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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: How Far is Too Far?

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Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16260

OP  12/10/12 3:31:13 PM#1

As more and more MMOs employ the 'free to play' option and bring an 'item shop' on board, it becomes easy to succumb to those that utilize the 'pay to win' aspect. But how far is too far? Find out in our latest Pokket Says and then leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Wartune has this whole deal where, if you can't be on as much as you need to be because of work or whatever, then you can pay more to keep up with others. That's good and all, but a lot of people have actually paid quite a bit of money to do the same, and get ahead. One thing that many don't realize with this game however is that a lot of the stuff you pay for to get ahead is all a gamble. You're not guaranteed to get what you want, but if you spend enough, you'll likely get it eventually. 

Read more of Hillary Nicole's Pokket Says: How Far is Too Far?

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Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/16/09
Posts: 327

12/11/12 12:23:41 PM#2

There is no pay-to-win until the day someone adds a big red button with "win" on it to their cash shop, and that red button shut's the server down for good and anyone else trying to log on will get a message saying: "(Char name) has won the game". Everything else is Pay-to-have advantage or pay-to-have convenience. 


Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/05
Posts: 268

I have a wandering mind, but that's ok, it brings back presents.

12/11/12 12:48:33 PM#3

'Pay to win' is where you pay real money to get an advantage that aids you in winning.

It's like paying an informant for insider stock info, bribing the indy race officials to get pole position, or even buying someone elses chess pieces to use when you are in a chess tournament.

'Pay to win' doesn't guarantee a win, otherwise it would make a lot less money, and a large portion of the players would just say, "screw this b.s., I'm not into auctions" and leave forever. 

By the way, if it wasn't obvious, I don't like 'pay to win'. For that matter, I also don't like paying real money for 'gear' and 'appearance items' that have a limited duration. Kind of like "Give your favorite weapon purple flames! Only 2000 Krix (that's $30 real money). Duration 12 days.". Overpriced, temporary, and the real world price is obscured because they use some kind of ingame token money to confuse things. (Old psychological trick, just ask the cruise/resort industry.)


Lost my mind, now trying to lose yours...


Novice Member

Joined: 1/06/07
Posts: 2541

Hype (noun)
1. to trick; gull.
2. exaggerated publicity; hoopla.
3. swindle, deception, or trick.

12/11/12 1:00:33 PM#4


Just stop supporting these rip-off projects and things will change.

"Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky


Elite Member

Joined: 12/07/05
Posts: 237

Really Uncle Bugs?

Spirit of Fair Play is slain by Online Community!

12/11/12 1:07:06 PM#5
Eventually the gambling aspect will land the frog in hot water.  From there, who knows what will happen.

Avatars are people too


Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/12/04
Posts: 876

Make worlds not stories

12/11/12 1:27:59 PM#6

The frog might realize it is only cheating itself.

"I am my connectome"


Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/30/11
Posts: 244

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12/11/12 1:40:45 PM#7

Kid #1: I want to be a multi-class Half-Elf Fighter-Magic-User!

DM: Sorry, multi-class requires you pay me $5, only single-class start free.

Kid #2: Ok, I've rolled my character, now I'm going to buy my initial equipment!

DM: Sorry, you have no in-game currencey, $5 for every 100 gold pieces, pay up!



Advanced Member

Joined: 2/11/04
Posts: 1006

Make a WORLD,
Not a Game.

12/11/12 1:43:07 PM#8

DEATH to all pay-to-win games!!!


Elite Member

Joined: 6/10/09
Posts: 7123

12/11/12 1:54:16 PM#9

It's funny to me how we only talk about Pay2Win in a cash shop, but never with the subs.

How about rift, as an example, since that just came out with an xpac and I'm currently subscribed, but didn't buy the xpac.  If you don't pony up the xpac tax you are locked out of content, can't progress, and are left behind and alienated from anyone not levelling.  If you buy the xpac you have all the advantage in the world compared to those who don't.  If that's not buying an advantage what is?

I know all the p2p supporters will come in and talk about getting jobs, and that it's okay because that's how it's been done, and a load of other excuses.  I want to know why my $15/mo in a sub game doesn't buy that extra stuff.

Let's leave xpacs to the side.  How about gated raidlocks.  Not only do you have to spend the time and money (in monthly fees) to see the content due to gear gates, not only might you have to pony up an xpac tax, but you are also locked to weekly rides that equate to several months in sub fees to gear up.

It's not about cash shop or sub.  It's about total cost of the game and if that is worth it to the player.  Some people don't mind spending $200+ per year in sub and xpac costs.  Some don't mind spending that much in micro-transactions.  There is no moral dilemma here unless they're not delivering on what they sold you.  Did you buy a month of game play?  Did they deliver that?  Did you buy a pack of boosts?  Did they deliver that?  If so then no problem.  It's all optional.  If you think it's a rip-off then don't play.  If you think my game is a rip-off then don't play but also don't tell me I shouldn't play it either.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6721

Gaming should be about fun, not gender equality.

12/11/12 2:02:26 PM#10

F2P and cash shops are altogether bad. It fosters an environment where it is not your dedication or skills which puts you apart from others but rather also how much you open your wallet. Great for the corps., as they get more money, very bad for us gamers who just want to pay a one time fee and/or sub. and then just enjoy the game.

More over it is inevitable that the devs spend resources on things either directly or indirectly related to the cash shop to squeeze more money from people rather than just improving the game.

It is bad, there is nothing good with it and is only there because of greed and nothing else. It has nothing to do with gaming, at all.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/20/04
Posts: 825

You only live once... make it count!

12/11/12 3:16:17 PM#11
Originally posted by aktalat

Kid #1: I want to be a multi-class Half-Elf Fighter-Magic-User!

DM: Sorry, multi-class requires you pay me $5, only single-class start free.

Kid #2: Ok, I've rolled my character, now I'm going to buy my initial equipment!

DM: Sorry, you have no in-game currencey, $5 for every 100 gold pieces, pay up!

Hah, I like this example. If only I had shown this level of capitalism while DMing!


Novice Member

Joined: 1/06/07
Posts: 2541

Hype (noun)
1. to trick; gull.
2. exaggerated publicity; hoopla.
3. swindle, deception, or trick.

12/11/12 3:22:28 PM#12
Originally posted by Yamota

F2P and cash shops are altogether bad. It fosters an environment where it is not your dedication or skills which puts you apart from others but rather also how much you open your wallet. Great for the corps., as they get more money, very bad for us gamers who just want to pay a one time fee and/or sub. and then just enjoy the game.

More over it is inevitable that the devs spend resources on things either directly or indirectly related to the cash shop to squeeze more money from people rather than just improving the game.

It is bad, there is nothing good with it and is only there because of greed and nothing else. It has nothing to do with gaming, at all.


And the worst part is, developers are designing their games around the greed concept. The focus has gone from, "how can we create an awesome game" to "how can we bleed gamers out of the most cash".

Sad, pathetic, all that and a bag of chips.

"Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." - Noam Chomsky


Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 7205

12/11/12 3:27:16 PM#13
Originally posted by Butch808

There is no pay-to-win until the day someone adds a big red button with "win" on it to their cash shop, and that red button shut's the server down for good and anyone else trying to log on will get a message saying: "(Char name) has won the game". Everything else is Pay-to-have advantage or pay-to-have convenience. 

Well you are in the .000001 percentile with that opinion.  Pay-to-win is clearly deeply inbedded in many of these f2p games.   You really have to play some of these games to high level to realize your error.  Many keep the obivious need to spend in the item shop until later levels.

The gambing for items is what I really object to.  Many of these f2p basically run a casino for needed items.  That is just wrong far as I am concerned.  Perfect World is famous for this in their games.  



Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/08/11
Posts: 78

12/11/12 3:30:19 PM#14

It's funny how things work out. Fifteen years ago, still a teenager, I had an argument with my dad over video games.

His exact words: "Just wait until they've made you all gambling addicts!"

Back then, I laughed at the notion. Gaming and gambling were two entirely different things. I paid for a game once, and with that one investment, I could game as much as I wanted.


Now we're 15 years later, and all I can say is: Damn, my dad was more right than even he could have known.


Personally, I still need a good reason to pay for a game: I pay if it's good. I still need more reason to pay monthly.

In earlier MMORPGs this was given since I could see how they needed all the servers to host that big-ass world. Now, with so much instancing and hanging out in a capital like in a lobby, that reason to pay a sub is no longer given. I haven't subbed to a single MMORPG in months now.


And f2p? Thoroughly depends on how it is done, and how the company behind the games comes across. I have no qualms about shelling out $100 to support Path of Exile. I wouldn't in my dreams spend $1 on a different colouring for my player avatar. All in all, I keep a very tight budget on my gaming needs. If I have the feeling I am being overcharged, I cut the cord. Often not only with that game, but with the entire company.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 591

12/11/12 3:57:18 PM#15

It's too far if they make less money then when not going as far. At least as long as they are "in it" for the money. Why shouldn't the day come some rich guy who can't spent all his money even if he wanted to keeps an MMO as his hobby, like many millionaires buy football (and other) clubs since a few years. Anyways,  "too far" is ultimately just personal preference.

Don't like it? Don't play it. I don't like subs, as they extort money from you before you even touched it (yeah, theres free months etc, but it's not like they wouldn't factor that in when setting box price  and subscription free).

F2P can be very annoying when you know there is content out there, but there is no way to reach it unless on average you pay the $15/month, whether it's via subscription or buying content packs for like $50 every few months.

But: You don't have to. At every single moment, you can decide it's not worth spending any more money. After half a year, when you got past the intiial content, you bought some character slots, content packs, some new races etc. for like $150-200.

So you spent about the same as a subscription, financially, there is no difference at this point.  But: Take a break for two years, get back and play another 3 years without paying a single cent as you still are happy with your old characters etc.  Then you played like 4 years for $100. Thats $2/month. Now show me an MMO with such a low subscription fee.

Of course, you can easily spend $100/month, but if you feel like it's worth it, why not. Also, a subscription is usually not a "one fee to pay them all", but it only allows you to keep playing. You have to buy the box, too. And that shiny new expansions? Another $20-$30. And then subscription based games also often offer additional stuff in the cash shop. If you want everything there is to have, you have to calculate the subscription on top of what you spend in a F2P game, not instead.

Ironically, F2P games that feature a subscription model are usually the ones that actually give the subscribers everything there is, often with some kind of "supporter" status that has benefits over the free user status for those that stopped subscribing.

A subscription fee is a license to print money, meaning the developers do not have to ensure everything runs fine etc. You already payed for this month, or even for several months with some subscription plans, even if you stop playing right now. But nobody is going to buy something in the shop if they are not playing. So you constantly have to offer something they want.

This can lead to situations where the restrict the game, actually remove features etc. to make people want something, but it's not like every subscription based game has all the features you would expect.

Ultimately, it's a matter of if you think you get your moneys worth, and not  how and how much you pay, with F2P having freedom of choice, but also being spoilt for choice, with the subscription featuring neither (if it actually gives you access to "everything").

I'll wait to the day's end when the moon is high
And then I'll rise with the tide with a lust for life, I'll
Amass an army, and we'll harness a horde
And then we'll limp across the land until we stand at the shore


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Joined: 9/21/12
Posts: 1566

12/11/12 5:24:29 PM#16

There are two differnt concepts that people get confused over.

there is p2w and there is the freemium f2p model, which is essentially sub2win


sub2win is games like EQ2 and LOTRO (at least initially) where you can play parts of the game (almost all of it in SoE's case) for free but sacrifice convenience, in some cases finite power (SoE), in some cases content (Turbine).  But once you sub you are on an even field with the core population,extra money does not give you extra advantage.


pay2win is basically the more money you put into the game the better you are.  Even the games that may have a power cap, if you have to spend more than a sub cost to get there its pay2win.  Runes of Magic is major offender here, as is Perfect World games and the like.


The only time its really unacceptable is when the two paths cross.  Turbine is certainly creeping towards that scenario, SoE is not. 


The reason the freemium model exists is more necessity than greed.  Sub model works great - if you have enough subs to cover the fixed costs such as developer salaries and wages.  If freemium is being used to allow continued development than its not inherently a bad thing.


As for pay2win, I will never play a pay2win game but if people want to do it, go nuts.


Novice Member

Joined: 4/20/04
Posts: 42

12/11/12 6:20:28 PM#17
Frankly I think gambling should be banned from games. Gambling in most contries is illegal for under 18s and also in most cases controlled, and for good reason. Sure you don't win money here but it can be just as damaging to gambling addicts. It's very hard for government to prevent this so it would be a lot easier if gaming publishers and developers would take some social responsibility and stop the practice. Gamers should exert as much pressure as they can to stamp out the practice.

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Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

12/11/12 7:15:39 PM#18

Once you're willing to take one step down that road, you're going to be willing to take a second and a third.  The only question then becomes how fast can the developers manipulate you into accelerating your spending without giving you a breaking point where you realize you need to stop.


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Posts: 285

12/11/12 8:16:07 PM#19

It all is just one big hoax. With P2P you at least know what are you buying and what do you get from game, but with F2P you only get deceived. And, its ruining the mmo gaming.




Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 14684

12/11/12 8:24:38 PM#20

Easy to get sucked into a pay to win item mall game?  Maybe some of them.

But Wartune?  Seriously?  That game had the most over-the-top outrageous marketing campaign since Evony.  If you didn't see that as a blaring siren warning you to stay away from the game, then I don't know what to say.


I don't have a problem with people who pay moderate amounts having advantages over people who pay nothing, even if they're huge advantages.  People who pay absolutely nothing should be regarded as playing a free trial, and if a free trial is very restricted, so be it.

The problem comes when people who pay substantial amounts are at a disadvantage as compared to people who pay even more.  If you can get everything that matters for $10/month or $15/month or $20/month, fine.  But when people who pay $50/month are at a huge disadvantage as compared to people who pay $100/month, you've got a big problem.

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