Tobold's Blog
Friday, June 20, 2014
Are CREDD Pay2Win?

In the previous thread Gevlon commented that buying gold is a form of cheating. Basically "Pay2Win", you pay real money, you get virtual gold, and the auction house permits you to leverage that virtual gold into a power advantage in game. But when I pointed out that you could buy gold "legally" via CREDD, Carson opined that Carbine makes the rules, so buying gold via CREDD wouldn't be cheating. Okay, but putting that legalistic definition of what "cheating" is aside, isn't buying gold still Pay2Win, regardless which path you use to convert your real money into an in-game advantage?

In case you don't play Wildstar, you might need to know that in Wildstar crafted gear is exceptionally good, compared with other games. I can't speak about the level cap, but during the leveling process I am convinced that "best-in-slot" is more often than not a crafted item. As a weapon-crafter I have never seen a drop or quest reward which is anywhere near as good as the weapons I can craft for myself. Not only is the quality very good, you also get to choose what stats to put into the crafted item.

So if for example you wanted to start PvP and did so in typical quested for / looted gear, your gear would be far from optimal for PvP, and it would take you quite some time to get decent PvP gear from doing PvP. Especially since if you did this while leveling, you get good xp from PvP, and thus constantly outlevel your gear again. But if you bought a CREDD for real money, and transformed it into virtual gold, you could start your first PvP battle with gear which was not only of much higher quality than quest gear, but you could also buy that gear with specific PvP stats and blow an equally skilled player without that advantage out of the water.

While you can't technically "win" the PvE part of a MMORPG, most people would consider having more power at the same level and thus leveling faster quite an advantage. CREDD can buy you that. So whatever way you look at it, CREDD to me look very much like Pay2Win. And Carbine is making money from it, because CREDD are more expensive than a regular subscription, so Carbine effectively slapped a $2+ "tax" on CREDD subscriptions.

Now I understand the concept of trying to prevent "illegal" gold-selling by offering a legal version. But that didn't work out all that well for Diablo 3. Because it isn't JUST the fact that gold sellers are a shady bunch that cause all sorts of secondary problems that makes real-money trade (RMT) of dollars versus gold a problem. There is a reason why government decided that you can't legally buy heroin in a pharmacy, even if that might put heroin dealers out of business. Legalization isn't a perfect solution to every problem of that kind. If a large part of the motivation in a MMORPG comes from collecting better gear, and you can just pull out your wallet to buy the best available gear, you destroy much of the game in the process.

I've definitely got no dispute with the fact that buying gold within the rules is indeed pay2win, pay for advantage, whatever you want to call it.

I'm not playing Wildstar, but I have no doubt whatsoever that having access to a fountain of gold obtained by buying CREDDs with real money would enable you to turbo-charge your leveling process.

End-game.. I guess it comes down to how heavily Wildstar locks the best gear behind bind-on-pickup mechanics. If they've modeled that on Vanilla WoW as I hear they've modeled so much else, then the pay2win aspects of CREDDs should be minimized at endgame?
It's not "pay-to-win", it's "pay-to-not-lose".

In pay-to-win games, money can buy you power that can't be matched without similar amount of money.

In CREDD/PLEX you can only buy what other players sell, therefore you cannot be more powerful than the seller himself*. Your sword will never be as good as of the top players.

What you get for this money is the option to get ahead of the casuals despite being one. Your sword will be better than quest rewards and random drops that the casuals can get. So the CREDD/PLEX buyer IS a cheater, but he doesn't cheat where it would matter. It's like doping to win the wrestling event of a biker bar. You ARE despicable and a cheat, but no one cares.

*Illicit goldsellers (unlike CREDD-goldsellers) keep nothing for themselves, so they might sell top level items. But even then, those items are available for normal play.
Well right now, at least on my Server the CREDD to ingame Gold conversion is ridiculously bad. :D

The conversion rate for a 17$ CREDD-subscription is at 2p90g.
Maybe 6 months from now it will have gone up significantly so that buying gold that way seems feasible - then again, I'm not sure which PVE player is part of a demography that needs to buy BiS that way. You only really need BiS if you partake in the very competetive end of PVE/PVP and those that do, tend not to need help with gear in such manner.
Syl, is it feasible for you to snap up CREDD at current prices? Or is 2p90g a lot of gold?

I remember in the earliest days of GW2 I spent a reasonable bit of spare coin buying gems. I wish I'd spend every penny I owned, and dumped all my crafting mats etc. on the trading post to get more coin to buy more gems, now that the price is approximately 40x higher than it was then (13 gold per 100, compared to ~30 silver).
the CREDD to ingame Gold conversion is ridiculously bad

Or ridiculously good, depending on whether you are buying or selling.

Or is 2p90g a lot of gold?

2p90g is 290 gold. Your first mount at level 15 costs a bit over 10 golds, and many level 15 players don't have that amount of cash lying around (especially after receiving their money sink house at level 14). Blue gear at that level vendors for under 1 gold, and can be found on the AH for 1 to 2 gold if there is an active crafter. And prices go up slowly with level, so 290 gold would probably be enough to keep you in blue gear over the whole leveling range.
"The conversion rate for a 17$ CREDD-subscription is at 2p90g."

That's actually a pretty good rate, although a CREDD here in the U.S. costs $19.99 (no volumn discounts for buying 2 or more like in EVE). The last I looked, gold sellers were selling 100g for $4-$5 USD.

It's too soon to tell if CREDD is working yet, but if that price is correct then the CREDD vs RMT gold price right now is similar to the PLEX vs RMT ISK ratio in EVE.
It is just exchanging time.
Game time vs working time.
At least for the PvE side.

First of all, in order to see if something is "Pay to Win", we need first to determine the Win Conditions.

Judging from Carbine's push to hard group content, I'd say that downing bosses and getting the gear from Veteran dungeons and Raids can be considered as some sort of indicators that you've 'won'.

In the same vein, housing is also something they have heavily invested upon, so I'd say that getting rare housing decors and 'pimping' your house can also be somewhat of a win for you.

Finally, someone who pvps a lot will probably consider reaching the top tiers of Arenas and Battlegrounds as 'winning'.

Now, does getting gold (from selling CREDD) make these goals irrelevant? The answer is no, since all gold does is make your life easier. Alternatively, if you simply cannot manage the gameplay, all the gold in the world will not help you. You may get a decent set of gear from the auction house, but you could do that anyway without paying for CREDD. CREDD simply provides a shortcut, i.e. you realise that you don't have enough time to sink into the game but still want to attain some short term goals fast: getting gear for levelling up, buying mats to level up your crafts etc.

Maybe the hardcore housing fans will be a little slighted with people spending cash to get decorations, but then again those people build their homes out of creativity, not desire to compete with others. and even then, I'm told that some decors are drops from bosses anyway...
Now, does getting gold (from selling CREDD) make these goals irrelevant? The answer is no, since all gold does is make your life easier.

By your definition there is not one game in the world that is actually Pay2Win. In all the Free2Play games that exist, your money is always "only" making your life easier. There is no game in which you can actually buy an outright "win" that makes the rest of the game irrelevant.

I strongly suspect that people are rather flexible with their definition of Pay2Win, based on whether they like a game or not. The exact same sale of in-game advantage would be condemned as Pay2Win if for some reason you dislike the game or the company, but excused if you like them.
Shrug, I'd drop 20 bucks on something that would save me an hour of time in a heartbeat. But I don't think CREDD will give that high a return. But then, I'm not max level yet.

If I stick around for more than a couple months I'll probably buy some to get fast platinum, but honestly, it's looking like that's not going to happen anyway.

I've always felt mmo's are not pay2win enough. In real life I can buy nice things and pay other people to do things I don't want to bother with, like I've got a girl that comes in twice a month to do all my housework and cleaning. MMO's mostly just give you fluff, not much tangible stuff. If I'm paying more than other players, it would be just to receive a greater benefit that gives me advantage.

But then, I've spent an awful lot of money on transmute stones to look pretty in GW2, so I guess I cannot complain about not getting value. XD

I'm always surprised to see Gevlon complaining about pay2win, because didn't he start out as an AH-gold-making blogger? What virtue is there in trying to make lots of gold, or lots of money, if not to secure a comparative advantage. He should be cheerful about things that let him use his greater money-making prowess to beat out the rest of us plebs. :P

P2Win can only exist in a game that has a "Win" condition. No MMO has one. What's at stake is purely the emotional and/or psychological comfort of individual players.

Good luck to any developers, designers and customer service teams in managing that.
Yeah, if you like a game, then spending RL$ for in game advantage is just convenience; if you don't like it, it is P2W.

My theory is that there is one big advantage if all the best gear is available for RL$: All the insecure and compensating players (who are focused not on what they have/did but that others don't have) will not want to play it.

No it isn't feasible at all - that's what I was trying to say. I can easily make 1p a day with questing for a few hours, doing a challenge or two. Why would anyone pay 17 bucks for what you can make yourself without much effort? 2p90 isn't a lot imo....I've spent way more than that by now and I'm only lvl 31.

Maybe that's just me but it feels like a poor deal for the reallife money.
There is no such thing as pay to win.

Just cheap games and expensive games.

I'd factor in the cost of what you must pay to stay competitive into the overall cost of the game such as box price and subs.

It's a bit more complex as I also subtract the value of my time that I saved by paying for a shortcut.
I find the economics interesting. Regardless of the currency, the question is how many hours of effort will a token that saves $15 sell for? My guess is well above 5 and well below 40. MMOs where people grind dailies an hour every day, 5 hrs/month seems like a small price to play for free. Along with the "beating the system" feel.

Note that this mechanic points out the leveling curve. E.g. if a level 3 quest pays .01g and a max level quest pays 2 gold then selling a CREDD might save the max level character 10 hours but that is equivalent to 2,000 hours of a lowbie.

It also points out profession/activity differences: CREDD prices will be driven by the most efficient producer. If mining makes 15g/hour, then CREDD will sell for about 250 even if weaponsmith or pvp pays 2g/hour.
If it allows you to defeat other players who have not paid, then it may be considered pay-to-win as there is a definitive win condition. Otherwise, it is pay-to-get-ahead, or, as Gevlon put it, pay-to-not-lose in some particularly fiendish models. In Guild Wars 2 I spent $20 to obtain a full set of exotics (almost top tier) for my first max-level character rather than spending the time to grind them out in game. The top tier gear is 5-6% better than what I bought and takes a long time to craft. In this example, the benefits are obtainable by anyone in-game or mostly cosmetic, so perhaps it's an outlier in that regard.
If giving money gives you an advantage not available to people who don't give money (or gives you an advantage faster than if you didn't pay), then yes. It is pay to win.
You can only buy cred once a month. This should restrict people from spending on it like it's heroin.

And you can also game to win. All in all I think that it's a fairly balanced solution.
You don't destroy much of the game in the process, you just make a different game.

Your best bet is to try and claim bait and switch, because unless the designers a nieve, they aren't destroying the game - they are, by degrees, just making a game which isn't the game you want to play.

Crimes, I know.
Can CREDD buy stuff that you can't buy with ingame currency and/or normal gameplay? If not, CREDD is not P2W.
I don't play the game but it certainly sounds like CREDD is only letting you buy time, not power. So the only way I'd personally find it distasteful is if the amount of time saved would be over the top compared to just playing the game. Saving dozens of hours is fine. Saving thousands of hours? Could be problematic.

So I would not consider this pay2win.
Having plenty of ingame money always gives you an advantage over other players. Even if the best gear, lets say raid gear, is not obtainable through the currency directly.

In Wow it is pretty common for highend guilds to sell raid spots and therefore the gear drops for gold. Same goes on in arenas.
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