Tobold's Blog
Friday, June 05, 2015
 
Win to not pay

I just cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription. When you do that you get an exit interview, which completely failed to cover my case: I only cancelled my subscription, but have no intention whatsoever to stop playing. I have enough gold to buy a year's worth of WoW tokens, and just don't want my credit card to be charged in case I forget to hand in a token in time.

Recently there was a lot of discussion whether it was "fair" that somebody with a lot of money could buy WoW tokens, exchange those for gold, and buy epics with them. But what about the person who like me is exchanging his gold for WoW tokens: Is it "fair" that I get to play for free when most other players have to pay for their subscription? Is it "fair" that somebody else is basically paying for my subscription? I don't think so.

I think this is a fundamental problem of games that use the PLEX/CREDD/Token system. There are some people in the game which are more interested in making gold than others, and with a bit of practice those tend to get rather good at it, because game economies have lots of exploitable flaws. Gevlon sure isn't paying to play EVE. I'm not paying to play WoW, nor presumably does Flasteria, the new gold goblin in WoW. I have no idea what the percentage of players in a game like World of Warcraft is that can easily make enough gold every month to pay for a WoW token (especially since in Europe it costs twice as much gold as in America). But I do know that I personally don't even need to make any particular effort and still end up with enough gold for two WoW tokens every month.

In a genre which is full of individual and subjective win conditions I just happened to be one of the players whose win condition now makes him exempt from having to pay a subscription. That seems somewhat arbitrary to me. You could imagine playing for free to be coupled to some completely different win condition, for example WoW Tokens dropping from mythic raid bosses, or being a price for arena fights. Players who like to make gold are just one sub-group, and not a particularly glamorous one, of the many different players of World of Warcraft. Why do we get to play for free?

What is even weirder is that we get to play for free for making gold in the World of Warcraft expansion in which making gold is the easiest. I don't even need to leave my garrison these days to make enough gold to pay my subscription, the bulk of my income is rather passive. Gone are the days where you needed tons of clicks to make money by glyph selling. Today I produce and sell stuff which costs thousands of gold per item, so making the tens of thousands of gold for a token is fast enough.

I'm not complaining about my good fortune, but honestly I don't consider it fair. My apologies to the person or persons unknown who are paying for my subscription. I didn't set out to grab your money, Blizzard just changed the rules in a way that unfairly favors me and the way I've always been playing.

Comments:
The people that pay your subscription aren't complaining, and if anything are thanking you. They got to upgrade their armor to 685 / ride around on a sweet Alliance motorbike because they could buy gold.

In the grand scheme of things, it's all gold sinks. Even the armor upgrade items, which give the money to a player, produce an item that will be rendered obsolete and vendored eventually, and the player who got the gold will toss it down a gold sink like a Game Time token. Even if they give it to another player for something they made it will eventually find it's way to a sink.

It would be easier to simply sell things for cash, but that would piss off players who don't see that that's what's already going on, and was going on with RMT before the token scheme.
 
Is it "fair" that I get to play for free when most other players have to pay for their subscription? Is it "fair" that somebody else is basically paying for my subscription? I don't think so.

I don't like to use "fair", because it's not really the right word for it. But I agree with you: the mere existence of Token/APEX/CREDD/PLEX indicates that there is a problem somewhere, the "somewhere" being probably in the game design.

In ArcheAge it's even more blatant than in WoW: you say that your income is passive, but you still need to do things like managing your garrison and crafting. In ArcheAge, simply by selling the items I get as a "loyalty reward" for being subscribed I make enough money to pay for the suscription.... I don't know if it's Pay to Win gone berserk or what, but if you think about it it's completely ass-backwards. It's not even money-rich subsidizing time-rich, it's money-rich subsidizing everyone.
Something is very wrong, I've no idea if it's income distribution in society, positive-psychology-based abusive cash shop design which is "too successful", or something else.

 
Although your suggestions of alternate ways to acquire a WoW token seem plausible in theory, the converse doesn't work - pay $20 to win 50 arena fights, $20 to defeat a mythic raid boss?! I believe symmetry is one reason these systems stick with basic currency.

At least in EVE most things can be boiled down to ISK. Even PvP prowess can be displayed via amount of ISK destroyed (there are people who engage in "killboard padding" i.e. explode expensive spaceships belonging to an alt purely to increase the ISK value on their killboard history).
 

Helistar:
"...ArcheAge, simply by selling the items I get as a "loyalty reward" for being subscribed I make enough money to pay for the suscription..."

Ostensibly, that's a "F2P" design with a 2 drink minimum. Most people were going to buy some drinks anyway, so the teetotalers (In this context, people like yourself that don't want the loyalty points.) can sell them instead.

WoW would essentially be the same if you just got a token free once a month for paying the subscription and then could either use it to pay the sub, or sell it to someone else for the gold you want to buy things.

It's mind boggling, but it's all the same wheel.

I just logged into WoW now and bought my token for this month. How did I pay for it? I sold an armor essence and 4 640 armor pieces on the AH over the span of a few weeks. For people that would rather collect pets (Or whatever) than go to LFR, that's a good deal. And for me, I like to craft stuff and sell it... it's a good deal for me, too.

The F2P model works.
 
Today I produce and sell stuff which costs thousands of gold per item, so making the tens of thousands of gold for a token is fast enough.

It sounds like you are an active, contributing member of the player economy, without which the game would be intolerably bad. Compared to those players who simply extract value from the AH by "pricing things correctly," I would say you more than earned your token.
 
Let's look at this from a simplistic point of view. Now, this example is a simplification, but it's not inaccurate, it simply applies only to a subset of the consumer base for WoW.

Two groups of people, Pet collectors and Raiders. Pet collectors never run out of content for the simple reason that adding more pets is so easy to do, you don't have to add zones, or new mechanics, or anything... just pump in more pets on a regular basis. Raiders, on the other hand, will eventually run out of raids and some will cancel their subscription.

Raiders want gear, but they don't need gold to get it because they raid. The simplest way to get the excess gold the raiders don't need into the hands of the collectors that do need it is to broker an RMT deal between them. Well, that won't fly so some Rube Goldburg device has to be constructed to act as the in between.

That's what F2P is, a Rube Goldburg device to replace RMT.

Now, this simple example only looks at the subset of Pet collectors that want to buy pets and Raiders that have excess gold because they're not buying raid gear. But you can find set after set of similarly matched players, and those sets form the mosaic that is the game in the aggregate.
 
Azuriel,
"Compared to those players who simply extract value from the AH by "pricing things correctly,""

I'm curious as to what you mean by that, as it could go in many directions. I have a specific strategy for setting my prices using the laws of supply and demand. I am, therefore, "pricing things correctly" in my mind. I don't "undercut" or even really consider what others are trying to sell for except to get a broad view of the market.

I'm currently working on the market design for the indy game I'm making, so your input would be useful.
 
Raiders that have excess gold because they're not buying raid gear.

That might not be the best example. I don't think raiders have all that much gold. Because even if you don't buy raid gear I think raiding isn't a money maker. At least it wasn't when I was still doing it, but that was some expansions ago. I think the people that make a lot of gold in WoW are mostly crafters and AH speculators. Killing monsters for gold appears to me to be one of the less efficient methods<.
 
Tobold,

Fair enough. I really wasn't trying to pick the best example. I'll change that to "Raiders that don't buy gear, but like to craft things in the non-raiding downtime."

As such, they have some extra gold. You can replace "craft things" with anything else to start fleshing in the mosaic that is all the sets.
 
Oddly enough, I haven't paid a subscription fee in my chosen game (GW2) in like forever, certainly more than two years.

Question, is it fair that I don't have to pay a subscription to enjoy my MMO, when other people have to pay money or farm gold just to enjoy their inferior MMO's? ;-)
 
Azuriel said "Compared to those players who simply extract value from the AH by "pricing things correctly,""
Smokeman said I'm curious as to what you mean by that,

Traders provide an important service to other players: they make sure items are available and priced near market value. The heavier an item is traded the smaller the price variations are and the higher availability. Of course traders get their fair share of profit for this service.

On topic: in subscription games players who play less always subsidize players who play more. The WoW token makes this even worse, everyone who plays regularly can make enough gold to play for free. You don't even have to know anything about trading, garrison is enough. I don't think that is particularly "fair" but if seen as a side effect of getting rid of third party gold sellers it might be "OK".
 
Is it fair? No. Is it OK that I play EVE for free and some lost newbie pays for my subscription who thinks that buying a faction battleship will make him a killing machine? Absolutely not.

It's necessary to somewhat battle the goldsellers. After all, those who got gold for token won't go to www.totallywontstealyouracc.com for wow gold. It's like the marijuana in the coffee shops. No one on the planet claims it's good to break your brain with that crap. But breaking your brain AND your liver to some polluted drug made by petty criminals in a moldy kitchen is worse.
 
@Smokeman

I was speaking about those AH speculators who notice an item is "underpriced," and purchase it for immediate resale at a profit. For example, Item X is on the AH for 100g, but someone buys it and then relists it for 1000g. The 900g profit generated by the flip is not value added by the speculator, it is value extracted by the speculator. The typical argument is that the speculator does provide value in "pricing things correctly" and provides "signals" to others in that Item X is worth farming/producing. It is a vague, tautological cop-out IMO; the person that finally uses Item X for its intended function certainly receives 900g less value than he/she would have normally.

I will admit, however, that lack of signalling is a major weakness of games without Buy Orders.
 
Azuriel:
"I will admit, however, that lack of signalling is a major weakness of games without Buy Orders. "

I agree with you completely. However, in defense of the speculators (The people who do this.) the problem isn't them, but rather the system that both didn't give the original seller adequate information as to the "proper price" of the item, and that same system that had the NPcs that could have acted as "Brokers" (The proper mechanic to handle people who just want to unload their item for the best, reasonable price.) instead of just standing there mute.

Most people just want to go to stores and buy / sell stuff. They don't want to play some auction game that seems silly to them, and forcing them to do it gets you nowhere. There need to be helpful systems and tools in place to facilitate this.

The actual value of an item and it's "Futures price" (The price at which you can sell it to me now so I can resell it later.) need to be upfront.
 
No need to apologize. I'd guess the people buying are happy with the arrangement. If not, they can just not buy any more.

I would have enjoyed buying gold when I was playing. I found the AH games to be a pretty uninteresting strategy game. If I want to sweat numbers and resources, there's any number of much more intriguing strategy games to play than the AH. Look at it this way: you are good at making gold, you like. I don't want to be good at it, and hate it. I buy gold for the same reason that I pay someone to fix my car. I could do it myself, but it's not worth my time.
 
Raiding is a money sink, unless it changed a lot since my time - you pay for repairs and buffs, the rewards are occasional great gear and minimal gold, and when you're raiding you can't be gathering stuff or playing the auction house. When I played WoW I never had spare gold. I didn't even get a fast flying mount until Wrath.

(That was all fine with me - I played the way I wanted.)
 
I agree entirely, Tobold. These WoW Tokens are not good for the game, discourage immersion, and we would be better off as role-players if they were gone.

(I wish the magic teleporting of the Group Finder were gone, too).
 
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