Tobold's Blog
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Voting with my wallet

In spite of spending a lot of time with elves and wizards, I am very well aware of the necessities of real life: Bills have to be paid at the end of the month, developers need to eat, and game companies need to make a profit to keep the developers employed and the games running. Which is why I don't mind paying for games, not even for those labeled "Free2Play". As long as I feel I am supporting a worthy game. And of course I like analyzing the various different models what kind of advantages you get for your money.

So now that it turned out that I like World of Tanks more than I thought I would, I did buy "gold", their store currency. That makes a huge difference. Fans will tell you that the gold tanks and ammo which are exclusive to people paying money aren't all that good, and I would agree. But the main effect of paying money is to get to everything much faster: Crew training normally takes ages, but by spending gold you get them to 100% immediately, which has a huge effect. Gold allows you convert the useless experience you gain with your lower level tanks into free experience you can use with your top of the line tanks. And you can buy "subscriptions" for various amounts of time with gold, and the 50% more experience points and credits speed things up considerably. Veterans tell me that at the higher levels it actually gets very hard to advance without gold, as repairs end up costing you all your income without the 50% bonus. Oh, and if you still need credits (the currency you can earn in game), you can always exchange gold for currency.

I also spent real money for buying credits in Glitch. Which isn't necessary at all, because you can only spend them on fluff, items that change your appearance. But as I would really like to see Glitch succeed, I don't mind forking out some cash to support them.
Almost but not all of the people I know who tried WoT liked it.

So now having done some RMT, does it change your opinions on The Future of Gaming? I just assume TOR will be the standard approximately $50+$15/mo. But do you think there any chance Titan will change the norm? Should it? Or will no AAA MMO change the pricing and it will take a B-List title with nothing to lose to take a chance?

Ofc, it goes without saying that one of the reasons you are prejudice against Rift is that you are such a PvP junky. :-)
I really enjoy WoT, thanks to you convincing me to play it, but I just don't have the spare cash to afford to spend on it. I guess I'll find out just how far you can go without gold.

I still regularly ragequit from it though. Sometimes it can be so incredibly frustrating. I feel like on some of my tanks if someone so much as glares sternly at me my treads explode into a mess of rubber bits and depression. Being treaded sucks so very much.
I'm firmly of the opinion that if you like a game you should spend money on it, even if you don't strictly need to. After all, if nobody spends money the game you're enjoying will either fail (and you won't get to play it) or be changed to force you to spend money (and you might not enjoy it anymore).

I happily spent some money on WoT, because it's a good game and the developers deserve it. I didn't buy any premium tanks or or ammo though, and don't imagine I ever will. Watching someone in their shiny premium T14 heavy get eaten alive by an actual veteran in an IS-3 makes it obvious it's not a very good shortcut.
It's a great fun little game. I knew the su-26 was my target from the beta, and so ground to that level and then payed for gold to get a 100% skill crew for it together with a premium week of double xp/credit. This gave me a maxed out vehicle just in time for last weekends half price equipment.

Just buy gold if you're being careful, and will get a real benefit from it rather than splashing for the sake of it.
Is there a date for Glitch going live yet?

I put in for beta but no luck so far.
Rift is so much better than world of tanks!! HAHA joking...seriously though, I've loved RMT games in the past...I think when the devs support it, it's a great idea! For example, buying things in Allods made it quite a bit more enjoyable. Global Agenda is actually fun if you buy a booster. For those of us with means (you Tobold), RMT can be quite enjoyable.
The genius of the WoT model is that no one would pay $50 bucks for it; it's a little too crude in a lot of ways. But they let you get your feet wet, and before you know if you've spent $45 on the thing and I'm likely to buy more gold. It's a great model for indie games to get out there and really make a lot of money by soft-selling their quality.
Rewarding developers for quality feels a little more honest this way, a little more tangible. I've recently laid down some cash that I didn't have to for Echo Bazaar and Wurm Online.

It's more like a conscious choice, this way. Rather than treating money as a key to unlock access to something (like the big-budget blockbusters - which is often bypassed by the unscrupulous by way of torrent skeleton keys), it's experiencing something, being grateful for it, and rewarding appropriately.

Like the gaming vets who may well still have boxed copies of old classics like Planescape: Torment sitting on shelves in the study, but shell out ten bucks to for the convenience of the online delivery.

I remember being directed to a link to a comment post on the Pirate Bay for Zeno Clash. The torrent there had practically no seeders or leechers, despite it being a pretty rad game and advertised on sale with Steam. I put it down to a note from the Developer in the comments section. It was simply a heartfelt note saying that they knew they couldn't stop torrents, but he hoped anyone downloading enjoyed the game, and would buy the thing officially if they enjoyed it enough that they wanted to reward the developers for their hard work and help them continue to produce updates or new games.
I strongly suspect that note itself served as a stronger deterrent to piracy than any DRM.

It'd be nice if there were some way to objectively measure whether the big budget games are getting hit harder by pirates when they refuse to release demos until a few months after launch (back in the day, it was used as a teaser/preview), if at all. Of course, it could be that in some cases they know a demo will hurt them more than help, on account of A) players realizing how much the game fails to match the hype, and B) these days I imagine it's kind of difficult to produce a demo that lasts any more than five minutes without having inadvertently given players access to a quarter of the entire game. *spits in disgust*

(We are in the era of the weekend rental.)
First Subscription was the way to go
Then it was F2P was all that
Now it's back to paying but not calling it a subscription

I'm getting revenue whiplash here.

In parsing through Activition financials I noticed something that was a bit odd. They brought in only about 300 mill on their subscription business.

Yeah I know "only" but when you are running 1.2 billion gross each quarter and only 1/4 is subscriptions... It makes you wonder why keep the network/server guys on staff and deal with another SOE event just to get a quarter bump to revenues.

The future may well be different than we all think it is going to be.

Game companies may morph into studios who make "interactive media" that then get's exibited on established digital networks like Facebook, Xbox live, Disney Interactives Portal.

What will pay for this instead of subscriptions is advertising revenues through placed ads and gateway apps showing ads/vendor wares (like an auction house app through facebook).

So much like a movie studio - game companies will need to only make "hits" that generate traffic/replay on another companies game platform.

Game companies will mosly not care about subs in the future... and thus dodge the liability of Credit Card safekeeping.
I wanted to spend some credit on die2nite as I liked it.

But after seeing the price of €12 a month I stopped. No way am I paying the price I'd pay for a WoW abbo to a small internet browser game.

If they asked a price of ~$3 a month I'd have bought it for a few months.
This post, as well as the ongoing optimization and character enhancement threads, bring to mind an issue for me.

Consider two different ways to enhance my character.

1) Obtain fake currency by playing the game. Use that fake currency to buy character enhancements.

2) Obtain fake currency by paying Real Money. Use that fake currency to buy character enhancements.

In game, I'm willing to spend fake currency without all that much consideration of how important gold is to me because fake currency can only benefit me within the bounds of the game it belongs to.

In real life, I'm frugal and keep my spending within a tight budget because real money can serve me in many ways beyond pixels.

In the ongoing pursuit of optimizing my character, I'll spend lots of gold without much thought. An example would be buying an expensive epic off the AH in WoW, and then visiting the reforging NPC. I'll reforge and re-reforge again and again when trying to get a player hit capped or haste capped or whatever other optimal setup I'm targeting.

This costs plenty of gold, but fake currency is fake and I'm fine with spending it. The trial-and-error saves me time of doing heavy analysis outside of the game to optimize within the game.

If I had to pay real money for the epics or the reforging or the enchants or the gems, I'd have to put in much more thought and spreadsheet analysis before I spent my cash.

If faced with that choice, I might consider skipping the optimization activity entirely, which then might lead to me skipping the max level end game, either due to my own choice or the min-maxing community excluding me from invites since my character is non-optimal.
I find WoT RMT model extremely clever. First you do not really have to spend single cent of cash

We have people in my clan who grinded to tier 9 heavy all without a premium account .

2nd Paying gold gives you benefits which are convenient enough to be worth buying . I personally spent money on 2months of premium and a few additional tank slots. Once I grind out all the tanks I want I can stop using premium.

On the other hand if i still play hardcore I will likely spent more gold for more slots and more premium time.

I dont feel robbed because I keep everything I gained/bought permanently regardless if I continue paying or not , unlike with sub games where I cant even login to check out my old characters unless I pay ransom in form of subscription fee.
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