I can only speak from experience. Despite how I write/podcast/rant, I am only attempting to come from a place of what I have seen, heard or played.
I can speak on raiding because I have raided (fewer times than most, yes) and raiding is just a different form of large grouping. I have been in large groups and played for hours, doing many different things. Raiding is that, but repeated. Over and over.
I can speak on PvP because I have PvP'ed, since the beginning. The only games that stick out in my head (for whatever reason) that were actually fun pvp'ing in were Ultime Online, EVE, World of Warcraft and Planetside. Everything else (unless I am forgetting something) is just...well, more PvP. PvP is not that complicated of an art form despite what some might say. It can be a blast, but can quickly become repetitive.
And I can speak on cash-shops because I have played near 70 games that not only feature cash-shops/RMT but LIVE by it. I can tell you that, in my experience, if the game does not have cash-shoppery built in and does not embrace it, it doesn't seem to do much at all. Either go all the way or not.
So that has me wondering how The Chronicles of Spellborn might do after it attempts to salvage itself by adding on a cash shop and going full-F2P. ( Speaking of which, I am in the DDO F2P beta, so will comment on that after I play some.) Of course, I was very excited when I learned that one of my favorite (but limited, VERY limited) games was going F2P. I could leave it residing on my hard-drive, play it when I want, get into it or not... doesn't matter, it would be there forever. But then I thought about the fact that if a sub-based game is good enough, I will sub. I currently sub to Vanguard, WoW, Free Realms and, until recently, Darkfall. Everything else I play is F2P. Granted, I have been subbed to every single pay-to-play game out there (that I can read the text in) and always maintain one or two games at a time.
So, why didn't I continue to sub to Spellborn after I switched to the NA server? Despite the fact that it has amazing art-style (I LOVE it, I think it's one of my favorite of all time, seriously) and runs great even on my older machine, and despite the fact that the story and quests were really, really fun, there was just not enough to do in the game. Once I ran through the story-based quests to level 20, I didn't want to do it again. It was hard to get excited about leveling my character through the same story (with the same plot twists) as I did before. And yes, there is "Crafting" in Spellborn, but it was not exciting at all, and we all know how boring crafting can be in the first place.
So, will adding a cash-shop to a game that was already struggling help it or hurt it?
I think that more players might try it, and being that there is no sub they will keep it on their hard-drive and they might slowly "get into" the game. The cash-shop ( I am not clear on the details of what they will be selling in it) could have some fun time-passers included, mounts or clothing items, collectibles. That might help. Deep down, though, I think that the main thing it will accomplish is gaining a few more players (most have already tried it that wanted to, they have a trial to level 9.9 ) and holding on to the ones they have now. Most current players will not quit out of principle simply because of the add-on of the cash-shop, as most players did not quit in Vanguard, EQ2 or EQ, when it happened there.
But the game was not meant to have a cash-shop from the beginning, something I wished for from the first time I heard about it. The game is a story-based action-driven MMO, and I wonder what they could possibly sell or do that would increase the player-base? After all, games like Auto Assault and Tablula Rasa, even if you didn't play them you saw the great potential in them and probably even enjoyed some time in them, and cannot understand just scrapping something with such unique game-play. It would be a shame to see this game go away forever. But how are they going to incorporate it? How will it run? Will it load from in the game, like Mabinogi or Dream of Mirror online?
Who knows? Again, I don't think it will actually add on so many more people as keep the numbers they have, now. Cash-shops are great, but there has to be a great game underneath. If a game sucks, no amount of pink dresses or health potions will save it.
This seems to be the new, strange thing happening in MMO's lately: how do you add RMT to your non-RMT game successfully?
1) Just plug it in, Vanguard style: Some players might gripe and moan, but if they leave they didn't have much in the game keeping them there anyway. After all the drama blows over, most will be back. Most players, according to SOE, just ignored the addition of cash shops to EQ and EQ2, and just continued playing. In this scenario, Spellborn will just throw the whole thing out there, rare items and all. A player that logged out the day before the patch will log back in to find a new little button on his hot bar that opens up a cash-shop filled with goodies.
2) Do it very, very slowly: WoW has been adding in little cash-shoppery items here and there. For the record, cash-shop is a umbrella term for "paying real life money for something you get in game." Doesn't matter the delivery method, it's all cash-shoppery. City of Heroes has had little items for sale for a while, and in 2 years who knows how extensive the catalogue will be? In this scenario Spellborn comes out with a few big-ticket items to sell, and offers them on the website. Players can buy characters or money, or perhaps items like sigils are sold? Later they will sell everything but the kitchen sink.
3) "Re-launch" the game as a F2P game: This seems the most unlikely, and I hear the word "re-launch" thrown around more than "meaningful PvP"...it is one of those things that players seem to think is "really easy to do" without considering what is involved in a "re-launch." In this scenario, the website is re-vamped, the cash-shop is featured prominently on the side, and players see ads for the game spread all over gaming sites saying "Play NOW for FREE!" Game cards appear in your local gas station, and the game has tie-ins with a soft drink company.
Either way, I wish the best for the game. I really did enjoy it, and despite being bored with the same story-driven quest-line that I am experiencing in it now, I was just mesmerized by that same story the first time around. Perhaps the cash-shop will give some kind of variety to the game, breath new life into the rigid, linear game-play? I hope so, because I will be the first one to spend 50 bucks on virtual items.