This thought has been brewing for some time but finally, without any doubt, I can say that the cash shop system in guild Wars 2 is an abomination. I actually admires Tor’s restrictive style more as at least that is kind of honest in its implementation.
What spurned this on is the recent post from black lion profit who once again opened a considerable number of the new chests.. For science. And once again the emphatic response regarding these is don’t bother, save your gold and good God put your wallet back down.
Let’s look at what he got… 1 token for a new weapon skin, an axe skin (recycled), a couple of armor skins (ugly as all sin) and an abundance of readily available and quite useless crafting items. Oh, don’t forget the amazing boost items. Also remember that all of this is character bound after you use it and the whole transmutation system makes changing anything a rather frustrating affair. Gold was used in this example as a way of gaining gems but if they had used real world currency it would have cost them over 70$.
You would think by now they may have gotten a little better at the reward to crap ratio in these, and while it’s improved slightly it’s still rather disgusting. The only major changes I’ve seen to these is how they are handed out and the improved naming of the chest. It all seems to me like some giant money-making experiment where they are trying to make the absolute most profit from people. Who cares if it really isn’t very ethical, annoys a large chunk of players, and is the worst way to run a long-term enterprise because MONEY.
I support Liore’s recent post about the problems with running an mmo without a subscription. It invariable leads to developers caring more about ways to make money rather than actual gameplay. It’s not just her though proclaiming the dangers of the model lately it’s many, many others.
Games need to make money, that’s a given but the shift in content development and implementation is a dramatic shift. A shift that isn’t a very positive for players in most circumstances. As Wilhelm points out recently it is a development approach that no longer takes into account the broader playerbase but focuses on the smaller market that is funding them…. it becomes a focus away from gameplay and towards selling things to this market: creating new items to sell and new ways to sell them.
I have seen this sort of approach in the development of GW2 with the new events each month being tied to new cash shop items or mechanics There nearly always seem to be some rng element in them, predominately lockboxes…. Lockboxes that are filled with the same old crap and terrible probability. The events are really the only way they could market these and still conceal their nature. When they used the standard black lion boxes for the Halloween event there was a mini player revolt, yet they just re-skinned it and the issues subsided. They of course make money, that is obvious and probably more money than any other model but it is an approach that alienates a large percentage.
Another reason I think the probability on items is so low is because of the gold to gem exchange. For their business to actually succeed in its buy to play approach they need to make money from these cash shop items. They obviously expect people to use their gold often enough and are aware of the current popular methods of making money and so they inflate the price to compensate. It is designed to take out large chunks from the market so enough people do have to resort to cash but then this of course affects any real world comparison.
They can’t just make it easy for people to achieve these items with gold and the probability is made so low that only the most hardened of farmers could achieve such things.. which in the end also makes it out of reach to any customers willing to buy them. I’ve been through the comments section on many of these post about lockboxes and there are a lot of examples of people buying around 10 keys with real money, a decent amount really and getting absolutely nothing so obviously this isn’t a system designed for the average consumer. I loved how they implemented these weapon skins during the Wintersday even, the gambling boxes were still there but people could buy these for an inflated cost. Obviously going by the market research they made less money from it, and so here we are again with new items being hidden behind rng with appalling probability.
Wilhelm also had one particular phrase in his article that felt very similar to my experiences now
…the initial experience can be quite positive. But over time, it seems like another race to the lowest common denominator, that cash shop focus becomes cash shop mania.
At first the experience in GW2 was great, the only things to worry about were one time pieces of convenience but this has slowly changed into something unrecognisable. I expected the approach to change a little as you can’t sell convenience forever but the predominance of lock boxes is a bit unnerving. And now, after 8 months it seems Anet is indeed pandering to the lowest common denominator with certain items in their cash shop.
Tits and Ass, something I never thought would be blatantly sold but here it is. Even with their rather dubious approach towards selling a chance at costume pieces I didn’t think we would reach the standards of games like Tera.
So after all this Anet, I solemnly swear never to purchase a single upgrade, boost, cosmetic, key, or any other item from your ridiculous cash shop. I no longer support your dubious lock box enterprise and deplorable ethical (and social) practices. Even though I felt a little dirty about purchasing things in the past I didn’t think I was going to actively regret doing it.. now.. I’m not so sure.
I know this is all a very emotional response to certain business practices in standard but as others have pointed out our relationships with our games and the companies that run them are primarily bases on our opinions and emotions. I still like the game.. admittedly less and less as game areas of my interest see less and less content and changes as they simple aren’t as easily monetized but I will continue to play nonetheless.. at least only until the next shiny comes along.