Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
 
Everything is Pay2Win

A commenter left a very insightful observation on my blog and then deleted it, so I won't name the person or quote him literally. But the point was that people in a Free2Play game only buy virtual items that they consider aiding them in reaching their personal win conditions. If you buy a cosmetic pet or mount, it is because you consider having a shiny pet or mount to be a status symbol, a "win condition". If you don't care about pets and mounts, because your personal win condition is about PvP or killing raid bosses, why would you spend money on one?

But that means that an item shop which isn't Pay2Win is impossible. A game company would have to carefully design it to only fill it with items that absolutely nobody wants. Even if they put in only hats, the hat collectors would complain about Pay2Win. If my personal win condition in League of Legends is having the largest collection of champions, then LoL is a Pay2Win game. If my personal win condition in EVE Online is to be the richest man in Jita, then EVE is a Pay2Win game.

Basically if somebody says "Game X is not Pay2Win", what he means is that the stuff needed for his personal win condition isn't available in the shop. But if we say that everybody can have his own win condition, then the same game X will be totally Pay2Win for somebody else, who just happens to measure his own progress by something else that is available in the item store of that game.

My personal point of view is that I don't recognize non-standard "win conditions" as a "win". That is not to say that I think people shouldn't be free to pursue whatever goal they want in a MMORPG. I just find it somewhat silly to attach a competitive label of "winning" to it, which by definition would somebody else be "losing". You can achieve goals in life (virtual or real) without somebody else losing. And if your personal goal in a MMORPG is to collect 100 mounts, that doesn't make everybody who doesn't have those 100 mounts a loser. If we call every possible goal that can be achieved in a game to be a "win", then every item anybody might want to buy in an item shop is Pay2Win. And that isn't a very useful definition.

Comments:
Well, by that definition subscription games are Pay2Win also.
 
The correct definition of the "pay to win" game is "you can pay to make other people lose"
 
Hehe Gevlon, it sounds like that Gore Vidal quote: "It's not enough to succeed. Others must fail."

It intrigues me that people look for win conditions in the first place. Must get all achievements, must be first to have said item or reach said level but hey - that's how they want to enjoy the game so... *shrug* I can be the sap who fails to make them happy (because I rarely spend money on any cash shop). ^_^
 
The correct definition of the "pay to win" game is "you can pay to make other people lose"

People recognize a lot more win conditions than they recognize loss conditions. It's the "everybody is a winner" mind set, where people compensate for a lack of success in real life by imagining a win in virtual life.

Maybe games SHOULD be Pay2Win, because "you need to make a lot of money in life to succeed" is actually a more educational message a video game can send than "you need to kill a lot of people to succeed".
 
I absolutely agree that subscription games are p2w since they allow subscribers to progress infinitely faster than non-subscribers. The only difference is whether you paid.

---
Gevlon's definition doesn't really work because the win conditions are all individual. Deliberately so, can you imagine an MMO where whenever you logged in it gave you a numerical ranking: 8,347,642 raiders have killed more bosses than you or 431,615 EVE pilots have a better k/d isk ratio. It would evaporate customers at the bottom. MMO companies want miners and PvPers and levelers and even pet battlers to feel good, to win.
---

IMO, a lot of this depends on whether you are talking about "games" or "virtual worlds." You expect games to have winners and losers and fairness. e.g. chess. Virtual worlds are about minimizing fairness: I want optimal gear, class, spec, etc. I want great Tier 36 gear precisely because it will help me clear tier 37 easier. Which will give me an advantage over people without tier 36 success.

Chess-like fairness is logical. MMO fairness is not. In the MMO, I can have a 4 year old laptop on dodgy internet and you can have a SLI/SSD/octocore beast. If you have a toon in EVE or WoW that has been playing for hundreds of hours over the last year, it probably would have a significant advantage over someone starting the game today. That is considered fair, but someone who gives the developers $10 to support the game can have no advantage?

It would be trivial to give every player in EVE the same number of skill points, to normalize all gear in any raid or battleground,etc. That is fair. That is what i would expect in a game. Few call for that. But substitute RL$ in place of time subscribed or hours grinded and people get agitated.

Personally, I sort of like Gevlon's definition. But when PVEing in WoW, I can't think of anything they could sell to you that would change my assessment of whether I won or lost WoW. If they sold you the BiS gear, title and world-first achievement, then I don't see that changing my self-image. But I think a lot of people would disagree.


 
Gevlon is more on the mark than you are here. Someone coming up with a relatively obscure 'win condition' doesn't make a given item 'Pay2Win'. It has to actually be a rationally accepted win condition. 'Collecting all the champions' is not what I think would be seen as a rational win condition for League of Legends since the game itself is entirely about playing a 20-60 minute game that actually has your mythical 'you win' screen at the end of each game for half of the players. That 'you win' screen is the rational win condition for the game by which 'Pay2Win' should be measured.

Flipping things around by insulting people who enjoy doing well at a game (by saying they're trying to compensate for a lack of success in real life) is really quite rude. You don't place value in something therefore it shouldn't have value for anyone else is a really egotistical stance.

And I'm not saying that true 'Pay2Win' games can't exist, and that there isn't a market for them. I'm saying I won't play them. If I feel like I need to pay more and more money in order to keep up with other people in the game I will simply find another game to play.

I also disagree that the only reason to pay money is to win more. I pay money to support games I enjoy in order to make sure I can keep playing them. I don't have League of Legends skins because they help me win the game. I don't have them because they cause other people to lose the game. I have them so Riot makes money and keeps running the servers so I can keep playing the game.
 
Still don't get what the fuss is about.

What on earth leads anyone to believe that they have a right to fair competition in a game that they aren't paying for?

This freeloading entitlement mentality really annoys me. If you don't pay for the product you should be greatful that you have an unlimited free trial. If you want to be competitive regardless of whatever win condition you dreamed up then you have to pay for the product.

I never expected to get the best experience when I tried free to play games without paying. I knew there would be some penalty to encourage me to pay. It's is common sense that games cost money to develop and maintain and that shop items that don't contribute to achieving the most popular win conditions won't sell in large enough numbers to fund the game.

The problem is that the freeloaders only want shop items for other people's win conditions and not their own.
 
As far as i am concerned MMO games seemed (notice the past reference) to implement a virtual world. I just do not see how the transition to f2p can keep up that unique characteristic. One cannot simply replace feelings and experiences with monetization and that is exactly what the f2p model is all about.

They are trying to provide shortcuts and conviniences (not always time saving) at the cost of real life money. One cannot simply compare the momories/experiences gained while spending time and effort to achieve something in the so called virtual world with NONE at all or very limited ones from just buying what he or she needs.

I am not against companies making ends meet but i rather prefer the subscription model (with some modifications) as opposed to what we are currently being served.

Let's take xp boosts for example, how is the developer supposed to design levelling content, optimized for people with xp boosts or without? And if the content requires xp boosts then it is fair to say that xp boosts are indeed a fair/legitimate way for the company to make money since the more you play the more you will need to spend money. In the case that the content is designed without xp boosts in mind then they become a game breaking experience since they provide a leverage against the developers, and most important they limit your experiences/memories in the "world".

I do recognise that not all content is for everyone and therefore people that dislike levelling for example would prefer the case that content is optionally skipped or stripped-down and can focus on what they really want, but even those players will complain that the there will be shortcuts for the part of the game that they enjoy just as people that like levelling will have objections regarding the first category of players.

F2p as it currently stands has the added disadvantage that each games' developers need to constantly come up with ways in order to make an income because they gain an initial strong influx of money due to standard bags/bank/character slots or content being sold, but as soon as that ends they need to find ways to provide a steady income. It just feels the same as the bulk box sales of a game but at least sub games dont really need to care about the steady income. They only need to care for the time endurance of the content they have originally served so long as what to provide next in order to keep the players having fun and keep playing. F2p on top of keeping the players happy and rising must also look for ways to make them pay without being overly intrusive or game breaking. Having to spend real money on stuff in game from the game shop also breaks the immersion of the virtual world though, and how can they fight off that feeling?

All in all f2p comes with a lot of flaws that in my mind are way worse than what we had. It leaves us bereft of "world-attachment", providing shortcuts to just about everything in order to please everyone, and be financially viable. I just don't think that a game can cater for everyone out there, people do learn to adapt from time to time if what they are playing really makes a strong impact on them and they can accept the occasional good with the occasional bad as long as the game is indeed worth it.
 
For once I agree with Gevlon - his definition may not be perfect, but it's the best yet.

Cosmetic items don't normally cause problematic p2w, because hardly anyone cares who has the most.

Subtle advantages in skill-based games where humans compete will instantly draw fire, because people the people with skill to compete care a lot about their rankings.
 
Let's take xp boosts for example, how is the developer supposed to design levelling content, optimized for people with xp boosts or without?

I don't see how that is different from a subscription based game, where the devs have to design leveling content which applies both to people playing 1 hour per day and those playing 10 hours per day. That makes for a far bigger difference than the double xp scroll.
 
Subtle advantages in skill-based games where humans compete will instantly draw fire, because people the people with skill to compete care a lot about their rankings.

The problem is that sometimes people BELIEVE they compete when in reality they are not. If I can buy a raid boss drop epic in the item shop of a MMORPG, by Gevlon's definition I am not causing anybody to lose. But I'm pretty sure the raiders would complain, because they consider getting that epic a win condition.
 
I don't see how that is different from a subscription based game, where the devs have to design leveling content which applies both to people playing 1 hour per day and those playing 10 hours per day. That makes for a far bigger difference than the double xp scroll.

What you are saying does not make sense whatsoever. No matter how many hours a player spends does not have ANY impact on the rate on which he gains xp. XP Scrolls do. That rate is determined by xp gains from each kill and xp gain from each quest completion or any other activity that yields xp. Only the latter can be determined by the developer by simply adjusting those values. XP scrolls can undermine content if you are able to increase your rate by a large margin and can outlevel an entire zone/area way before the developer had in mind when designing it.
 
Woody asked

What on earth leads anyone to believe that they have a right to fair competition in a game that they aren't paying for?

As a kid, I used to play soccer in the street with everyone else. We didn't pay anyone to play it. We wouldn't have played it if we didn't think it was a fair competition. We tried to pick teams that were evenly balanced, to make it as fair as we could. If somebody tried to get all the good players onto one team, we would just have not played.

I mention this, because it kinda answers Woody's question. Even in competitive games where players are not paying to play, they expect a fair competition. If they don't get it, they simply stop playing.

You may ask "Who cares, if they aren't paying?". But the fact is that games designers do care. They don't want their games to seem unfair.

 
No matter how many hours a player spends does not have ANY impact on the rate on which he gains xp.

Of course it matters if you look at things like how many levels you gained per day or per month. Progress in a MMORPG is subjective, and nobody measures hourly progress.

If you designed a game in which it takes 20 hours to gain a level, the player playing one hour per day would after a month see that he gained just over a level, consider that too slow, and stop playing. The guy playing 10 hours per day would be quite content having gained 15 levels per month.
 
Jim asked:
Let's take xp boosts for example, how is the developer supposed to design levelling content, optimized for people with xp boosts or without?

And Tobold replied:

I don't see how that is different from a subscription based game, where the devs have to design leveling content which applies both to people playing 1 hour per day and those playing 10 hours per day


I think Jim's point is this: if I'm in a level 10-15 zone, the quests are designed so that once I've completed them, I'm at level 15, and ready to go onto the next zone.

However, if I've been earning double XP, then about halfway through the questlines in the 10-15 zone, I'm already level 15, and the remaining quests are grey to me. I either have to complete the now-trivial and thus boring grey quests in order to experience the story attached to them, or skip the story in order to get to challenging quests.

Your wife is already complaining about this, Tobold, in WoW, where the quest XP was scaled up to allow people to level from 1-90 in the same time as they used to level from 1-60; meaning that levellers now have either a boring experience completing grey quests, or miss a lot of the lore on the way up.

That's Jim's point. How do you provide a pleasurable levelling experience to people with and without the double-XP scroll
 
But there you are applying the concept of double xp scrolls to a MMORPG with a themepark that doesn't have those scrolls. The typical Asian MMORPG with double xp scrolls is a game in which xp are gained by grinding the same mobs over and over, not by playing through a story or series of quests designed to cover the whole zone.

I doubt there would be many people wanting to buy a double xp scroll in World of Warcraft. You already level too fast as a casual player in that game.
 
@Dacheng

Your football in the street analogy is flawed because the game cost nothing to create and maintain.

We are talking about a service/product that has to be paid for.

You along with many others are optimistic enough to believe that the company will charge for items you don't need/want but that the mysterious "Mr Someone-Else" will consider worth buying so that you can enjoy a full product free of charge.

Not gonna happen is it...

It has to be something you "need". It has to be something relevant to achieving your personal win condition.
 
The whole 'taking satisfaction not from winning, but from making other people lose' thing is just depressing.

I think whether or not a game caters to that mentality or not is far more of a factor in whether I'll play it than whatever its cash shop is doing.
 
Woody, I'll simply answer you, then, by repeating the second half of my comment:


Even in competitive games where players are not paying to play, they expect a fair competition. If they don't get it, they simply stop playing.

You may ask "Who cares, if they aren't paying?". But the fact is that games designers do care. They don't want their games to seem unfair.
 
The whole 'taking satisfaction not from winning, but from making other people lose' thing is just depressing. I think whether or not a game caters to that mentality or not is far more of a factor in whether I'll play it than whatever its cash shop is doing.

There might be some synergy here: The people who take satisfaction from making somebody else lose are often those opposed to the Free2Play model, as that model often allows people who play less to catch up. So by creating a game with a shop in which obviously useful stuff is sold you create a double win situation: You get a good source of income for the game, and you get the negative elements out.

Somebody who is not only refusing to pay anything, but also trying to frustrate other players has a net negative effect on a game, and the game is much better off implementing a business model such a person hates with a passion.
 
@Dacheng

You still aren't getting the point.

Someone has to PAY for it. Yes if both parties are paying the same entry fee they certainly do expect a level playing field.

However game designers do NOT care about a level playing field and fairness between patrons and freeloaders or even patrons on different tariffs. It wouldn't work if there was parity between those groups.

Their only concern is to make it just barely fair enough so that those who flat out refuse to pay hang around and provide content (in the form of being losers) so that those that pay feel that it was worth it and keep paying.


Even then we only need a certain number of "losers" to provide content for patrons and once we reach that number any additional freeloaders above that point have a negative impact as they consume server resources without providing any benefit.

If we have enough paying customers then we probably do not need any freeloaders at all (as in WoW).

It absolutely cannot be fair because if there were fair competition between freeloaders and patrons no one would buy anything and the game would not exist. In fact if the competition were fair it would be unfair on those that paid and funded the product.

As I keep saying; cash shop items must have an impact on the most popular win conditions to generate enough sales to fund the game.

People are whining because the cash shop contains items that they very much desire for their personal win conditions. How can anyone be seriously surprised when they find that the cash shop has desirable items in it. Those items weren't picked by accident you know! The company did their research, they know what most people consider to be their win conditions and they specifically target those.

At the end of the day there is no such thing as "free" when it comes to products that cost substantial sums of money to produce and maintain. My attitude (which I believe to be a healthy attitude) is to expect to spend a figure close to the WoW subscription cost if I want to reap the most enjoyment from a "free" to play game.
 
"I doubt there would be many people wanting to buy a double xp scroll in World of Warcraft. You already level too fast as a casual player in that game"

Pretty sure they sell them or the equivalent in every other Western F2P conversion. They certainly do in every one I've played. Not only that but they hand them out as Veteran and Holiday rewards in just about every Subscription MMO I've ever played, too.

If WoW doesn't have a substantial group of people that wants to level faster no matter how fast leveling is already it must be the only MMO that doesn't.
 
1. I thought the discussion in this blog has moved beyond this stage.

Wasn't there a consensus that there is no pay to win in a purly PvE-environment for those lack competition and competition is needed to win.

2. Also for someone to win there need not be someone to lose. It's enough for others not to win.

Look at sports leagues like soccer: Just because a team wins one game they are not the winners. For that, you have to first after the season.

So there is basically one winner, a few losers (those that don't stay in the league) and a lot teams who can try next season.

3. The correct definition for pay2win is:

A game is p2w when spending money will ceteris paribus heighten the chance of meeting the win condition as defined by the publisher and/or a majority of players.
 
Heirlooms seem pretty popular...

Does that answer your question!

That is surprising given that WoW isn't particular grindy from a levelling perspective compared to other titles yet players still want an XP boost. I reckon they would gladly pay cash for lucky coins so that they don't have to do dailies too.

I believe RIFT offers XP boosts now that it is free to play?

I played that at launch and my god did levelling feel grindy. I'd definitely pay for the daily XP boost in that game.
 
I actually like Gevlon's definition of "pay to win" here, because it gets the point across as to what most gamers mean when they use "pay to win" as a pejorative description of a game.

If I can buy a raid boss drop epic in the item shop of a MMORPG, by Gevlon's definition I am not causing anybody to lose. But I'm pretty sure the raiders would complain, because they consider getting that epic a win condition.

I would disagree. Maybe the person hasn't lost in the most literal sense, but he can certainly feel cheated, and feeling terrible while playing a game is close enough to losing.
 
However game designers do NOT care about a level playing field and fairness between patrons and freeloaders or even patrons on different tariffs. It wouldn't work if there was parity between those groups.

How so? There are a couple examples that I can think of where the cash society is integrated into the gold economy such that the patrons and freeloaders have something pretty close to parity.

The current game I'm playing is TERA, where cash shop items are freely tradable on the gold economy, including the cash currency itself. What results is an economy where having more freeloaders can actually benefit the devs, because such freeloaders can buy cash shop items through patrons.

What should be noted (and has been spoken of on this blog before) is that it's usually a split between the time-rich/money-poor, and the time-poor/money-rich. By creating a system where each group supplies each other with what each group is lacking, you could generate much more revenue.

In a game where patrons only pay for cash items for themselves, the maximum amount any single patron would pay would be the amount required to buy all the items a single person could want. But since buying and trading cash items is allowed, the large whales who have lots of money can spend even more money if they wanted to get more in-game gold.

Similar games that come to mind with such a system are GW2 and EVE, though there are probably plenty of others.


 
I've played and paid for Tera and iirc got an hour a day XP booster amongst other things. I wasnt aware that I could sell it to freeloaders?

But remember the freeloaders are whining because patrons can buy items that ARE available to freeloaders if they don't pay and sink time into the game instead.

So the fact that they could buy those items by grinding game currency or earn the same amount of XP by playing for longer is irrelevant as they don't accept that and still feel that they are "entitled" to everything a patron gets that would be useful to achieving their win condition.

I am the patron type. Without me there is no game for the freeloader to play. I don't want a hat, I won't pay for a hat. I will only pay for something that helps me win. If the freeloader gets that for free without any extra effort then the item has zero value to me and I won't pay for it. Game over for the freeloader.

I don't mind if the freeloader can achieve the same by grinding. It is the over entitled freeloaders who aren't happy with that deal.
 
Woody: League of Legends is huge, and free, and doesn't sell anything that makes it Pay2Win.
 
Only by your definition of winning.
 
League of Legends is huge, and free, and doesn't sell anything that makes it Pay2Win.

Don't you see that I can say exactly the same about EVERY game?

League of Legends is not Pay2Win in your eyes because you don't consider collecting champions a win condition, and you don't consider the boosts that make you gain points faster to be aiding in a win condition. But many people consider items that gain you xp faster to be Pay2Win, so somebody else with a different set of win conditions would be totally justified to call LoL Pay2Win.

Depending on your PERSONAL win conditions, and on you PERSONAL view of how much help some buyable boost is, you can either declare any game to be Pay2Win or you can declare any game to be not Pay2Win.
 
How about the following definition of Pay2Win, then?

"Pay2Win is something that one feels compelled to buy in order to stay competitive (for your win condition, whatever it may be)"

Raiders in WoW would find epic gear P2W because they would feel compelled to buy it in order to stay competitive in the raiding scene (just like how they felt they had to exploit LFR once it launched in 4.3 when a few guilds did it).

LoL champions/boosts aren't P2W because:
a) if you gather them for the game itself, they aren't necessary to stay competitive (basic champions played well aren't worse than others, and as you play you can eventually buy what you want/need);
b) if you collect them for the sake of collecting, the competition is already over (there are people who have all champions), so you can't be compelled for the competition itself.

XP boosts are similar to LoL's b) - a lot of people are max level within days/hours, so beyond that there's no competition.

Would a pet/mount only available through cash shop be P2W? It would depend entirely on whether it would allow somebody to easier achieve any status symbol in-game, and only if people were still competing to gain said status symbol at the time of introduction of said pet/mount/whatever.

In general, if one can establish a competition given the information provided by the game, and this competition is affected by purchases, then it's P2W. If the competition cannot be established, or is already over, then any purchase can only be a convenience.

Is this a problem? I don't know. I have not played enough F2P games myself to say without doubt. But it definitely can be a problem and shouldn't be dismissed because people don't really understand what they are saying.

P.S. In regards to personal competitions (between friends or similar), such competitions are not subject to this definition, because the rules and methods of participation are established by said friends or similar. In contrast, both the game itself (and thus possible objective competiton space) and all the methods of participation (including the cash shop) are provided by the developers, that is why the responsibility lies with them.
 
Who are you to tell me that I can't collect champions in LoL competitively? Or hats in Team Fortress 2? Or pets and mounts in World of Warcraft?

Either we limit the Pay2Win discussion to games which have a win condition defined by the game. Or we say that in most multiplayer online game everybody is free to define his own win condition, in which case even the selling of hats can influence the win condition of somebody. If every item in every item shop can potentially be Pay2Win, it isn't really reasonable to ask game companies to stop selling Pay2Win items.

Players: "Stop selling Pay2Win items!"
Game company: "Okay, which ones exactly?"
Players: "ALL of the items in your shop!"
Game company: "Okay, we'll shut down the game."
 
Yup it still comes down to economic reality. The funding required will vary per game as will the win conditions.

A game like Wow wouldn't survive just by selling mounts and pets.

With such a large audience at level cap I doubt it would survive on levelling boosters either.

It would likely need to sell items that indirectly award more gear than a freeloader could earn with the same play time. For example valor point and faction rep boosters. By anyone's standards that is definitely pay to win, but is that bad?

The freeloaders will whine about this and spam forums with the usual talk of unfairness blah blah.

What they would fail to mention (because of their ingrained sense of entitlement) is that they were paying 9GBP per month but are now paying 0GBP per month. Naturally 9GBP per month in the cash shop would place them back on a levelling playing field. Can they complain? Well given their feelings of entitlement they will complain but the reality is that they don't have a leg to stand on.

The problem is that with games that are free to play from the beginning it is even harder for them to grasp this very simple issue.

It is purely psychological. It is likely a waste of time discussing the matter as my experience of such communities is that a small but vocal minority will never see reason. Fortunately they are small enough in number to be financially insignificant to the viability of f2p games.
 
You can collect whatever you want, but the in-game competition is over once somebody finishes collecting them. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only kind of competition that the developers should support - world (server/faction/other mandatory separate block of people that is defined in-game) first.

All the other competitions are personal, and have their own personal rules, participants and so on. You can't really blame the developer for introducing something to the game, for money or not, when you effectively choose to compete with your own made-up ruleset that allows you to use that something to your advantage in the first place.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Woody:

The economic reality is that some games, like LoL, do survive, even thrive, on boosters/skins/champions and whatever else, and none of those are competitively compelling to possess immediately.

The psychological reality is that people will ask themselves, what do I do:
a) play a F2P game X which has P2W elements, and not pay, thus play at a disadvantage;
b) play a F2P game X which has P2W elements, and pay, thus play at an advantage;
c) play a F2P game Y which doesn't have P2W elements;

Can you honestly say that all other things equal a) and b) are as good or superior to option c)?
 
That is a trick question. Naturally I'd always chose a free lunch but I don't accept that a restaurant can survive by offering free lunches.

I repeat my point that the type of Game I play (mmorpg's, never touch lol) could never fund itself without selling items that impact on the most common win conditions in the mind of the player base.

I don't therefore have a choice between the options you list.

I dare say other genres can survive - I played Counterstrike for free for years by leaching off clan servers who's members allowed public freeloaders because they provided content.

That won't work for an mmorpg.
 
If you look at real life, Woody, you will find that people buy lots of stuff that doesn't help them meet real life's 'win criteria', for example computer games.

Besides winning, people care about being individual, having fun, feeling good and of course convenience.

In World of Tanks there are option to differentiate your tank from other tanks (decals,etc.). They have zero impact on the game. But they make some people enjoy the game more. They pay in gold for them.

If the virtual world is home enough to a player he will buy stuff just to mimic the real life effects of being individual, having fun, feeling good and of course convenience.
 
addendum:

That is why I think that of all the game genres there are roleplay and world-building games are the ones to most likely be able to finance themselves by "selling hats".
 
Woody:

Why are you so convinced that it wouldn't work? What exactly makes MMORPG different from the other games which could possibly survive that way?
 
Woody, I understand that the developers have to get paid. But that doesn't mean they have to make a game that seems unfair to non-paying players. And that is the view of the developers themselves, not just me. They don't want their games to be perceived as unfair, because the result of that is simply that players walk. That's the answer to your question:

What on earth leads anyone to believe that they have a right to fair competition in a game that they aren't paying for?

If non-payers perceive that the competition isn't fair, they simply walk.

There are ways to get paid without seeming unfair. There are even ways to get paid without being unfair.
 
I don't think the threat of freeloaders walking away from the game carries much weight.

They are bringing nothing to the party.

Only this theory of "providing content" which we don't actually need them for if we have enough paying customers. Of the freeloaders that we "might" need, we can quite possibly get a large enough number from the pool who understand and accept that not paying carries a different type of price.

I repeat again: If there is parity between patrons and freeloaders a large number of patrons will stop being patrons.

In a game like an MMORPG which differs from many others due to its running costs and the requirement to constantly churn out new content (less so with PVP, more so with PVE) there is a requirement to extract a lot of money from the player base on a regular basis.

If you think I am going to spend £9GBP on hats every month so that others can kick back and enjoy free gaming with no other disadvantages then guess again. I'd behave quite rationally and join their ranks.

If the freeloaders walk there may be some minor impact on the game experience.

If the patrons walk there is no game.

Probably worth highlighting that I am mainly interested in PVE MMORPG's.

PVP MMORPGS and pure arena based games no doubt require far less investment and survive on cash shop items that don't target the one specific win condition that you guys are thinking of.
 
Woody:

Do MMORPGs really require such a significant amount of money to simply run? They can be costly to make, but running them shouldn't be more expensive than running and maintaining servers for any other type of game.

New content released after the base F2P game is launched can have a pricetag as well.

I don't think that it's irrational to support the game that you enjoy and want to play at all. I understand your desire for compensation for said support. But is it really that unacceptable that said compensation does not come in ways that affect the actual core game?

Finally, let's not forget how the sales for mounts/pets in WoW went. It seems that there is a market for those kinds of things, regardless of how rational or irrational it might seem.
 
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But remember the freeloaders are whining because patrons can buy items that ARE available to freeloaders if they don't pay and sink time into the game instead.

Who are these whiners? I'm going to have to ask for actual examples here, because again, this argument STILL reeks of strawmen. I haven't heard any whining about TERA's business model (except that some cosmetic items are gained through gambling lockboxes, which is a completely separate issue altogether).

If you think I am going to spend £9GBP on hats every month so that others can kick back and enjoy free gaming with no other disadvantages then guess again. I'd behave quite rationally and join their ranks.

I don't think I've EVER seen anybody argue that freeloaders should receive the same advantages as paying customers. This is a complete strawman.

If you actually read Dacheng's post, then you'd realize he's talking about fairness. Fairness does not necessarily mean that everyone receives the same advantage, but that each group's advantage is fair relative to the next group's.

For freeloaders, their advantage is that they don't have to pay, but they have to grind more.

For patrons, their advantage is that they don't have to grind, but they have to pay more.

The point is that each side's advantage should balanced such that they all stick around.

It should be noted that patrons are not even a single group of people that you can group all paying customers into. Not everyone is a whale with unlimited money, so you have to maintain balance even among paid items such that lesser paying customers (who are certainly still paying their worth each month) feel that their $10-$15 a month is worth investing into a game and isn't made worthless by some guy who invests $100 a month in to a game.
 
Pzychotix says: " I haven't heard any whining" [about Pay2Win]

Dacheng says: "The internet is chock full of discussion and complaints about Pay2Win games".

It appears to me that one of you must be wrong.
 
Woody said:

"I don't think the threat of freeloaders walking away from the game carries much weight.

They are bringing nothing to the party."


Woody, you may think that, but the developers don't agree with you.


 
I am afraid the freeloader doesn't have as much value to the developer as you would like. This will sound harsh but it is a fact of life.

I pay for the game and if I and other patrons feel that the freeloaders presence adds nothing of value to my game then they become nothing but a drain on resources to the developer.

The only interest the developer has in the freeloader is whether or not you make me happy and keep me paying. E.g. you provide me with content or you provide me with an example of how bad life would be if I didn't pay!

Freeloaders (the permanent type who don't intend to become patrons and therefore wish to have a level playing field) are only of value to the dev if they are of value to the patrons. In that respect it is up to me to decide just how valuable the freeloaders are.

Freeloaders with a level playing field wouldn't just provide me with no value, they would likely have a negative impact on the devs chances of retaining my custom. Firstly the level playing field freeloader acts as an advertisement screaming "stop paying, you don't need to pay"!!

Furthermore in the type of PVE game I enjoy there is a chance depending on the design that the freeloader will tag my mobs and steal my farming nodes.

Granted that can be designed out but still with automated cross realm grouping I will likely have no issue at all with finding enough patrons for the times when I do need other players assistance. The freeloader is surplus to requirements and consuming server resources.


To answer the other point about costs.... I thought I made it perfectly clear why a PVE focussed MMORPG cost so much more than an arena based PVP game. The cost of developing the constant stream of new content required is horrendous. Just read any of Blizzards posts about how even with their existing huge team of personnel they are having to recruit in order to avoid a repeat of this expansion where there were no new dungeons.

PVE players consume and chew up content far faster than PVP players who quite happily spam the same few battle grounds for years. Blizzards PVP'ers are far cheaper to retain than PVE customers.

I am sure Blizzard wish that the current demographics of the player base were reversed with PVP being the majority. It would be a far more profitable product.

To be honest I am shocked that readers of Tobolds blog need that explained.
 
Woody:

So let's say that a new content patch to a F2P game is released.

A small part of it is accessable to all the players.

The majority of it requires you to unlock it by paying for it.

Is it really impossible that this could cover the development costs?
 
I genuinely don't get the point you are trying to make?

I'd imagine that new content patches would/are available to everyone? Content being something you play like a zone or dungeon as opposed to a reward like a mount. If content is restricted I'd imagine it being in the form of a cap such as a limit on the number of dungeons you can do per day.

Freeloaders must be given access to content so they can experience it and perceive the benefits of paying. If you don't experience it (albeit in a watered down form) you won't be interested in playing for the full fat product.

I've been saying that as a patron I generally have no issue with freeloaders having full access, but I expect to gain some advantage from purchasing cash shop items. For example valor/rep boosters so that the freeloader had to grind out more daily quests each day to achieve the same results.

You can describe that as purchasing convenience items but I call it pay to win because for a set period of play time I get more epics than the freeloader. Loot being the most popular win condition in mmorpg's, even exceeding boss kills.

For me extra bag and character slots don't cut the mustard. I am sure freeloaders wish the game could be profitable (whilst financing enough new content) just from selling those items but as a patron they don't entice me to pay just as they don't entice you to pay.

Freeloaders have an issue with that design, patrons don't. If they didn't we wouldn't be having this discussion and Tobold would have blogged about his table top games instead.

What I don't understand is why they have an issue with it. I want to be a freeloader, who doesn't? But I understand why I can't be a freeloader. I understand why games would make the freeloading experience unsatisfactory to me. To expect otherwise would be demonstrating an unrealistic sense of entitlement.

As I've said, this is purely psychological. A subscriber who becomes a freeloader when a sub game goes f2p will probably understand. The issue is probably with those who come fresh to a game that describes itself as "free" only to discover it isn't really.

Now is that a problem with how the game is marketed or naivety on behalf of the player?
 
Woody:

Why would all the content would be available to everyone? It's a F2P game, they can have those restrictions. As you mention yourself, a free player gets the watered down version. I believe DDO has a system like that, where access to certain quests/areas requires you to either buy a pass (there are timed/permanent versions), or to be a VIP (a subscription alternative).

If
a) valor points still remained capped per week (you just had to farm them fewer times)
b) rep gain increase would not be significant enough to allow an additional raid lockout to use said epics
then they would not be competitively compelling purchases, merely convenience items.

I don't understand why do you think that all the "patrons" share your mentality. Tons of people bought a shiny mount/pet regardless of the fact they already paid subscriptions in WoW. And those weren't even convenience items, merely shinies!

The reason that freeloaders have an issue with this is because the experience is unsatisfactory. Everybody agrees that their premise is true - even yourself. You simply find their situation justified. I too find their situation justified, by the way, I just don't find it necessary.

You say that F2P MMORPGs can not be funded without P2W elements. If that is true, then you are right, complaining about it is pointless, because nobody will be able to make one without P2W anyway. I still think that such a conclusion would simply detract a significant amount of people from playing F2P MMORPGs altogether, but at least it would end the rational side of complaints.
 
Good god, this is still going.

I've always found raiding to be the least competition-y competition that people take so seriously. The players supposedly in competition with each other rarely if ever see each other, one group's ability to progress has no impact on any other group's ability, one group winning doesn't at all prevent the other group from doing the exact same thing later, and there's no advantage to be obtained from getting there first.

Competitive advantage requires that people actually be in competition.

I look at the people complaining above and I think of it like my commute. I'm traveling on the highways with some few tens of thousands of people, all just trying to get to work, and there's a few dozen people who for some reason view the entire thing as a race to get to the 'end' of the highway, instead of just everybody else going where they want to and not caring what those few are up to except to stare at them askance.
 
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Pzychotix says: " I haven't heard any whining" [about Pay2Win]

I'm pretty sure I've never said that ever.
 
Sorry if I misunderstood you. But you asked "Who are the whiners?", asked for specific examples, and claimed that the whole discussion was a "strawman", because actually there weren't anybody complaining about Pay2Win.

While Dacheng said the exact opposite, that Pay2Win was a problem because everybody was complaining about it.

I'm just stating the obvious: You both can't be right at the same time. Either people are complaining about Pay2Win, or they aren't. A simple Google search points towards the former.
 
Well, my comment there was specifically towards Woody's statement: "But remember the freeloaders are whining because patrons can buy items that ARE available to freeloaders if they don't pay and sink time into the game instead."

That's not necessarily Pay2Win we're talking about here, since it's a rather broad statement. Are we talking about XP boosts, sidegrades/cosmetics, or earlier access to content? Or are we talking about buying best in game gear or powerful cash only combat boosts that most players would vehemently object to?

His statement is so broad that it unnecessarily includes the former category, which I have heard very little complaints about.
 
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