To all the trolls who flamed me when I said that the LotRO Cash Shop would affect gameplay both directly and indirectly, what are your thoughts now that all this information is being released? I could pick through the comments and start naming people but why don’t you go ahead and read the comments yourself and see who you think was right. If you want to skip reading all 154 of them I’ll give you a quick synopsis: I was right. I waited a while before being smug because I wanted to see how it played out. Now is a good time to comment.
Massively.com has an article up today highlighting a few of the items available in the cash shop. There’s also a nice list here on the official forums and I’m sure if you’re really that interested you can find some of the uproar over the cash shop on fansites/blogs as well. Take a look at these and let me know if you think I was right when I said that they would affect the gameplay.
Permanent +30 stats – It’s buying power for your character. Doesn’t matter if it’s only +30, it makes the characters with it better than those without. This affects gameplay directly.
Virtues can be purchased – Instead of earning the virtues, you buy them outright. This circumvents the way the game was meant to be played: earning them. It diminishes what people have already done for their characters. It trivializes the actions of earning it yourself even if you choose not to buy them. This both directly and indirectly affects gameplay.
Reputation Mounts – Like most games, there are rewards you can earn by putting in time doing something. Even if it’s a rep grind, the people who earned them could be proud. Now they can be purchased outright without the need for rep. To all those who worked hard to feel distinguished, sucks to be you because now someone who starts fresh has what you worked hard for instantly. This indirectly affects the game. It diminishes effort, goal oriented gameplay, and the achievement of those who played before F2P. Trivialize more.
More – Maps that instantly teleport you all around the world, buff potions that give you an temporary edge, scrolls to resurrect yourself. Direct and indirect impact on the game and/or her players.
Instantly buy what was once hard-earned? Check.
Players buy power for their characters that give an edge over those that don’t? Check.
Affect the game directly and/or indirectly? Check.
This isn’t stuff that can be avoided either. This is affecting everyone. It’s not like EQ2x on a separate server or something you can avoid by actually paying a subscription instead of playing for free. But I’m an idiot right? Is it still a knee-jerk reaction? Even after these revelations I guarantee you someone is going to comment that I’m wrong.
My position remains unchanged on Free to Play. It’s bad for games. Free to Play brings with it certain elements which alter the way games are played/maintained/designed in order to accommodate its model. In a subscription game the developer’s interests and the player’s interests are much more aligned. In a F2P game the developer’s interests and players interests diverge.