Archeage and Continuing the Cash Shop Hate

Archeage makes me hate free to play, and no that isn’t so kind of hyperbolic. I’ve always been rather partial on the payment model and even supportive at times as it does have many good points. Now I’ve ranted about this all before, a huge AAA rant of awesomeness with part 1 and part 2 still available for your viewing pleasure and I thought that would be the end of it. Unfortunately I find myself in the same position again of liking a game, or liking what it could have been but with a monetization scheme that does it’s best to ruin that for me and now I’m becoming far more negative about ftp in general.

It does have potential but it seems like the more the industry accepts the model as its default and the more it has worked with it the worse and worse it seems to get. The further we go from thinking about gameplay and accessibility to just a strong focus of Greed and getting out as much as you can as quickly as possible.

It seems the MMO genre is now being influenced far more from mobile design than really developing something more suited to itself. Taking a look through Gamasutra is rather telling in regards to this. A site that was once focused around game development and design has slowly shifted towards a focus on monetisation. How best to make money, and the most money from a product. Makes me reminiscent of a time when good games were usually the ones that used to sell well.

It’s just not a model I want to support anymore, the complications and issues are just too great and not worth the sacrifices that need to be made. It’s just development that becomes a slave to the cash shop and the kind of people that buy. Now there have been a few games that I have put a fair bit of money in and ftp games that i do support but the longer we go the more content feels like it is getting designed around the cash shop rather than being a supplement.

For Archeage there have been so many mistakes that really take away the feel of the game. It’s funny too that in this short amount of time within the game I’ve already easily ohuspent over $100 and that was only with the smallest package. That’s an amount of money that would last a long time for a subscription game and the really pathetic part is I’ve barely unlocked the necessities of my account. I have one character with the full bag and bank unlocks but my others have nothing leaving them feeling a little crippled. I’ve also unlocked only one extra character and haven’t bought much else from the cash shop.. well.. except for a certain item.

The thing is, me spending money hasn’t felt good at all either. I either feel forced or rather manipulated when I do and that’s not a nice way to feel about a game. For the Secret world I always felt excited to buy new clothing and pets yet here I feel more like a fool, a hopeless and abused fool falling for these stupid cash shop traps.

I actually like the Labour system. It creates a strong crafting and economy base where there is a sense of interdependence between players and between the different crafts. Everyone is needed in the economy to make things and because of the labour also adds extra value to crafts as well. You can’t do everything and must rely on people, not just to make but gather as well.

Unfortunately this whole system has been perverted by the cash shop system and labour pots. You run out of labour pretty regularly and if there was no way to replenish you’d just deal with it but here, and having that incentive is rather seductive. It’s always calling to you, constantly and when you have a few plants you wanted to harvest, a couple rings to craft or a tradepack to hand in it’s hard to resists. Add that into how you can use the pots on every character and you end up being able to sell quite a bit of them. Many have and are falling into this trap because when you aren’t it’s hard not to feel like you’re falling behind, especially when you don’t play as much as others.That isn’t even mentioning the issue of the ftp labour system.. it’s just terrible and basically pushes a subscription on you that doesn’t even remove give you a full game, or equal to a real sub only type mmo.

Of course there are once again lock boxes, the bane of my mmo existence. I just don’t understand the principle. Giving people a chance to buy what they want, it makes no sense to me. It works though, unfortunately and they sell but I’ve said before it just isn’t ethical and I think slowly people are getting wise to the idiocy of them.

With the popularity, as well as incompetence here in Archeage we’ve also seen just how bad the hacking, botting, gold spam and exploitative behaviour can be within ftp games. The one restrictive factor to many, the cost of the game itself is no longer there and they can continue to make throwaway accounts whose soul purpose it is to abuse the many games system. There is little concern them either, grab a vpn and launder the money through the auction house. Many of the hacks aren’t even getting registered as well so people are freely abusing it, of course that’s more Trions fault but still, if you had the cost investment many would be less likely to try.

And are we really looking at the cost of all these cash shop things. These can’t be called microtransactions anymore. We’re looking at a few dollars for just a short term boost. $10 or more for a digital piece of clothing or a horse, more for a glider here. I was looking at the Warhammer 40k founder stuff too and that stuff is running at a base price of 10, that’s just ridiculous. Since when was it appropriate that a simple cosmetic, something we used to get in game costs as much as a months sub, or more.

And then there is the other design decisions that were blatantly put in place for cash shop reasons. The expansive in game regrade scrolls, comprising of rare ingredients that is much easier to get from the cash shop and it’s also that the rarity of many items has been hidden behind the many bags that drop from mobs, it’s a way to completely control the market and make things more costly than they need to be, which in a way helps them sell gold through cash shop items or apex.

The biggest concern lately is just how far they want to go in order to make money, and it seems for Archeage, and probably the industry the answer is limitless. There are no limits to avoid, just the return in investment. The current problem was the archeum Sapling, and item that is planted with a 1 hour growth time, 10% chance for a thunderstruck as well as a far greater number and type of received Archeum than the regular version. It doesn’t even need to be watered like the in game version which takes away both the time investment and the gameplay around them. With these the need for tree farms, a huge part of my exploration enjoyment and Archeum watering, a activity around ganking and guilds is no longer needed. It’s taking away gameplay now just to make more money. That’s far beyond the mantle of convenience ftp gets championed for and this is what the genre is increasingly moving towards.

I don’t know. I still know there is some good in the payment model of ftp, and it could be more suited to certain games more than other styles but all I see, and all I continue to see is the model being corrupted, continuously. Going further and further into games being run by the marketing department and the investor overlords more than the developers themselves yet do they truly realize the errors they are making. The games they are choking of life, of enjoyment.

#Archeage #cashshop #ftp

10 thoughts on “Archeage and Continuing the Cash Shop Hate

  1. Fully agree. Cash shops should be limited to content, like TSW or LOTRO buying those mini-expacs, or cosmetics (clothes, furniture/weapon/item skins, pets, etc).

  2. I’m not at all sure it’s the payment model that’s at fault. It sounds much more like a corporate governance issue to me. Businesses adopt a very wide variety of stances on what they do or don’t consider ethical when dealing with their customers, often building their ethical stance into their marketing strategy. As consumers and customers we have the opportunity to inform ourselves about those positions and act accordingly.

    Working in a bookshop that is part of a national chain I hear, quite literally every working day, customers editorializing about the rationale that lies behind their decision process not just on what they are buying but on where they are buying it. Over the past decade we’ve been the corporate big-business bad guys driving independent bookshops out of business, the heroic last-man-standing bastion of high street bookselling and the ethically acceptable alternative to internet giants who don’t recognize their tax responsibilities.

    Just as companies fine-tune their sales ethics so customers think very intensely about their purchasing decisions. Now, many of those decisions are made irrationally, emotionally and at the behest of often inaccurate media reporting, but still they are conscious choices. If we as gamers don’t like the way particular games are being run we have the option to take our business elsewhere and we should consider that option seriously. I don’t mean to endorse the fatuous “vote with your wallet” concept; I just mean we should decide where our lines are drawn and stay on the side we believe in.

    I like SOE MMOs. I’ve played them for 15 years and I prefer them to virtually all other MMOs. I was content with their mandatory subscription but I prefer their current F2P+optional sub. They sell things in the cash shop that I want to buy and they don’t impose restrictions on my play that I feel obligated to buy my way out of at a price I feel is unreasonable. GW2 has a model using B2P+cash shop with no optional sub which I like less (cash shop is poor but game has too many unlocks that require Gems – although you can of course grind gold in game to get those gems) but it still falls well within acceptable bounds for me to play it and feel quite comfortable.

    ArcheAge? GIve me a break. Hardly surprising though coming from Trion, whose “F2P” model for Rift had already been marked “unacceptable” in this house due to the exceptional real-money cost of housing items, all of which would be crafted or otherwise obtained in-game as part of the actual gameplay in almost all other MMOS with housing.

    I’d blame the companies for their implementation far more readily than blame the payment models themselves and Trion is a particularly poor example of how to do F2P acceptably.

    • Really, Trion? I always thought Rift was the most generous of the F2P models out there, though admittedly I already owned the game before they changed business models so I don’t know if a new player today is harshly restricted. Afaik there are a tonne of housing items that can be earned or found or crafted in-game, so I don’t see the problem with having lots more in the cash shop.
      They really screwed the pooch with AA, of course, but that seems to have been a product of marketing’s eyes lighting up when they saw the LP system and decided that F2P was a potential goldmine. So I guess Trion is a net neutral for me because they represent both the best and the worst implementations of the F2P model.

      LoL, TSW, even WoW have shown that cosmetics sell ridiculously well. As far as development resources go, I’d assume that it is simply a matter of artist labour, rather than the more delicate rebalancing that new mechanics or systems would require, so the marginal profit per hour of labour should be pointing companies at that monetisation model. Yet they keep going to all these convoluted lengths to try and squeeze more money from players with dodgy gambling psychology techniques.

      • Rift is a bit on the restrictive side for a new ftp player. A few things to unlock first to make a usable account like bag space and such. Overall not bad though, except the lock boxes… They be evil.
        So yeh, they’re ok.

        I also don’t entirely blame them for AA either as a lot of that stuff was already determined and it seems getting them to make changes is like trying to take my dog to the vet, a struggle at every moment.

        But when I read their comments about the archeum sapling on the forums I do have to lay dome blame on them. It seems they just don’t care enough about this product as it isn’t theirs. Incompetence or ignorance, both are damaging.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. F2P for me is an indication that the game is going to have a bunch of limitations that will make me not want to play.

  4. I have to agree that, despite supporting F2P as a model, I’m finding the details of some games’ version of it souring my view of the model. The lockboxes are one thing I really do despise, Neverwinter has so many of them! The pricing of items is also shocking, £15 for a mount or companion is crazy pricing. I’m very careful how much I spend on a F2P MMO, if it gets even close to a sub then I’ll start questioning my purchases very carefully.

    SoE’s model is great, I feel very little of the restrictions these days and will happily drop some Stationcash on unlocking the odd broker sale, it’s pence so I don’t think about it so hard. EQ2 doesn’t have lockboxes either and there are plenty of good mounts and housing items that you can get in game without it being an obvious case of grind-like-crazy or pay.

    So I’m becoming less included to ignore an exploitative payment model as inevitably my enjoyment of the game will be negatively affected over time.

    • Soe does seem to do it rather well although while they are less in terms of amount the quantity they put in is a lot. Thinking of Planetside 2 here with just so many weapons to purchase. They’re still abusing the whole early access thing a bit but, they seem to be the one company that readily gives refunds which they get major kudos from me for.

      And yeh, I find my enjoyment tends to go down over time due to cash shop nonsense.

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