When F2P (Free-T0-Play) MMORPGs hit the scene, players were introduced to some really fun virtual worlds at no cost. What quickly developed though was a not so fun implosion of Pandora’s Box.
Besides all the benefits of micro-transactions within these MMORPGs, The box that these games were contained in were opened wide to let in a floodgate of negative socio-economic aspects. Now instead of excepting the nice hermetically sealed contents of the game, we have people from all walks of life and all walk of money able to alter their gaming experience in a similar way they can altar their lives. The real world has impacted F2P MMORPGs like nothing else before. If I want to speed up my progression, have an extra pet, or have a permanent mount, I can- if I have the money.
In a weird twist, if you take away the freedom that micro-transactions can provide, players will tend to be more accepting, because beyond what anyone can equally altar within the game, it’s the way the game is built. It doesn’t mean players won’t complain. Visit any game’s forum, especially World of Warcraft’s, and you’ll see plenty of people complaining about various ways the game operates. It is the same, and then some, with F2P MMORPGs. You’ll have all the regular criticisms and to exacerbate those, you have a whole new plane of complaints brought on about feelings over paying to get what you want.
Perhaps as an unfortunate downside to being free, these MMORPGs have to contend with players being able to bring their real life woes and negative feelings over money into the games. When players start to look at their gaming experience as it relates to their socio-economic status, well, a lot of negativity can ensue.
From this perspective, how do you try to handle game development? Or can you even affect it? Do you even try? Do any and all complaints that fall under Item Mall complaints get ignored outright? Because how can anyone expect an MMORPG development team to try and altar game play experiences based on the players socio-economic status? Some players work 40 hours a week to afford a minimum of in-game purshasable items, while others have near unlimited funds and free time. Should anyone expect an MMORPG too cater to these diverse situations? Most micro-transactions are already fairly small, per purchase. Many games let you spend as little as 5 dollars per purchase to obtain a majority of items in-game. Beyond that, what can a F2P MMORPG development team do?
I tend to be pretty strict with my opinions on some subjects, but I admit that my opinion(s) may not be the best. It appears to me, that a micro-transaction based F2P MMORPG affords some fun features, being free to play not the least of them. But they also shed a lot of responibility that is placed back into the hands of the players. That, to me, opens up a whole new can of worms that I’m not going to even try to get into with this post. But I felt it worth mentioning as food for thought.