Thursday, August 22, 2013

You Pays Your Money...

Everyone's talking payment models again...yawn. Just a couple of observations before the whole topic sends me off to sleep:

1. If there's a qualitative difference to the experience of playing any MMO that derives specifically and uniquely from the payment model rather than from the intrinsic merits of the MMO itself,  I have so far been unable to discern it. An MMO is either enjoyable or not enjoyable for reasons that are unrelated to how it chooses to fund itself.

2. A payment model is in itself neither a reason to choose a particular MMO nor to avoid one, unless and except that the costs involved are actually beyond the financial scope of a given player. Something isn't either worth what you pay for it or worth nothing. It's a sliding scale. If it's worth more to you than you're asked to pay, it's a bargain. If it's worth less, it's expensive. If you don't want it at all it's worthless at any  price, even if that price is "free". Only you can decide what something is worth and you can only decide what it's worth to you, not to anybody else. There's no absolute or universal scale of value. Usually there isn't even a commonly agreed average.

As far as the MMOS that are kicking up this rumpus go, I'm not very interested in either. I play a lot of MMOs but some, like TESO, just don't interest me from the outset and others, like WildStar, become less interesting the more I find out about them. I haven't yet bothered to try SW:TOR or Age of Conan, for example. TESO I probably won't try at all, even if it ends up going free. I might have tried WildStar when it launched if nothing much else was going on around then but even if it was Buy-to-Play just the box fee would probably have been enough to put me off.

On the other hand, I've bought FFXIV because I knew from the beta I wanted to play it. Our Early Access codes finally arrived and we're champing at the bit to get started. If I enjoy the first month enough I'll subscribe until I don't enjoy it any more, or until I haven't got time for it because something else has come along.

Play the MMOs you want to play, pay whatever you need to pay, stay clear of the ones you don't like. That's really all there is to it, isn't it?

The other hot topic, in which I'm a lot more interested and have a lot more to say, is GW2's latest Living Story update. Unfortunately I don't have the time right now both to write about it and do it so since Jeromai and Ravious covered it very nicely I'm going to go play. I'll just offer these pictures and a couple of observations:

1. This is the gameplay Trion told us Rift would have, and which it briefly did have on the couple of beta weekends when the devs cranked the invasionometer up to 11. Two years late and in the wrong game but better late than never.

2. Now who does Scarlet remind me of? Let me think, let me think... no, don't tell me, it'll come to me in a minute...Holy Sincerest Form of Flattery, Batman!


  1. There isn't anything intrinsic that changes about the gameplay that depends on the business model. The effect that failing to sustain a subscription model has on the game's population for however long it takes to re-launch the product, on the other hand, is both well-documented and in some cases (e.g. 90% of SWTOR servers closed) catastrophic to the experience of playing the game. The fact that it's potentially more profitable for companies to do this anyway is a bit concerning.

    1. If any MMO developers really are preparing for failure and taking money for Life or Long Term subs that they don't expect to carry the value advertised then it's very sharp business practice indeed and they deserve not only to get called on it but to attract the attention of the relevant financial authority.

      I didn't play SW:ToR and didn't follow it all that closely so I hadn't realized 90% of the servers closed. That's crazy! Surely they must have opened far, far too many to begin with?

  2. People make way too big of a deal about these business model. I swear, one of my friends was ranting about how TESO was being "Greedy" with their subscription model. To which I raised my eyebrows and asked whether he thought the F2P model was "not greedy" by comparison. (They both are attempts to take your time and money, one is not moralistically superior to the other.)

    That said however, it can't be denied that certain design decisions are influenced by the business model. I notice F2P games love their random lockboxes, for example. But quite frankly if the core game is GOOD, these annoyances (if they are minor) can be easily overlooked.


    1. Lockboxes are an interesting phenomenon. To me they are just another thing that gets stuck in the bank in case I ever have use for them. If I get a free key I'll open one, otherwise I never give them a thought. At the other extreme I've read comments suggesting there are people for whom Lockboxes represent such an irresistible draw they have to stop playing altogether because of the cost they represent.

      The extreme differences in personal reaction that can arise from just about any payment method is what makes the entire process a minefield and causes the whole genre to keep having these collective fits of angst. I have no expectations that anyone's ever going to come up with a means of funding these things that pleases even a straight majority of players.

  3. You know how i feel about point 1. It changes things for me to a certain extent but that is not a definite thing

    Agree with point 2 wholeheartedly. no payment model will stop me from trying an mmo I'm really interested in. If I'm not interested it doesn't matter regardless.

    As for ESO, it's not the single player experience that interests me it's the iteration on the WvW format.

  4. Great post, people can get surprisingly emotional about payment models, even ones you (well, at least I) didn't expect it from.

    Part of the reason seems to be that too many players are seemingly having trouble to understand that different people approach the same game(s) differently.

    If I for example can play the content type I like (in short, open world & levelling ) for pennies or less, I'm a happy bunny, though if that same game charges endgame Raiders (only), those may be miffed and declare it as 'greedy' (even though they are too often perfectly fine with having others pay for content those others never play).


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