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Spyder's Twisted Web

An "In Your Face" perspective about Online Gaming. Making People Sad & Angry Since 1996

Author: spyderbite

What Value Do You Place On Your Subscription? Microtransactions And You.

Posted by spyderbite Friday December 11 2009 at 4:20PM
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Its an easy question. How much do you expect to get out of your $12, $13 or $15 per month from an MMO?

With the quickly increasing popularity of microtransactions appearing in games such as WoW & EQ2 it is pretty obvious that this is a revenue system that is here to stay. So, why are so many gamers suprised, upset and kicking puppies over it?

It seems to me that many gamers put a high value on their monthly subscription. Perhaps too high of a value. 10 years ago, $15 was nothing to toss at a video game which offered 720 hours of entertainment each month. Hell, even back then, going to the movies for 90 minutes of temporary entertainment cost $30 if you got the extra large popcorn and a soft drink.

Today however, our economy has changed drastically. We're seeing layoffs in every industry on a daily basis. And, the gaming industry is no exception. These companies have to find new ways to generate a revenue that can support the salaries of its employees, maintenence and development costs. That's not so easy these days.

So, what is a marketing department to do?

Today's gamers love instant gratification.  How better to create an influx of cash than to sell them a head start or advantage in game? Personally, I've never been one to rush to End Game. But, I do like appearance items and all kinds of sparkly fun stuff. Furthermore, I have no problem typing in my credit card number to get it! And, I'm pretty confident that I'm not the only one.

I understand that times are hard these days. But, seriously, if you are struggling to pay your monthly $15/month and can't afford a penny more; perhaps its time to ask Greg, your manager at McDonalds, for a raise or a promotion to Drive-Up Window.

Keep in mind that no P2P (Pay to Play) subscription based game has offered items that are mandatory in order to enjoy all the content in a game. Most of them are offering fluff items, some boosts in experience gain or customer services such as character transfers and character name changes. Hardly game breaking merchandise.

I'm not a rich man. However, I have spent a fair amount in micropayments. Ok, I've spent ALOT of money on micropayments. Allow me to break it down for you.

Everquest II

Station Cash - $400
Legends of Norrath - $600

FreeRealms

Station Cash - $200

PokerStars

Poker Chips - $100 (Ok.. not a MMO.. but just as addictive)

So that's $1200 spent on MMO's in addition to my $30/month subscription in just the past 6 months. Do I have too much money? Not really. I'm a kept boy and proud of it. Luckily, my bread winning fiance is also a gamer. So, my stays in the proverbial dog house are short lived. But, are there others like me fueling this revenue stream much to the chagrin of gamers everywhere who want everything short of a seat on the Board of Directors for $15? Absolutely.

In closing, you can complain about those "slippery slopes" and threaten the mass exodus of players who will quit if microtransactions find their way in to your game. However, there will always be people like me who have more money than you. And, I guarantee the bean counters at the game companies are more interested in my credit card limit than they are your values and ethics. Especially when people like me are spending 100x your monthly subscription in a single click of "Buy Now".

Until next time.. Remember.. if you are in Russia and stand on your tip toes.. you can see Sarah Palin in the shower!

Christopher "SpyderBite" Whalen

wootin writes:

Actually, if you spend like that on microtransactions whilst I pay a monthly sub, *I* have considerably more money than *you*.

But that's why I don't play microtransaction games. I'm not dumb enough to get into a game which counts on people with less sense than money to start a spending war with me over stuff in a game. The only way to win that war is the same way you win arguments on the internet - you just don't play their game.

Fri Dec 11 2009 7:37PM Report
Midare writes:

I've no problem with microtransations which do not give any sort of over-powered advantage to people who pay extra. This ties in with my response to you on my own blog regarding my views on gear/loot in general.

If the gear all falls within a reasonable bracket of stats, so no one robe/mace/whatever is like the holy turd of smiting... and the items bought by RMT are stats-wise equivelant, I could care less if it sparkles or looks like <insert popular anime toon's name here>'s weapon.

I've been on an avatar based forum for years (Gaia Online) and they sell items RMT... these are just for looks, they give no skills, no stats, not even on their advanture game they've recently launched do your RL purchases affect your use of their service. So long as the items are vanity based only I just don't see what the snit is about.

Now, if I can't do a particular quest unless I fork over extra money, like I need a RMT-store item and the damn thing is soul bound,  then I start to feel a little pissed. If it hinders my progression, basically.

Fri Dec 11 2009 8:51PM Report
Trucidation writes:

 I'm with Midare. Just because many F2P-based games have Done It Wrong and not really balanced the things they sell so that people who don't buy end up handicapped, doesn't invalidate the whole concept.

On the other hand, I loath subscriptions. You can only pay for so many simultaneous games, and you end up feeling cheated if you don't feel like you played enough that particular month. I've been playing dozens of F2P games and guess what, I don't need to spend a dime if I don't like them, or if I decide to hang around longer. Subs also cause people with inferiority complexes feel compelled to shit and diss other games because they feel like they have to defend their choice of game (after all they can't afford to have too many subs going on at once, daddy's credit card is only so generous amirite?).

So far the big reason I've seen people QQ about microtransactions seem to be "omg people can buy themselves good gear". Like that doesn't happen in subscription based games? Duh.

Fri Dec 11 2009 10:15PM Report
spyderbite writes:

I hear all three of you loud and clear. However you all seem to point towards the poor attitudes of people caused by MT. In fact, if these people aren't QQ about MT it would be something else in my opinion.

So, I respect and understand your opinions. I don't see anything as black and white in the gaming world. Opinions on the Internet are far too diverse to be foolish enough that everyone will jump up and cheer at everything that came out of my proverbial mouth.

Besides, it wouldn't be as much fun to do this kind of thing if there wasn't a little rotten fruit to dodge on the soap box!

Thanks for the feedback guys/gals! Have a great weekend!

Sat Dec 12 2009 10:16AM Report

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