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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

Freedom in Online Gaming.

Posted by Inktomi Monday July 4 2011 at 9:41PM
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As a long Independence Holiday Weekend winds down, after the smell of sulfur from the fireworks dies away, the food from all the Bar-B-Que gets digested, its time to stagger home and end the day off with a little session of gaming. What to play? So many choices we have now since many great MMORPG’s are taking the same stance with their subscription services, sacrificing the regular income for offering freemium service with an item mall. Very convenient if your in the market for a new game, although many are free to download and try until the “ cash-shop mechanics” as I call it starts kicking in.

As an American, I take pride in the fact that I live in a “free” country. Free to follow my capitalistic pursuits both in virtual space and in real-time. Free to say what I want about what I want to who ever I choose. Free to voice my opinions, free to vote, free to read what I want, to write what I want and free to take a stand on the issues I feel are important to me and my fellow men. A good feeling for anyone who can identify with me.

I do pay my dues though, heavily taxes, paying high rent to live in an expensive neighborhood, paying high fees to access the internet, electricity bills, expensive food...etc. etc. I am trapped in my own consumerism that binds me to a job that is run like a totalitarian state. Telling me what time I need to wake up in the morning, how long I have to spend at the establishment and how I can effectively perform a task that someone doesn’t want to do in order for them to make as much money as they can. I pay high insurance that makes sure I am healthy and can come to work every day. The employer pays me a salary (maybe commission if I do a really good job) and then hands my paycheck over to the government to make sure I pay them first, then gives me enough money to pay all my bills and maybe some extra to spoil myself with entertainment.

But I digress...
Freedom is a state of mind.
As I sit here and write this ramble in my free blog space in a free website, I reflect on the little things in life that I get here and there. Free to partake or not to get involved in. If I have some free space in my hard-drive, then I might download a free MMORPG and play it for a few hours, paying nothing for the experience and enjoyment. I am free to turn off the game and open my control panel to uninstall it at any time. That’s the kind of freedom that I enjoy, freedom to come and go as one pleases.
I like it, but I don't want to pay for it.

I am starting to think that this new wave of free-to-try or “freemium” games are the way to go. Giving one a choice in how much they spend and where to apply the money to is something that many take for granted. If the service or item is too expensive for their tastes then they are free not to buy them; if not paying anything hampers the gameplay too much, then they are free to leave. Having a monthly subscription binds the player into thinking that they have a set amount of time to play the game before they lose that right, that freedom to come and play the game if and when they choose to is gone.
"These are our corporate assets, and there are those that don't want us to protect them, they want everything to be free," - Howard Stringer, CEO, Sony

No matter any way you slice it, you will always pay for a privilege. Some players enjoy a subscription because it keeps out all the riffraff and sets a higher barrier of entry into “their” world. A player is free to create an avatar from the choices that the designer gives to you, also free to use any weapon or armor that the developer designs for that class or level. Free to go and kill any monster or enemy in the game as long as they have the right level and power to do so, or you will meet an untimely death. Free to gather a few friends together to help you kill said monster or NPC in order to get the objects that the designer tells the mob to give to you. Those friends took their free time to help you so they feel that they have a right to some of the spoils as well. Where is the freedom in all of this?
The Freedom to go Solo.

As many lament about the mechanics of MMORPG’s that have been made popular by games as World of Warcraft and others give players too many freedoms. These new mechanics level the playing field between players and scripted NPC, making them more powerful so they can effectively solo more content, making them independent from other players and thus creating something called “Massively Multiplayer Online Single Role-Playing Game.”

I for one don’t mind the freedom to do what I want in a virtual world. Being able to come and go as one pleases is a basic element of freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of choice, freedom of playstyle and freedom to ask for help but not warrant it is what these newer MMOSRPG’s are striving for. Then you would ask, “Why not play a a single role playing game?” Well, for one I do enjoy the freedom to socialize and create a social environment with others. Free to voice my opinion to another, whenever I choose to. I do enjoy my single players games, but often return to the online connection because it gives more choices, more connections and sometimes more freedoms that I wouldn’t have in a scripted, linear styled game. Yes, I am looking at you Final Fantasy XIII.

Who me?
Sometimes I do not want to have to ask for help, achieving a goal for myself gives me a sense of pride, a sense of freedom. I do enjoy the ability to log off a game and not have to pay for the time I spent logged off, but often find myself constricted by certain elements that keep reminding me I need to spend some money in this game. Paying a monthly subscription takes that much off my mind, enabling me to play along freely.

I do like soloing, but I also enjoy helping people out to achieve their own goals. Self-reliance is a natural freedom, sometimes feeling restricted to level or class makes me feel trapped when I lose that ability. All together, I love the experience, getting something free is a good feeling, even though I have to pay my dues along the way. I don’t mind paying, but everyone loves getting free stuff, I’m really happy that I didn’t have to pay for Hellgate: London.

Enjoy your holiday.

Play safe,
Inktomi writes:
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