Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Comparing time or money
On yesterday's thread discussing Warstorm, J. DangerouS said "I think it's safe to say people don't play games to compare who is richer. Someone who wants to impress people with spending tons on a game is both foolish and confused. The competitive nature of online games demands an even playing field, or whats the point?". Gordon from We Fly Spitfires got several similar answers to his suggestion that WoW introduce premium servers. Lots of people are strongly opposed to the idea that spending more on a game should give you some advantage in improved power or improved services. Sounds all very egalitarian, until you take the criticism and replace money with time.
I think it's safe to say people don't play games to compare who has more time. Someone who wants to impress people with spending tons of time on a game is both foolish and confused. The competitive nature of online games demands an even playing field, or whats the point?
Sounds equally logical and nicely egalitarian. Unfortunately we know that it is *not* safe to say people don't play games to compare who has more time. In most MMORPGs and some other games your progress strongly correlates with the amount of time you spend in the game. At the end of a playing session you are nearly always more powerful than at the start of it, as there are a lot of rewards, and relatively little punishments for failure. And players don't condemn the "foolish and confused" behavior of other players spending too much time in the game, they actually applaud it.
Having played Magic the Gathering for a decade I can also assure you that the same is true for spending money. Players are more than willing to spend money to get an advantage in the game, even if it is thousands of dollars, and an expensive deck doesn't even guarantee you a win. And if players wouldn't want to pay to get ahead in MMORPGs, then how do you explain the multi-million market of gold selling?
All this egalitarian talk is just claptrap. The truth is most players have nothing against spending time or money on a game to get ahead, as long as they have enough of the resource in question. Thus people with lots of time try to get ahead in games where time spent rewards them more, and condemn games in which spending money gets you an advantage. Meanwhile the people with lots of money complain about "no-lifers" having all the advantages in MMORPGs, and secretly buy gold to buy epics on the auction house.
There is no such thing as an even playing field for MMORPGs. Investing more time or money in them will always get you ahead in any of these games.