Any item that basically speeds up things without bypassing it, e.g. double xp scrolls
- Any form of faster transport, mounts
- Any form of increased inventory, including housing
- Similar convenience items to those listed above

Not okay: - Completely skipping several levels, selling high-level characters
- Gear that is best in type and can't be achieved by in-game means
- Similar items that make large non-grind parts of the game obsolete

The idea is simply that with microtransactions you exchange money for time, putting people with more money and less time on EQUAL, not better, footing than people with lots of time and no money.
 
I believe that there is good design and bad design and good RMT models and bad flat fee games.

Nobody can deny the success of the flat fee model as the most successful games are running with it. But there can also be an RMT based model which is just as good, Second Life may not be your standard MMO but because you can swap real money for linden (?) dollars with just a few clicks essentially every transaction in SL is RMT.

Now the folks against RMT are obviously forgeting that although you cannot buy gear in WoW that doesn't stop anybody to buy an entire character with all the achievements, gear, even recognition that comes with it. The problems with all this are major, for starters sweatshops, the developer loses money and it can even kill a game (Lineage 2 is not dead but ebay is killing it.)

That doesn't mean that RMT is all good. If you have a flat fee, which you should if only to instill customers with loyalty, then you cannot also charge large ammounts using RMT. But opening a convenience shop where players can buy items to help them without affecting others while at the same time you drop the flat fee a little bit I think it is win, win.

Items that can be for sale IMO:

The epic flying skill for five bucks as long as one character in the account bought it normally.
Heirloom items for alts.
A purple zebra mount.
Non-combat pets.
One use no cooldown HSes.
Old season PvP stuff (maybe ppl will stop AFK botting in BGs then.)
And to add a gold sink the ability to extend your play time for 10k gold or something.

Obviously if Blizzard started selling BiS items I would quit the next day and I wouldn't trust them to design kids drawing software.
 
"The idea is simply that with microtransactions you exchange money for time, putting people with more money and less time on EQUAL, not better, footing than people with lots of time and no money."

That is rubbish I'm affraid.
Any RMT game where buying items doesn't give a clear and distinctive advantage will fail.
If a guy needs to spend money in order to "compete" he will not settle for an "even" playing field. Besides, what is "even" anyway? How will they be able to balance the game between those who spend 50$ in a game and those who cannot afford it.

Also the T4/T6 example is rubbish too. Not everyone raids and the vast majority of players didn't had T4 when T6 was being farmed. In this case you are clearly giving an advantage to RMT'ers.

What would be great though is if the RMT items were clearly identifiable. But i suspect that the RMT customers wouldn't like that. :)
 
>>he will not settle for an "even" playing field. Besides, what is "even" anyway? How will they be able to balance the game between those who spend 50$ in a game and those who cannot afford it.

Even as in the RMT would help the person achieve the highest possible achievement that's doable with SOLOGRINDING (i.e. time's the only variable here)

So say, double exp scroll, epic mounts, or lore master title (by paying you cut down the required quests to halve).

That's pretty balanced isn't it? It's about buying the TIME, not the BiS items.

If you going to argue "they will not settle for just even"... company's the one that's giving out the RMT items, no matter how much QQing you do doubt the company would listen if it completely breaks down the game balance (i.e. able to buy items that's more powerful than anything in the game)

T4~T6 is silly, I'll admit my view on that was wrong, so now I think the best would be RMT transaction, that helps you to the point of highest "solo grindable" achievements.

And if you want epic raiding gears, get skilled!
 
That's pretty balanced isn't it? It's about buying the TIME, not the BiS items.

No, it is about buying the time and the WORK that needed to be done to get the title...
 
The work... which is... solo grindable and really, how does 1 having the "Loremaster" title will ever affect another player's game play?
Unless of course, people got it for bragging right, otherwise, people get the title, and they appreciate the work they've done themselves, and pat themselves on the back.

Non-RMT: You play the game grind, you get title.
RMT: You play RL grind for money and you get title.

If you want people to look at your "Loremaster" title and go "oo he must've worked really hard for that title, I know it's time consuming" then yeah, RMT will never work for you.

But, if like you've said, you "enjoyed doing the quests regardless of the title" (you said you did it even before the achievement system were introduced.) then shouldn't the title just be an added bonus to you? Because, really, other than giving SOLO players equal ground, the RMT is not going to do much more.
 
The idea is simply that with microtransactions you exchange money for time, putting people with more money and less time on EQUAL, not better, footing than people with lots of time and no money.

How are we defining "equal footing"?

If the goal is something like, "Be among the most powerful 1% of players" then we can talk about balancing time vs. money. Some of the best players will be cash-rich, some will be time-rich, and the other 99% will quit because they can't reach their goal.

But if the goal is to have fun playing a game, then the time-rich and time-poor players already have equal footing. Suppose the game has "X" hours of fun content, and after that it turns into a boring grind. (Obviously "X" will have a different value for each person.) Time-rich players will hit "X" earlier, and time-poor players will hit "X" later, but they'll both have the same amount of fun getting there.

The problem with "money-for-time" cash shops is that there's an incentive for the developers to make the game more "grindy", in order to encourage people to buy items that will let them skip the grind.

What you wind up with is something that's similar to a subscription game with a free trial. You get the first couple of levels free, but after a certain point you have to start paying cash in order for the game to remain fun.

The catch is that it's hard to find out exactly how much you'll need to pay, and there's no guarantee that the price won't start going up as you get further into the game.

So the time vs. money debate is really a bit of a red herring. The best way to look at it is as developers picking the pockets of cash-rich people, while simultaneously saying, "Look, that guy over there still lives in his parent's basement! He's probably jealous of you! You should keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn't get more than he's entitled to!" (This same sort of misdirection also takes place outside of the gaming world.)
 
Players value a level playing field and if the field cant be level then tilted in there favor is exceptable.

The reality is both sides of this argument are advocating the same thing. That being that sense a truely level playing field is not acheavable that bending the games structures in a way that benefits there chosen style of play is both exceptable and good.

I think there needs to be a third option here. There needs to be the choice of a mmog game that does not use RMT and also that are built in away that prevents those with higher playtime from dominating.

Current mmogs favor those with high playtime because they are designed that way. Slow exp rates 4-5 hour raids slow faction grinds and the list goes on. The metric used for most of the design of these features is the higher playtime players hours per day/week spent in the game. If you dont have the time to play the mmog at the designed for rate you are forced to the conclusion eventualy that you will never be able to acheave the high status many mmog players crave. The exact same issue will arise in a RMT game you simply replace players lacking time with those lacking money.

I beleave the real answer is a game built around the concept of allowing lower play time players to acheave the same things as the higher playtimer players is the way to move mmogs forward not RMT. Alot of this can simply be done by devs of mmogs making sure that what there designing is built around a more healthly hours perweek played then the current mmog standards.

I also beleave a mmog are simply servers in existing mmogs that limited amount of time per day a player could be logged into the game would find some takers. Set the timer at three hours per day and the add 1 extra to the timer for not logging in for a day with five hours being the max amount of time that can be spent in one day. The result of the above system would be to prevent those with higher playtimes from dominating the game. It would also stop lower playtime player from feeling forced to the use of money to try and catch up to those with higher playtimes.
 
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