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Reader Comments (50)

Posted: Oct 16th 2011 9:55PM jeremys said

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@rhorle I think the fundamental method is using out-of-game real world money to purchase physical items that can be sold, in-game, for in-game money.

ISK is an "item" that can be transported in-game, destroyed sold or traded. The Guardian Cub, in WoW, is operating similar to this - especially because of the strict rulesets that WoW has.

I agree this seems like a drop in the bucket that many are doing, but Brendan brings up a good point with the MMOs he compares. For those games and the industry, what they are doing resembles what CCP has been doing.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 11:20PM Brendan Drain said

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@rhorle The key part of this business model that includes PLEX is that one person pays real life cash for something and someone else buys it off them for in-game currency. It has nothing to do with whether there's a subscription involved or whether a game sells items in a cash shop, every game monetises in a different way. It's about being able to trade the benefits of paying cash for the benefits of grinding. One player grinds more than usual, the other pays more than usual, and they trade off so they both get the same thing.

In EVE, one person buys subscription time and another buys it off him for in-game ISK. In WoW, someone buys a pet and another buys it off him for in-game gold. In RoM, someone buys diamonds and another buys them off him for in-game gold. In Star Trek Online's new system, one player buys Cryptic points for cash and another buys them off him for grindable dilithium. These are all fundamentally exactly the same system.
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 12:25AM rhorle said

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@Brendan Drain

The whole article is misleading from the title to several arguments made. Its not like this is anything new. Games have been using RMT transactions with tradable items for years.

The problem arises when you try to compare buying and selling of subscriptions to equal of buying and selling vanity items. Not all RMT transactions are equal like you so unjustly generalize. They are completely different business models


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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 1:28AM Brendan Drain said

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@rhorle "Its not like this is anything new. Games have been using RMT transactions with tradable items for years."
Can you name a game that did this before PLEX were released in November 2008? Runes of Magic was the earliest other example I can think of and it was released in 2009. The earliest other example that involves game time is TERA's Chronoscrolls.

"The problem arises when you try to compare buying and selling of subscriptions to equal of buying and selling vanity items."
Subscriptions and cash shops don't HAVE to be equal, both business models can be extended through the addition of a way to trade the purchased comoddity (either game time or cash shop items/currency) for in-game currency. The ultimate effect is the same -- anything you can normally buy with cash can be bought with in-game currency, and everything you can buy with in-game currency can be bought with cash.
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 4:05AM jeremys said

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@Brendan Drain I'd add to Brendan by saying this is a fairly new trend, but I believe it has become a trend.

Beau well may be our resident F2P MMO expert, but many of us have played all sorts of MMOs for different lengths of time and have seen various different(new and old) systems.

Shaiya is an example I've used before of an MMO that also lets you buy from a shop and use that item as a commodity. I, however, drew a line, in one of my articles, separating those older attempts because they never integrated those items into the game as a part of the economy. Sure, they were able to do it, but with no economy to balance the item with, they usually sold for extremely exorbitant prices(if they sold at all).

On a side note: It's an area of MMO business and economics that I think is very interesting to read about.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 8:55PM psycros said

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Hmm..my comments seem to be vanishing a lot from this site lately. So here it is again:

I don't understand how CCP makes money from PLEX. If I can use in-game currency to pay my subscription, aren't they essentially letting me play for free?

Posted: Oct 16th 2011 8:58PM rhorle said

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@psycros

Plex costs more then paying directly for a subscription.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 10:07PM Unshra said

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@psycros The PLEX you acquire in-game was bought by another player, so they are in a sense paying for your subscription in exchange for your ISK.

Now the profit factors in when you see how much PLEX is floating around the marked unused. However eventually this balances out and the company needs to find a means to remove the PLEX while keeping the money, this is where the EVE Online cash shop Noble Exchange comes in. Basically its sole purpose is to convince players to destroy their PLEX so it never gets used for subscriptions and so far it's working, though I am of the opinion that it would work better if they lowered the cost of the items, which I am sure will happen once the digital inventory of the store grows.

Also your comment didn't disappear it is on a Star Trek Online article: http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/10/16/newest-star-trek-online-blog-details-upcoming-event-system/
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 10:19PM psycros said

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@rhorle : how does it "cost" anything in RL? I buy it with ISK, which I earn entirely in-game. If I'm a old-timer in a big 0.0 corp I never have to pay CCP a dime again..PLEX is more than affordable for those folks. Still don't see how this benefits CCP, other than keeping ISK sellers away. In fact, it allows any players to be an RMTer by selling PLEX. I dont' see how this helps anyone except the kids who have no money and play 10 hrs a day.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 10:24PM psycros said

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@Unshra : I HATE HATE HATE THIS COMMENT SYSTEM!!
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 11:24PM Brendan Drain said

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@psycros How it works is that every PLEX sold for ISK was originally bought by a player for cash. If you pay for your subscription with PLEX you bought for ISK, CCP gets just as much cash as if you'd bought the PLEX with cash and applied it, because someone somewhere paid cash for that PLEX.

From CCP's perspective, there's no difference. From an individual player's perspective, it allows cash-rich players to buy ISK and cash-poor players to buy a subscription with ISK.
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 7:23AM psycros said

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@Brendan Drain : OK, then I'm truly confused because I could have sworn you could buy PLEX with ISK. If you buy it with cash, then the only thing its really for is letting CCP be an ISK seller, which is the ultimate P2W scheme. That makes EVE seem even less desirable to play than it already was.
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 11:35AM Zethe said

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@psycros

The only way to get a PLEX in the game in eve is to buy it off CCP. You can however sell that PLEX on the market.

Poor players often buy plex and sell them on the market for isk, rich players buy PLEX off the market and play for free.

Either way CCP gets the exact same ammount of money.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 9:57PM Doran7 said

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This is a tricky and dangerous area to delve into. Changing the model to include some of what is being presented here as plex like would ruin EVE online. CCP has to be very careful how far they go with this .. because the plex was only a way to fight gold sellers.. if they go crazy and offer more services and game options than the players think is fair they will lose player base not gain it. Pay to win is death to an mmo.

Posted: Oct 16th 2011 10:13PM TheClaw said

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The Guardian Cub is a pretty poor comparison.

Half of the functionality of PLEX - playing the game for free, by using in-game currency to cover your subscription - it covers not at all.

The other half - converting your real money into in-game currency - it will cover, sort of, maybe, for a little while until everyone who wants to buy a Cub for gold has done so. Mark my words some people are going to take an absolute bath, spending $10 just to see hundreds of Cubs listed on the Auction House and none of them selling.

Posted: Oct 16th 2011 11:48PM Brendan Drain said

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@TheClaw Oh, I absolutely agree that the Guardian Cub isn't a full implementation of PLEX, but the basic principle of PLEX is still at work: One player can buy something with cash and another can buy it off him for a grindable in-game benefit (gold). It will have much the same effect on RMT but won't have the effect of increasing subscriptions that EVE's PLEX do.

I'd love it if WoW did an implementation that involved trading subscription time in-game, but in the same vein there are other things I'd want EVE Online to add as tradeable for in-game ISK. Anything in the NeX store can currently be bought for ISK via PLEX but how awesome would it be to buy a physical product like EON Magazine or items from the store using in-game ISK?
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 1:53AM TheClaw said

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@Brendan Drain - it has been hinted, hasn't it, that Diablo 3's real-money auction house will allow you to cash out at the Blizzard store? If so, that should theoretically make it possible to grind goods in D3, sell them at the real-money AH, and then cash out as t-shirts, mugs, etc. - maybe even WoW subscription time? ;-)

p.s. cheers for the reply, great to see a Massively author joining the dialog and not just dropping an article and letting the commenters argue amongst themselves!
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Posted: Oct 17th 2011 2:22AM Brendan Drain said

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@TheClaw It's all speculation so far, but what we DO know is that when players list items on the D3 cash auction house, they will have to choose whether the cash will be withdrawn from the game or not in advance. It's a legal thing. What this tells us is that it's possible to sell items for cash without taking the cash out of the game, and that the cash kept in the game can't ever be withdrawn.

It could be that we can only spend that money on the cash AH, but it's possible that we might also be able to spend it on things like WoW subs, games, blizzcon tickets and items in the store. That would be an incredibly good idea, and I'd be really excited to find out it's the truth, but so far it's a lot of speculation.
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Posted: Oct 16th 2011 10:21PM psycros said

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@rhorle : how does it "cost" anything in RL? You buy it with ISK, which you earn entirely in-game. If you're a old-timer in a big 0.0 corp you never have to pay CCP a dime again because.PLEX is quite obtainable for those folks. Still don't see how this benefits CCP, other than keeping ISK sellers away. In fact, it allows any player to be an RMTer by selling PLEX. I dont' see how this helps anyone except the kids who have no money and play 10 hrs a day.

Posted: Oct 17th 2011 1:26AM SgtBaker1234556 said

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@psycros

However, for big 0.0 entities (for their top-leaders anyhow) it's more enticing to convert the abundance of ISK into real cash through (illegal) RMT and reap real life cash benefits from third-party PLEX referrals (as CCP allows PLEX to be sold by third party). ;-)

Also, the big league FC's often require monthly salaries paid in real cash.
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