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Reader Comments (11)

Posted: Dec 13th 2008 3:15PM Mr Angry said

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Consider current subscription MMO : Rewards for hard work and perseverance allows players to equip items that give a great deal of satisfaction, both in terms of abilities and cosmetic look.

RMT manager comes in and says to the developer, "That looks nice, drop something else there instead, we can use that asset to make a buttload by selling it direct"

Far from being a circular argument here, assets that people pay subscriptions for are willfully sold for profit and then removed from the subscription model.

Let's pretend we are all MMO players here, rather than some sort of MMO advisory committee. How is this good for the player to pay more for something they could as easily give away with the subscription?

Why do MMO studios crackdown on all sorts of external item trading, over which they have no control. The answer is greed. Unmonitored by the MMO playerbase this will continue and develop over time, until being competitive is just about bank balance.

In a virtual world, hard work, teamwork, effort and innovation need to be rewarded, not wallet size. It's the risk vs reward paradigm turned on it's head. Time spent doesn't equate directly to success, time spent in an effective manner does. Player A may be able to make far better progress based on skill than player B who takes things at his own leisure, but then aren't we told it's not all about finishing these games, to enjoy the scenery and community along the way?

MMO companies attempted to draw a line in the sand just this week and it's surprising me that these editorials talk about acceptance. That's not what needs to happen, players need to define what they want, what works for the community, rather than these systems to be shoehorned in with absolutely no notice.

Resisting RMT is not a backward or ill informed opinion, it's essential to ensure consumers get the best deal. What needs to happen is for players to support a RMT committee that advises, monitors and criticizes value, content and is the watching eye over this license to print money.

If companies want RMT, OK, drop the monthly sub. If they have every confidence this is a great way of doing business, put something up in response, don't try and fleece customers twice here. If they want to do both, please don't expect consumers to not comment on this.

If RMT is to be realistic, they need to make sure that subscription players can receive these same rewards through determination and hard work, just not further investment. However, there is no chance they would even consider this, as they know players would rather spend time than money to achieve goals, they have done the math already.

The die has been cast by some major studios here, it's time players stepped up, vote with their wallets, then watch these studios come running back to their customer base to work out the way this needed to be done from the outset.

Let's not give up yet, there is quite a way to go before this model is mature. Acceptance of what has happened this week is just rolling over and watching monthly outgoings for MMO play go up over the next year.

These studios have all tried so hard to be WoW, they can't afford it, now they are going back to the players to subsidize poor business decisions. Watch this space, it's only going to get worse over time if we just let it go.



Posted: Dec 13th 2008 7:17PM Tanek said

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I agree with most of what you are saying, but...

"If RMT is to be realistic, they need to make sure that subscription players can receive these same rewards through determination and hard work, just not further investment. However, there is no chance they would even consider this, as they know players would rather spend time than money to achieve goals, they have done the math already."

...I don't think it is necessarily the case that players would rather spend time than money. Or, not enough players that this would be a factor, anyway. The problem with putting the same items up for cash sales that are available with enough time and skill does not come from the corporate "no one would buy it" side, it comes from the player "my effort should not be made worthless" side. (The irony there is that the RMT would, in fact, be putting a worth on the effort, not removing it, but you know what I mean. :) )

I do think RMT is something that needs to be watched and evaluated carefully by the players. What I don't like to see are those players who, rather than coming up with a rational statement like yours, demonize it "just because". That, in my mind, is as bad as just accepting it blindly.
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Posted: Dec 14th 2008 12:03AM (Unverified) said

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Maybe most, if not many of these games are RMT. Guild Wars has its character slots (which are a mandatory purchase if you want a character of every class, and a free one for PvP character). It also has the "hero" mechanic - if you want to build an almost full party of AI henchmen with good builds (and builds = power) then you have to buy multiple copies of the game. If you want to play solo with a full(ish) party in the Factions elite areas - that's 4 extra games to buy.

World of Warcraft has (had?) that +600% (and more) experience RMT for buying another copy of the game, maintainable with paying a second subscription. The Wowinsider posters who're opposed to RMT that gives an advantage don't grasp the wall of pretense?

RMT is the future of this industry. The subscription model is ludicrous and needs to die.

Posted: Dec 13th 2008 8:20PM Purkit said

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I simply don't trust the money men to be honest or fair to the players. Lets face it, they don't have a very good track record.

However, its not the money I care about. Its the communities on free2play games I dread. I've only had universally bad experiences with free2play games.

Imagine if you will that your local cinema started showing movies for free. OK the movies are free, that's cool, we like that. However, now the cinema is full of people that just came in because its free, not because they are really interested in the movie. They talk, throw popcorn and kick the back of your seat. Its free, but the experience is worse.

Some of us would prefer to pay more to get a quality experience. My preference would be to have both business models. Servers where you have a monthly sub and everything is free. And free servers where you pay for most things, but you don't have to pay for anything if you don't want to.

Posted: Dec 14th 2008 1:39PM (Unverified) said

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You wrote:

So what about additional content such as weapons, armor and new in-game features? It's pretty straight-foward, actually. Allowing players to buy better equipment is beyond a slippery slope -- it's the bottom where all the slime and gunk bubbles. Most companies will either steer clear of this, or learn the hard way that players don't appreciate it.


Wow. Open your eyes.

Considering that most players in the world's largest market for MMOs (Asia) play games with microtransactions, I think it's fairly obvious that you're engaging in nothing more than a cultural bias when you paint selling functional items as "the bottom where all the slime and gunk bubbles."

Imagine if someone said that eating rice with every meal puts you at "the bottom where all the slime and gunk bubbles," apparently ignoring the fact that you've just effectively insulted the preferences of entire nations of people.

Posted: Dec 14th 2008 1:39PM (Unverified) said

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Purkit wrote:

Some of us would prefer to pay more to get a quality experience. My preference would be to have both business models. Servers where you have a monthly sub and everything is free. And free servers where you pay for most things, but you don't have to pay for anything if you don't want to.


Check out Puzzle Pirates. They have both subscription servers and free-to-play servers. Guess where most of their players are and where most of their income comes from? The free-to-play servers. Given a choice, it's what most consumers will opt for.

You also wrote:

Imagine if you will that your local cinema started showing movies for free. OK the movies are free, that's cool, we like that. However, now the cinema is full of people that just came in because its free, not because they are really interested in the movie. They talk, throw popcorn and kick the back of your seat. Its free, but the experience is worse.

Literally all of the MMOs with the best communities I've ever seen are free-to-play. There's barely a community at all in big subscription games like WoW compared to the incredibly intricate communities in the best free-to-play text MUDs/MMOs. Of course, the MMOs with the worst (from my point of view at least) communities I've seen are also free-to-play (Runescape comes to mind). I'd suggest that free-to-play itself has very little to do with the "quality" of the community and more to do with the demographic the game attracts.

Posted: Dec 14th 2008 6:40PM J Brad Hicks said

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Gabe and Tycho put this best, I can't find the link. If you accept micro-transactions for core mechanics, then there's no reason why someone couldn't design an MMO that comes with a credit card reader that sits next to your PC, and every time you swipe your credit card through the slot (charging however many cents), your character swings his sword. Battles get won by whoever is willing to spend the most money the fastest.

If victory in an MMO is sold to the highest bidder, why would anybody who wasn't rich volunteer to play, just to constantly get beaten and dominated by rich people all evening? We already have that in the real world, and at least there we get paid for it.

Posted: Dec 15th 2008 8:48AM (Unverified) said

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Spot on Kyle! RMT's and Microtransactions are obviously a polarizing subject, but are certainly going to be on the radar for quite some time to come.

Paid character customizations? Sure, why not? Microtransactions run into the sticking point when it comes to the 'pay-to-pwn' factor, with reasonable backlash. I like the idea of power leveling for veterans, but isn't there something a bit lost on the 'new to the game' player that can simply blaze through lvls 1-60?

An alternate theory I've recently heard: offer alternate server farms - one for those that want to pay a monthly subscription, and one for those that want to play via microtransactions. It might just be the golden egg that can please both camps. However, the overhead for the publisher might not be worth it, but customer satisfaction IS something that should be paramount on any developer/publisher's list.

Posted: Dec 15th 2008 10:09AM Saylah said

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@Dan - what is victory in an MMO? People are assuming that what you consider victory is what the next person considers victory. We have all types of players in MMOs with different goals and objectives. People need to stop assuming that they know why others are playing and what they value (consider victory in an MMO experience). You can only speak for yourself in that regard.

Simple examples:

If all you want to really do in WOW is Arena PVP then the leveling and grinding up to end game is pointless to you and not valued. That type of person might like to buy a pre-made character near max level like unlocking a Death Knight.

If all you want to do is explore and solo the content in the game then grinding your way to decent gear and trinkets is a side activity that you might not value. You might find it more enjoyable to buy a decent set of armor every few levels and go about actually playing the content.

You do the all around experience in a game - PVP some, PVE some and raid. Perhaps you have just enough time for that but man it would be easier to have the epic flying mount so you're not lagging behind friends when you're traveling to content. In fact, you might prefer to buy that epic mount that senselessly grind 10K gold for it. You place a higher value on your limited real world time than paying 15 bucks on month to come online and do chores (WOW daily quests).

To claim that RMT takes away victory is to assume everyone is playing for the same reasons and that is not the case. And as for RMT communities being bad, lets talk WOW community - in-game and forum without heavy RMT and judge behavior of communities.

Posted: Dec 15th 2008 10:09AM Saylah said

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oops comment was for Dan but for Brad.

Posted: Dec 17th 2008 7:47PM Purkit said

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Matt Mihaly:

"Literally all of the MMOs with the best communities I've ever seen are free-to-play."

I'd love you to list some free2play games with great communities, because I'd love to play a few and I've never found them myself. I'm always willing to be proved wrong. However I would like to dismiss games with very low populations as small communities tend to be better, simply due to their size.

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