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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 7:33AM Brendan Drain said

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Are you sure people were saying the same thing about microtransactions over ten years ago? I don't think the MMO genre as we know it today is old enough for that, ten years ago the genre was seriously in its infancy. The original Everquest and Asheron's Call were released in 1999 and Ultima Online in 1997. Even the earlier successful games like Meridian 59, Neverwinter Nights and The Realm Online were only a few years prior to that. The swathes of MMOs on the market today didn't really start to pop up until around 2001 with the proliferation of home broadband and it wasn't until a few years ago that the market began to really boom and hit mainstream gamers.

Ten years ago the subscription model was emerging as the most profitable and successful business model. At that time the MMO scene was tiny and I don't think anyone was even talking about microtransactions. Today the microtransactions model isn't just an alternative to the subscription model, it's a proven and successful strategy that is becoming more common in the general market. There are literally hundreds of free MMOs out there using a freemium or microtransaction-based business model but the surprising thing is that not all of them are crap. With the financial success of games like Maple Story using that method (which incidentally is the second highest grossing MMO on the market worldwide, right after World of Warcraft), investors are starting to give development studios the go-ahead for alternative business models on high-cost ventures.

A prime example of a recent full-budget MMO using a non-subscription approach would be Runes of Magic. Established companies in the MMO field like SOE, NCSoft and Cryptic are even dipping their hands in that end of the market with Free Realms, Guild Wars, Champions Online and the upcoming Star Trek Online game. Saying that microtransactions as a business model is gaining a lot of momentum and acceptance isn't a prophecy, it's a factual trend that can be backed up with hard evidence.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 7:22AM (Unverified) said

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Micro's dont bother me so long as the devs are not already charging a sub for the game.

Sorry, but we pay a sub to get access to content, that means ALL content. Charging us AGAIN for "extra" content is ripping us off.

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 8:32AM (Unverified) said

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The problem here is mmporgs now take a long time to develop. Alas the games industry is now big buisness and because of this accountabilty is becoming more and more apparant so now its profit profit profit. It is no longer gamers who like love gaming who makes great games. Its accountants, shareholders looking for the next big short term profit steering the ship.

So mircotransactions are hear to stay. For social items maybe even transport/mounts i have no problem but as soon as a game requires me to buy a new sword with some uba stat then its the day i leave the game.

The only way its going to end is if us the players dont buy the shit.

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 9:26AM Temploiter said

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It's growing more and more common because of greed. Sites like MMORPG.com began succumbing to the allure of the ad dollars proffered by these online hucksters selling worthless items in largely worthless games. Then YOU massively fell in as well. I remember the HUGE thread of comments expressing largely outrage when you first started discussing becoming a shill site for item mall lobby games. Fine fine, you need to make money, and your other coverage is still ok, but you DO take press releases from foriegn cash-based games and post them as 'news'.

It's a shame this business model is given legitimacy by sites too far in bed with the industry, instead of the community.

And I will say this in defense of Massively, after that screed, you at least still aren't as bad as MMORPG.

Posted: Sep 13th 2009 1:17AM Seraphina Brennan said

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Let me set your facts straight here, Temploiter. You're putting words in the mouth of the staff which are seriously untrue.

We don't "get kickbacks" for covering any specific game. Companies don't drop dollars in our hat to get their game's information on our website. If they want to advertise with us, as EVE Online and Champions does, they speak with our advertisting department -- a completely separate entity that deals with advertising for ALL Weblogs Inc. blogs. There is no "Massively.com" marketing section. There is Weblogs, and that's who they talk to. If you want to buy an ad on Autoblog, Joystiq, or Massively, you go to the same group. Frankly, I have absolutely no clue who's advertising here on our site at any given time. It's simply not my job.

My job is to find and cover news on massively multiplayer games. To your dismay, sometimes that includes F2P item mall titles. When we find something interesting or noteworthy, we write up a post and talk about it. If we find it really interesting, it gets strung into a longer piece. And if I hate it, then it gets strung right into Anti-Aliased (my opinion column) and I let people know my true feelings. If someone deserves the shotgun treatment, I'm not going to hold back. But for simple news posts, my feelings are irrelevant. I've posted news about games I've disliked, but I did it because it was news and it was worth the mention to the greater community. You and I may not have liked it, but I'm sure some of our readers did find it interesting. That's why we post it.

And, to be quite clear, we take press releases from many, many, many companies. That's how news gets spread around sometimes. Your favorite game has probably sent us a press release, and we've written them up for you.

So let me make this clear -- there are no "outside funds" coming into this site outside of our company's advertising which is not controlled by us. That is simply false.
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Posted: Sep 15th 2009 12:20PM Temploiter said

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I didn't say you got paid to glowingly review item mall games by outside money. And if ad revenue has zero influence on your content then great, though I am skeptical. The question then is why support a business model that doesn't charge for a service but instead charges for egoods that by license agreement the buyer doesn't actually own in a virtual environment set up to periodically make those items null thereby requiring more purchases. It's nothing short of ecrack and a site that is pro mmo community shouldn't be pushing it or enabling it.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 10:10AM (Unverified) said

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@Shogun

I respect what you're saying, but all that money is spent within the context of the games rules. Sure you can cherry pick what players and the best coaches, but you still got to turn up on the day with a level playing field Most big league sports for the good of the game cap spending on players in various ways for the over all long term good of the game. But I guess there will never be an MMO league to stop the short termers jumping in :)

And sure it will be the future, lots of these games currently being released don't stand a hope in hell with the subs model. I doubt the market could support them all anyway. You know most players don't want this to put it mildly but then we need some other way to let people keep churning out the crap huh, no one wants to change the way they work. Doesn't mean you have to condem them ALL to f2p death do you :)).

In exchange for p*****ng off your core customers it'll keep people in jobs for a while and I guess that's what counts, we all have to make a living ;) Shame it's spoiling the very product that's meant to pay the bills. Some metaphor about laying golden eggs goes here.

The games 'industry' has always been a weird one - I never went down that road buy I went to school with people who did. The worst pay, the worst conditions, the kind of good planning that puts manufacturing to shame in it's sheer lunacy. The once well known software house that once spent money on developing a game based on... a well known sixities band, only to discover that it costs a hell of a lot to use bands IP is a good example Who would of ever thought that hey :)

It's a shame as an industry it will never get chance to grow up though, even though it has it's share of grown up players. Kind of sad but there's other hobbies I guess. It's just the blatant ... well.. Kdolo expressed it badly but very honestly there up there :) Those guys are the people who want to play an honest game for a fair fee. Is that so bad ? :)

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 10:11AM Tom in VA said

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Just once I'd like to see a quality MT-based game.

DDO:U comes close, but it could be done even better.

Most F2P in-game stores look like cheesy money grabs, where too many of the "wares" offered for sale ought to be available only in-game.

If Tabula Rasa, for example, had been offered as an MT-based game with, say:

--Adventure Packs (quest/instance/region/mission sets [basically "mini-expansions"]),
--Neat vehicles, cosmetic items, and/or jetpacks, and/or
--Heroes (customizable AI to help you complete instanced missions)

as MTs, I would have been all over that game. I think TR could have made a profitable go of it even if they had done something as simple as allow MTs to "unlock" different levels: 1-10 (free), 11-20 (some reasonable MT amount), etc.

TR just wasn't worth a subscription fee, but, with a reasonable MT structure, it could have been a successful game.

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 10:57AM (Unverified) said

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I think RMT are cheap. They take the thrill out of earning the weapons/armor, etc out of the game. It makes it cheap and pointless to actually play.

You should earn your items and not buy them. If you don't have time to earn them you shouldn't be playing MMOs. Play a quick SP game.

RPGs have always been about the experience and earning cool items and going on epic quests. Paying for shortcuts just makes it less and less epic and fun.

I get great feelings from going through a little bit of hell to get an epic sword! To me its worth every minute. Because I love a good challenge. One of the great aspects of a good RPG is a good challenge. Take that challenge out and its just sims with a fantasy skin.

I think it should be good time for the death of the RMT!

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 4:08PM Dblade said

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I used to think that, but what I found out is that you enjoy the game a lot more when you aren't forced to earn your items, and can just play.

A lot of "earning" items is simply grinding dull, repetitive tasks over and over again, either for gold to buy something, or for a low percentage item to drop. You have to do a tremendous amount of dull content, and it really has turned off players. Note how many people refuse to do endgame in an MMO for one example.

However, with microtransactions people can eliminate the aspects of an MMO they find dull, and concentrate on what they find fun. Want to level up to do raids with buddies? Buy the 2x exp potion a couple times. Want to solo harder content? Buy a good pet that works with your playing style.

It makes it hard to go back, because the whole earning concept is so resoundingly stupid when you don't have it. I spent probably 4 months of playtime camping one rare item in FFXI, and I have seen people spend eight hour shifts and more doing the same. Its not worth the tremendous time loss and tedium, and even in sub games you see people trying to avoid it by mercing out time consuming duties to mercenary guilds.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 9:37PM (Unverified) said

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All they would have to do dblade is make the gameplay less grinding and more adventuring and actual quests, not errands like WoW and so many others. RS actually has the best quests I've seen. They are deep and challenging and vary from so many different things! And it don't totally walk your hand throught it like WoW does.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 11:52AM (Unverified) said

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@ Carl Curtis
This is the point exactly. You pay a sub, and everything that is available in game should be available to the player.

The WoW Macrotransactions are not the same. I don't defend Blizzard in this because I love WoW. In fact, I dont. I defend these types of Macrotransactions because they give you nothing in the way of content that another player wouldn't have already. They offer you nothing new cosmetically, only the ability to fundamentally alter something, in most cases only available during character creation. The fact that Blizzard makes a buck on these things I think is secondary, and perhaps no less sleezy than any other company wanting to make a buck beyond the sub fee, but at least these purchases have cooldown times, and their costs are prohibitive enough that people will think twice about purchasing them, and offer nothing in the way of content other players wouldn't have access to without paying.

Where does it end? In Cryptic's model, you might have to pay for an expansion, but then pay extra for access to certain zones that they create in patches. What's to stop this? The justification is already there and Massively along with others who accept this model validate it.

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 1:55PM (Unverified) said

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"I defend these types of Macrotransactions because they give you nothing in the way of content that another player wouldn't have already."

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. There are a number of things in WoW that you can ONLY get if you spend money outside of the game. Namely, the items that you can get from the loot cards in the TCG. It's not a direct purchase from an item mall, but you have to spend money out of the your normal subscription to get it and there is no way to earn those items in game.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 2:44PM GryphonStalker said

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"I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. There are a number of things in WoW that you can ONLY get if you spend money outside of the game. Namely, the items that you can get from the loot cards in the TCG. It's not a direct purchase from an item mall, but you have to spend money out of the your normal subscription to get it and there is no way to earn those items in game."

Yes, but those add no form of advancement to your character which is the point. You may *want* a "Spectral Tiger Mount" but you don't need one because there are still several dozen of mounts of varying degree of difficultly and uniqueness available that you don't have to pay a dime for beyond the subscription fee. TCG "loot" items are 100% fluff.
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Posted: Sep 14th 2009 6:28PM CyberNigma said

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Gryphone,


which is exactly what Cryptic is doing - and I have no problem with - in Champions Online. Everything is fluff.

I think you're in the wrong discussion though. The person you're replying at never said loot cards weren't fluff. The person he was replying at stated that in a subscription game he believes everything should be free or had in-game. The loot cards provide fluff items that couldn't be had in the past just by in-game play. He never says they aren't fluff.

Original poster seems to not even want fluff items as micro-transactions in subscription games (WoW TCG Loot Cards and Champions Online come to mind).

The follow-up poster points out that WoW has micro-transaction items (which as we know are just fluff items) in the form of loot cards.

You reply to the follow-up somehow arguing that the WoW items are ok since they are just fluff items - which doesn't seem to be related to the reason he replied. He's not justifying them or saying they are not fluff items, he's merely pointing out to the original person that WoW does indeed have items (fluff or not) that couldn't be had by in-game player previously..

Even the reply is a bit off-base because the original poster was talking about macrotransactions and not microtransactions such as loot cards (if you call them that).. However, the discussion was never about advancement via microtransactions it was always about content/cosmetics via microtransactions. The loot cards definitely provide cosmetic items that can't be had in-game (something the original poster did not believe should exist in these games).

"This is the point exactly. You pay a sub, and everything that is available in game should be available to the player.

The WoW Macrotransactions are not the same. I don't defend Blizzard in this because I love WoW. In fact, I dont. I defend these types of Macrotransactions because they give you nothing in the way of content that another player wouldn't have already. They offer you nothing new cosmetically, only the ability to fundamentally alter something, in most cases only available during character creation."
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Posted: Sep 15th 2009 10:40AM (Unverified) said

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Cybernigma,

TCG items are the same as collector's edition items, convention items and any other one-time thing. They are rewards for doing something beyond the game's structure. Rewards are additional items that show you did something out of game, like bought a crapload of cards, attended BlizzCon, bought the collector's edition.

Again, there might be a sleezy line drawn in the muck, but again, these things are NOT part of the game design proper. Also, for all the bluster about how much people couldn't stand how awful WoW is and for all these reasons, a lot of you people sure as shit like to justify Cryptic's sleazy behavior with non sequitur correlations.
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Posted: Sep 12th 2009 12:43PM markt50 said

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Well, it would be a shame if everything does go 'Microtransaction' because I refuse to play anything that uses them. For the record it is 'ingame' Microtransactions that bug me. I couldn't care less if a company charges for server moves, character renames and any other out of game stuff.

However, the second they start charging for ingame items thats when I leave. I was a SOE station access subscriber for years and the day they brought ingame items to EQ2 I cancelled and never went back, what angers me most is that the 'Western' companies seem to have latched onto this 'Asian' finance model, except instead of making the games F2P with item stores we are seeing the beginings of people being expected to pay for Box+SUB+MT's. The companies are getting to greedy.

Me, I'd rather pay a wacking great monthly fee and never fear about the issue of ingame Microtransactions, because they cause the gameplay to suffer, as devs are pressured to modify the gameplay to encourage more and more purchase of ingame items. Think about it, if a company puts XP pots on their item store, it must be so tempting to decrease ingame XP if they think it might give them a 5% increase in XP pot sales, and before you know it the future game development is being driven by the gits in finance based on Excel spreadsheets, rather than what is just fun gameplay.

It is very sad to see the MMO industry going down this route, very sad indeed :( Microtransactions are Evil, Despicable, Greedy and quite possible an invention of Al Queda and the Taliban. So there you have it folks, don't support Microtransaction or you're supporting Terrorists ;)

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 2:50PM GryphonStalker said

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I have no issue with the Microtransaction model that only has cosmetic, convenience, vanity and fluffy items for sale. Once you have to start paying money to advance your character, that tends to rub me the wrong way.
I much rather pay a subscription then have to pull my credit card every time I hit a virtual brick "wall".

Posted: Sep 12th 2009 4:00PM Daelda said

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I also don't mind Microtransactions for items that are strictly cosmetic, vanity, fluff, or account-convenience (such as additional character slots or changing a character name). I do not agree with it being used for items that have in-game play application - such as purchasing an "uber sword" or "free level up". If you have the money and want that "Ghost Pony of Sparkly Feathers" - great! As long as I can get an equally capable mount - even if it is "Frodo the Wonder Pig". Sure, "Frodo may not look as cool, and I may want to wait for everyone else to leave before I mount up - but cosmetics and ego aside, as long as our mounts are fundamentally the same, I have no problem with it.

Posted: Sep 13th 2009 12:58AM (Unverified) said

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Simple question. Is it a game designed to be fun for the end user? or is it a shell of a game designed to make money?

RMT may be here to stay, in the same way britney spears type "music" is here to stay. Sure lots of people might buy her albums, but anybody that has any clue or cares about music isn't. Same is true for MMO's, RMT is basically a pretty looking scam with ads all over the net featuring "boobs". Any gamer that has a clue isn't seriously looking at any "f2p" game.

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