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Reader Comments (210)

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:37PM yojibalinese said

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Very very good point.

^__^ I've got a lifer to STO (though I can't see myself ever picking that game up again) and I was going to resub to WoW in May when my semester ends...and then I saw this horse and that there were only 75% of stock left by the time I hit the button...

No choice. I resubbed. And then I did some dailies.

I don't actually care about microtransactions one way or another. Heck, if WoW told me I could have housing for 100 bucks, I'd do it. If I like a game enough, I'll spend the money.

PLUS: Wow does not nickle and dime you. They give you all races, all classes, all levels, all content access, all armor, all weapons... They let you respec whenever... You don't have to pay 280 points for this, 500 points for that...etc etc.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:45PM Deadalon said

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You sir - must feel like the biggest moron in the world

Buy lifetime sub for STO
Buy the WOW month because it looks it running out of stock.... And then ofc... have to buy the sub !!

You are exactly the reason why this genre is going to hell :P
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:43PM dudes said

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At least they didn't charge for the mohawk grenades.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:46PM Deadalon said

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Dont give them ideas !!
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:47PM (Unverified) said

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I think it is probably bad news for consumers. The price of goods is set by what consumers are willing to pay. This shows that consumers are willing to pay $25 for a piece of fluff that is normally given out in patches for the cost of a subscription (provided you do the quest/instance/whatever in game to obtain it). Or, put another way, pay $25 for something that normally is a very, very small piece of a game that, in its entirety, would cost $50 if it were new and single-player. Or $25 for something that probably took a single employee less than a day to create, but can be duplicated an infinite number of times.

So in four hours Activision-Blizzard made the same amount of money it would make in a month from 142,857 or so subscriptions or by selling 40,000 copies of an entire game that cost $50. I just read yesterday that the projected sales for demon's souls in the US before it was released were 75,000 copies. The developers released it in the US because they thought 75k copies would provide an acceptable profit. This horse resulted in an income of over half that amount, required a much smaller development team and fewer resources, and the returns were almost all profit - and these sales figures are from only four hours. Who knows how many will sell before it's no longer being sold? What happens when it's much more profitable to a business to release a piece of fluff in an existing game for $25 than to make a new game?

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:58PM (Unverified) said

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Exactly.

I only wish you hadn't nailed the truth so completely. Because of all the lemmings lining up to pay for this thing, mmo's just took another step away from virtual worlds and towards disposable, recycled entertainment for dummies.

It's so depressing how this genre started out with so much promise and has devolved so completely into the internet equivalent of reality television.

Ah well, on to the next visionary nerd pasttime while it lasts.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:50PM zomd said

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"THe mount affects the gameplay - You will not have to buy ingame mounts at all and you will safe yourself ingame gold.

So ye...I do not see the diffrence betweein the mount I buy in Runes of Magic (note I can also lease one for ingame gold) and this new WOW mount. The only diffrence is maybe that I only have to pay 10 USD for the one in ROM. And I can actually play it whenever I want - WITHOUT paying extra money in sub !"

I don't know why I can't reply directly to you (I see no reply button), but let me respond to this by first saying, I totally agree that WoW is shamefully double dipping and that buying virtual goods that have no value outside of a subscription service to maintain them is not only stupid but marginally unethical on the part of Blizzard... however...

What you're not understanding is that it's about incentive structure of using a grind or a considerable inconvenience to push people into your microtransactioned store. As I understand it, this does not cover the cost of training your character to ride mounts in WoW. Awhile ago WoW reversed the cost structure on this to increase people buying multiple mounts using ingame currency. The cost structure of a mount initially was something like 90% the mount, 10% for training. It's been awhile, but those numbers are in the ballpark.

Now, most of your money is spent in paying for training, not mounts themselves. So you are correct that there is an effect on gameplay, but the question is do game mechanics create an overwhelming incentive structure that pushes people into buying price gouged items in a virtual store?

Knowing what I know of WoW's current gameplay mechanics, that answer is mostly no. When Cryptic launched its respecs in the Champion's Online store, it was very expensive (several hundred globals) for a full respec and selling items to vendors for in game money was difficult because items pretty rarely dropped. Farming a respec was an insane proposition. Since then, Cryptic has addressed this issue somewhat by dramatically increasing item drop rates and giving out a free respec at level 40.

In order to understand the incentive structure and the effects of microtransactions on games, you have to go beyond just looking at price and how they interact with the game play.

Just look at how respecs are priced in WoW. If WoW came out and said all respecs at level 80 now cost 10000 gold, but you can buy a respec for 10 or 25 dollars, I think you would see similar cries of foul play (and justified at that).

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:08PM Deadalon said

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WOW will continue to push the envelope - just like every other F2P game is doing. How long is it since they changed the prices so that the mounts are cheap and the training costs so much ? One year ? They have a long term plan and that plan is built on milking as much money as possible.

Incentive structure is not only in F2P games. Sub games are in many ways doing more of it. And WOW is now pushing it even further.

Grinding on the other hand. Thats part of every MMO game. Hey - even WOW took it one step further by adding daily quests ! Personally I find it more intresting to gear up for 1 hour hunting trip into the deepest and darkest caves I can find and grind a special item that MIGHT drop. Thats the Asian style of grinding.
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Posted: Apr 20th 2010 5:02PM (Unverified) said

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"How long is it since they changed the prices so that the mounts are cheap and the training costs so much ? One year ?"

Actually, that change occurred in patch 1.12, nearly four years ago (September 2006) and before either the Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King expansions.

But don't let that stop your fear-mongering.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:47PM Crabtree said

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"So, let's recap. 20 dollar backpack expansion from Allods Online: Bad. 10 dollar respec in Champions Online: Terribly bad. 25 dollar mount in World of Warcraft: OMGEPICMUSTBUYT3HPRETTY!!!!!1@2."

I'm having a difficult time not spewing some nerd-rage "WTF YOU ARE A MORON" nonsense having read this article, or more specifically the quote I've included above.

You are comparing an account-wide, permanent, cosmetic mount that can be seen and shared with others (as in others can see it as a part of your character) to a backpack (an arguably necessary upgrade for any serious MMO player) and a limited use respec (a service that most MMO players consider a necessary standard). And you don't understand why players complain about the backpack and the respec as opposed to the mount?

If I'm not making myself clear, imagine how ridiculous it would seem if WoW added a 25 slot backpack to the Blizzard Store for $20, or required that character respecs cost $10. Think that might cause more of an upset? I think so.

Alternatively, imagine if Allod's sold a $20 account wide backpack upgrade that doubled the amount of inventory space for any character ever created on the account. Or what if Champions sold a permanent respc token for $10? How would players feel differently then?

The bottome line is, for a one-time fee of $25, any character ever created on your WoW account gets a cool looking mount that others can see (as opposed to being just a backpack upgrade or something less obvious to other players). And you wonder why people don't mind paying for it compared to other games' products?

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:51PM Gaugamela said

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Seraphina, there's a small difference between an item sold in a cash shop that costs 25$ dollars but is available to all characters in the same account regardless of riding skill and a 6 slot bag expansion that costs 20 dollars PER CHARACTER and whose sole alternative is a mind numbing grind.

But i agree that charging 25$ for a mount in a game that already has a subscription model attached to it is just plain stupid and a rip-off. It's a shame that Blizzard fanboys don't notice that.

I can only think of a comparable type of fanboys that will buy whatever a company will toss at them regardless of being decently priced or not: Apple fanboys that buy overpriced products to be subsequently nickled and dimed in the App store because they don't have access to Flash in the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad or need to spend money to get a battery charger that connects to the electricity instead of USB ports and other stuff like that.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:52PM Duulin said

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One big difference is how Blizzard is approaching these problems compared to other companies. In one of the collectors edition DVD's they explained how they handle community reactions with an example of the rest XP they grant for players who don't log in frequently. They basically had the problem that they wanted to deter long hours of play but knew that if XP generation was penalized after long hours of play the community would be in an uproar. Instead they they introduced rested XP which is the exact same thing, just worded differently! Who doesn't love rested XP?

Blizzard approached adding advertising to their website in a similar manner. They added adds and said the adds would only be for World of Warcraft related merchandise so that the community wouldn't be in an uproar. A few months later once everyone is used to the adds they now advertise for other companies.

The item store was approached in the same way. They introduced an item and said a portion of the proceeds would go to charity. The community accepted this and looked the other way. A few months later, a sparkly horse for $25 appears. If the horse was introduced initially without the charity item, the backlash would have been far worse and they know this.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:06PM zomd said

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And that's why whenever I hear these stories about the "success" of these models, it makes me kind of sad. MMOs are changing and not into the kind of games I'll want to continue playing. :(

Paying for hairstyles is next, then potions, and eventually gear.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:52PM dudes said

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No thanks, Ghostcrawler PROMISED me a pony.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:39PM Seraphina Brennan said

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He also promised you a moose. ^_^ We should get moose.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:55PM (Unverified) said

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Just to recap the important points on this thread:

It's not a double standard if the people who want the mount are not the same people who hate P2P + MT games.

The mount doesn't appear to offer ANY gameplay advantage. I find it doubtful that any of the players buying this mount do not already have a flying mount, and even if they did, they don't get 310% movement unless they 'earned' a 310% mount through something else.

WoW is actually a good game. After offering 7 years of enjoyable content and frequent, timely updates, they added a cash shop. Who cares? What you should care is that, thus far, no other MMO company has yet to usurp a game with 7 year graphics that is widely disliked by even its own players because they're just sick of playing the same thing month after month.

Compare this to games like Allods, which makes the cash shop basically required to play, or Aion, which delivers substandard content despite requiring a subscription, and it's clear no double standard exists.

-SirNiko

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 1:55PM Marz said

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Deadalon said on 1:45PM 4-16-2010
You sir - must feel like the biggest moron in the world

Buy lifetime sub for STO
Buy the WOW month because it looks it running out of stock.... And then ofc... have to buy the sub !!

You are exactly the reason why this genre is going to hell :P
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Yes, the last thing this Genre needs is dedicated players who love the content and are willing to spend money. How will MMO's survive?

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:05PM Deadalon said

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WOW will continue to push the envelope - just like every other F2P game is doing. How long is it since they changed the prices so that the mounts are cheap and the training costs so much ? They have a long term plan and that plan is built on milking as much money as possible.

Incentive structure is not only in F2P games. Sub games are in many ways doing more of it. And WOW is now pushing it even further.

Grinding on the other hand. Thats part of every MMO game. Hey - even WOW took it one step further by adding daily quests ! Personally I find it more intresting to gear up for 1 hour hunting trip into the deepest and darkest caves I can find and grind a special item that MIGHT drop. Thats the Asian style of grinding. And not only in F2P games
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:00PM (Unverified) said

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What is even worse is that the model to sell a pixel pony made of thin air for massive amounts of money works.

In future more companies will keep the best stuff "optional" and sell it in ye olde item store.

And yeah, Blizzard makes Cryptic's shop look super fair and like a charity while they wait in line to throw oodles of money for vanity in Blizzard's pocket.

Cataclysm might go even further... apparently Blizzard has reached the stage where they are so big that they can't do no wrong...

Oh well, less stuff in game, but for sure more to buy for more and more money... what a wonderful future!

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:02PM (Unverified) said

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Seraphina, I think you're overreacting here and you seem to have missed the point entirely. You're comparing the sale of this horse mount, which is entirely a vanity/luxury item, to examples of microtransactions for what many consider required or 'industry standard' portions of the game.

Look at the respecs from Cryptic. There is no other way in their games (in STO at least) to respec a character other than by purchasing a respec from their store. How many times have you respecced in WoW for free? In any other modern MMO? Most consumers consider this an integral part of the game, an industry standard inclusion for MMO's. Why play a game that makes you pay extra when you screw up your spec?

The bag upgrade in Allods is similar, though slightly more understandable. Upgrading your bag space is considered by many to be an industry standard in MMO's. However, seeing as the game itself was free to use and still gives you a bag at all, this argument loses weight. Either way, its not an apples to apples comparison to this horse.

The horse mount in WoW just can't be compared to these examples. Mounts of many shapes and sizes are available to all in the game without real money transactions (as they should be, mounts are another industry standard). This mount, in particular, is only visually different than other mounts available for free. You don't need to buy this item in order to get a game with all the industry standards already in it.

Think of it as a car analogy: You buy a car from one company, and they offer it in seven standard colors. However, they offer three additionally "premium" colors for an additional charge. Most people wouldn't see anything wrong with this, and many would gladly pay extra for the shiny colors. Think of the uproar if another company sold a similar car for the same price, but charged extra for it to come painted at all!

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