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Spouse Aggro!

I blog at www.spouseaggro.com, write for www.ablegamers.com, run www.mmovoices.ning.com and post all over the net. HOWDY!

Author: beauturkey

Money, not time, equals power.

Posted by beauturkey Monday July 13 2009 at 10:05AM
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I take this from a comment left in my blog by Syncaine. Here is the comment below (so I do not get it wrong):

".... regarding the effect buying gear/power has, is that you approach MMOs from a very different view than the majority. If I was not more familiar with your style, I would have called you a liar when you said death in DF has no meaning, but I know that for YOU it really does not, while for almost everyone else, it does. I think it’s that view that is perhaps blinding you to how the majority of MMO players would view going from everyone paying $15 a month to what happens when you drop $100 to get ahead. Those players accept that time=power, they won’t accept money=power. "

raid
No cheats here. Move along.

As usual, we do not agree on so many things. Even though he makes his points well, there are a few things wrong with the mindset of "time equals power." First of all, let me explain that I generally view the MMO community in four groups:

1) Those that LOVE cash-shops, RMT, all that fluff and would gladly buy the best sword in the game (if the game sold it) and would be happy about it.

2) Those that hate all that, and think that RMT is a "cheat." Despite using dual-accounts for dual-boxing, mods that tell you information that does not come in the default UI, and walk-throughs/videos/guides, they view buying health potions for real life money as "cheating."

3) Those that do not care, either way.

4) Those that play cash-shop games, because the majority of players actually do NOT play sub-based games, but RMT based games. (One look at the numbers for games like MapleStory will tell you that all the handful of major games in the US that use the "classic" sub model do not equal the ones that do not.) As a side-note, I find that when you show someone "30 million subscriptions" as a stat, they will laugh at it. Yet, they seem to take for fact the "11 million worldwide" numbers given out by Blizzard. Strange.

If we want to have these discussions, players need to stop thinking that the North American market is the "majority." It is not. There are more players through out the world than in the US. Understand that I never frame these conversations in only the US market because developers do not. It is a global market, as far as MMO's are concerned.

Also, it feels as though many players I come across seem to think that the "old-guard" are those that oppose cheating ways such as paying for items or characters, while the new generation of kids wants to be able to just buy their way to the top. Many players also think that they are part of one of these groups, without understanding that RMT (real money trading or transactions) has been around since players were paying for the Station Access and it's extra character slots, dual-boxing and multi-month discounts. Hell, even your basic account comes loaded with newbie items that, despite most players not "valuing" them, have actual value. After all, you paid for them.

THE CHOICE-----------------------------------------------------

But the main flaw in the argument of "time equals power" is that it assumes that if you have a "money equals power" game that a player could ONLY raise his or her "status" by buying it.

The fact is in most RMT games the choice still remains. Just as with the raider that "cheats" using 100 different mods and a walk-through video, I can choose to raid without the use of these "cheats." In fact, most raiders I know are worried about cash-shops ruining their achievements without considering that they ruined them when they used all the above mentioned "cheats." But the fact is that in the majority of games, you have a choice as to participate in RMT or not. When players tell me that they need the cash-shop items to perform at high-levels, I tell them that even if they did the end-game/high-end game is still only one small part of the game. (Most of the time players tend to forget that these games have more lower levels that "end-game" levels. ) In almost any MMO (since there is no death, almost no penalty that is not easily done away with, or consequence for mistakes) do you need to do anything, much less achieve something or perform at some level to play the game. All those goals/accomplishments are placed on the player by the player.

In Syncaines comment, you can see where he says that while I do not see meaning in the death of Darkfall, most do. That doesn't matter since there truly is no meaning in the death. If a player decided that the temporary pause of death in Darkfall is enough to cause him to feel as though he lost something (the equipment loss is negligible) then that was the players choice. The simple fact that I do not fear death in any MMO is proof enough to show that the choice is there, and either choice does not stop me from playing. As I have said before, death in Darkfall is about as scary as is being tripped by your co-worker: more aggravating than anything.

UNFAIR ADVANTAGE--------------------------------------------

Players often use the "..but in PvP, one player has an unfair advantage over another because he bought items or gear.." excuse to say that cash-shops equal unfair advantage. First of all, most MMO's out right now do not feature PvP as the center point. The few that ever did (remember Fury?) did not/do not do so well. And yes, it is true that a player that has more health potions or better gear (although 99 percent of cash-shops do not sell that type of gear) might do "better" than another player in combat, but even in that very specific situation the choice is still there for either player to buy or not.

If we are going to start calling cash-shop purchases an "unfair advantage," then we have to add to that list those players that use mods, that multi-box, that have no job or that have the ability to play for 8 hours a day. Also, we would have to include those that can actually afford a better PC, a better connection, or players that can even afford the subscription. At what point does it stop? Wouldn't a player that has a better PC and a faster connection be considered as having an "advantage"? How did that player not spend real life money to equal the advantage?

Point being, there is no way for every scenario of every player to be taken into account when making a cash-shop game or when considering what to sell in a cash-shop.

While Syn seems to think that "most players" think that time=power, there are many, many more examples of players that play games in which cash-shops/RMT are the norm. In those games, it is (in my experience) rare for players to whine about cash-shop items. It is the norm and everyone has the equal chance to gain those items. If one player can simply afford 50 bucks in potions while you could not, that's called "you being broke" and him "having some extra allowance to spend."

In other words, tough luck.

Even if suddenly we had a market FULL of games that sold the very best items and gear in the game ONLY the cash shop, we would still be talking small amounts of money. 100 dollars is not a large sum of money, and I make piddly. If you consider how many hours of game-play you would get for 100 dollars, you would see that you spend more on a few months worth of going to the movies/eating out. Add up a years worth of subscription. How is THAT amount of time and money not an advantage?

So yeh, money actually does equal power. Not time. It might have meant "power" back in the days of 2 day raids or camping of monsters, and only to those that viewed "power" as having the highest end gear. I never did, and despite what some might think, I am not alone in that. Granted, he is right in saying that many players see time as power, but not the majority.

Most players in the world just play how they want. They grind, do quests, buy potions, buy pets, rent housing, rent mounts, buy characters, buy gold, sell gold, sell characters, buy ships and pilots, experience potions and go to dungeons. Many raid, role-play and explore. Every example of player is found within cash-shop games/communities.

Beau

Inktomi writes:

Beau,

I think you are missing the point of the F2P model, it’s to make money, not give players a level playing field. Many game co’s are embracing this because they realize they are cutting revenue short by just offering a “flat fee” of $15. Do you really think that most large game corps care if you “think it’s fair” that little johnny only has 15 bucks a month to spend.

Meanwhile on the ranch, the average NA gamer’s age is 33, (Yee), which means a thirtysomething’s year old’s job and income.

That creates an unlevel playing field where the wealthy progress, while the poor or “broke” fall behind. So, I guess it’s get a better job so you can advance faster in your game.

Sounds like modern society, doesn’t it? This is the functional theory that game co’s are using to finally break the “magic circle” (castronova) between RL and VR. This has been transpiring for years through gold farmers behind the scene, now they are getting beaten by their own game.

Sounds like fun.

And if I might add, is there any hard data on how much these F2P's are really making at the end of the day? 

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:21PM Report
beauturkey writes:

 Yeh, there is. If you look up "Nexon's profits" or "Perfect World intl. profits" or something similar, you can see that these companies are making quite a good deal of money.

 There is as much out there about the F2P game makers as there is about the "standards", if not more.

 All of these game companies make and lose money, as is standard in any industry. Even minus all that, these companies are able to continually put out content/new games at a pretty staggering rate. In the end, it's all about believing and analyzing the limited information we have for any MMO. We all know how tight lipped they can be.

 The proof can be in the pudding, and to me the greatest example of a game that is doing well is continual development, new projects and world-wide recognition. While we might think alot of these companies are new, many have been established over-seas for a long, long time.

 Thanks for the comments, man. We really need to get on the show together sometime.

 

 Beau

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mon Jul 13 2009 8:37PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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