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Why the Labor System is Good

William Murphy Posted:
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This isn’t going to make me popular, but I’m going to come out and say it just like Maccarthur says on our forums, I actually kind of like the labor point system. And there are a multitudinous reasons why. Before the pitchforks come out and people start claiming I’m pro “Pay 2 Win”, let me explain. While I think there could be some improvements to the system, I’m also fairly confident in my belief that the Labor system is better for the overall health of the economy and the game XLGAMES wants us to play.  So, here we go.

Now, I’ve not had a whole lot of time to test the recent changes to the Labor System, the Labor Point potions, and the addition of the Archeum Boxes (which David at TTH covered fairly).

So, take this as you will, but what I do know is that Trion has actively been listening to and reacting on the player’s closed beta and alpha feedback between patches. Labor Point usage on quest rewards is gone, as is all crafted equipment from the cash shop, and AH access is now available to all players (though non-Patrons still have to shell out a small fee for permanent access). In any case, here are the reasons why I am a believer that the Labor System will be good for the overall health of the game. I may wind up completely wrong, but I think that XLGAMES and Trion have good intentions here (despite also obviously hoping it pads their wallets a bit in the F2P MMO’s cash shop).

Right now, for those unaware, as of the Open Beta from the 4th to the 8th, players can buy Labor Potions that stack from the online cash store. A little background if you’re not familiar, Labor Points are a very important part of ArcheAge that limits players’ ability to just stay online 24/7 and have the advantage over everyone. Now, those hardcore elite will still have their advantages, but this helps the Regular Joes out a bit too. Free players get a max of 2,000 points while Patrons get 5,000. But what’s really got people riled up now is that Labor Potions can now be consumed at a rate of once every four hours, as opposed to once every twelve hours.  This, some are pointing out, means you can make your Labor Points too close to an unlimited amount for their gaming comfort.

Now, just saying that alone? I could understand the cries of Pay to Win, but that’s not really the case here. You see, these Labor Potions are tradable, and can be placed on the Auction House as well so players can make in-game money from them. In fact, that’s one of the reasons Trion put them in: people wanted more of them on the AH.  And those who don’t want to spend cash can get them just as well.  Now, it’s possible that the current form of labor potions could change, but I’m actually alright with this implementation until we see how it plays out on the live servers. As I’m writing this, it’s only day two of open beta, and I don’t think 4 days will be enough to judge it on anyway.

This is how I see the actual concept of labor: it’s about turning the notion of a player’s effort into a measurable resource that they must spend. Traditionally, the people who do the best in games like ArcheAge have always been the ones who could afford to be online the most. The “One Percenters of Free Time” would control everything in a game like ArcheAge without labor points. Now, if you have unlimited funds, you will buy unlimited potions and keep yourself full-tilt with Labor Points… but I’m really curious to see if that actually happens. If it does, chances are Trion will act to correct.  They’ve been open and honest about all things for years now, including their work on ArcheAge, so I don’t expect that to change here. 

So once you equate the idea of Labor Points with what it actually is (effort potential), it becomes a system to spread that potential for effort across far more players than other MMOs where it’s all about who has the most time to expend.  And if I’m being quite frank here, I honestly think that the ability to buy and purchase Labor Potions in the AH and Marketplace only gives a disadvantage to that very vocal, very top-end player (the One Percenter of Free Time) because their ability to stay online all hours of the day no longer guarantees them the best of everything in ArcheAge.  And you know what, I’m betting those people who do have that kind of free time to devote, will still be the most ahead of the curve when it comes to AA. I mean, Jake Song’s latest MMORPG is not a very casual-friendly experience unless you’re just in it to quest.

What happens because of this disadvantage? Those hardcore vocal folks go to the forums, Reddit, and so forth and shout “Pay2Win”, people see the buzzword, some pile on because they’re genuinely afraid of that idea (who wouldn’t be?), but nothing about the Labor Potions is Pay to Win. If anything, it’s Pay for the Ability to Play Longer and Put Forth More Effort, and then ‘Win’ if you Play Your Cards Right. But I guess that’s not as catchy as P2W.

To wrap things up, I reached out to Trion and Scott Hartsman for a comment, and this is what they had to say on the matter. Hopefully, it helps quell some fears. Me? I’m just waiting until the 12th so I can get started and find a housing plot before they’re all gone.

From Scott Hartsman, CEO of Trion:

"Changes to in-game stores and resource use always have the potential to be contentious, and we’re actually very happy to see vigorous debate.  As ArcheAge’s western publisher, it’s on us to provide the best region specific advice that we can to the developer, and well-stated opinions on all sides of a topic help inform those conversations greatly.  We absolutely appreciate everyone’s passion on these subjects – We know that it means people truly care about the game, which is a great thing to see.  We’re absolutely paying attention, and we all do share the same goal – A hugely successful ArcheAge, enjoyed by the largest number of people possible, over many years to come.  We will continue to foster those conversations between us, our players, and the team at XLGAMES to keep iterating on the store to deliver the best experience possible for everyone."


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.