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A Gamer's Perspective

In this blog I'll be blogging about anything from MMOs to PC game releases (old and new). My mission is simple: Blog from MY perspective and mine alone. I am the gamer after all. Warning: There may be some ranting involved. Enjoy (or not).

Author: Razeekster

Shroud of the Avatar: The Proverbial Rich Man's MMO

Posted by Razeekster Tuesday November 12 2013 at 11:32PM
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Shroud of the Avatar is a new kind of phenomenon in the MMO landscape. A game I so wanted to love and help shape as a player when I first heard about it's Kickstarter. Right away though I heard the bells and whistles ringing. I heard the call of the monster demanding it's maw be filled with a substantial amount of cash. It was the different pledge levels that caught my eye in particular. 

  • Pledge $400 or more
Want to be a part of the Development process? This is the level for you! Gain access to the private Developer Chat/Forums and help participate in guiding the game (estimated Developer Chat/Forums access in April 2013). You also get to help create a character in the game as well as name them. When everything’s said and done, we’ll put together a PDF document of various concepts and design documents. 
I knew as soon as I saw that, that Shroud of the Avatar wanted to go a different route when it came to their game. It was a game that wasn't going to rely on the masses to shape it and make it what it should be. It was a game that was going to shaped by the upper class. 
And already I began to be proved correctly when I saw what the chat was shaping into on Shroud of the Avatar's website. Clique's began to form at a rapid pace, and guess what people these cliques revolved around? The people who had Developer's status or higher. These people were the one's who were going to shape the game because they were the only ones allowed in guiding the game through the Developer Chat/Forums. I'm sure in some players heads that meant "make friends with them or get out."
Do you really think it was the developers alone who decided that housing was going to be a nickel and dime affair? Of course not. The upper class players were part of the process too. You know why? Because they can afford to buy several of the houses. The rich are going to be the ones who own all the land and plots. Then they will sell the houses and plots of land for twice or maybe even triple the amount on eBay.
This will become a cycle. The common people who can only afford $15 a month subscription game's will not be able to afford to play the Shroud of the Avatar as it is meant to be played because it has already been so substantially shaped by the upper class that there is no hope for the normal players to be able to even play the game with all the features everyone that participated in the Kickstarter was promised.
That's right. Richard Garriott is basically telling a large percentage of the people who helped shape his career and the large sums of cash he now has to "screw off" and find another game. And this is why I can only see this game going a few ways as of now.
  1. The rich will monopolize Shroud of the Avatar, creating an economy that no normal player will be able to ever aspire to. This will begin with housing but quickly move onto crafting and other important aspects of the game. Basically like real life but worse because this was meant to be a game to escape real life.
  2. Shroud of the Avatar will not be able to succeed because it has decided to depend on only the upper class for cash support (there are lower class options, but normal people will soon grow wise to how these don't really provide crap for them and no longer spend money on them). The upper class will move on, bored of Shroud of the Avatar because they have been able to buy everything with real cash, and so have received no lasting feelings of achievement from Shroud of the Avatar.
  3. Shroud of the Avatar will be able to survive alone on cash from the upper class who are willing to spend exorbitant amounts of cash on the game.
If you haven't noticed by now a large portion of this blog entry is filled with satire, but it does ring with hints of truth. Unless Shroud of the Avatar begins listening and treating all of it's players equally when it comes to such things as important as housing, I really don't see a lasting future for the game.
There obviously needs to be some compromise and money made. I just don't understand why this can't be done through a cash shop since this is going to be an online game. It's already buy-to-play so I honestly don't understand the need for what I view as nickel-and-diming (more like a hundred dollar billing).
Opinions? Share below, but remember to respond reasonably. That means no name calling or just stating things like "I don't agree" or "This article sucks." If you have criticism form it constructively.
Elikal writes:

Good post. Well no suprise I agree. ;)


It is sad how games changed and where once a moderate fee for all the same, now we have classes. Didn't we fight revolutions to get rid of classes? I mean, not WE, but... our societies?

And suddenly it's like the in the Victorian Age again, first, second and third class and poor people travelling in the gloomy cellar of the Titanic. Why not even introduce Casts as in India with Pariahs? It makes me sick to see this class difference from RL crawling into games.

Wed Nov 13 2013 2:38AM Report
Razeekster writes: It looks like that's the way the industry is heading unfortunately. Hopefully there is a change but until than I'll be sticking to MMOs that aren't going to nickel-and-dime me to death. Wed Nov 13 2013 10:43AM Report
aspekx writes: i honestly believe that richers really don't have any clue as to what money means for the rest of us. Fri Nov 15 2013 8:37PM Report
trancefate writes: This isn't a class difference, lower class can afford $400, this is you mis-managing your own personal life and then whining about it because someone else didn't. Mon Nov 18 2013 10:51AM Report
ALoneGamer writes: Lower class can afford to spend $400 on a kickstarter for a single game? I think we've found one of those richers aspekx mentioned. And maybe you are more financially successful than the op, maybe they just had different priorities. It doesn't give the better off the right to sh** on lower classes solely based on financial differences.  Mon Nov 18 2013 3:17PM Report
Razeekster writes: @trancefate: Lower class can afford to spend $400 on a game that hasn't even come out yet?! Wow, I guess I wish I was lower class then because apparently I'm even lower than lower class according to your post. Mon Nov 18 2013 10:27PM Report
iridescence writes:

I think your criticisms are somewhat off-base. Allowing everybody who backed the game to be a "developer" would just create chaos and a horrible game if they actually went through with it. They had to limit it somehow. Maybe money isn't the fairest way but it is a good way to encourage people to pledge more which will make the game better for everyone.


I'm not a big fan of how they're selling housing for real money but, again, it is raising money which will hopefully be put back into the development of the game. 

Can you give some justification for why you think crafting and the economy is going to be totally dominated by "rich people"? I think they would be smart enough not to set up a system like that as it would drive away most of the game's audience and just cause the game to fail.


Tue Nov 19 2013 8:02AM Report
shava writes:

@trancefate:  nope, wrong answer.

Lower income people, at least in the US, can not afford $400 of disposable income on a game.  Generally these are people who are supporting families on low wages -- US$7 to $10 an hour, usually with no benefits, to support more than one person at home.   I work and live around these folks in my neighborhood, and have worked in the nonprofit sector a good slice of my career.  

I'd invite you to try to support a family of four on less than US$24K for a year before you start getting judgmental, please.  That of course goes for anyone, especially policy and law makers.

If you think that kind of income leaves much of anything at the end of the month after basics, you are out of your mind.  You need to go back and do the math.  

Many of these households have someone in the household with illness in the family -- until next spring, current law requires them to have less than $2000 in total assets (no house, no car, no cash on hand) in order to get subsidized health care for that person.  

Otherwise, they would be bankrupted by health care costs anyway the way the current American system runs.  This has set us apart from any other industrialized nation.  We insist that our poor be unable to escape poverty if they are chronically ill or disabled, or if anyone in their household is.  That is what you are not examining in your judgement -- two in seven American households has a member with some disability.  When low income enters the mix, it's a lockdown.

Educate yourself.

Wed Nov 20 2013 4:24AM Report writes:
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