Captain Nerd Rage is back once more to champion the forgotten causes, the bad forum rhetoric and those completely illogical conclusions once more. Of course it is time to delve further into the realm of GW2 blunders and to bring you another rant for the ages. Over that hump of sadness and remorse, it was a gloomy time I admit but onward to a time of good cheer (for me) and ridicule.
So reading over twitter the last day and a couple of people were commenting on the payment models; debating between subscriptions and free to play schemes when Guild Wars 2 was brought up as an exemplary system. Really? This one over all the others… I know the buy to play scheme is sooooo in vogue right now and I actually do like the idea of it as a payment model as it theoretically should avoid many of the dire consequences that come with being free and swindling your customers. But this one… No… freeking…. way.
*Danger.. DANGER Will Robertson. Stupendously confrontational Rant Ahoy *
I’ve played quite a few free mmo’s in recent times, more than I could even bother counting and to me Guild Wars 2 is far from being in the top best payment schemes, it might look passable from afar but after digging into it and being thoroughly coated in its greasy goodness I wouldn’t even put it in the middle. It might be placed above those horrible cow clickers on facebook but just barely and only if I’m in a good mood.
Why rant further about this game?..hmmm. Because it seems I’m still annoyed. Not angry or melancholy about wasted potential, just annoyed that I drank the cool aid but instead of feeling enlightenment I woke up bruised and battered on the outskirts of town. So without further adieu here are my 5 reasons why Guild Wars 2 is an abomination on the industry, of the righteous name of buy to play, and of all reasonable cash shops out there waiting and not begging for your money.
I hate lockboxes and always will. There is no universe in which I, or any of my parallel selves would ever purchase a chance at an item… and an utterly miserable one at that. I’ve been very critical of this in the past and still am now, I will remain critical of other companies using it but I have seen it done in a reasonable way that suits the game in a way that isn’t just designed to tap into those psychological gambling hooks. Regardless of its implementation though having this sort if unethical cash shop practice immediately ensures you will never be elligible for a best of anything
Tera, a game I played again recently has a reasonable lockbox system with it regularly giving out keys during gameplay with them even being purchasable on the in-game market… and the probability is ok. Last time I discussed this a commenter brought up city of heroes as well and how it had a system that the players enjoyed and were rewarded for. It can and has been done far better.
The system here is appalling. The abysmal probability of getting real items, the items you want are astronomical at times and all you are getting between that is a plethora of useless convenience items. I thank you for more kharma boosters, one stack in the bank just isn’t enough and I need to increase the 1 million kharma I have with nothing interesting to use on. The cost as well.. MY GOD. Seriously, when it would cost you more than the actual game to get the item you want, well that’s the point you should be surrendering yourself to the mob for a public lynching.
Unfortunately if you’re wanting some of the new exclusive skins designed you have to go through this terrible system to get them which leaves me just laughing at the improbability of that. Yes there is a way to buy these things in-game on the Auction House… Sometimes but they carry with them such astronomical costs there as well. Either way it still requires some dumb idiot to be purchasing these in the first place which is a practice I don’t support
It’s actually an amazing marketing buzz word if you think about it. Living envisions a world of dynamic change and the illusion of it being active and alive, while story implies that they have a basic grasp of creative writing… but sadly those key words “living: and “story” are actually the weakest points. Hearing it every second sentence in every single announcement does make it sounding like a positive thing, an amazing thing…. a truly REVOLUTIONARY thing but instead it’s a substandard telling of a story created by blind, deaf and dumb fools.
Then there is this accursed content that is finally, after all these months being universally panned for its terrible implementation. It is the unchanging style of content, of random events connected by a thin veneer of some ridiculous Sylvari clown. Crammed chock full with easy to recreate, reuse and recyclable content that can be reskinned and squished back into the feeding tube; just cram in a lot more kill achievements and call it a day content.
Now I put this in an issue with payment schemes because, if this were a sub game we would probably getting more substantial updates as a way of keeping players paying for access; if it was free to play we would probably be getting purchasable DLC that expands on the story of the world and adds new elements or at least some decent cosmetics. Hell, in both of those we would be getting a decent bloody expansions to buy as well but noooooo… part of your scheme is to continue on with this rollercoaster of grind, peddling your back-pieces and lockbox weapon skins wherever you can. It is a brilliant scheme though where you can avoid the whole paying for quality arguments since no ones paying.. for any of it…. or would… ever.
The restrictions placed on the consumer for each and every purchase just seems so utterly infuriating that I’m perplexed as to how this game even stays afloat without a subscription (ahh yes, the lockboxes). It seems we have little control over the use and reuse of the virtual items we purchased, at a ridiculous money or time cost, as it is all tightly controlled by your horrendous mechanics.
A bevy of one use items from the shop that disappear if used incorrectly or in a moment of forgetfulness. Items that can’t be recovered once gone, or used in another context, or even on another character with ease. It is a mechanic that is asking the player to buy multiples of the same item as a sort of insurance or if they want that extra level of customisation. oh it would be a shame if something were to happen to that piece you spent hundred of gold gambling for, yet in the same breath it is an emphatic not our problem if you should lose them, which is incredibly easy.
Combined of course with transmutation crystals so that players can’t actually use these items with other gear either for an upgrade or different build without paying for the service.. nah, the PRIVILEGE first. Each time I use it I feel like the gimp asking the master for another spanking.
It is a system that is trying to get the most money out of the least amount of items. Have a look at the amount of costumes available in the cash shop and how little there have been since release in terms of variety, not just in costumes but titles, pets, vanity items, RP nonsense and it is no wonder they want to milk these. The path with the least amount of effort for the most amount of profit.
Also there is the problem of nearly everything being account bound. In a game that relies heavily on alternative characters to stave of the boredom it makes no sense to make all these hard-earned, time-consuming, and expensive items completely account bound. The act of changing character completely wipes all progress, and even using an item once, on one character is enough to permanently lock it too them even as a cosmetic. Then there are the other systems like dyes, which I even wrote a forum reply about, that make no sense being account bound other than trying to wring that wallet even further.
I asked for a real Cash Shop nearly a year ago now and I have yet to even see a glimmer of that being in the future
Gems and Gold
I know very little about the reasoning behind adding a mediatory currency, I know little of its economic effect and the statistically reasoning behind it. But as an armchair designer extraordinaire it seems like absolute stupidity from a business perspective, and well from a game stand point it seems like stupidity as well.
The life blood of games not asking for a subscription is players buying things in the cash shop, money goes to developers, developers can get paid and create more content. THE SYSTEM WORKS! But here you decided to create a brand new shiny square peg and then try to hammer it into this smooth running round hole. If players can, and they do bypass the payment system by grinding out gold you earn nothing from it. Sure you have more people around for longer and they might get hooked enough to buy more but that is an extremely large maybe.
Now in many other systems a mediatory in-game mechanic kind of works but in this case player A buys a cash shop items for real money and player B exchanges over in-game currency for it. WIN! money exchanges hands for a product like it should and then players barter with said item. Here you can play enough to bypass this by buying directly with your time, you can even buy for others this way and theoretically play for free while enjoying everything in the cash shop.
From a game stand point it completely changes the culture to one around grinding more and more gold as a way of bypassing these payment barriers. Playing repetitive and mind-numbing content in order to get cash shop shinies but it ruins the overall experience of the game and is a quick path to mmo burnout.
It also completely screwed over the game economy. Let’s be honest for a bit and say that the gem to gold ratio is completely fictitious and tightly controlled rather than being directed by the players. In game gold is highly regulated to a point where most players really won’t earn that much and the ratio reflects this. Many of the in-game items have an exorbitant gold cost exactly so that the bulk of players would have to spend an inflated amount of time to get them. The economy is designed around spending a lot of time to get things or failing that, to buy gems then get gold.
If the ratio was any better it would be too easy and cheap for players to buy everything they want in-game. If you think about it, the inflated gold cost is actually a rather devious tax on the casual player. It is a bit of a reverse as the hardcore get everything and if the bulk of casual players want anything like that they would have to pay.
Worst of both worlds
Guild Wars 2 is a game that appears to have no idea what it wanted to be when the monetization scheme was growing up. They wanted the large initial income of box sales during release as a way of recuperating cost but then also wanted a fully fleshed out and operational cash shop. But there must have been an issue in translation as the cash shop I see is eerily similiar to near every ftp game out there in the way it tries to get that intial burst of convenience purchases to pay for costs. A system that completely changes the way in which content is designed to maximise profit.
Buying a box I thought I wouldn’t have to put up with the needless restrictions that frustrate you into purchasing that are inherent in ftp games. They are there to compensate for not having the box price and as a way of getting each player, rather than just whales to recoup development costs. But these horrid ftp mechanics are here in force, enough that it feels like double dipping: I’ve already payed for the box so why am I still being harassed like I usually am in Asian ftp grinder number 37 with a plethora of unlock systems and stupid boost items.
Issues with bag and bank space pop up constantly in the beginning and for each character and this lack of spaces is restrictive on play. The game has so much inventory spam that trying to leave the first zone, to gather or craft is near impossible without upgrading and it is an inconvenience for the sake of inconvenience.. it’s not gameplay based, it is purely economical.
Then there is there incessant want to monetise ever single damn part of the game, to force in payments walls in often restrictive ways. The original structured PvP tournaments is one such system that was vehemently complained about in the beginning and the one after was just as bad. Oh no, lets not give away the arena pvp for free like every other mmo, lets just completely cripple it during those initial stages of growth so as to create an empty shell of a game mode…. that will surely bring in the dollars.
And after all this time as well we still only see the most expansive updates being provided to areas of the game that can both be marketed and tied into the cash shop. Forget about this large world, dynamic events, skills, traits, mini-games, WvW, SPvP and any notion of a truly living and growing world.. lets just jump onboard the Living world marketing experiment.
I even have severe reservations if the game is reasonably profitable. We shall see in the coming days when the next quarterly earnings report comes out although I do expect the real test will come when the competitive bevy of new and exciting triple AAA’s grace our screens in the new year.
Even after this spam just looking around the mmo genre for more than 10 minutes and you can see plenty of cash shops better than here. The Secret World, a bevy of interesting items to buy at reasonable prices; Tera, hilarious costumes and little restrictions on play; Rift recently transitioned to ftp and even with a rather in your face shop it still provides a decent experience. Then there is Vindictus, Neverwinter, Age of Wushu, Ragnorarok online, Runecsape, Planetside 2, Firefall, Age of Conan, DC Universe, just about every new ftp lobby multiplayer game and many many MANY more. Even fucking EA with Swtor and the hotbar salesman have realised that maybe screwing over your customer base isn’t such a good idea.
So best payment model… hardly. A decent cash shop…. not even close. Is it at least a good buy to play mmo I hear you say?…. well, we shall see I guess. I am left wondering though what happened to the visionaries who created this project, who nursed a brilliant idea of a dynamic world to conception and then seemed to abandon it. All I see left now are a bunch corporate whores and marionettes doing a lovely pantomime to placate the masses.
This rant has been brought to you by the lovely j3w3l: Blogger by day, Captain Nerd Rage by night. Please tip your waitresses on the way out