Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Thought for the day: Refund

While we play a game we consider the time and money we invest into that game to be well worth it. But at some point usually we stop having fun. If at that point you would be magically offered a refund, which one would you rather have back: Your time, or your money?
A creative question.

But you're basically asking me whether I want 31 days added to my life or $15?

Well, I think the answer is pretty obvious ;)
See Henry Rollins regarding being murdered with a very small knife.
31 days added to my life

The refund isn't that generous. You'll only get back the hours you actually played. I assume that you play less than 754 hours per month.
Oh, you're right.
In that case it depends on how much I played.

But considering the fact that I once valued the hours I played worth more than $15 (otherwise I hadn't payed), it's a good guess to assume that I still consider these hours worth more than $15.
Err, neither? It was fun while I played, so just because it stopped being fun now, doesn't mean I want to undo the fun that I had in the past. A refund is offered for something that's faulty. My past experiences aren't faulty, only the present state for which I'm not paying anyway.

(Note: generic observations based on the premise Tobold specified in the post, not relating to any game in particular)
The time without a doubt.
Given back time, there's at least the possibility that I would do another activity (aside from gaming). I may still use some of the refunded time for another game, but at least some would be used for soemthing else.

Giving me my money back would just result in me buying another game. Less of a refund, more of a transfer.
I hope everyone would take the money and instantly give it back to the developer/publisher.
Otherwise games would cease to exist and the world would become a very grim place not worth to spend any days on! ;)
Usually I stop playing when I stop having fun.
Undoubtedly time. Undoubtedly. There's a funny Penny Arcade sort of on this topic Enjoy.
Time, always the time. Money? Money is fleeting and transitive. You can always get more money. But time? We have what is allotted to us and no more.
Interesting question

Time is much more valuable than $. Although, @Nils, just to be contrary, if, like millions, your final days are as a bed-ridden, incontinent, Alzheimer patient with a signed DNR form, then an additional 31 of those future days versus $15 now is not completely obvious.

I submit that is why the anti-RMT crowd are against it; for so many people time >>> $ that the store would get a lot of income. Pointing out that new EVE miners were earning much less than one cent per hour was not popular on the forums.

Tobold: It's player vs developer. The exploit here is dual or triple boxing - live forever lol.
Some people stop playing a game and feel like they "wasted their time" because they aren't going to continue, but that seems to me to be ridiculous. I play to have fun and if I'm not having fun, I don't play.

So I don't see the point in thinking I should get a refund of either time or money.

I also very rarely every buy a game without playing it first in beta or demo.

Can I get a refund of the time I've spent in useless meetings and "trainings" at work?
Oh man, if I got a refund on all my time, I'd never die. Glorious.
Even if the game got boring at the end surely most of the hours you spent playing it were pretty fun (unless you are a masochist who insists on playing beyond the pain threshold). If getting a refund of those hours also means eliminating the fun I had playing the game for most of them I think I will have to turn you down.
Time. You can make money with time (or choose to do something else) but you can't make time with money.
Wow. Am I the only one who would want back money that could be then re-plowed back into a new game? (Although that would be selfishly taking away earned profit from developers.) Especially if I get the price of the box set back, not just the sub.

Wanting time back seems to imply that you were better off NOT spending those hours in the first place.

I regret none of my time or memories spent in MMOs. Paying $50-80 initial outlay for something that lasts 1 month or less hurts though.
I'd take the money. Why? Because a lot of that damn was valuable to me, more valuable than the corresponding money. If it wasn't, I'd have played or done something else. That time gave me experiences and ideas which I believe are more valuable than a bit of money. Or if we look at it as just adding days to my life, I'm not so sure. That is a gamble, betting that those days near the end of my life will be more valuable to me than my gaming time. I'm guessing they won't be. Though I might like a time refund for most LK and Cata.
Depends on the cost per hour of the game. For WoW, playing on average 20 hours per week, my cost is cheap at 19 cents (U.S.) per hour. So, in this case, I'd obviously want a refund of time.

If my cost per hour started approaching $5.00 per hour, I would consider a refund of money.
+1 for Klep's camp.
@ DannyFlorida

Depends on the cost per hour of the game. For WoW, playing on average 20 hours per week, my cost is cheap at 19 cents (U.S.) per hour. So, in this case, I'd obviously want a refund of time.

This succintly makes the point of the time versus money debate, in that with a set subscription fee, the more one plays, the cheaper the cost of that playtime becomes. However, with the microtransaction model, the more you play, the more expensive your playtime -can- become.

I'm really surprised that players are buying into the whole "you can play our game for free FOREVER" bullcrap while knowing that around 5-7% of those players are funding the majority of the games revenue while -still- committing a certain amount of "time" playing the game anyways.

I play for enjoyment and relaxation and I'm happy with my progress based on that notion, so I wouldnt ever ask for, consider or propound such a question.
/played x $200/hour < $15
So plz gief back /played from 5 years of wow so I can put them into my business and bill my clients and then kick back, relax and maby play some WOT. Oh wait, Im in a vicious circle.
Small print: whatever refund you choose, the company will wipe all the good memories of the fun you had playing that game from your mind.
I don't think I would want my time back since I did enjoy the game back then. I still cherish the memories of many games even when they stopped being fun. It's like watching a movie you liked for the 50th time and on the 50th time you got bored of it but still the movie itself is fun and the time you spent with friends watching the movie were good times.

I wouldn't want any money back either because if I had fun then that was worth it. Unless I spent my money on something which had virtual value then the company trivialized that value for me by making it easy to obtain (I can't remember this ever happen to me but it's possible). Then I'd demand a refund.
Ephemeron, that changes things, of course ;)
Sell your account, in most games you will get more back than you paid for it (unless you played for a long, long time).

Can't do that for time.
I do not have the imagination to understand what would happen if I got my time back.
Would I live longer?
Would I actually be able to go back in time and choose over with my current knowledge.
Would I loose my current knowledge, and then be trapped in an endless loop of choosing the same wrong game over and over?
Well I make more than $15 pr hour. Time is well spent learning tho and I can't even play a bad game without learning something.
I can not pick.
That's an interesting, albeit loaded question.

If you think you "deserve" the time (or money for that matter) back, you might need to seriously look at your motivation for playing.

Each and every minute playing a game is a personal choice. You can't later blame the company for deceiving you in some way, which theoretically took away your freedom of choice.

Now if you spend money and time on an online training program that promised you a degree, which they were unable to produce, in that case you might be owed some time.

But "now I think the game sucks, they wasted my time" is sour grapes.

A more interesting question is along the lines of the famous example of continuing to fund a failed research project because we've already piled so much money into it that stopping now would be a "waste".

How long do you continue to choose to waste your time even though the game no longer pleases you? And how much does the time you've already spent impact that?
Time is money. Just depends on the exhange rate.
Obviously time. I'd choose time in any such scenario (as in with anything else not just gaming or mmos).

However, looking at this semi-realistically even is impossible.

You aren't paying for X hours or X amount of fun. Fun is completely subjective and no where on your bill for payment do you see

Fun $12.50
Grind $5.50
Grief -$3.00

Or anything like that. This is because what you are paying for precisely is "The right to access this game online for X days"

They are not selling time, fun, or anything like that. (at least in traditional sub model)
I would note though in the vein of other comments, that personally I never even consider playing a game that I do not absolutely very much want to play and actually quite often not unless I am in a can't-wait-to sort of mood.

And currently I think it says a lot about my personal MMO preferences to note I am basically not playing anything right now.

Even other games aren't holding my interest overly right now actually, but this sort of lull happens and its noticeably different than with MMOs for obvious reasons.

The only one I have considered is EvE, but its been so long that my corp/etc. are long gone and lost touch and I'm not sure I have the time to dedicate right now for re-building my social network or playing enough to make it worthwhile even. (6 month old tends to have relatively drastic impact on gaming time especially if you have other interests as well)

This made me realize something else. Here's an interesting question you guys should consider:

If you have other hobbies/interests/activities you do sort of regularly, compared to MMOs how 'reliable' would you say their 'fun-factor' is?

For a simple example, some of the main things I've been doing when I have some free time lately have been biking, road hockey*, watching sports (& drinking), going to bars, and even just doing some writing while semi-(re)watching TV seasons with or without commentary.

Although also keep in mind I don't have a ton of time for ANY of this in the first place usually.

But to answer, I think its safe to say for any and all of these things I pretty much know that if I am able to get out and do one of these things that I am "guaranteed" to get my 'fun-factor' fulfilled, if that makes sense (and to simplify/generalize greatly obviously).

If its a nice day and I'm not super tired or whatever I know that I'll enjoy biking or whatever every time pretty much without fail. I know if there is a Game 7 on and we get a few buddies together that regardless of where we end up going that I'll have a great time. Etc.

Actually considering this and thinking back its kind of odd. But in a way its logical how different MMOs are in this sense. Now maybe this also depends on which game you play, but its safe to say that your experience in nearly all MMOs is at least in some way dependent on *other people*. Obviously this ranges from possibly be annoyed by chat/grief/other people on your screen while soloing, having to buy items from another play, to needing 4 randoms to PUG with and maybe even interacting with a guild or people on a regular basis, and even spending ALL of your time interacting in some way with the world of actual humans around you.

But its more than just social interaction, thats for sure. While of course human beings are the biggest X factor of all the variables affecting your fun, they are also this in other walks of life.

Its the fact its on the internet with anonymous users that takes an already highly variable X and turning into X^Y or something. Because then social interaction isn't inhibited by the norms, conventions, rules, etc of society.

However, at least for me personally its not just the human factor thats for sure. Because frankly the human factor is WHY I play MMOs, actually the sole reason.

Which makes it very difficult in understanding the perspective of a lot (the majority I would assume) of MMO players. Does it not seem like many - perhaps unaware themselves - play just to get that next reward? Whether its epix, titles, achievements, levels, glory, respect, friends, whatever.
Because personally I just flat-out don't play a game if its not entertaining the whole time. It has been years since I grinded to lvl up enough to move forward in any game, did a quest line to advance/get an item, or any of the countless repetitive boring MMO mechanics. My rule is "If I am just doing this to do that, then I am not doing this or that."

This wasn't always the case though, and maybe its more due to priorities shifting or interests changing but I couldn't even imagine playing a game just because I have invested so much time, or not to let down a guild/friends, out of habit or nothing else to do, or just to 'accomplish' something.

Most of all the last one is most baffling to me. I don't play games to 'accomplish' anything and I get very little sense of accomplishment out of ANYTHING in gaming. What small amount comes from PvP mainly or perhaps doing something actually clever, beating some difficult SP game on hard or whatever, and maybe some other situations involving group of long-time clanmates succeeding in a goal or what have you.

I play games (or do anything in my free time) to enjoy myself and relax, and like any activity take my mind off responsibilities and real-life issues. I get my sense of accomplishment and success from my parenting, school, work, personal things, etc. How anything in a game could fulfill this is ridiculous to me. What 'success' I have in a game isn't measurable in real-life terms for me; and if something is accomplished in a game the only real sense I have is perhaps of my skill at the activity.

I don't feel accomplished making it home on bike ride, and I don't need to, so why do people have to with games?

But anyway, the point I was getting at (somewhere above ^_^) is it seems like MMOs unlike any other hobby are either A) More 'work' then fun sometimes, but thats ok because its working towards 'something' or B) Trying to roll the hard six for fun-factor.

Currently for me its closer to B, as I really don't enjoy games nearly as much without people who I get to know in game to play with and its sort of a gamble to expect to get some quickly.

I suppose the main point I'm making (somewhere throughout this really, read through again and you'll see...yea try again..ok its just you) is my perspective of MMOs is radically different than other interests.

For me right now its more how its almost the "no point in starting something until I really dedicate myself (or really want to play) and get max enjoyment" stage combined with lack of overt interest in starting a new game or re-starting in one.

But I would guess that for most its more due to the fact that with MMOs we almost EXPECT to go through a lot of activities that aren't really that fun. Or if not expecting to "not have fun" its not that you really are having fun, but that the constant stream of reward-induced seratonin might be clouding your perspective.

Hopefully someone else reads makes it through this post and decides to try this exercise as well. I'm very curious of others' perspectives are on this and whether my general ideas are agreed with or not.
I told a friend about 6 months into Everquest that I was quitting and I thought it was a big waste of time. He replied, "Isn't that the point?".
I do not think it is mentally healthy to make sure that all 24 hours of the day are spent constructively. If you gave people back their time, they'd waste it on something else. I'll take the money.

I like your other hobbies question. I've never consciously measured MMOs against my other hobbies before, though lately I've been reading more since dropping down to one MMO.

For reading, the fulfillment factor is near 100%. Since the choice of books is so vast, I am bound to only buy and continue reading paper books one is interested in reading. Library book and *hem* more dubiously gotten ebooks are a tossup, if they're not interesting after a few pages or a chapter, they get put down or returned in favor of something else.

For RPGs, I have developed more into a collector and reader than a player. Mostly due to the time outlay and need for other people if one actually desires to play. This might be likened to finding groups in MMOs. In my geographic region, the latter is way easier than the former, and the time outlay is lower for a quick MMO PUG than forming a dedicated RPG group though. Fulfillment from a collecting POV is still close to 75%, e-RPGs have smaller cost outlay (more than what I'd spend on MMOs though), one only buys the games one is interested in reading about, but you can still get one or two stinkers even after having done due research via reviews.

Writing is the one hobby I'd link closest to an MMO. It can be 'work' and sometimes agonizing to fill the blank page. It takes a lot of creative thought plotting, brainstorming, strategizing, planning (maybe this is similar to the more hardcore or sandbox MMOs) to develop goals, milestones. One can also freewrite and gargle wordage on the page for fun (the equivalent of messing about in an MMO nonseriously?) Looking back on the result, it can vary between happiness or pride at what you accomplished, or sheer embarassment at the dribble just outputted, but it is a lasting memory all the same, and can be all chalked up to learning and getting more experience. It's hard to rate fulfillment for writing. When you haven't been doing any of it, and you start doing it, you hit close to 100%. If you do too much, the fulfillment drops way lower and one also risks burning out (aka writer's block.)

Understanding the motivations of MMO players has to be a separate reply. Bartle is a simplification, Nick Yee and Nicole Lazarro have alternate summaries on why players play or have fun, but it helps to demonstrate that there are many subsets of players in MMOs gaining fun from different sources.

The majority of MMO players get some kick out of Achievement. No two ways about it. It is the search of the Ding! (KillTenRats just put up a post on this too.)

If you do not value this, it can be quite hard to understand their motivations. Personally, my Killer score is very low, and I find it hard to understand why highly competitive people or griefers can get their jollies feeding off other people's losses or sufffering, except in a theoretical sort of way. (I'm not saying the former and latter are identical, by the way. The former play by an agreed-on set of rules and structure, the loss is part of the game, the latter don't and are focused on themselves, the game is just a medium.)

I am primarily out to Explore stuff, with a side-helping of Achiever. I try not to let the search for achievement run my life in an MMO, I couldn't give two hoots of a horn if there were other people playing with me or not - except that in most MMOs, other people enable me to experience more of a certain game, but once a game stops being new, or I've learned the mechanics, or I've seen most of the content, then the 'fun-factor' starts to drop for me and I begin to drift away from a game.

The other way I play games if not Exploring, is just to kill a little time, relax and wind down. There's no equivalent Bartle classification for this, but Nick Yee and Lazarro make allusion to relaxation and this search for Easy Fun. In this state, I am perfectly happy doing repetitive activities like grind mobs or quests or other brain-off stuff.

It might be interesting to see if there is a difference in which subsets of players would want time back, or money back.
pardon my swears, but I fucking wish I had 500 days played of WoW back ... :(
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