Tobold's Blog
Friday, February 07, 2014
 
Money and value-loss PvP

Now this is going to be a difficult post to write, because however carefully I'll choose my words I'll be accused of just having an anti-EVE bias. But what I want to talk about is actually a post from a pro-EVE blog looking at the losses at B-R5RB. The facts are that there was a huge space battle recently in EVE Online. In that battle a large number of very expensive ships were destroyed. In EVE Online one can if one is inclined to do so buy those very expensive ships for real world cash, via an intermediate of game time cards. So it is possible to express the value of the destroyed ships in real world currency numbers. And while there is some confusion about the exact number, the battle at B-R5RB is said to have destroyed $300,000 (give or take a hundred thousand).

Now the Nosy Gamer suggests a different "currency", time. If you express all that value lost in PLEX and don't count the dollar value of the PLEX but the time value, you get about 1,500 years of subscription to EVE. But all that are just attempts to quantify the scale of the losses. In reality the losses were a mix of lost time and lost money: People paid for months of subscription, played the game, and suffered losses that set them back X months of progress and virtual earnings. As during those X months they also had some amount of fun (hopefully) and gained some amount of skill points that they didn't lose, you can't even say they completely lost those X months. But however you turn the calculation, obviously *something* was lost during the battle.

Regardless of which game you play, and regardless of which business model a game uses, there is a large number of games out there where if you play them for some time you will at the end have spent some combination of time and money for some amount of virtual progress and virtual wealth. People attach a value to that virtual progress and virtual wealth. They don't just consider the fun they had playing as sufficient return for their investment of time and money. They tend to get upset when they lose virtual progress and/or virtual wealth. And the clearer the link is between having paid real money for that virtual progress and wealth, the more problematic it becomes when losses occur. For example Marvel Puzzle Quest recently nerfed some characters that the developers considered overpowered. Normally one would think that this is a pretty normal part of a developer's role in maintaining a game. But as people had spent a mix of time and money to attain those characters, and sometimes a lot of money instead of a lot of time, there was quite an uproar.

Now there are many different forms of PvP. And in some of those forms there is never any significant loss of virtual progress or wealth. For example in World of Tanks even the losers usually make more money than their repairs cost, and everybody gets xp, just that the winners get more than the losers. But there are other games in which PvP destroys a lot of value, or even allows one player to capture value from another player. And the more players attach monetary value to virtual progress and wealth in their minds, the more problematic the destruction or theft of that virtual wealth by other players becomes. If other players could for example destroy or steal the sparkly ponies one can buy in World of Warcraft, Blizzard would presumably sell a lot less of those. If players pay big bucks for the right to build virtual castles in EQ Next, it would be foolish to have game elements which then allow other players to burn down or capture those castles.

Therefore I believe that the future of PvP is loss-free versions of PvP in which no or little virtual value is destroyed. Most game companies would shy away from headlines proclaiming that players lost $300,000 in a battle. That sort of news only attracts a certain niche kind of players and isn't really suitable if you are trying to go for a mass market.

Comments:
"Therefore I believe that the future of PvP is loss-free versions of PvP in which no or little virtual value is destroyed"

That is the present of PVP, actually. Mass market PVP = LoL, call of duty, sports games, etc. MMO PVP is a niche market, and it seems to work better with loss. I agree with all of your arguments, but they point to a slightly different conclusion than the one you came to.

Now, if you are predicting a mass market, lossless, PVP based MMORPG...that's fine, but nothing in your post justifies that prediction. Unless you're calling LoL an MMORPG, but that's just semantics, and also fails as a prediction unless you wrote this post 10 years ago.
 
If you play a sport, and you enjoy your sport. Your team is doing well. You are slowly climbing up the rankings and there is a chance you will be the top team by the end of the season. Finally you get into a contest where you are outclassed and you suffer a crushing defeat.

Would you say that the time you spent playing your sport is now lost? In that single match you "lost" months and months of playing time.
 
While I don't doubt that it's a "niche", the players attracted to it are the same who play sports. The loser in box, chess or basketball loses rating and sponsors in much higher value than $300000.
 
Would you say that the time you spent playing your sport is now lost?

No, that is exactly the loss-less PvP that games like World of Tanks have. You lose the game, but you don't lose your experience points, level, and gear. Imagine a version of golf where you started with just one golf club and earned an additional golf club every time you won. If you then lost your whole bag of golf clubs when losing a game, that would be the sort of negative sum value-loss PvP I'm talking about.
 
DayZ and Rust have gained an amazing amount of popularity as of late and both games penalize players that are killed. I don't know if the future is necessarily loss-less.

Also, as a sidenote, I have been very disappointed with PQ: Marvel. After having played Puzzle Quest 1 & 2 (and enjoying them!), the addition of time locks and enemies you need to use boosts on to defeat are really killing my enjoyment.
 
Therefore I believe that the future of PvP is loss-free versions of PvP in which no or little virtual value is destroyed

Well, the past, present and future of mainstream PvP is PvP in which no or little virtual value is destroyed. That's why LoL has 100x the player-base of EVE.

 
First I found this post perfectly equilibrated and not anti-EVE !

I just think you underestimate the thrill to lose money/time that can push some player to play and take risks.

For the sport exemple, you invest some money to just participate to the event, in the hope to be the winner. When you lose the money is lost.

Poker player (and all Casino players) invest money and are ready to lose it - for the hope of winning more !

I do not like this sort of PvP games, and prefer the no-loss/no gain model - I do not like either the everyone gain model. But I think the market for this sort of game is not that small.
 
I think even in zero-loss WoT the outcry when rebalancing premium(paid for) tanks is insane. Even in cases where the tank was half the price of others in the same class.

I also believe that in EvE the players expect to loose ships, they are so to say the hit points of the characters. Unless people exploit the system ... which happens surprisingly often.
 
LoL is the most popular game in the world. The most popular mode in LoL is ranked play. In ranked play the winners gain rank, the losers lose it. The exact opposite of "everyone gets a trophy" PvP you say is more popular.
 
Perhaps the EVE battle illustrates the nature of EVE itself. It is a niche game, and people dropping $300k (or an equivalent in game time) on the virtual equipment to be in a fight like that isn't so unusual.

Just like any other hobby, there are those who spent a lot of money/time in playing it and those who don't. There's a certain amount of risk involved with PvP in EVE, just like there's risk involved if you're into Street Racing.

Lossless PvP would eliminate much of the risk involved, but I don't think it would improve the gaming experience at all. If nothing else, it would encourage haphazard planning and sloppy execution because there is no risk involved in losing. (Hey, if it works, it works. If it doesn't we'll throw something together next time.)

On the flip side, changing Marvel Puzzle Quest by nerfing characters is a bit different, because you're not eliminating risk at all but injecting it into those players who have those characters.
 
The most popular mode in LoL is ranked play. In ranked play the winners gain rank, the losers lose it. The exact opposite of "everyone gets a trophy" PvP you say is more popular.

That only shows that rank is not a value. What is of value in LoL is experience points, influence points, champions, etc. And you can only ever win those in LoL, not lose them.
 
This comment has been removed by the author.
 
Also interesting to note that Eve saw a bump in new players following the news. I don't how many will stick around, but it certainly attracted some people to try Eve.

"They don't just consider the fun they had playing as sufficient return for their investment of time and money. They tend to get upset when they lose virtual progress and/or virtual wealth. And the clearer the link is between having paid real money for that virtual progress and wealth, the more problematic it becomes when losses occur. "

Its not that it wasn't fun, its that now we have to regrind and via dimishing returns the nth time doing something is less fun than the first.
 
I find myself in an odd position of having to side with pvp people, which is just ick.

Potential for loss can make a game more interesting and enjoyable. Even a simple game of chess becomes more exciting if you're betting on the outcome. Especially if you're wagering clothes, because that's awesome.

Disagree on the whole 'future of pvp' thing because I don't see any large forces that would effect a change. PVP is the way it is and likely will continue to be the way it is. Nothing to force movement.

I do think that there is potential for trouble as more of these events and familiarity with technology let legislation already affecting online gambling also start to get applied to online gaming and online possessions. The result of that could be strict guidelines on what games are allowed to do, or just as likely the repeal of the laws trying to regulate gambling. We'll see.
 
How much money is spent during a big football match? Do people wring their hands and gnash their teeth about it?
 
If you would bring the ball to a local football match, and somebody else walked off with it, there would be wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth. Because you consider the ball your property and would hate to lose it. If you buy a ticket to a big match, you know that you don't buy anything permanent for that.
 
"That only shows that rank is not a value. What is of value in LoL is experience points, influence points, champions, etc. And you can only ever win those in LoL, not lose them."

Ranked play is at the level cap, so no XP. Influence points to buy champs becomes a non-issue after a few months, especially now that champ releases have slowed down from the previous pace.

At the end of any season, rank play greatly increases as people try to hit higher ranks.

Sorry, but you are wrong. People are motivated almost exclusively by rank, which is why Riot has spent so much time adjusting how leagues work and how your rank is displayed. Its also why maps without a ranking option fade in popularity quickly, while the main ranked map, basically unchanged since DoTA, remains the most popular, and why the e-sport aspect of LoL is exploding.

 
So you're telling me that ranked play is popular with people who have nothing left to do? Not much of a recommendation, that.

I still don't see how this even remotely compares with a battle in EVE in which you lose weeks or months worth of ISK / ships.
 
I think the missing element here is that to some players possibility of loss = value. The players who lost all those capital ships may not have been exactly happy about it at the time but taking those expensive ships into a situation where they were at risk will have provided an element of satisfaction that s completely unavailable in a system where nothing is put at risk.

I think this is a difficult concept to explain to people who don't share it. It's an emotional reaction and as such isn't easily interpreted through logic. The real-world is full of equivalent hobbies and activities, where an element of danger is ever-present that could result in serious injury or even loss of life.

Put another way, a lot of people get a kick out of risk-taking. You can't get that kick unless you stand to lose something that matters.
 
@Bhagpuss

That's the source of disconnect when it comes to this issue. Some people enjoy the risk because it makes an activity more challenging. Others simply enjoy the risk.

Personally, I like ever increasing challenges so to me the addition of risk that does not add to the main challenge is a waste of time for me. Adding a punishment for losing is only going to make the challenge less enjoyable.
 
Loss or consumption is actually a very important aspect of a healthy economy. Even WoW has hefty gold sinks. In that regard, I'm not sure what you are trying to say in this post as loss is a necessary component within MMOs.

EVE simply chooses to use a different form of sink -- one that is driven by the death penalty. You can and do lose ships to NPCs, so it's not just about PvP.

Many people, including myself, like that feature in games because it provides an exclamation point on things like "risk" and "value".

That said, Syncaine and I have had some heated debates on his blog about Darkfall loss (which is zero-sum) versus EVE loss (which is negative-sum).

My point has been that the more 'negative sum' PvP a game has, the more players will seek to avoid risk. Unfortunately for PvP fans, that means less frequent PvP or the PvP that you do commonly see is in the form of ambushes or people running away.

Whereas, with a more 'zero sum' approach, you could engage in PvP -- lose -- and then in short order reengage to get what was lost returned or replaced.

And at the opposite end of the spectrum, you have WoW Battlegrounds with instant re-spawns and no death penalty at all.

The most 'intense' situations from a risk/value perspective will happen in the 'negative sum' environment. The least intense will happen in the WoW spectrum with no death penalty.

Personally, I find the Darkfall method to be the happy medium between the two. Loss, but not loss to such a degree that it discourages you from taking ANY risk. But still loss enough at a personal level to provide enough meaning to both 'risk' and 'reward'.
 
I see a disconnect with most commenters, accurately, saying they prefer the risk and the OP saying, IMO accurately, that this is a MMO niche.

---

I again come back to my point that this is MMO PvP. One can understand PvP, eSports or games like poker. But if you want the risk why would you do it in a MMO since it is about "progression" - where people are unequal based upon subscription time or grinding or money spent or w/e.
 
So you're telling me that ranked play is popular with people who have nothing left to do? Not much of a recommendation, that.

Err, ranked play is popular because the game is intrinsically fun for those people. Not all games need an external carrot for people to continue to play it. Your article seemed to set the value of fun to be almost worthless compared to virtual progress and virtual wealth, but some games are played to be played rather than for some virtual measure.

Your points are still valid, just don't forget that the scales are not binary but gradients. If somebody took your ball after a local football match, you might be bummed, but if somebody took your ball after an exciting and crazy championship game which you won, you'd hardly care.
 
One thing missing from the calculations of loss, at least in the case of individual players, is reimbursement.

Reimbursement of losses of combat ships in approved ops is very common in null sec alliances. In what is sometimes called "space communism," the alliances take all the income from moon mining operations and rental space rather than sharing any of it out to the alliance members.

But when you lose a ship on an alliance operation, they will reimburse your loss, less the amount they expect you got from insurance.

Over the last couple of years I have lost about 30 ships in approved opps and have been reimbursed ~80% of the costs, with insurance picking up most of the rest.

Alliances will also often sell members pre-fit doctrine approved ships at lower than market prices.

Reimbursement is a necessity for big alliances if they want to field large fleets, as Gevlon and his riches are rather the exception in EVE rather than the rule. It's mostly morons and slackers where ever he goes.

Back in the Fountain war last summer, one of the signs that TEST was in trouble was intel indicating that they were not paying out reimbursements.

Meanwhile, Pandemic Legion, which lost big at B-R5RB, has been forward in announcing that they have reimbursed members for their losses.

So, you can take that as an affirmation of your point that loss-focused PvP is indeed limited. But it also serves as an example as to how players, at least in EVE, have dealt with that situation.
 
But if you want the risk why would you do it in a MMO since it is about "progression" - where people are unequal based upon subscription time or grinding or money spent or w/e.

I almost see your point in games like WoW where the focus is on linear progression in order to reach the next stage of the game. The game leads you from A to B to C, so the idea of getting a reset from C to A is a scary concept.

But in other games, such linear progression isn't as important. You can start with B or jump from A to C and skip B. Or you may gear-down from D, E, F content to the B content.

Also, keep in mind that the result of the risk is that it places a large emphasis on the value on building up your inventory. Not just gold for consumables, but equipment and, well, everything.

The impact to the in-game economy is FANTASTIC for MMO games. And in a game about progression and character development "what you have" takes on much greater importance.
 
Hi Tobold.
I often see you making an argument on your site based on some mechanic, or event in Eve.

I do really like your blog, and even those Eve posts are often interesting. But I would REALLY like to see you actually playing Eve at a nullsec alliance level. I would love to see your feedback of Eve after having played it at that level for a while, and being part of a nullsec war.

Without experiencing the game at this level it is VERY difficult to understand a particular mechanic within Eve, and how it relates to the rest of the Eve mechanics. And indeed how it affects the gameplay, adding new and interesting playstyles and "profession" choices.

In this case I would say the following.
High risk of loss at the alliance level is what makes Eve so interesting to so many people.

It is about the best expression of real-life war captured in a game that I think is ever going to be possible.
Obviously no-one is ever in any real personal danger (which is what makes real war terrible).
But it is the closest I have ever seen, and I have been a gamer and MMO fan since the beginning of UO.

The fact that so much is at stake at this level creates a different gaming environment than, for example, WOW battlegrounds. (Which I used to like too btw).
I have never felt the thrill from any other game of when your alliance defeats an enemy in a war-defining battle.
Likewise the dread you feel when an expensive ship gets hot-dropped in an alliance op gone terribly wrong.

I could go on explaining the different playstyles and tactics that are a direct result of this level of risk, and why they are not found elsewhere, but this post is already too long.
 
It is about the best expression of real-life war captured in a game that I think is ever going to be possible.

I agree.

Unfortunately real-life war has also been described as "long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror". And EVE captures that aspect better than I would like. In my repeated attempts to play EVE, I just couldn't get past the boring bits, e.g. mining. That is most definitively due to my personal preference, and not a "flaw" of EVE. But you will have to admit that EVE isn't about the excitement of war every day you log in, there are long periods of preparation for those big battles.
 
Yes I completely agree.
Even while at war in nullsec you could describe it as "long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror".

However war has also been described as:
"Magnificent! Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.
God help me, I do love it so!"

I agree Eve is hard to get into. It is the biggest weakness of Eve.
 
"So you're telling me that ranked play is popular with people who have nothing left to do? Not much of a recommendation, that."

They have the main point of the game left; getting better. And they can judge that based on their rank; when they win and move up, others have to lose and drop down.

The stuff you listed (XP, LP, champs) is all setup, which you somehow see as being 'the game', which I think is where the large disconnect with you and why LoL is the most popular game out comes from.

Also if what you are trying to say was correct, everyone would be playing normal games to avoid the stress of ranked play; but they don't, because most people are competitive and enjoy knowing their place amongst others, and that only works by taking someones spot.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool