A View from the Road: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Microtransaction

John Funk

U.N. Owen Was Him?
Dec 20, 2005
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A View from the Road: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Microtransaction

More MMOGs should embrace microtransactions, if only as a Convenience Tax.

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Erana

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Feb 28, 2008
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The problem I so often find with F2P games supported by micro transactions are, like he said, that users with more money can 1up normal players...
Still, though, one of the things that irks me so is that for a competent character with the decent gear from the cash shop, you wind up paying between $10-15 a month. This wouldn't be too much of a problem if it were a matter of which game you ultimately choose to play, but people view the "F2P" name as an excuse for a game to be a lower quality than its subscription-based counterparts-
something I find unacceptable.
 

Rathy

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Aug 21, 2008
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From experience trying out a lot of F2P games, it tends to be remotely balanced between the people who pay and the people who don't. Though I'm a fan of the belief that I just hit the right games.

Overall, most games tend to balance out as I've seen. In the start, most of the microtansactioned gear looks really amazing, but by the higher end of the game, it begins to look really balanced when compared to the gear people work for. The problem is, in whats becoming a really casual game crowd, they tend to be looked at from the low end, where its either pay or lose.
 

HeartAttackBob

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Sep 11, 2008
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This is very interesting to hear. As a soon to be ex-WoW player (subscription runs out this month, not renewing), I've considered microtransaction games as a much more annoying way of paying 15$ a month, with the added risk that someone else who pays 30$ a month will be able to kick my ass just because he pays more.

But that isn't the picture Funk paints. Maybe I'll re-evaluate some of these games and see if they're worthwhile. After all, I'll have a little free time when WoW is gone. Any recommendations of games that follow this Convenience Tax model? (Aside from Exteel)
 

Stevepinto3

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Jun 4, 2009
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Really it's not that different from subscription games. You have the freebie trial guys, and the people that actually pay to get the good stuff. Of course in terms of gameplay it's pretty stupid that money = success. But that's just an inherent flaw in the design, and someone that was only making free accounts on WoW obviously wouldn't be succeeding in anything.

Really, the subscription method just makes more sense to me. It seems fundamentally wrong to say a game is free to play, but then withhold all the good stuff for those willing to cough up the money.
 

Rathy

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Aug 21, 2008
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HeartAttackBob said:
This is very interesting to hear. As a soon to be ex-WoW player (subscription runs out this month, not renewing), I've considered microtransaction games as a much more annoying way of paying 15$ a month, with the added risk that someone else who pays 30$ a month will be able to kick my ass just because he pays more.

But that isn't the picture Funk paints. Maybe I'll re-evaluate some of these games and see if they're worthwhile. After all, I'll have a little free time when WoW is gone. Any recommendations of games that follow this Convenience Tax model? (Aside from Exteel)
Some companies are just bad, such as Nexon in terms of not finding a middle ground. Personally, I deal with the Ntreev side of games, and they tend to be balanced, though again it happens more at the upper tiers of a game that you have to actually work for, while the people who pay will always have it easy.
 

feather240

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Jul 16, 2009
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I like how that game he is talking about works. That's why I like Combat Arms. You can usually save up for something like it just a little bit worse. Specialist are a huge exception to this rule though...
 

ElArabDeMagnifico

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Dec 20, 2007
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I didn't even read this, because I just have to ask. Why is the "Dr. Strangelove spinoff title" used so damn much?
 

Rigs83

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Feb 10, 2009
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In the real world people with money get private lawyers who get them out of jail while poor people get court appointed attorneys that want to send them to jail because they have eighty cases and they don't care about plaintiff 12131654361321465.
Rich people get new,fast,safe cars and poor people get used cars with rotted out brake rotors.
Life sucks and games imitate life.
 

L-J-F

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Jun 22, 2008
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Micro-transactions are just plain bad, it ruins any sense of competition in a game and costs heaps of hard earned real cash, it also gives the "games are bad" crowd extra ammo ("ooh, they're wasting real time and money so they can emulate life").

Rigs83 said:
In the real world people with money get private lawyers who get them out of jail while poor people get court appointed attorneys that want to send them to jail because they have eighty cases and they don't care about plaintiff 12131654361321465.
Rich people get new,fast,safe cars and poor people get used cars with rotted out brake rotors.
Life sucks and games imitate life.
True, but why the hell would you play a game that emulates this part of life? Honestly, get a life, if it's up to grinding and making real money/success and grinding on a computer game that is just as shit but lower quality ... ah ... what kind of an introvert would you have to be to choose the former?

Lets get to the biggest issue here: Micro-transactions (and subscriptions to an extent) are inherently evil. They are not using that system because they have to (OK, mmo maaayyyyyyyybe), they're doing it because they're greedy *****. This may not be entirely accurate (2years old) but the average spent on micro-transactions is about $300/month (please tell me this is wrong, else I've lost hope in humanity). I'd spend this much on games every YEAR. Also, WoW for a year is what, $360? That's the cost of 7 games, what ... a ... rip. But that's just personal opinion ... and financial logic.

OK, if you want the real world you LIVE, if you want to get AWAY from the real world you play a REAL game. I like competition, what is the point of paying money to increase you're strength/influence? It reduces the game to PHYSICAL money instead of skill or intelligence, especially MMO's with micro-transactions which seem to hate the latter two with a vile passion.

Looking forward to Infinity: The Quest for Earth, which will have neither and looks infinitely (hehe) better than the competition, especially EVE. I'd rather spend my money on better things than to pay for a worse life than can be found in reality while having to live in this one as well, I play games to escape reality, I don't want to end up in a worse place than here.
 

Nutcase

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Dec 3, 2008
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The term "convenience tax" implies that the players who don't pay will have to go through unpleasant, bad content. If that is the case, why would they play at all? And if they won't play, then you might as well charge everyone up front. I can't help but think that such a game is inevitably low quality and inhabited by players with low standards.

I think the MMO industry should look at alternative ways to *play*, offering attractive bits of the games individually. For instance, I'm not about to waste my time grinding up characters in WoW even if it was free of charge, but I'd be willing to pay something for it if I had access to a permanent "tournament realm" where every new character you create is max level and has the best possible PvP gear.
 

samsonguy920

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Mar 24, 2009
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I like the idea of the Convenience Tax. It is a good compromise between regular players who can't shell out wads of cash for a game and those who want the big stuff now and can afford it. I have feared the day that DLC for any MMO or multiplayer game would create a drastic curve between bigspenders and tightwads(I fall under tightwad, but for good reason). There are some who might view the Convenience Tax as avoiding the ugly grind. What's ugly grind to someone else, is prime training ground to me. Someone might shell out bunches of cash for elite weapons that others would have to work for. But during the time the others are working for those elite items, they are also refining their strategies and techniques. Strategy and technique puts the flame on the sword, not money. Money doesn't make a noob a pwner.
Unless it buys you a nuclear bomb, but even those can miss, as I remember with chagrin in a couple of early Starcraft runs....
 

coldfrog

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Dec 22, 2008
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Agreed! Not only would it work for people who don't have the money, but more importantly it would hinder the efforts of gold/gear farmers who would then have to sell their things for less than the already existing price for people to consider it worthwhile. Since people are doing it already, why not compete with them? This is from a WoW point of view, mind you, so I'm not sure how it might work elsewhere, but I'm just saying, it could be viable. WoW gold farmers sell for fairly cheap at the moment so it might be tough, but worth trying.
 

Duol

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Aug 18, 2008
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Sorry but I find this a terrible idea...

I played WoW at the endgame for a number of years and now only play casually and see what some of the changes Blizzard is making to the game are doing to it. In the past the only way to get equipment was to toil though all the content that everyone else had to catch up and it remained this way for a long time. There was no alternate way of getting equipment than through raiding and that's just the way it was. These days it is much easier to gear up. As soon as new content and gear is released last patches best gear becomes easy to obtain, taking comparatively few hours for casual players to obtain. This has created immense uproar already from the hardcore community simply because people who put in 20% of the effort of hardcore players can now get 80-90% of the gear. However it is still acceptable and people have learned to adapt and overall it looks like Blizzard have made more friends in the casual community than they have lost amongst the hardcore followers.

Now just imagine that those casuals could lay down an extra 10-15$ a month and be the SAME not just close but the same as the hardcore gamers... I wont say the game would collapse but I think some troubled times would be ahead.
 

Keldon888

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Apr 25, 2009
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I'm very okay with the idea painted in the article. If you can pay up and skip the grind, albeit for noticeably different looking gear, power to you.

But I think the problem lies in where those with microtransactions have plain better gear is the real killer of the idea for most people. I have long held the belief that the drive towards the endgame is what keeps people going even if they will never reach it due to time or skill available. However putting the endgame behind a fence with a $15 toll on it is a HUGE turnoff.
 

lewiswhitling

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May 18, 2009
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I completely agree with this article. finding the balance of in game and "out game" expenditure of resources is absolutely essential for a consistent enjoyment level across the player board. Time is just as much a resource as money - so in the same way as people say "they have money to burn", they can come back and say "you have time to kill".

I have had the feeling for a while that many mmo's are designed specifically for a player who puts in an "average" amount of time into the game. As such the levels/dungeons, the progression speed and economy etc, are all designed with this average time allocation in mind. For this reason, many games wont just be able to just offer a time saving alternative. When the reward of achieving a goal is designed to be inherently bound up in the time and effort spent in getting it, then you cant just slap the faces of the people that take this route.

However, i think that a monetary alternative could well be introduced to any aspect of a game in which the time spent in getting a reward is not integral to the experience of the player, IE grinds. And potentially, entire games could also be designed around this ethic - with no "time only" rewards, although the repercussions of this decision may well be far fetched.

Maybe even introduce monetary "tiers", where the player is given the option of paying for items only once they have passed a certain point in the game etc.
 

pneuma08

Gaming Connoisseur
Sep 10, 2008
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An unemployed "hardcore" gamer who plays 10 hours a day. A full-time worker who works 8 hours a day and only plays a couple of hours a day. Who should have the advantage?

Not everyone has the time or even considers it fun to go through the grind of getting prepared for the endgame content, or as some would put it, "the fun stuff". Some people don't want to "play" for 8 months to get to the game they really want to play.

Now, when the premium people gain a distinct advantage over the free folks, at least in a pvp game, all that ends up being is a disincentive for the free folks to play. Indeed, the reverse of the statements above are true as well: just because someone has time but not money, they shouldn't be prevented from from getting to the game.

Basically, the key I see here is that, as a player, you aren't entitled to have things both free and convenient. And that's the way the world works.

IdealistCommi said:
Microtransactions keep Nexon alfloat, but they can't find a good middleground. For Combat Arms, The buyers have much better stuff, but for Maplestory, they don't, and all the stuff is pruely cosmetic. It doesn't make sense to me.
Alternative point of view: different models attract different customers. So having wildly different models is just a way of diversifying the playerbase and reaching out to more customers.
 

MmmFiber

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Apr 19, 2009
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I would rather just pay monthly and get a higher quality game that puts everyone on a level playing field. My experience with f2p's is that they aren't as good as subscription based ones. And f2p's attract a lot of players that only play for a little while then quit or only play once every few weeks. However, I like to be able to find a group of people that I can play with on a pretty regular basis... especially so I can know that they aren't retarded and have only leveled that far by banging their head on the keyboard.