Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sony, RMT, and You

Looks like Sony is letting you buy in game items with cash now. Technically, you might argue, they'd already been doing this for a while now, with Legends of Norrath loot cards. But Legends of Norrath cards could also drop in game (rarely) so there were ways to earn those without spending cash.

I'm fine with the sale of RMT items in games that are designed around it (such as online collectible card games like Legends of Norrath or Magic the Gathering Online.)

In traditional MMO games like EverQuest, I'm not against the sale of fluff items like appearance armor and other items that don't impact gameplay. It allows developers to use the standard subscription fees and retail box income on the gameplay and the features that the majority of the playerbase want, and still have a revenue stream they can use for items that a vocal minority wants. Everyone wins.

However, some of the items they are including do not seem like fluff to me.

Are potions that increase adventuring, achievement, and tradeskill XP fluff? If that's the case, why even have levels in the first place. If its fluff, if its optional, give me a button the sets me to level 80 adventurer, level 80 tradeskill, and level 200 achievement instantly.

It's one thing to give people the ability to slow down their XP gain. The default setting is what everyone gets, and people who want it slower can get it slower. That's fine.

But to make it so that some people can progress faster than others because they pay more is most definitely not fluff. It impacts gameplay.

Granted, XP gain in EQ2 at this point is extraordinarily fast, so it's not exactly a huge advantage. I can hardly finish quest arcs in the old world zones before they go gray at this point. But I still disagree with the notion that these types of offerings for cash aren't gameplay impacting.

They seem to offer other kinds of potions as well, such as potions that increase movement rate. How is that not fluff? Movement rate is most definitely a part of the gameplay.

Now, I don't know if I would quit EQ2 for this, like some people on the forums are threatening. The rewards don't appear to be unbalancing; they seem to be the same rewards you get from Legends of Norrath loot cards, and people were already buying hundreds of packs at a time for a chance to get those items. This just gives them an additional avenue to purchase those items without having the hassle of unloading the unwanted cards.

But it is a little worrying. Mixing a game based around leveling and obtaining achievements with RMT just doesn't sit well with me.


Stargrace said...

I completely agree.
I'm all for cute outfits, and pets. The more the better.


I'm not ok with people buying aa experience potions. Those aa are REALLY hard to level up, especially the extra 60 with TSO.

Now spend a little cash and ta da. You can get it done easier.

The effect on PvP servers will certainly be noticeable.

Brendan said...

It's worrying as a trend, particularly in light of the news today from EA that the upcoming Old Republic MMO is to be microtransaction-based. Perhaps the Asian models of MMO developer/publisher economics are about to be forced increasingly upon Western gamers?

Tesh said...

I don't mind it at all. The subscription model is heavily biased in favor of those with more time per month to play. Leaning back towards those with more money than time just levels the playing field.

Beside that, why does it matter? PvP benefits from "equality", but the whole level/loot paradigm and the ganking phenomena already show that game design itself isn't too concerned with maintaining player parity.