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Reader Comments (210)

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:03PM dudes said

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The future:

"Deathwing's Herald Dragon Mount - $50 from the Blizzard Store

Straight from the bowels of elemental hell, this furious lava-spitting mount can travel at 500% flying speed and may enter or leave the emerald nightmare with a swish of its barbed flaming tail. Once a key code is purchased, the herald dragon mount automatically applies to all present and future characters regardless of level or riding skill per licensed account. Please note this will be the only way for non-druid players to enter the emerald nightmare."

Shop queue server melts down overnight.

Somewhere else, an orphan in Ethiopia dies from starvation and never knows who Deathwing is.

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

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I play Allods, a free-to-play cash shop game and have purchased items to support the game.

So at first I was a bit perturbed at how anyone can accept a subscription game charging for things in a cash shop but I think that Blizzard may very well get a pass on this one.

The reason: WoW is a behemoth. People don't mind throwing $25 at something that ALL of their friends are going to see and that they envision spending the next few years playing with. This isn't just a game to some folks. This is a social and long-term commitment.

I have to admit that when I purchased a bag in Allods I wondered whether I'd be playing the game a year from now. I don't think folks wonder the same thing with WoW.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:10PM (Unverified) said

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Seraphina - 100% /agree

I don't know what the code is for MT's but Blizzard seems to have cracked it. I would never pay that amount of money for something like this. But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm missing out on something because I didn't buy it.

Well played Blizzard. They must have done a study of Barren's and Trade chat and said "you know, I bet these morons will drop ridiculous amounts of money on something if we make it pretty enough."

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

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I already tried to explain to several people yesterday why there's something wrong with WoW's microtransaction/cash shop method.

It was like spitting into a hurricane.

So they can all enjoy their continually escalating prices in the long-term because no one will stop and think a few minutes about how much worse it's going to be later on.

I did quit WoW months ago. I'm not going back now. The game turns people into blind, mouth-foaming, addicted assholes.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:12PM dudes said

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Good for you. No really, no sarcasm or anything. Getting free of WoW is something to be cheered and congratulated, not every player can quit totally. There are therapeutic courses for failed addicts.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:14PM Deadalon said

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I was thinking of buying CATA. But I desided enough is enough. And Im not just saying that here. I will rather play a F2P game where I will have UNLIMITED access to items that are bought with real money.

PPL are not BUYING a mount in WOW - they are leashing it with in advance payment of 25 USD. Then you will have to pay 15 USD every month to actually use it... and then ofc Blizzard will add more and more to it so you will feel you are loosing more and more ITEMS that cost REAL MONEY when you stop subing.
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Posted: Apr 20th 2010 5:38PM (Unverified) said

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The same impetus exists in F2P games with item purchases. You've bought the item, and now you're compelled to keep playing the game in order to make use of it. The main difference is instead of a subscription, the F2P game tries to get you to buy *even more items* as that's their entire income.

It's not like the F2P game is guaranteed to exist forever anymore than the paid MMO, and in fact is likely to have a much shorter lifespan. Either way you're paying money for something that you'll possess for a limited time, and everything you accomplish in either game will eventually disappear off the face of the planet. This should not be surprising.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:12PM (Unverified) said

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OMG I Lol'd so hard when I read this because EVERYTHING you say is absolutely true! I've been a die hard WoW fan for years and when I saw this mount come out my first thought was "I wonder how I could justify this purchase to my girlfriend"... then it was that I realized that it's ridiculously overpriced and totally unnecessary... and that I have stopped playing other F2P MMO's because of this same sort of shenanigans.... and that odds are that when I can, I will still buy one.
I'm not going to flay Blizzard for essentially playing a gambit and having it pay off. I guarantee you they knew that they were running a risk running this sort of scam, however, their data I'm sure showed that if their players were willing to pay for in game pets, they would be literally tripping over themselves to pay for a mount (even I purchased a pandaren monk).
Now, here's how I believe the psychology of the situation plays out. When you receive a good/service for free, you develop a belief that you ought to receive ALL or MOST benefits for free as well... or at a very reduced price. This, in turn lowers the value of said good/service to you, and so when it turns out you have to fork over a considerable ammount of cash to gain further benefit then it triggers your "unfair" button since your belief of "it should all be free or super cheap" has been challenged. On the other hand, if you have been paying a certain amount for a good or service and in essence you have been renting it, the value of it builds up in your mind. You have to justify to yourself the expenditure, and the easiest way to do so is simply by deciding it's worth it. The belief this creates is that it is perfectly acceptable to pay up to a certain ammount in order to gain some further benefits (i.e., membership costs), and this ammount actually increases the more popular the good or service is. So in the mind of us drooling WoW players, 25 bucks is more than acceptable considering how much in game time we spent getting our other mounts, how much time and actual money we've spent on the game over the years, and simply how cool it looks... and how many of our guildies are doing it. In the great WoW scheme of things, 25 bucks is downright reasonable... maybe even cheap.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:22PM Deadalon said

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You sir are falling for it EXACTLY like Blizzard wanted. You have invested alot of time and now you are gonna invest even more money... and then you can not stop subing even if you dont play more than 10 mins per week.

This is what every sub based games are built upon. Make ppl invest so much time (now also money) that they can not stop.

The diffrence when it comes to F2P - is that very often the money SHORTENS the time you need to spend. Alot of those nolifers that are subbing their life away hate that idea... But just like you they are ready to buy any other stuff that makes them look better or whatever. The funny thing that ... F2P games do exactly the same... Take a look in Runes of Magic and buy a costume that you can put over your armor (stats) to make you look awsome. There really is no diffrence.

WoW will probalby add dyes next.
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Posted: Apr 18th 2010 7:34PM (Unverified) said

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The WoW player base are a unique kind.
I don't really understand it. Most of them have never even played another mmo or even see themselves playing another mmo or game.
They are very dedicated to this one game.
Anything that Blizzard makes or publishes is easily justified to purchase by them.

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Posted: Apr 20th 2010 5:55PM (Unverified) said

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Re: Deadalon

First, it's uncharitable to assume that the people you're talking to lack the basic willpower to stop playing something they do not enjoy. There are people who are addicted to games like these, and this is a problem. However, making the assumption that all people dissenting from your opinion are hopelessly enthralled is dishonest.

Second, money as a way to shorten the time you spend in-game is a ridiculous argument. If you are time constrained, it is in almost all cases cheaper to buy a different game. If you aren't, why would you want to reduce your gametime if the game is fun? With a few exceptions, the only logical time one would want to spend money to shorten their time in-game is when the game isn't fun, or when a portion of the game (bypassable through money) isn't fun. In this case, there is no impetus for the developer to improve the game as doing so would probably lower their income, while a subscription service has clear motivation to make players to have the best quality of life possible in order to retain their monthly payments.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:13PM jmerriex said

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Seraphina you have hit the nail right on the head. I do agree with the poster above that part of the issue is that Massively has a wider audience. But still there are people here who have blasted games I work on for this and yet are now saying it is fine for Blizzard to charge $15 a month, PLUS $40 for each expansion, PLUS $50 for the box, PLUS Microtransactions.

That is insane logic. People are saying "well this is a vanity item". But in Sword of the New World that is basically all we sell. We release a new pet or costume every 2-3 weeks and somehow we are evil greedy bastards with a terribad game and when Blizzard does it, they are amazing.

There is a strange and unfair bias against micro-transactions that is completely baseless. I think some people (not all because there are a lot of people here who are 1. seeing what Seraphina is talking about or 2. never in the group complaining about microtransactions) can't see the forest for the trees.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:15PM jmerriex said

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I want to point out that I have nothing against Blizzard. This isn't a Blizzard issue. I saw this come online early yesterday morning and immediately pulled out my wallet and gave them $35 buck (Lil' XT rocks). This is more about a deep seated dislike for microtransactions many players have for no real reason.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 5:21PM zomd said

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Jon,

I personally have less of an issue with F2P games and microtransactions (again, depending on how egregiously exploitive their game mechanics are). But I think you're attacking legitimate concerns about questionable incentive structures in F2P games by claiming people don't like microtransactions for no real reason. You've expressed it yourself that this amounts to double dipping and that alone is a "real reason" to dislike microtransactions without getting into how an effort to maximize profits from microtransactions can undermine quality of life (basically good UI design) and gameplay and rewards.


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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:31PM (Unverified) said

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All the uproar over the Celestial Horse thing seems to be a breakdown of common sense.

If 140,000+ WoW players chose to purchase this optional content, there are exercising their agreement with Blizzard. If former WoW players or players from other games disagree with either the creation and sale of these types of items or the purchase of said items, I suppose this is why they don't subscribe to Blizzard's business model. (See what I did there?)

Should a player choose to purchase WoW, and it's expansions and pay a monthly subscription fee, then that's how they choose to spend their money. If the same player is willing to spend $25 for an optional, cosmetic mount, that's their choice and fits their playstyle. The problem with the genre is that no amount of complaining can fix the core issue: Blizzard has made a better game, continues to provide content (some free via patches, some not) and gives it's player base what it wants; more more more. Blizzard isn't manipulating their players, it is giving them what they want, and doing better than anyone else. If their player base is willing to make them rich in the process, (i.e. paying $25 for a virtual good), well it seems like the model works. Players get what they want, Blizzard gets what it wants.

The rest of the MMO player base can rant and rave all they want (this article), but you have some fundamental choices to make in the process. Here are some potential options:

A. Buy WoW, play WoW and don't buy optional, vanity items
B. Buy WoW, play WoW, buy vanity items
C. Don't buy WoW, don't play WoW

Options A. and B. allow one to be a part of how Blizzard operates, your actions (buying vanity pets or not) affect how the future looks. Supply and Demand, folks, google it.

Option C is where many of the naysayers fit. You don't play WoW, and yet many of you presume to pass judgement on the working relationship between Blizzard and its player base.

If WoW players didn't buy vanity items, Blizzard wouldn't sell them. The pricing issues are dictated by what players show they will pay, but again, that's between Blizzard and its subscribers.

That brings us to the debate over journalism and blogging. Ranting about your dissatisfaction about the proven business model of a major developer is not journalism, it's editorial and it's highly subjective.

It really is sad that no one can 'topple' WoW, but to do that, you have to create better content. Do that, and you'll earn the exalted position of having such a loyal player base that will spend additional money on vanity content. In the meantime, embrace some dignity and don't lament the way things are. If your GoTM (Game of the Month) doesn't fare as well as WoW, don't blame WoW players or Blizzard, blame game developers for not making games people want to play on a long-term basis. Finally, understand that game developers are not in the business of making YOU happy, they want to make money and, therefore, make more games. Buy the games you love, but don't assume that because you love it, it was made for you.

Think you can do better? Seek early-stage investment capital and start making games and pray that you can make games YOU love that other people want to actually play.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:44PM Seraphina Brennan said

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Yes, this is an opinion column. It's marked as an opinion column. It's not journalism, it's an opinion column. I'm well aware of this.

I'm also aware of the relationship between developer and player. What I am not calling out here is the developer -- far from it. Blizzard apparently did a damn good job judging what their players will pay for.

I'm calling out the players who find microtransactions offensive, yet easily subscribe to it when the system somehow benefits them. I'm bringing up the people who will go fire and brimstone against any other game that uses an MT system for whatever reason, but when Blizzard does it (and does it to a crazier degree) it's all sunshine and flowers. It's silly.

The issue here is what the horse represents. The horse represents that Blizzard can do whatever they want and people will love it no matter what. Yet, when another company attempts the exact same thing in almost the exact same way, they are wrong. The only difference between the two is notoriety.

And yes, I realize that writing a column about this won't change anything. But I wrote it anyway because I believe in it.
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:33PM Araxes said

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Your columns are always interesting!

PS - isn't the term 'right-wing liberal' an oxymoron?

As for the topic at hand: SOE introduced micro-transactions over a year ago in EQ2, and I will be the first person to admit that I was, personally, ardently against the practice, at the time. However, in that time I have spent at least $30 on the appearance armor crates and two of the better looking hats. "A rat's got to look gooood when he goes out on biznis, boo!"

I promise you that many people presently against micro-transactions will, once they see the 'bling' put before them, cave in and make at least one or two purchases, if not many more.

We begin to see a mimicry of real life, with the idea that these systems work off of a common principle which has existed a long time, that marketers in pop culture and consumerist culture actively synergize: keeping up with the Joneses. One may, in theory, state that he doesn't really care about that shiny new mount, or how much someone paid to get it, but in actuality, he will drop the cash just to be one of the Joneses.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:45PM Seraphina Brennan said

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"PS - isn't the term 'right-wing liberal' an oxymoron?"

And that shows you just how much I really know about/care about politics. I despise politics, yet I was screamed at about politics all last week. ^_^
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Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:37PM karnisov said

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well i'm not opposed to microtransactions that are done properly. like in puzzle pirates, spending money does not let you get stuff other people can't get, just reduces the grind some.

Posted: Apr 16th 2010 2:38PM dudes said

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Sigh.

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