Monetizing the Masses

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.

Lockboxes

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

Living story

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.

Purchases

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

#GW2 #monetization

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29 thoughts on “Monetizing the Masses

  1. It’s not totally bad. I could accumulate gold doing whatever I liked and spend it on stuff. I didn’t have to think about money ever (which is my only criteria for a payment model). It gave me something to do and, unusually these days, gave me free choice of how to do it. Unfortunately the Living Story came, dominated everything and crushed the game, so I left.

    Then a new sub game came out (FFXIV yay!) For the foreseeable future at least, money is not a thing.

    • haha yeh i know that.. just felt like being a little facetious. I got burnt out though running the game like that, trying to grind enough gold to buy what I wanted but the ways to make gold were just so uggghhh. Only so many times you can run the champion train.

      FF was a nice distraction although there seems to be many odd contrasts between old and modern ideals

      • I honestly feel it’s more your problem than GW2’s problem (or somehow your purchasing habit does not fit with GW2’s scheme, heh). For me, GW2’s system is great because I don’t have to worry about buying things just to keep up. I spend money here and there to get the cool stuffs I want, but never feel pressured. I never feel bothered by the RNG because I know I am not the risk loving type so I stay away from them. But I don’t see anything wrong having them in the game if there are people who enjoy trying their luck with lockboxes?

      • oh indeed it is, I acknowledge that. Gambling and such is a sore point for me, family wise it has caused a fair few issues.
        Also to me, I game for these fluff items at times and having them locked behind this rng bs is infuriating. I will never and have never used them but they still do affect how I game

      • The best way to get gold in GW2 was always to buy it from the gold sellers. Not only was it upwards of 30-50% cheaper than buying it from ANet, but it was less soul crushing than speed grinding CoFp1 or whatever the hell they do these days.

        As an addendum, I recently looked at SWTOR again and was extremely amused at how much variety it has in it’s cosmetic cash shop items in comparison to GW2. It’s fairly impressive, even if about half of them are just recycled designs from KotOR 1 & 2 or special TOR npcs. Too bad the dye system blows.

      • I actually wrote an article about gold sellers during an earlier controversy and actually support the practice. If you buy through arenanet you really don’t get a decent exchange, then there is all the taxes involved.

        I can buy gold, transfer it to gems and it still ends up being cheaper. When that happens you’re only promoting the practice rather than hindering it like the goal was.

        and yes, surprisingly TOR has gotten a lot better, there are still those restrictions that need removing but then, they aren’t asking for a box price

    • I can’t stand GW2 payment model and that’s one of the main reason why I don’t play it any more. Maybe it’s just me but every time I play GW2, all I can think is how game design decision are made to push/nudge you towards the cash shop and how GW2 can be better game without these cash shop compromises. At this point I get sad and stop playing!

      Both subscription games and “F2P” games like GW2 make game design compromises to make money from you. Some F2P games make way too many compromises which are not acceptable to me.

      EQ2 was my all time favourite MMO back in the day and this what it has turned into after going F2P, a compromise gone far in my book…

      http://eq2wire.com/2013/11/06/point-of-need-revival-of-the-revive-button/

      • My issue is that they went way to far with the monetisation scheme like it is ftp when, buying the box was supposed to avoid these major concerns. If it was buy a box then supported by costumes, pets, dyes, and rp stuff I would have been very happy with it.

        They just got way too greedy

  2. AAA Rant! I disagree with most of it, though.

    Yes, the Living Story is piss-poor, but so are most stories in MMOs. It’s arguably less painful for being broken up into fragments than it would have been as one indigestible lump in a quarterly update a la FFXIV.

    Yes ANet clearly have no idea what their game is supposed to be, other than not what they said it was going to be right up to launch. That, in my opinion, is because every single attempt they ever made to make it go in that direction was virulently opposed by almost every player willing to express an opinion. I get the strong feeling that the development plan now is “don’t give ’em what they say they want because when they get it they just complain”.

    Lockboxes are a matter of complete disinterest to me. Don’t buy ’em, don’t care if other people do. Ditto all the stuff in the Gem Shop, all the skins, anything you can buy, really. I have huge drifts of items, currencies, skins, you name it. I have over 4 million karma, nearly 400 Laurels, 300 skill points on just one character alone (and over 100 skill point scrolls in the bank), several hundred gold, several thousand Badges… I never need to spend any of it because I can play effectively and entertainingly with one set of Exotics per character.

    In terms of appearances, I hugely prefer simple, realistic or naturalistic-looking weapons and gear. I like the crafted armor looks and I love the Orrian and Krait weapons that sell on the TP for a few silver. SO far I’ve had enough Mystic converters drop out of chests to
    change the look of my Exotic weapons to Orrian or Krait when the original skn didn’t work for me – which is about 2 or 3 times so far.

    I could go on, but the gist is the game is set up in such a way that I get just about everything I need without ever even having to think about either farming gold or buying gems. It’s high-quality free entertainment for just one initial small cost, the box, that I spent over a year ago. I’m extremely satisfied with the payment model!

    The main part of your rant that I *do* agree with is whether ANet can actually make enough money from this apparently insanely generous set-up to keep the game running, but that’s their business not mine, both literally and metaphorically.

    • I don’t know…that sounds like a bit of a cop out to blame player criticisms and complaints for the direction of the game. Most of the changes made seemed like they were pre planned anyway and not simply put in to placate. Now though they are in this wierd middle ground of fearing to make any big changes because they’ll piss of certain sub sections of the community but the piss off more by not doing anything.

      The problem with lockbox’s is I often like the stuff in them, the actually shop is usually so barren but I just can’t, and won’t support that model. With the transmutation system it was actually a big problem for me as I tend to be working with many different builds for WvW, but I can never keep the look I want. Changing that look means losing the previous, or getting a completely new set.. more time… more grind for something that should be far simpler.

      The thing is, yes the game is free, and everything you want can be gained for free but only if you are one of the hardcore players… a rather small fraction of every game. The thing is it pressures you as well to play that way and that can be a corrupting influence on people’s playstyle and enjoyment.

      It’s a decent model, most of what I said in that regards is embellished.. although, you probably already knew that =p. I did take offence to people calling it the best when there are many better models out there. It has obvious flaws that could easily be rectified by not being as greedy, have to make money but there is a limit to that when you begin losing consumer confidence.

  3. Heck, what a post. I don’t have a lot to add since I thankfully jumped ship from GW2 very early on. I think most of this I do agree with. Honestly, my ideal MMO model is free to try (expansions can still cost money though), subscription that rewards you handsomely ahead of time, with a limited cash shop for spice.

    It is simpler, I don’t feel like the game’s integrity is sacrificed to force me to grind more/buy more, and people get paid!

    • A good trial period is one of the most underrated tools of a ptp mmo and I don’t see why many don’t use it more freely.

      That’s the way I feel as well, like going in this direction you would have to sacrifice so much of the original vision to make it work… and even then there is no guarantees.

      • Or even free trial and then some awesome starter kits. Bonus initial game time, special titles, xp boosts, cosmetic items, etc.

        I dunno, I just hate how free-to-play can often change the design intent of the game.

  4. I’m pretty shocked. Sure, don’t like GW2 the game itself, but the payment model? It’s the greatest thing ever. Just so…OPTIONAL and places a ton of power in the consumer’s hands.

    1. Lockboxes.
    a. You can obtain BL keys from normal gameplay. You’re guaranteed, like, 3 from playing through the personal story.
    b. You can obtain skins from the trading post, no RNG involved.
    c. You can purchase gems with in-game gold.
    d. Not everybody opens BL keys with the explicit goal of obtaining these skins.
    e. The lack of these “skins” do not gate you from any content.

    I used to be in the lockbox hating crowd back when the skins were account bound and only gotten through pure RNG. Since then though, all my concerns have been alleviated. Lockboxes are pretty evil when it gates real progression behind real money and pure RNG. None of this (real progression, real money, pure RNG) is true in GW2… So when people bring up the traditional lockbox-hate, my eyes twitch a bit.

    2. Living Story.
    Universally Panned? Seriously? You’re better than having to justify your positions by “most people share my opinions, obviously.” spewed by the majority of the internet.

    Also, I find it pretty offensive to see you claim the content as easy to re-create and recycle. It’s pretty insulting to the game devs, especially when you have NO IDEA how content is actually created and how much effort they’re actually putting in. They’re on record on saying skins, world bosses, and dynamic events were some of the most time-consuming content to create. And here they are, putting out skins every 2 weeks and just came out with a LS episode chock full of DEs, mobs with the new downed mechanisms, the toxic/hallucination effects, etc. Re-used and recycled? Do we play the same game?

    And what does this have anything to do with the payment model? How does any of this correlate? There’s sub games which have LONG time between updates (2 years between WotLK and Cataclysm. TWO YEARS.) and free games which introduced content once every half a year (DFO). Not to mention the fact that, you’re forced to PAY for content while the content you get here is ABSOLUTELY FREE. One gives you no option if you want to play, one allows you to not pay at all if you don’t like if (after you played it.) How is this a worse payment system?

    3. Purchases.

    Mmm not much to disagree with here. Except character progression. I wholly disagree with you on it (I was livid at the account wallet), but I don’t think that’s really related to the cash shop so…

    4. Gems/Gold

    The greatest thing about the cash shop. It’s completely player driven. It gives players OPTIONS. Don’t like paying money? Spend gold/time. Don’t like spending gold/time? Spend money. All pegged to an exchange which keeps pace with the value of currency in-game itself so no one gets screwed by the fluctuations of in-game gold.

    Whether from a developer’s perspective, if it’s earning money or not, I won’t comment since I have no idea. From a player’s perspective though? It’s a wealth of options, how can you not love it?

    5. The best of both worlds.

    In the end, GW2’s payment model is just so great because it gives players so much options. Complaining about grinding gold to purchase skins? Be glad you have the option to do it, instead of being forced to spend $60 on a gud-damned monocle.

    But seriously though. EA? The one I paid $50 for Mass Effect, and want $10 more for 3-hour DLC’s? No, fuck EA. (But still, take my money EA T_T)

    -Ursan

    • =p I think you missed the disclaimer.

      I have an issue with all of these points, they have an impact on me but are a long way form the overexaggerated form I’m providing. I mainly write these little rants like this for myself, it’s a fun way to write if a little disingenuous at times. Best ignored if I’m ranting towards your interests, and ignored if your not since it adds little to the debate.

      I’ll go over the points.

      I’ve commented here on my personal issue with loxbox’s and the use of gambling practices to provoke purchases. In just about any form the ethical nature of it is highly questionable. It’s manipulative and whether you can or can not by that item from someone who did get suckered is immaterial.

      To get keys fast I believe you run the first 10 levels of personal story, one given at the end but this takes a certain amount of time all on it’s own. Then you’re only getting one key after that and the probability of getting the item, or items you want is extremely low so you would a hundred or more to be sure…that’s a lot of time running the same content. The better way is still champion farming in order to transfer gold into gems but then you’re completely altering the focus of gameplay to encourage this.
      I here that comment a lot in that it doesn’t gate content, but to me these fancy skins are my content and progression. Optional seems a highly subjective word here and is more based on individual opinion of what equals content, a long running debate. In a game that professed to be horizontal in it’s design I would argue that customisation IS the main form of progression….or at least it was until ascended gear came along.

      LS

      They put a lot of work into these I know, but in the end it seems like the same sort of content. Lots of champions, lots of grind. Kill achievements in there to wrap it up. Not much thought and planning seems to go into them. The art and design team are amazing, I’m always breath-taken by what they accomplish in such a short time but how it’s mechanically used and implemented… not so much.
      Yes, universal is bad rhetoric.. that was kind of the point. An untrue generalisation but the element of truth is there. Having a look around at some of Anets most vocal supporters and I can see the cracks showing in their writing, commenting, and videotube thingies. Ls isn’t popular, that has become obvious over time based on the outcry on the forums and in comments sections in many articles. So universally planned, no but it is far from being as popular as it used to be.

      The two week cycle is most definitely related or been effected by the payment model, they don’t seem to market the cash shop nature so heavily during these events any more and have toned it down considerable from the earlier inception but they still seem to be connected.

      As for the gold exchange, yes you can theoretically use your time to get the items, grinding gold and it’s great they tried to equalize payment through this method. My issue is with how much it changes the nature of the game away from things more enjoyable, if it was a more limited time event it would be good but it is a corrupting force as is. It encourages people to grind far more than is agreeable or should be planned for. It’s not a healthy way to play and is probably the reason why I do read so many cases of burn-outs. It’s wow dailies but increased in magnitude because of the real world expense rewarded.

      The EA bit was a bit of a low blow… I was drunk…so sue me =p

      • Gosh, that EA mention tempted me so hard to do a anti-EA rage. Augh.

        Anyways, on the topic of lockboxes, I find it incredibly disingenuous to completely ignore the option of people to purchase it off the trading post. The sheer existence of these weapons on the trading post for sale is proof that people who aren’t explicitly interested in these weapons open these lockboxes. And for people who are interested in the skins, they can buy them, guaranteed, off the trading post (Averaging about ~40G per weapon skin during the LS episode, I might add. The drop rates are not astronomically low as some people claim.). And then there’s the fact that Anet has endorsed the 20-minute key farm (somewhat convoluted, but it’s there, it’s been endorsed, and there has been no attempt to nerf it.)

        To accuse them of being unethical and manipulative? Who are they manipulating? Those who really want the weapons have several options presented to them, both with real cash (buy BL keys, or gems -> gold then buy off TP) and in-game gold (gold -> gems for BL keys, or buy off TP). Again, their lockbox method gives players OPTIONS in spades. How can you hate? Can not comprehend.

        They’re manipulative in other areas, sure (finishers in PvE to encourage finisher sales) but lockboxes? Anet’s way of handling lockboxes should be the gold standards of all other lockboxes.

        -Ursan

      • the question is, what do we, as the consumer really get out of them being in an rng device in the first place? Why not sell outright? That certainly would be the more honest way.
        I do understand it from a business perspective, it increases the life of objects, the amount received and can open more options to the purchaser (get a staff and try it out), extra credits even had a vid on it recently but that doesn’t mean I approve of it as a consumer.

        As a consumer it completely negates the key factor of making an informed decision
        Those options you mentioned would still be there even without the rng mechanism.. it adds nothing and takes so much away

  5. You take away the RNG mechanism, you take away the SHEER joy of winning RNG.

    As this is a game in which loot is involved, there is no happier feeling then finding something rare. The night I looted Dawn was one of the most memorable moments in my gaming career, EVER. It was compounded by the fact that I was double-lucky for needing it too. But anyways, thousands of players stumble upon these weapons without explicitly looking for it. Why take away the potential for this feeling? I’d argue that taking RNG away adds nothing (since you already can buy things guaranteed) but takes much potential joy away.

    On the business side, as a consumer, we have a vested interested in our service to do well financially, but since I really have no information to determine whether RNG or flat-rates are successful (Since Anet has both. More flat fees actually, I believe the weapon skins are really the only RNG goods offered, as opposed to the finishers, armor skins, permanent gathering tools, various service goods like transmutation or hair style kits, etc…) I can’t really comment on that. But if RNG is really more profitable, I’d totally support it, since it’s so unobtrusive and easily avoided if needed.

    This only applies to Anet’s RNG though. I totally understand the frustrations at lockboxes, because they’re pretty crappy throughout much of the industry. But I will re-iterate that Anet’s way of handling it (assuming it’s actually profitable) is something I’d love to see in all the future games I play.

    -Ursan

    • no one wins rng.. you might get up occasionally but you’ll also lose

      I’m not against rng in games.. I know a lot are but like you said there are those moments of sheer amazement when you uncover something. It adds mystery and excitement.

      When spending money though that’s an entirely different thing to me, I understand how certain industries will use it… like trading card games but then I don’t enjoy them either

      • You only lose RNG if you’re doing it with the explicit goal of winning something. Which isn’t everyone. And those who have the explicit goal of winning something, have an option of avoiding RNG. And you don’t have to spend money. And you can farm them in-game if you want to.

        Like you said, it adds excitement. While the TP gives an alternative to people who explicitly want something, the people who RNG angers the most.

        Just as a disclaimer though, I”m very Bhagpussian in which extrinsic rewards barely motivate me. That colors my perspective greatly. And I wanted to type this disclaimer so I can use the term Bhagpussian.

        -Ursan

      • what other reasons are they to partake in rng lockboxes. The act of combat, of exploring and finding things can be an interesting experience. All the locboxes are is gambling, a burst of dopamine: the exploitation of human physiology and psychology. I’ve seen it’s effect on people lives and I’d rather it be done away with

        haha.. Bhagpussian. sounds like a Freudian disorder.

  6. Most gamblers who gamble in Vegas do so fully with the knowledge that they will lose the money. They deem the overall experience worth the loss in cost though. Those truly addicted and harmed by the institutions are the ones who want to “win,” which almost always leads to massive losses.

    In here, we have a system which those who truly want to “win” can subvert the RNG process altogether. A process that many players participate in, judging by the frequency in which the BL weapon skins get sold/bought. And again, the sheer existence of these weapons on sale in the first place is proof enough that a significant number of people open these chests without the explicit objective of winning said weapon skin.

    In the end though, it all comes down to subjectivity. You view gambling as an absolute evil, regardless of options provided. I feel the options provided completely negates what I view as evils present in lockboxes elsewhere, hence is something I hope to see everywhere else.

    -Ursan

    • ok, I admit you have changed my mind a little but it is far more a personal bias based on personal experiences so that’s a hard nut to crack. When you have seen that damage first hand, or even been harmed by it then it changes your perspective drammatically

  7. “..if this were a sub game we would probably getting more substantial updates as a way of keeping players paying for access..”

    What makes you think that? Is there any sub game in the history of the MMORPG genre which has given more substantial updates than GW2’s Living Story? I can’t think of any, although I vaguely remember hearing good things about Asheron’s Call (couple of years before my time, that one).

    • This part is highly based on personal opinion but to me, they lack substance. It is more a question of what you call content.

      While some of the updates have been amazing (queens jubilee for instance), an equal if not more of than are a minimal number of events that require extreme repetition. The reliance on achievements creates an environment of grind.

      It’s also how badly connected the seem to be to the world. TSW for instance gets the money on DLC for quality, even if there isn’t much there. I subbed to Rift for a long time because the kept adding new events, activities, world changes, dungeons, raids, open world fights quite regularly.
      It engaged me as a player and this stuff does not.

      They seem to be changing their direction in development now so it does seem to be getting better

  8. I agree with most of this rant. One caveat: a well-done (in-game currency to/from microcurrency) exchange can really help make a free-to-game feel more fair. But, there are two caveats: the system needs transparency and the game needs a meaningful economy. Both of these are missing in GW2.

    Transparency is important so people understand how it works. In GW2, you put your money or your gems in and you magically get the other thing back. As you say, they could be completely manipulating the system for whatever ends. A better system would let you put up buy/sell orders and adjust those orders if the market shifts. They already do this for the normal AH, so I’m confused why they didn’t do it for the exchange unless there is some manipulation going on behind the scenes.

    The other element is a meaningful economy. For having an economist on the team, the economy sure is hyperinflationary. There’s so much gold in the economy and it continues to grow. Taking a few months off means you fall behind on this treadmill, and the only way to get back on is to grind, grind, grind. The changes I recommended to the AH some months ago would let people catch up and spread the wealth around a bit more which could reduce the need for grinding and things like champion trains. But, this also contributes to the exchange feeling out-of-whack, where the price to buy gems keeps ever increasing.

    The game Puzzle Pirates did the exchange right, IMHO. It had a much more transparent exchange and had an economy that was the foundation of the game; a lot of the game was economic in nature. So, I’ve seen how a game can be greatly improved with a good exchange.

    As for GW2 as a whole, I think changes are coming. They’re still flush with the income from box sales this fiscal year. But, once those slow down they’re going to need to keep the money coming in. I think we’ll see some more aggressive use of the existing cash shop techniques. So, if you don’t like what’s happening already, it’s not likely to get better….

    • oh I don’t have a crusade against free to play or cash shops like some people… it’s just against bad ones. I’ve supported many free to play games and regularly purchase from them only if it is first an enjoyable experience and second, if it’s not stupid. I actually feel bad about the money I have spent on Gw2 and that’s not good. I don’t know if they could afford to make it worse without further losing the confidence of players.

      I actually don’t think your game needs an economy for it to work, plenty of work pretty well without it. Also I don’t think it’s worth the hassle either to be able to transfer in game currency to the cash shop. It would take a lot of balancing and puts a lot of pressure on an economy.

      Transparency is a very important part to me, definitely. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t like lockbox’s and adds to the feeling in parts like they are trying to trick you into spending more money. Puzzle pirates is but one and I have seen many others. I think the whole free to play is still very much in it’s infancy and they haven’t really figured out where and what to do with it just yet that is both good for consumers and companies.

      • As a developer, I think having an exchange is good for opening up the audience for your game. There are some people who might be good members of the community who add to the game but who can’t or just won’t spend money on it. Letting them exchange in-game currency for microcurrency lets them play the game. Plus, it cuts the legs out from under gold sellers when it works properly.

        Yeah, it’s a lot of work to balance an economy, but MMOs as a whole are a lot of work, so I don’t see that as a valid excuse. Plus, GW2 is the type of game tries to have a meaningful economy and has a lot of game elements predicated on that ideal. Otherwise, why bother having a trading post? I’m just confused why the resident economist seems to think the level of inflation in the game is acceptable.

        Anyway, I completely agree that this business model is still early. It’s becoming a big pet peeve of mine where people assume that just because some free-to-play game somewhere did something sleazy, that all games have to do the same thing. Often ignoring the fact that subscription games manipulate the design to keep people paying just as much if not worse than free-to-play games.

      • I understand the principle behind creating that sort of equality but there seem to be a lot if issues to it. You have to tightly control the gold inputs in the economy and be aware of any abnormalities… speed dungeon runs for instance. Then for new content you have to maintain the gold ratio, you have to keep creating interesting items for people to continuously buy. To me it seems simpler for these items to be sold and then traded by players for gold in game. Those who grind can still get what they want but your not creating alternatives to paying money.

        I don’t think an economy, a player driven and/or equalised economy was ever the game. Without an item outlet, be it outright loss or degradation there will always be some sort of inflation.. they’ve actually kept it reasonable though. On that note… what would, say… the crafting system in EQ be like huh huh huh huh huh huh =p

        I think it is natural to assume that sort of stuff about ftp just because we’ve had a large stretch of really poorly designed systems. A loooooot of sleazy out there and only a handful of really positive examples. Oh and there is a difference, at least in my mind between outright manipulation of time and my money.

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