Tobold's Blog
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Why RMT discussion must fail

$1 is not worth the same thing to every person.

That might seem counterintutitive, but the value of $1 isn't absolute, by itself it is just a worthless piece of green paper. The value of that 1 dollar is determined by what you are going to buy with it. And that is pretty much depending on how many other dollars you have. Common Sense Gamer is furious about a permanent horse in Runes of Magic costing $10. Then he gets even more furious when nobody agrees. But the point is that there is no absolute answer to the question of whether $10 for a virtual horse is too expensive or not.

If you would otherwise use those $10 to buy food for your starving children, of course spending those $10 on a virtual horse instead is downright crazy. But if you have paid all your bills, done all your shopping, put aside enough money for your retirement, and you still have $10 left, whether you spend those on a virtual horse or on a cinema ticket or on a 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel at Starbucks doesn't really matter.

What microtransactions do is put a fixed price on something which is at best a convenience, a luxury. There is no "true" value to anything on offer here, so discussing whether the price is fair or not just doesn't make sense. It is as pointless as discussing the price of a Luis Vutton handbag.
Perfect insight :).

That's why many people claim, that there are no 'just' prices, just market-determined prices. In a free market a price is determined in such a way that the most money changes ownership, thus satisfying as many needs as possible measured in money - which is a bad way to measure this, but better than no measure.

But me, personally, I am more troubled with the destruction of the credibility and coherence of the MMO world, than with injustices that necessarily come with real life prices for .. anything.
I have excess money to burn...

I just get upset when the game basically wants me to pay extra to get all features.

For example, why can people not buy mounts ingame for ingame money in RoM? Can they not restrict pay-to-ride to special fancy mounts?
The things they sell must be useful enough for them to make a sufficient revenue to balance the fact that there is no revenue from box sales or monthly fees.
The things they sell must be useful enough for them to make a sufficient revenue to balance the fact that there is no revenue from box sales or monthly fees.

So is the issue that the F2P bussiness model is whacked, or do we really have to break this down into a cost versus utility debate where subjectivity determines the talking points?

The issue here is whether or not the "horse" is needed to progress beyond a certain point in the game, whether or not it affects travel to the point of giving an advantage for owning one, or if it's an entirely cosmetic item.

It doesnt matter if the horse costs $1, $10 or $100, as discussing the subjective nature of worth tends to not accomplish much when people continually compare the worth of virtual items with tangible meat space items such as food, clothing or shelter.
And the horse is the worst possible example from Runes of Magic's item store :)

You can rent horses for in-game gold, I think it's about 3000 for 3 hours. There are also weekly packages. If you don't absolutely need a mount that has 5% more run speed and looks like a monster, you can grab plain horses for in-game currency, and that's cheap. 3000 is nothing in RoM.

I still think $10 is an okay price for a permanent horse. RoM's goal was always to sell the most convenient items, but never require them.

Then there's the time vs. money thing. If you have a LOT of time, you can get e.g. stats-changing furniture for your house using Phirius Coins, you just have to invest a lot of time doing Phirius Coin daily quests. 600 coins for an armor rack, with 10 coins per quest (at least at the beginning). Yikes. So if you don't have time but do have a bit of money, you might just invest those $2 of real money and be done. And that's the kind of people Frogster/Runewaker need, those who value time over money.
We actually do have a relative price to base all RMT off. Assuming a $50 box price, 1 free months play, and monthly sub price of $15: over 3 months that's $80, 6 months $125, and a year it's $216.
@jeff: My $216 is worth a lot more than that of someone else. I play a lot, so I get more time from that money, so it is therefore more valuable. Please don't confuse this with the "I pay $15 a month just like everyone else so give me X."
I also wonder if people cease to value the parts of the game that are free. I mean, with runes of magic you are getting a lot without having to pay anything.
@Klep - I'm just putting a typical dollar value cost to play a AAA mmo. Whether you can spend 3hrs or 100hrs playing per month is definately another way to measure value, but the out of pocket cost is fixed. And when you compare a game like RoM that is free to download, spending $10 the first month is still relatively very cheap.
This is coming from a person that rages everytime games are priced different for different markets (NA v. EU)...
For me it depends a lot on the quality of the game. If it takes me 12hrs game-time doing something that is fun for me (ie. battlegrounds or running instances), in order to get a bauble that I want, then I don't care if someone paid $2 to get it right away. In my mind its just someone paying $2 to avoid some fun. But if the RMT is to avoid having to spend time doing something that is not fun, then I start to question the game design and whether or not I should switch games.
Your argument is wrong, Tobold. If that horse cost $100, I think we'd all agree that the price was unfair, even RMT supporters. Usually price has to be considered in relation to an objects value.

If the horse were rented instead of permanent, say $10 for 30 days, you'd run into value difficulties as well. It may be subjective in part, but I think people have an intuitive value they establish for mounts in game, which is why not only runes, but Mabinogi prices theirs at $10 for a permanent mount.

The mount though isn't a bad example, for a free game spending ten bucks to have one is cheap, all things considering. What I do dislike is having things that are basic functions purchasable, like owning a shop, extra item bags and bank storage, and teleports to different areas RMT.

I used to be against it on principle, but playing Mabinogi has shown me that F2P isn't too bad. I do think if you are going to spend $15 per month on a sub anyways, spending a same amount in RMT is ok, so long as the game is fun to you. If anything, it seems more fun since you can use that sub money to tailor your ingame experience.
This is coming from a person that rages everytime games are priced different for different markets (NA v. EU).

What does that have to do with anything? Or are you saying that Europeans are much richer than Americans, and thus should pay more for the same game?
Neispace is right, it's easy to argue that a price is "fair" when you agree with it. If the horse cost $100 I don't think we'd be reading this blog post. More likely something about how only hardcore RoM players would acquire the horse.
A $100 horse wouldn't be "unfair." Unprofitable to the company maybe, as they might make less total money by selling less than 10% of the horses they could have sold at $10.
It's Vuitton, you barbarian.
And it's Louis, you barbarian. ;)
Yep I agree, and have drawn similar examples over on and you know what the response is.

It's a very magical ephemeral aura that tries to settle on you that you can't quite put into words. Like an unexplainable occurence.

The totally ignore my post. I've posted 4 different times throughout a hot thread that when almost to 1,000 posts and explain many many reasons why the discussion fails, and going back over the post is like mine aren't even there.
It's Vuitton, you barbarian.
And it's Louis, you barbarian. ;)

Crap, then the handbag I've been running around with every day must be a fake! ;)
For me, I see a real difference in RMT in free vs monthly fee games. I.e. Wow has set my [maximum?] gaming price: so "effectively" needing a $5 horse every month in a free game would be fine. But a $2 horse every month would seem to me excessive for a game that charged $15 or even $10/month.

I think RMT is doomed due to people wanting to avoid market forces in game and out.
Your argument is wrong, Tobold. If that horse cost $100, I think we'd all agree that the price was unfair, even RMT supporters. Usually price has to be considered in relation to an objects value.

The thing is that items are rarely ever placed on the extreme ends of the bell curve; you've got extremely cheap/free where everyone will agree with the price, and then you've got extremely expensive (e.g. $100 for a measly horse) where no one will agree that it's fair.

The problem is that no developer is stupid enough to place items in either price range. Rather, it's going to be placed where people are going to buy it while fetching enough revenue for their development costs.

And that's where the price disagreements start coming in. Yes, the price has to be compared in relevance to its use, but even that price does not hold the same meaning between a freeloading 12-year old and a 35 middle-class man with money to spare.
"The value of that 1 dollar is determined by what you are going to buy with it. "

This also goes for the market that it is aimed at. You argue the subjectivity of a dollar in this post, but expect the dollar to be objective when it comes to market pricing. That makes no sense.
But that is like argueing against the monthly fee model, claiming that monthly fees would be unfair *IF* they were $100. Would you pay $100 per month for your favorite MMO?
I don't see what that has to do with the subjectivity/objectivity dichotomy?
RMT is the 2nd most successful business model in the history of ALL gaming, and it is climbing rapidly. Analysis have shown that it hasn't dipped or even started slowing down but speeding up.

The only other video game business doing better is the casual game market.

Their are too many variables, and every single argument I've ever read only includes a few at most out of possible thousands of variables.

Why would you want to argue it anyway? If you don't like it don't play it, there are plenty of other options, plenty.

And the true base measurement is the fact that players are paying, and a lot. So obviously the majority of gamers like the RMT model and thus would find it fair. if they found it unfair they wouldn't pay.

On top of that, the ones that really aren't paying are the ones we aren't hearing from, because they are enjoying the game and care so little about the argument that they don't care to get involved.

The models success isn't in what they sell for how much, it's that they win-win because even anti-RMTers are still paying because they feel what you get from paying is important to "compete"(they may truly not like it, but they are forking over the cash gauranteed).
I agree with you in general, Tobold, but I feel I should point out that that's not the case with WoW. WoW RMT discussion is often based around the fact that some of those gold sellers get their gold by hacking accounts nowadays. Though I suspect you already know this, which is why you're focusing on the other aspects of RMT, which are fine.
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