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Rumor: GW2 Cash Shop could be a deal breaker

I will preface all of this by saying that I am basing this entirely off of leaked screenshots and information from places like Reddit, twitter, and other sources which are not primary sources or even guaranteed reliable.  I also want to note that I grappled back and forth all day with whether or not I should even post this because I don’t want to jump the gun or overreact to something that could be fake or changing since GW2 is still in testing.  I decided it was best to speak up now since there’s no turning back if this goes through.

If the information is accurate, Guild Wars 2’s cash shop might be a deal breaker for me.  I wrote just a few days ago how I am 100% in support of a cash shop that sells purely cosmetic items.  ArenaNet included a very iffy phrase in their article about their cash shop offering “time-saving convenience items”, and I pointed that out immediately as something that can ruin the entire idea.

The images show things like Experience Boosts, Karma Boosts, Crafting Boosts, Chance to Find Rare item Boosts, Loot bags with random items, megaphones to talk in global chat, keys that unlock specific chests (I can imagine horrible ways that this can be abused by devs) and resurrection orbs to res yourself (not usable in pvp).  I am not comfortable with those kinds of items.  Something about them rubs me the wrong way.  Maybe it’s the fact that most games with those exact types of items make me feel like taking a shower after I play.  On the other hand, the boosts only last an hour making the purchase probably not worth it anway.  My issue is mostly with what those items mean for a game’s current and future design.

Games with those kinds of items in their cash shops usually design towards getting people into the cash shop which alters the ‘pure’ or unadulterated version of the game’s design.  I was hoping that Guild Wars 2 was going to offer only the items like extra character slots, dyes, looks, outfits, cosmetic pets, etc.  Those items are in the leaks as well, but they’re entirely overshadowed by a horrific sense of ignorance on ArenaNet’s part if they’re not taking into consideration the ramifications.  Cash shops that alter gameplay inherently alter game design.

I hope the leaks are either false or very early in testing and not going to make it into the game.  The only reason I am talking about this is because I care.  I want to voice my opinion and let ArenaNet know that I do not approve.  These types of things are why a company wants a NDA on their MMO, and exactly why many formulate a valid argument against hiding away the dirty little secrets.  If this type of cash shop makes it into the game, I’m glad it came out early because my interest in the game may diminish if I sense any change in the game’s design direction as a result.

One last aside, I don’t want to dismiss the potential annoyance of bag slot space being very limited without purchasing bag space.  Those types of transactions that almost force you into the shop can be just as sinister if gone unchecked.

When it comes to something this scary — a potentially ruined game — I will risk jumping the gun and overreacting.  I don’t want to see it happen, and I encourage others to realize the implications if it does. This is usually only the beginning. 

Takeaways for those who want the short version.

  • ArenaNet’s “time-saving convenience items” turned out to be a iffy like I suspected in my post a few days ago.
  • Boosts to things like rare item finding and exp, random item bags, keys that unlock chests we have no idea about offer minor bonuses to people who cash shop it up.  Undecided if it’s game-changing enough to be bad.
  • Cash shops like this are usually only the beginning of something more sinister.
  • Cash shops that alter gameplay inherently alter game design.  Watch for it.
  • Speak up now or never, even if it’s overreacting or jumping-the-gun.  Now’s the chance to make a change -before- launch when it becomes too late.

Key points from comments section:

Clarification from Keen (me):

Someone boosting their exp… not that big a deal, I guess.
Someone boosting their karma gain… a little more of a deal but not that big of a deal.
Someone boosting their crafting… I don’t care, I guess.
Resurrecting anywhere in PvE… not that big of a deal.
Special chests that only unlock with keys from the cash shop… that’s annoying and I care a bit.
Loot bags giving random items … I care if the items are good.

Individually, not a big deal. Combine them all and they indicate a potential problem if the game’s direction takes a turn.

Azuriel’s insightful comment:

ArenaNet wants you to use the RMT system.

If nobody uses it because the exchange rate is crap or the players don’t care, that is less dollars for development, less dollars for shareholders, less dollars for executive bonuses. That is a problem. ArenaNet has every incentive to make players want to buy keys, bonus loot, etc etc etc. If no one does, they get no money, game shuts down.

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bhagpuss - March 24, 2012

Why not just factor in a monthly cash-shop purchase cost of $14.99 and see if that would give you all you need to feel competitive? If the answer’s yes then you’re exactly where you would be if the game had a standard subscription.

Personally I don’t give a toss what they sell in the cash shop. They can sell max-level characters with full end-game raid gear for all I care. I will play my way regardless. I don’t feel the need to camp, grind, or raid in sub games and i don’t feel the need to purchase in cash-shop games. If the world is convincing as a place to imagine you are living, that’s all that matters. Given that, whether you live as a prince or a beggar really doesn’t matter.

McJigg - March 24, 2012

This post has made me decide to not pre-order until these fears subside. Now I fear another Allods….

Keen
Keen - March 24, 2012

@McJigg: That wasn’t my intention, but I definitely want people to at least start thinking about how cash shops that offer more than cosmetics lead to games that play differently from those without a cash shop. After that’s realized, it’s up to you to decide if that matters to you. It matters to me.

Rinvan - March 24, 2012

Cosmetics & pets are ok with me, but stuff like random loot bags are a bit on the shady side. Lockboxes are a popular debate topic in LOTRO these days. I do hope that some of this info isn’t true.

Daegalus - March 24, 2012

I want to address something that puts some of these items in a smaller light.

First the Keys for boxes. This is much like the system in GW1 where there were lockboxes in instanced places, and if you didn’t have the keys purchased or found before hand, it would be a lockbox you can never open and miss out on. This is an evolution of that system, instead of finding the keys, you buy then ala TF2. The gear in these boxes was never anything worthwhile. It was the equivalent of Greens in WoW (which is Blue in GW2).

As for gear in general. All gear of the same level has roughly the same stats. Maybe different combinations of the stats but the same. Rarer gear is cosmetic difference, maybe slightly better bonuses to the gear, but the overall base stats are the same. So getting gear from these boxes gives you no advantage at all.

Second, the Boosts. 400 Gems is $5-6. A boos is 75ish gems. Thats about ~1$ per boost. The boost is for one hour. The exp boost is 50%, the Karma is 20%, and the others range between those. Another thing is there are purchasable boosts for ingame currency from ingame vendors, that are a bit weaker, but just as cheap. A lot like in GW1. You could buy boosts from ingame currency, same thing in GW2. Cash shop ones just give you slightly better ones, for a premium. The boosts are expensive for the benefit you get.

The ressurection Orb is trivial. Does not work in PVP, so thats not an issue there. In PVE, the only place I see it working, is in Dungeons. In dungeons, at every boss, you get a waypoint, so if you die, you can rez at the waypoint. So at most, you are only a short 10-15 second run back to the fight. Yes, a ressurection orb saves you that 10-15 second run, but in all honesty, it doesn’t help that much. And if I remember right, thats 150 gems. so thats ~$2 for a rez orb.

The prices for these is high. even those that have money to throw at the game, won’t get much benefit.

With the gold gem trading, any person in the game has access to it.

Normal supply and demand, along with general low give-a-shit for the cash shop stuff will keep the prices of gems low due to many economic factors.

The #guildwarsguru channel and forums have been up in arms about this since it was announced, and after lots of analysis, lots of factors taken into account, and knowledge of various systems. The cash shop is a non-issue, and none of the items in the shop are actually advantages. You also can’t buy the better gear with Gold, so converting a bunch of gems into gold gives you nothing. All consumables in teh shop have SLIGHTLY weaker versions ingame. and when i mean slightly, a 400 health buff vs a 500 health buff. That 100 health on 15k+ health pools is insignificant.

My point with all of this, is people need to make sure they do their research, and come at this with a calm and open mind. Don’t use your experiences from past MMOs to analyze this, since past MMOs had pretty different ingame systems and gameplay. A lot of the design decisions in GW2 allow for these items to be present, but nto affect the game as it did in other MMOs.

Again, do what Keen said, take time to learn it, and let your decision stand on fact. He did this to bring attention to it, not ward you away from it.

Keen
Keen - March 24, 2012

I think there are reasons to consider these “advantages”. If you buy it, you get the boosts to exp, karma, and magic finding. Those -are- advantages, but they’re very minor at this point.

I’ll repost what I posted on our forum thread:

Someone boosting their exp… not that big a deal, I guess.
Someone boosting their karma gain… a little more of a deal but not that big of a deal.
Someone boosting their crafting… I don’t care, I guess.
Resurrecting anywhere in PvE… not that big of a deal.
Special chests that only unlock with keys from the cash shop… that’s annoying and I care a bit.
Loot bags giving random items … I care if the items are good.

Individually, not a big deal. Combine them all and they indicate a potential problem if the game’s direction takes a turn.

These are ‘gateway drugs’ for a cash shop owner. They lead to much worse things in the future.

Daegalus - March 24, 2012

Also since I can’t edit my previous post. Leveling is linear. The amount of time it takes to get from 20-30 is the same as 70-80. 55-56 = 79-80. They said it would take roughly 90 minutes of play to get 1 level. 80*90 = 7200 mins. = 120 hours = 5 days of gameplay to hit 80. if you throw in a 50% exp boost, you will level up in 67.5 mins (i think thats right, Im tired, my math can be off). so thats 67.5* 90/60/24 = 90 hours = 3.75 days. Now. if you pay $1 for 1 hour of the exp boost, and you need to have this exp boost up 100% of the time. you would need to spend 90$ in order to get this effect. Second, the exp boost is ONLY from mob kills. It does not boost quest exp or any other gain of EXP, only mob kills. SO the time to take to level is actually higher even with boosts.

Second due to the bolster/debolster system, your actual level does not matter. Your gear matters minimally. If you are lv 80 in max gear, and go do a 30 area quest or dungeon, you will be pulled down to lv 30, and you gear would be that of a level 21/32 compared to a normal lv 30. In teh other direction, if you are 30 and go up to 80, you will have the level of an 80 with the gear aof about a 78/79. The issue here is, your level nor gear matters for in the end. So these boosts, matter little too.

Daegalus - March 24, 2012

Sorry, I was typing my last post while you made yours. I see where the problems people see arise, but some of them can’t be answered till we know more. For the time being, from what has been told, the Loot bags will not have advantages gains in gear, or anything else.

the keys, yes they will be annoying, if and only if, the stuff you get from the boxes is worthwhile.

Until we can mine some loot tables out of the system, it will be very difficult to know for sure, unless they come out and say it.

Brann - March 24, 2012

Meh, nothing gives an advantage and its a long way from Pay to Win, in my opinion. The other thing one must realize, is that loot and experience don’t work in GW2 like they do in WoW, Rift, SW:ToR etc..

Loot does not give much of an advantage in the game. At least from what we have seen. The loot you have when you hit 80 is not too far removed from the loot you would get after doing a few level 80 Explorable Dungeons. In Arena PvP, the loot makes even less of a difference as loot is normalized.

Experience and leveling is also not as much of a concern because of the Mentor system. Who cares how fast I level when I can just mentor up to any level my friend is at and level down to what ever area I am in?

Also, they did away with the Loot Bags and the Mystic Key in this version of beta. At least they are not there currently. The Resurrection Orb was also nerfed and will now not work in PvP or PvE dungeons. Only works in open world PvE.

If Arena Net starts going to a Pay to Win cash shop I am out but right now it is a loooong way from that. At least in my opinion.

Samuel - March 24, 2012

The random chests and mystic keys are in the beta, Brann. Not sure where you are getting your information, but I’ve gotten multiple chests just today and unlocked them with gem-purchased keys. So far I’ve gotten various MTX items from them, like EXP boosters and Asura Banks, and a bunch of potions that make me look like mobs. Nothing really interesting.

Brann - March 24, 2012

Sorry, my bad. The chests and keys are in but the purchasable loot bags are out. Also, the 12 slot bags are out, as is the megaphone. Will they come back? Who knows, but currently they are out.

Brann - March 24, 2012

Forgot to add:

With things coming and going and tooltips changing, I think most need to relax. I think we are a long way from a finalized Cash Shop.

As I said before, I am pretty much fine with the way it was but it may get even better. Or it may get worse. We just have to wait and see. Arena Net has been fairly forthright in their dealings, from what I have seen, so I dont really expect them to pull a G-Potato.

Keen
Keen - March 24, 2012

I think the only way to help guarantee it won’t a G-Potato is for people to speak up now and voice our concerns. It’s way too early to be turned off from the game, but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to be wary. Prevention is best.

KittyKitty - March 24, 2012

This is sad to see. As a LotRO player, I feel a little sorry for GW fans who are invested in this emotionally or timewise. As a gamer, I feel sorry for the younger generation of gamers that they have to deal with all of this selling and merchandising madness–all of these hoops and catches and cost/benefit calculations in order to have fun playing video games.

Azuriel - March 24, 2012

Normal supply and demand, along with general low give-a-shit for the cash shop stuff will keep the prices of gems low due to many economic factors.

Here’s the problem with that thought: ArenaNet wants you to use the RMT system.

If nobody uses it because the exchange rate is crap or the players don’t care, that is less dollars for development, less dollars for shareholders, less dollars for executive bonuses. That is a problem. ArenaNet has every incentive to make players want to buy keys, bonus loot, etc etc etc. If no one does, they get no money, game shuts down.

Keen
Keen - March 24, 2012

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Ding ding ding we have a winner. That is exactly right. I can’t say it better myself.

Jim - March 24, 2012

The very thought of spending US$60 for a game that I need to spend extra $$$ to get the loot that I win “in Game”…

wth people? We’re gonna be manipulated like that?
Whatever. It’s like day 1 dlc squared. I refuse to be manipulated like that.

GL GW2! I’m gonna be playing Big Money or whatever until a dev respects me enough to build a game I won’t be ashamed to play.

See you then 🙂

Scargrim - March 24, 2012

Does anyone know if the Mystic Keys can drop in game or be purchased in game with gold? (I’m not referring to using gold to buy gems to get them)

If they can, then I really don’t have a problem with the system. It would kill any immersion and enjoyment to stumble across a Mystic Chest and have to click on a cash shop to buy said key to open it for loot. That’s not cool.

Keen I think it’s a good time to address our thoughts on the issue before the game goes gold. Some people here may be jumping the gun a bit with writing off GW2. Based on the current information we have (lack of facts) we can only speculate. This speculation is important and needed so devs surfing the net for thoughts on blogs like this realise it won’t be tolerated if they cross the line with micro transactions.

Really get a bit tired of doomsayers in many games. Keep posting and discussing your thoughts on this, just don’t go overboard and assume you know all of the facts and outcomes.

As Keen said with the title here “Rumor: GW2 Cash Shop could be a deal breaker”
I’ll place the emphasis on COULD. Let’s all hope it doesn’t turn out that way though.

Hell, even if this ended badly I could still only see a problem on the PvE side of this and people caring much too much about people out levelling them in a game that isn’t about levelling. I don’t see any issues for my WvWvW where I’ll spend most of my time.

Zederok - March 24, 2012

Some people are not happy with any sort of time saving convenience in an MMO. I am NOT one of those people. Will I buy some things? Sure I might buy a few XP boosts for alts or some random other things so to each their own. If you dont like it dont play it, simple as that. I for one could care less and am even more estatic that a AAA MMO developer actually acknowledges that there is a disparity between the working professional who only has time for a couple hours a day at most and the unemployedd college kid who plays 18 hours a day to get any ounce of advantage. IMO its just another way to destory the elitist min/max attitude that has plagued MMO’s since the advent of WoW.

anon - March 25, 2012

I find it offensive that you have obviously done zero research how things were handled in GW1 and jump to absurd conclusions. keys for example were always something you had to buy. in over 7 years of guild wars, you had to buy lockpicks and keys every day. see anyone complaining about that? no? because you didn’t need the chests or the keys or the loot, since GW is NOT A GEAR CENTRIC GAME.
gear matters jack. why did I waste hundreds of thousands of gold on lockpicks and keys? because I wanted the treasure hunter achievement. did this give me a “sword of annihilation”? no. did it give me a purple dragon to fly around? no. it gave me a stupid title.

and you also don’t understand EVE’s PLEX system it seems. the one after GW2 is modeled. since all items can be bought with ingame gold because players can trade crystals and gold, every cash shop item is available even to people how do not want to pay shit.

AND complaining about xp boosts in a game where xp is a mirage (has no real effect, since you get down scaled to content or upscaled if you team up with a friend of higher level) is just idiotic

Konfuzfanten - March 25, 2012

My 2 cent:

Experience Boosts = doesnt matter, GW2 isnt about grinding 80+ ingame days before you reach toplevel.
Karma Boosts = doesn’t matter, sice most of the things you can buy for karma are either cosmetic or items you can buy for coin.
Crafting Boosts = doesn’t matter, just a time saver.
Chance to Find Rare item/Loot bags with random items = doesn’t matter, you can buy a full set of top level gear(stat wise) at every 5 levels.
Megaphones to talk in global chat = less spamming in world chat = win.
Keys that unlock specific chests = you can take the chests with you and trade it and you can get keys from quests and drops. And ofc loot is more or less useless in GW2 since you can buy the best gear.
Resurrection orbs to res = useless, why waste money on it?

A lot of the “sky is falling” posts about the cashshop takes grind heavy/raid focused MMO systems and compared them to GW2. It has been stated 100s of times that it will be very easy/time effective to obtain top gear and level. The devs has said that it should take around 80-100 hours to get a character from lvl 1 to max level/gear.

GW2 will be about grinding titles, cosmetics and gear(for different/preferred stat distribution).

The slippery slope/evil corporation argument is at best nonsense. Business is all about continued sale and selling game breaking power will ruin the GW franchise and a-net. GW1 sold pretty much the same in its cashshop, and nobody complained about it, actually GW1 sold real power (the heroes) and still nobody complained because the GW system isn’t about grind or stats.

anon - March 25, 2012

@Konfuzfanten well said.

it pisses me off beyond belief that people take broken systems from other games (WoW gear treadmill/ asian grind fests) and apply their failures to GW2, which is designed to do away with these flaws, THEN complain about imagined consequences of GW2 mechanics to these projected flaws that are not even part of the game.

it’s the same thing people have been doing to EVE online for years with claiming they can never be as good as a vet because “leveling is time based” and someone who started 4 years earlier is just too far ahead.
I want to rip my own hair out, every time this specious argument is made, but it is repeated constantly. but eve is about specialization not mastery. if I want to fly a certain ship and a certain loadout, I can do that in little time. the guy who played longer can not do it any better, he just has more ships and more roles he can choose from, not more power in that role.

people can do meaningful pvp in a week. in wow, getting to endgame takes ages and gear grinding can take months and you are never done, due to expansions. in gw2 as well as in eve, you’re done quickly. then you can diversify after that, not improve.

it’s so sad that wow and other failed systems have ruined people’s understanding of better games

wormwood - March 25, 2012

Thanks for posting this, bro! I feel that there is absolutely a cause to be worried and now is the time (since we’re still in beta) to voice our concerns. If more people like you (i.e. well-known bloggers and gaming commentators) spoke up, then there’s still a chance that things might change before release. If we wait until release before passing judgment, as some of the more ardent fans are suggesting, then there’s probably no turning back any longer.

Cthreepo - March 25, 2012

Wow, i’ve never played GW1, but intended to buy GW2, because the RVR stuff sounded great. Now ppl are telling me XP doesnt matter, Loot doesnt matter, pvp lvl’s doesnt matter, crafting doesn’t matter. Nothing seems to matter. Sounds like all there’s left is a Mount and blade kinda MMO, exept you dont have to work for the gear, you can buy all of it. I like to PVP and Craft, but if a boost at 10 or 20% at crafting doesnt matter, it doesnt sound like a very good crafting system. To me, crafting is all about making it efficient, max the profits you know? But if a 10 or 20% boost doesnt matter….Well, no way i’m gonna bother with crafting. Beside, I dont wanna compete with others that can sell their stuff 20% cheaper because they use 20% less stuff to make it.

I dont get it, if pvp lvl’s doenst matter, if normal lvl’s doenst matter, if loot doesnt matter, why have all this stuff in the game? Its gonna be like the legacy system for SWTOR was, untill 1.2. Wow I’m legacy lvl 22, so what?

And the key’s you can buy for cheats? Really stupid. If all this stuff doesnt matter, why even make a cash shop? They just want to fool some easy $$$ out of ppl’s pocket, who dont understand that xp is a sham? So basicly they make lvl’s that doenst really matter, then they make a shop selling stuff that boost the lvl’s that doesnt matter? Sounds like a giant sham to me

Syl - March 25, 2012

Hmmm…I don’t know. personally I do prefer pure vanity items for RMT, but I am not sure how much of a game-breaker the presented items will truly be. it’s all a little dodgy at this point.

there is also the more general question of how “equal” chances and opportunities are – ever. many of us feel that real money adds an unfair factor, but a while ago I’ve written a lengthy article on why RMTs are in fact no more or less unfair (and in some areas in fact more social than subs) than let’s say a traditional sub. players don’t start off with the same conditions to begin with; time is a currency in MMOs and there’s always an un-even spread of time among a player base. RMT can account for this inequality, players with less time can use real money if they choose to, to compensate or keep up depending on the game. does this hurt anyone much? I don’t think so.

It really depends on the scenario and balance within the game. but in essence, I don’t see RMT as a game-breaker (anymore) these days.

Thomas - March 25, 2012

@C3PO

If nothing matters why am I going to play this game. Please tell me about something that matters in GW2.

Gankatron - March 25, 2012

@Syl: I can see your point about RMT, but this would only be valid if similar items were available in game that could be obtained with an appropriate amount of effort.

I suppose that from your argument buying one’s toon off of eBay is an appropriate time saving RMT, barring EULA concerns (note there isn’t any sarcasm in this question, I was just wondering if that was an appropriate extrapolation)?

@Thomas: Having fun?

Syl - March 25, 2012

@Gank

There’s a big difference between a cash-shop and buying toons on ebay illegally (against an EULA). the reason why the latter is illegal however, is not that getting a ready, maxlevel character is considered so horrible by developers (Blizzard is already giving similar options to beginners today), but that THEY want to be the only ones making cash with their product, obviously.

If you ask me however if it’s game-breaking to buy an ebay toon? hardly. If we consider cooperation a main feature of MMOs and if an MMO mostly exists on end-level eng-game then you could say whatever gets you to max level and let’s you play with others is a good thing. I don’t care if someone in my party took 1 day to reach me or 1 year – do you?

There is no indication (and I doubt there ever will be) any items in GW2’s cash shop that give you significant advantages over not using the shop; for example better gear or weapons. GW2 does not have the same gear focus as WoW for a start. even IF there was every an equal weapon on that shop, it would be only that – equal. and I doubt it highly. as for bags etc. I would assume you can get the same by playing, doing quests, professions – whatever.

right now, there’s not a single item on display that affects the game’s balance, the outcome for fighting in groups or PvP, from what I can see. this isn’t pay-to-win by a long shot.

Gankatron - March 25, 2012

@Syl: Fair enough, I don’t care if someone buys their toon or items that are available in game with a reasonable amount of effort.

On the other hand, I don’t agree that there is a “big difference” between the 2 examples.

In the eBay example as you said the devs want the money for themselves (instead of character farmers); in the RMT the devs want the money for themselves instead of gold farmers.

Both are time saving measures provided by the community of farmers that devs define as against the EULA as it will interfere with their profitability.

Syl - March 25, 2012

What I meant there was difference in legality; ebay is obviously illegal, a cash-shop the devs install is not.
besides that there can of course always be possible exploits of any system by goldfarmers. unless ArenaNet made items all soul-/account-bound which is not the case due to the gems meta currency.

In any case, I wrote my own response or take on this matter now. I hope it’s okay to add the link here since it was directly inspired by the debates here – http://raging-monkeys.blogspot.com/2012/03/gw2-shop-panic-much.html

Aly - March 25, 2012

I realize some people are late to the party or haven’t stayed up on all the info, but good grief.

C3PO – Experience does matter in PvE. The side kicking system boosts players to join higher level friends in higher content (or decreases higher level players in lower zones so the content remains challengin) but they won’t have the skills and traits for those higher levels unlocked yet. It doesn’t matter in PvP because, as with GW1, your character is automatically granted max level and max gear for PvP matches. It’s skill based combat, not gear based. WvW is another matter but it’s too complicated to get into (I’ve seen small essays devoted to the subject.) Gear matters but strictly from an aesthetic standpoint, which is the only way it should matter in a skill based game. People should be able to look how they want in an MMORPG in the spirit of role play.

Thomas, like Gankatron said, the point is having fun. It saddens me that MMORPGs like WoW made people forget why we play in the first place. Is PvP in games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter less fun because gear “doesn’t matter?” Is Zelda less fun because the only thing that increases as you play is your health and the skills you have at your disposal? Why does a game have to become less about fun and more about an endless, meaningless grind just because it’s an MMORPG?

Again, this isn’t WoW. It’s GW2. It’s skill based, not gear based. And since you can’t buy skill, nothing in the shop can be pay to win. The shop has no appeal to me because there’s nothing I can’t get by playing through the game. At the same time, I can see how it might appeal to people who are impatient, or have less free time but still want to keep up with their friends.

The cash shop allows people to decide how they spend their time and money, and there’s nothing game breaking about it.

Gankatron - March 25, 2012

@Aly: +1

Anon - March 25, 2012

It’s reactions like this that make me think we may well be stuck with the subscription model for some time to come.

The game *must* make money. Ahead of everything we want to tell ourselves, understand that. This isn’t a fairy tale where everything comes for free. The purchase ticket alone will not fun what they’re planning on doing with the product.

If we *have* to give them money, how do we want to go about it is the main question. Part of me just wants to pay a sub and be done with it. It’s a predictable expense and it gives AreaNet a nice steady income stream to plan against.

The Micro transation models all look completely unmanageable over the long hall. You *want* your players to be constantly buying stuff, because you need that income stream. That need leads the developers to eventually balance the game systems around getting players to purchase in game items.

Even Zynga (Farmville Devs) admit that the vast majority of their income is generated by “Whales”. Players who spend much much larger amounts of cash than other players in the market.

At this point, my biggest fear is that GW2 will fall victim to their own success and not be able to fund the game moving forward.

Keen
Keen - March 25, 2012

@Anon: I pray we are “stuck” with the subscription model forever. I enjoy high quality games. I know it’s not a guarantee — far from it — but subscription games have a scope and level of polish and quality unattainable in “Free to play” games.

Anon - March 25, 2012

@Keen – Yes, probably a poor choice of phrasing. I’m actually perfectly cool with the subscription model. The biggest gripe publishers appear to have is that it appears to restrict players to a single title. It makes it very hard to get players off an existing title and onto something new long term. e.g. Seasonal migrations to and from WoW as new games come and go.

I don’t know anyone who’s willing to pay more than 1 sub a month, let alone a couple. It’s basically throwing money away if you’re not playing the game exclusively most of the time.

As I said, subscriptions are great in that they give developers a nice, predictable cash flow. You can plan on that from month to month and subs usually don’t just suddenly crash.

Micro-transactions seem like they’d be almost impossible to plan on. Unless you build it into the core mechanic (e.g. the PLEX system in EVE, using subscription time as a kind of universal currency)

If none of the items in the GW2 cash shop offer much pull, ArenNet is going to have some serious problems on their hands.

It actually makes me wonder what would happen if they offered an “optional” sub, where you get a set amount of perks each month from the cash shop in exchange for that steady income.

Keen
Keen - March 25, 2012

@Anon: I think PLEX in EVE is a good system, and you’re absolutely correct about the GW2 cash shop needing pull players in. If the cash shop isn’t being used, then ArenaNet will make changes to get it used. That is a fact, and that’s where the fear comes in that they’ll change the game or add things to the cash shop to accomplish that.

I would pay an optional sub.

You’re also right about the subscription model reducing buyer power. It is a switching cost, and a huge one at that. This actually hurts both the developers and the players since the players can’t play all the games and the developers can’t keep the players in theirs.

I really liked SOE’s station pass idea to charge a fee for access to many games. The problem turned out to be that all of the games weren’t very good, and people tend to focus on one MMO at a time.

In the end, I find that I am willing to devote my time to one MMO or maybe two at most. I’m okay with that because I want games to compete for my subscription.

My biggest gripe is wanting to know what they’re using my subscription on. Sometimes I wonder if my $15 is a justifiable maintenance cost since it feels like most of the time any major content or “evolving world” comes in a paid box expansion.

I’d still take the subscription over the cash shop, though.

Mork - March 25, 2012

Keen, I’m 100% with you on this. When I first started following GW2 and found it was b2p with a cash shop…I was extremely worried. And even moreso now that I see what it’s about. The thing is it’s only going to get worse over time, since as you say altering gameplay will alter game design. Developers will start incorporating things into the game that encourage players to utilize the cash shop. Hell, they already have with repair kits. The odd deluxe and CE bonuses also introduce players into the cash shop with one-time use or limited time duration items. Get players familiar and reliant on the system. Very bad signs.

Why couldn’t they have just done a monthly sub? I honestly feel they could have competed with WoW in sub numbers in a year or two. Instead we get this horribly manipulative and intrusive cash shop system that creates this illusion that players are saving money. Instead of in-game carrots on a stick they just have to spend real money to ‘progress’ in the game.

I’m so disappointed right now. The only thing keeping me from going back to WoW is that that game has become a joke. But that’s neither here nor there. =cP I just HATE to see this wonderful game that GW2 appears to be ruined by this terrible MT system.

Aggrax - March 25, 2012

What’s that, some people on the internet are making wild assumptions about GW2 without any real information. I better call 2007 so people can know about this when it is still news

Keen
Keen - March 25, 2012

@Aggrax: It has actually been confirmed. Now we’re discussing how this can potentially impact the direction of the game, as all cash shops inevitably do. Hopefully the impact is minimal and WvW is fun.

SlothBear - March 25, 2012

MMOs, the only place where people are supposed to feel dirty for having a job and earning money and spending it however they like, and the hermit hunched in front of his keyboard grinding all day long is some sort of paragon and role model.

Let’s just break this down.

XP Boosts. GW2 levels don’t take exponentially longer like other MMOs. Everyone will be max eventually. The apprentice system lets you change your level to whatever you like in PvE situations to play with your friends. If someone desperately needs to be a few levels higher in WvW, I can see this making a minor difference but that will end once you’re maxed. The fact that it lasts for only an hour will make it exorbitantly expensive for any real use.

Karma Gains – No one can say they have any idea how much or little this will effect without breaking NDA on a game that is still in Beta for probably at least another half a year. Any speculation would be really premature. Again though, this lasts for an hour and isn’t exactly cheap. The only real practical application of this will be to let the person who can play an hour a day catch up with the people who can play for a lot more.

Crafting Boosts – watch the exponential crafting speed videos. Crafting is fast as it is, and everyone who wants to will max it easily. This just makes is a little bit faster. Probably only worth it if you’re really pressed for time and really need to catch up.

PvE ressing – if you need this you’re doing something tedious like farming a dungeon and anything that makes that less aggravating is a-ok with me. If we don’t have to wait for rezzes or people running back because we just pop up on the spot – it’s about time. This is one of those awful things about other games that GW2 is doing away with, hallelujah.

Special Chests – No clue. Could be nothing, could be huge. They could only ever contain mini pets or they could contain the ultimate end game weapon equipable at level 1. Speculation at this point is premature.

Random Loot – so it’s basically buying an MMO lottery ticket with real money. I have absolutely no problem with this. It will probably not be worth it overall and used to separate suckers from their $.

Bottom line, people who got themselves over-hyped and thought GW2 would be an absolutely perfect MMO messiah are getting their first dose of reality. Oh yeah, hey, this is actually something that people are expecting to make money on! How filthy of them!

Keen
Keen - March 25, 2012

I have no problem with people making money or spending their money how they want.

I have a problem when that translates to cash shop and carries over into the game’s design. Designing a game to get people into a cash shop vs. Designing a game to keep people playing. Huge difference. I prefer a game designed to keep people playing.

(I’m saying this for the 100th time, btw)

Music-chan - March 25, 2012

I think what people don’t really see at this point (understandably) is whether or not they will feel pressured to use a cash shop to compete or enjoy their time in the game.

The problem with the recent strain of MMOs is that when you’re at the end game and looking for something to do, your fellow teammates/guildmembers/whatever can pressure you into wanting things you might not otherwise desire if you’re a casual player. I play LOTRO extremely casually so I’ve never felt pressured to buy the stat boosts, but if I was in a raiding group who cleared all the content every week, I feel like that would be a completely different situation. I feel like I would have to spend money every week or month just to keep up instead of relying on my skill as a player.

I feel like this is what Keen is trying to point out. Sure, it might not seem like it matters now but once everyone gets into the game, will that still be true? And are you willing to risk the chance the game goes in a direction you won’t like? It’s always good to let a company know ahead of time what would prevent you from spending money on their game instead of wait until it’s too late. That doesn’t mean people have to bitch and complain; a well thought out and calm complaint goes much further than incoherent ranting.

Intruder313 - March 26, 2012

As long as the net amount of money I feel the need to spend is LESS than if I’d paid by sub I will be OK…but LoL and World of Tanks have shown me just how vulnerable I am to the urge to splurge.

I still think a hybrid model is required, Pay to Play where timecards and the like represent actual hours of gametime. I hated subs hanging over me for months at a time!

Syl - March 26, 2012

I get Keen’s qualms in particular (the directionless moaning on some boards not so much), but I still think it’s a little early to assume the worst possible future outcome. I’m also not certain that GW2 will be just another FTP with less scope or polish because there are no subs. So far it makes every impression to have both.

What I don’t quite understand is what players expected differently about GW’s cash shop? If you know it’s FTP and eye that in itself with worry, why would cosmetic items be less worrying or ‘more okay’ than what has been revealed now? same deal and intention. You would’ve had to dismiss the game long ago once you heard it’s f2p.

anon - March 26, 2012

if anyone is so stuck in the WoW system and so damaged that he cannot enjoy games unless they let him level up and grind gear, then I hope this person would feel the need to spend 10000 dollars on xp boosts and other boosts and items.

I hope they milk this moron dry. nobody likes these people. they do not play for fun. being in a group with them is mindless, boring and they get aggressive whenever they feel a dungeon run takes 1 minute more than they assumed it would.

GW2 is about fun, real skill and ingame skill unlocks, and good looking gear, not more powerful gear in a never ending treadmill.

it’s sad that keen seems tgo have jumped the shark on this topic and doesn’t even understand what the point of GW2 is.

I couldn’t care less if someone hits 80 2 days before I do because he spent cash on it. to complain about this is so immature. it really is

Intruder313 - March 26, 2012

“anon” you seem to have some real bitterness there! And you don’t seem to know what the phrase “Jumping the shark” means /wink. You seem to have a very idealised view of what GW is and will be – maybe you are right but time will tell.

Keen may be “jumping the gun” a little but that’s a very different thing and I think it’s right to have some worries about a cash shop at this stage – the cash shop certainly is not selling “fun”.

Gankatron - March 26, 2012

@Anon:

“it’s sad that keen seems tgo have jumped the shark on this topic and doesn’t even understand what the point of GW2 is.

I couldn’t care less if someone hits 80 2 days before I do because he spent cash on it. to complain about this is so immature. it really is”

Isn’t this trying to frame Keen into a straw man argument? He said the following about leveling boosts:

“Someone boosting their exp… not that big a deal, I guess.”

In his own words the two potential concerns he has are concerning:

“Special chests that only unlock with keys from the cash shop… that’s annoying and I care a bit.”

and…

“Loot bags giving random items … I care if the items are good.”

Overall I don’t think he is vaulting the elasmobranch with his summary statements:

“Individually, not a big deal. Combine them all and they indicate a potential problem if the game’s direction takes a turn.”

“Now we’re discussing how this can potentially impact the direction of the game, as all cash shops inevitably do. Hopefully the impact is minimal and WvW is fun.”

These concerns are distilled down by Azuriel, which Keen is of the same opinion:

“Here’s the problem with that thought: ArenaNet wants you to use the RMT system.

If nobody uses it because the exchange rate is crap or the players don’t care, that is less dollars for development, less dollars for shareholders, less dollars for executive bonuses. That is a problem. ArenaNet has every incentive to make players want to buy keys, bonus loot, etc etc etc. If no one does, they get no money, game shuts down.”

Overall Keen’s and others concerns are not so much about the cash shop’s current state in beta, as so much what direction a game might go in the future if the cash shop is the primary source of recurring profit generation:

“These are ‘gateway drugs’ for a cash shop owner. They lead to much worse things in the future.”

anon - March 26, 2012

he jumped the gun and the shark. I implied that he is ruining his reputation by jumping to conclusions thus turning his usually thought out statements into a diatribe with lots of emotion but little fact.

his site might jump the shark if he continues to do this.

maybe the people who complain about this should have played GW1 and EVE as I have done. I’ve played both games literally from day 1. I went away for months, or a year, but always came back because their systems just work, and I have never spent 1 dollar on their cash shop.
on the contrary, I’ve used ingame cash in eve to buy my subscription, turning eve into free to play for me, and I will enjoy buying cash shop stuff in GW2 with ingame gold, something I could not do in GW1.

the problem I have with keen’s ill-informed rant is that he applies his criticism to WoW style game mechanics that are non existent in GW2.

complaining about chests, loot and xp is utterly useless, since there is no xp grind or gear treadmill. every 5 levels you can buy the most powerful gear at a stupid vendor for heaven’s sake. does he not know this? if not, why? why not get informed before embarrassing himself?

there is no way to buy power in this game, because this game revolves around REAL skill, not gear grinding. yes, these chests might have better looking gear.

yes, chash will give you quicker access to better looking gear, but if his problem is with other players looking better than himself, then it’s a vanity problem with keen, not a cash shop problem with GW2/arena net.

I don’t care about sparkle ponies which wow sells for 25$, so why should I care if GW2 sells 1$ items that give you a higher chance of finding flashy looking shoes?

in wow I have to pay over 20$ to change from my dead server with no economy to an alive one. in GW2 I can switch to any server at any time without cost (for PvE). but he does not include that in his argument.

wow lost 2 million subscribers and makes more money than before. why? cause people server transfer away from dead servers and pay blizz for this automated service. blizz gets 15$ every month for having an unbalanced mess of a game. GW2 charges nothing.

but somehow xp boosts are a big issue in a game that for all intents and purposes has no xp (it’s just a tool to give people damaged by wow and swtor and all these xp grind fests some familiarity), only skills.

this entire argument is specious and dishonest.

Keen
Keen - March 26, 2012

@Anon: You’re simply too far ‘out there’ for me to repeat myself a hundred more times. Please see Gankatron’s post above yours.

jayp. - March 26, 2012

Question for Keen or any others in the know. People are complaining about only having 5 character slots with 8 classes. Can’t yoi just roll on a different server like you can in wow rift etc.? Are you limited to only 5 characters and 1 server?

Keen
Keen - March 26, 2012

@Jayp: I think a similar question came up in the past and someone said that you can only have 5 characters and you can only choose one server as your main server. You can buy more slots.

SlothBear - March 26, 2012

That is how it works now, yeah, keep in mind this is the sort of thing that is subject to change. I don’t think the one server is going to change because that’s a realm-pride type of deal, however you can basically go on vacation to other servers (that’s the best way I can describe it) whenever you want, just your home server for purpose of WvW stays the same.

Also Keen my post was not really aimed at you, more at some of the other commentators, although seeing as how I wrote it on your blog I understand why you felt it was! Sorry to make you feel the need to repeat yourself.

Shadanwolf - March 26, 2012

First…thanks for the article. I really appreciate it.Second….I too will not pre-order or even play the game if there is a cash shot like the one described in the article.

Jenah - March 26, 2012

Some people are getting all caught up in the nuts and bolts of the exact items in the leaked info. My concern with the cash shop leaks isn’t so much the items we see today since they can, and likely will, change. It’s more the direction and mindset that they represent. The fact that they thought these items were a good idea makes me worry that we are in for a slow-boiled-frog experience.

I doubt anyone would have had much to say if the cash shop had resembled the one that is currently in GW1. This new one makes me fear how they will be pushing us to use it. If everyone says, “I’ll just play without it”, will the game change to make it so that the experience is too frustrating without these “convenience” items?

I really hope we will see less vague language in their cash shop statements. The “time-saving convenience items” comment is way too open-ended.

Keen
Keen - March 26, 2012

@Jenah: Exactly.

Don - March 26, 2012

In a way, Arenanet will be the Gold Seller in game. They will have every incentive to police gold selling to the extreme. Basically, people will buy the gems from Anet and trade them for gold.

The big problem will be for people trying to play the game without paying. They will find that they can never afford anything on the AH as the gems will drive up the price.

Vort - March 26, 2012

“One last aside, I don’t want to dismiss the potential annoyance of bag slot space being very limited without purchasing bag space. Those types of transactions that almost force you into the shop can be just as sinister if gone unchecked.”

Single most annoying thing if its in game. It is very much forcing your hand. But on the other side of the coin it’s good business for Arena net unless it upsets the community.

Brise Bonbons - March 26, 2012

Unfortunately I don’t have time to read all the comments, but wanted to offer one slight… Well, not counter-point, but thought. Sorry if it’s already been mentioned.

The items seen in the leak are almost all found in GW1, but bought for in-game currency. I assume they will be available for in-game currency in GW2 as well: ANet has already seemingly changed their position on transmutation stones (items which allow you to put the stats from one item into the skin of another), making them available in-game for karma.

So is the biggest problem *what* these items are? Or that they’re *in the cash shop*? Or something in the middle?

For me, the most troubling part of this leak was that items such as the res orb are being offered at all. I don’t really care that they’re in the cash shop, I just think they’re shit design. The mystic key is probably the worst part of the cash shop, and comes very close to turning me off entirely. The addition of keys to TF2, and the attitudes they ushered in – hats and more hats and endless new weapons, and making it ever harder to just play the game while ignoring the shop – led to me finally abandoning a game I once rated among the best of designs.

Back to GW2, I am not all that bothered by the cash shop. Or more accurately, there are other design choices that bother me a lot more. But I think there is a real danger that if ANet are not careful, the cash shop will bite them on the ass later. For example, I’m concerned that public dungeon groups will all require you to bring large numbers of res orbs – for the sake of not inconveniencing your party-fellows, of course.

Mark - March 26, 2012

The entire reason my son and I still play GW is because it’s free to play. If I can get everything I need to play the game free, then I’m fine with it. I’m not going to get caught up on the fact that someone else can level faster or get items easier because they pay money. But this WILL effect my purchase.

I will not purchase the game right away, instead I’ll wait to see how these baught items change the game. If it becomes obvious I can’t compete without paying additional money then I won’t be playing GW2.

Anon - March 26, 2012

I think the future of the cash shop will boil down to a very simple question.

Is the cash shop considered the fundamental cash income, designed to fund the game moving forward.

If ArenaNet is faced with the prospect of turning the cash store into a “Play to Win” rather than “Pay for convenience”, then they might as well just demand a monthly sub and be done with it. Pretty much everyone *hates* Pay to Win games (except those with large disposable incomes I guess..)

I think the sticking block is how you define convenience. Take the rez orbs. Unless you plan on soloing (and dying) a lot, these items will have next to no impact on the player base.

You don’t *need* to have a way to self rez. Sure it’s nice, but if the whole party wipes in a dungeon.. so what?

Bag space is another one. You’ve got people who think anything less than 30 slots is being cheated. You’ve got others you think 10 is perfectly fine. If someone wants to horde, more power to them.. but don’t complain that you’re having to pony up a bit of extra cash for the privilege.

Honestly, moving forward I think developers will eventually move away from micro-transactions. They just seem too much of a nightmare to balance in terms of customer expectation and core game design.

Anon - March 26, 2012

Also, I need a new alias.. You’ll note I spell Anon with an “A” not an “a” 😉

Zyler - March 26, 2012

This is not free to play.
Then why is there a cashshop?

The whole attraction of a buy once game, is that when I do buy the game I have access to everything.

Are they just greedy? Or do they not get enough income by boxsales alone? (in that case I prefer you raise the prise instead of a cash shop)

Still on the fence if i’ll buy this game.
Where very excited, but that has cooled down to meh..

Guess it depends on the items in the final $CashShop$ $$$

Thomas - March 27, 2012

I can see the cash shop selling two unique weapons for each class. Thus giving you a couple new skill sets. Costing maybe 5-10 bucks a weapon. Maybe Wands, Two Handed Axes, A new Kit for the Engineer, a new form for the Necromancer etc… Mounts will eventually hit the cash shop as well.

There will be plenty of options in the cash shop that will not be game breaking yet still allow ANet to make some cash along the way.

Shadanwolf - March 27, 2012

GW2 is going to contain player vs player conflict in arenas and in server vs server warfare.ANYTHING that affects player vs player competition is a serious mistake .Serious enough that if it turned out to be true, I would not purchase the game.

[GW2] Micro your Payo! « Chicken Shit Outfit - March 27, 2012

[…] to XP, crafting, karma, magic find and more.  I’m tending to agree with a post I read by Keen, where I guess these bonuses are horrendous, but the sum of them all doesn’t sit well with […]

Gankatron - March 27, 2012

From Chicken Shit Outfit:

“Well, it looks like time-saving convenience items include temporary boosts to XP, crafting, karma, magic find and more.”

“I mean, perhaps the item hunt (discounting the developers intentions) is what’s most important in the game for you. Well, the boosts to magic find is you paying to win at that meta game”!

I would think that buying the ability to find more magical items (magic find) is no different than using a cash shop to buy magical items themselves, which is P2Win if these items give one an advantage in combat.

Although this still could be a smaller issue since magic find can also be bought with in game gold, it will be important to see how AN balances the cost in real dollars versus in game gold to fully judge the degree of the P2Win impact on the game.

Gankatron - March 27, 2012

My response to a dissenting poster in the FB GW2 pag secondary to my previous contention:

Poster –

“Its just a boost to increase the chances.. so its completely diferent to buying magic items.”

Me –

“No, that is an illusion. The mathematical field of statistics was founded on play to win in casinos by trying to boost one’s chances of winning.

If you buy something with real money that gives you more magical items at the end of a period of playing you have bought more items through the cash shop that you would not have otherwise.”

Rackham - March 27, 2012

I’m not actually too bothered by the Exp and Karma boosts they’ll be offering as RMTs. As far as the loot is concerned, doesn’t bug me that much either.

We see that in other MMOs, many of them I’ve played and enjoyed. Keep in mind even in WoW there’s the option (illegally) to purchase a fully geared and leveled character.

My point is that Arena wants to make money – plain and simple. If they make money, further development goes into the game.

About the only time I’ll have a HUGE upset is if they sell trinkets for real-world cash that allows players to insta-kill other players in PVP. Until I see a RMT transaction for a insta-death button, I’ll be fine with RMTs.

Crackbone - March 27, 2012

Keen,

I know you were burned by GPotato and Allods, but please, this isn’t even in the same realm as what you experienced there.

I understand you put your reputation on the line, and quite frankly, got it lopped off, I get it.

The difference between GPotato and Arenanet is night and day.

Quit thinking about this game in terms of WoW and gear grind. Once you do that, it’s pretty evident that this is nothing but a tempest in a teapot.

I understand you are lobbying and pushing for page views, but stop fanning the flames.

-Crack

Keen
Keen - March 27, 2012

@Crackbone: I never said this was like gPotato, and I never even compared this in terms of WoW and gear grind. I have no idea where you got that from.

What I want is for everyone to recognize how this can easily transition to a much worse system. This is the gateway drug equivalent for cash shops, and if people do not recognize that and speak up now it will be too late after the fact.

You are attempting to pull me into a straw man argument, but it’s evident to anyone with common sense that you’re way out of touch with the discussion at hand to the point of looking silly.

Crackbone - March 27, 2012

Keen,

This is the model this genre is going down. Either accept it, or get out of the genre.

That might sound harsh, but that’s the honest truth.

Cash shops are a part of the future of MMOs, and whether we like it or not, they are here to stay.

The Merovingian - March 27, 2012

To be honest, the instant travel with no cooldown to almost any place in the world worries me more than the cash shop at this point. I feel this will end being even more a theme park than e.g. WoW ever was (before they killed the world with flying mounts).

coppertopper - March 27, 2012

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/03/27/arenanet-president-talks-microtransactions-and-the-risks-of-going-subscription-free/

Good article relating to this topic. Short quote:
“O’Brien acknowledges, however, that players will need convincing. “The reaction we expect from the world is scepticism. It should be that way because there are a lot of games out there that are doing really dicey things with microtransactions. We hold ourselves to high standards, and as we’ve tested things, we’ve put this stuff in front of our core beta test group and said, ‘you guys should be holding us to [those] high standards.’”

Keen
Keen - March 27, 2012

@Crackbone: People with your mentality are EXACTLY why people like me need to fight so hard. You’re defeatists who have no real working knowledge of how this genre works. I completely disagree with the implication that every MMO has to be this way. Cash shops can stay, but I see no reason why every game has to have one.

Jericho - March 27, 2012

I agree with you when you say that this could be a very slippery slope. However, I believe that if Anet can keep a hold of their shop in house and not be relegated to fulfilling the demands of NCSoft everything will be fine.

What people still do not understand is that the vast majority of these buffs can clearly be seen in screenshots of various other areas of the game. For example the screenshots of the store show that you may purchase a 1hour buff that gives you 10% magic find. That same buff with a much longer duration can be purchased from the guild system from merely playing the game. With the game’s boon system, it stands to reason that these two buffs will not be stackable.

Yes, there is something a little underhanded with selling keys to chests that randomly drop in game, but in the end, this is not “paying 2 win”. Its paying to gain a minimal “advantage” that you would normally have if you were capable of playing for 6 hours instead of the 2 you are able to. Altering the time investment by allowing players to pay is nothing new, and while its not the “pure” thing to be doing, it is the pragmatic thing to do, if you wish to have a game that retains a level of difficulty and challenge.

Games like WoW tend to lean towards those players who can put in more time. Yet, because of their desire to make money, they were forced to continually dumb down their game so that players with limited time could succeed.

Just remember, in order to truly “pay to win” in the currently shown version of the store by the press that attended the beta last weekend, a person would have to use a considerable amount of money. Somewhere in the upwards of 100s of dollars a month. Then they would have to continue to pay that in order to keep their advantage.

TLDR: It is at the cusp of slippery slope, Anet will need to correctly manage it. Yet currently, the store provides “minor advantage” and not “win”.

Crackbone - March 27, 2012

Keen,

I have a pretty thorough knowledge of how this industry works.

You say that I’m a defeatist, I’m anything but. I acknowledge what the industry trends are, and they are cash shops.

I prefer a model like GW2, high production value, B2P, and hopefully a decent and fair RMT model.

I also prefer to think, based on my experience with the original Guild Wars, that GW2 will provide a similar experience with RMTs.

Arenanet having RMTs in their game is good for the industry. They are going to show the rest of the business how to do this properly, be fair, and grow a great community without GPotato type nonsense. They are going to show the industry how to build a game with great production value without a $15 a month subscription, and continue to grow that community without the old and tired model of “Pay us, we promise we’ll give you more content”

I say rejoice in the fact that Arenanet is going away from the subscription model of old.

This genre will be better for it, not worse.

Keen
Keen - March 27, 2012

@Crackbone: We’ll see. All I’m saying here is that we’re on the edge of a slippery slope and it could be really, really bad if this takes a turn for the worse. Having a cash shop with anything other than cosmetic items puts us on the edge. That’s a conscious decision they’re making.

What gets me is you’re speaking in absolutes about me by accusing me of things I never said or did, and for having thoughts I’ve never had. You’re also speaking in absolutes about what will happen and what ArenaNet will do. For example, you just said “they are going to show the rest of the business how to do this properly…” How do you know that?

I get that you’re going off experience with GW1, but think about my experience with DAOC and WAR. Same dev, same idea, totally different execution. One was awesome, the other flopped.

I’m recognizing a pattern that I have seen over the years with cash shops. I see the beginning of the pattern, I know how the picture unfolds. I want to avoid that. I have GW2’s best interest in mind.

Chris - March 27, 2012

If you check out the Guild Wars 2 pre-purchase packages you can see a few of the cash shop items. There are a few included with the Digital Deluxe and Collector’s Editions. They are the Golem Banker(Remote Access to bank?), Chalice of Glory(Boost Glory gain for PvP) and Tome of Influence(Boosts Guild Influence Gain).

Balthazar - March 27, 2012

I don’t know about all this. It just seems to the subscription model is so much simpler and more, I don’t know, fair or forthright or something than these F2P or B2P schemes are. One thing that has always turned me off from them is I don’t want to have to figure out to manage this currency or that currency. Doing math to figure out how much time per dollar I am saving to buy this thing or that thing and it only lasts an hour, but maybe I only have time to play 40 minutes, etc.

Something about the cash shops just destroys any semblance of immersion and brings in too much metagame thinking. When I am dungeon crawling, I don’t want to be thinking about whether to drop $5 to open the proverbial treasure chest I just liberated from the orcs guarding it or wonder whether I should have dropped the $5 before I started and if I’d have gotten any better drops as a result for my effort. I just want to play the damn game and the sub model facilitates that better in my view.

Plus, like Keen has mentioned before, I agree with the fact that it can’t help but color the design direction. I don’t think I have ever heard anyone refute this assertion and I don’t think it honestly can be. I just don’t want developers designing content such that I will be “induced” into utilizing the cash shop. I want developers designing content that players will be entertained by and immersed into. I know that those are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts a well.

GW2 is still on my radar, just not sure yet if I will pre-order. Might wait until post-release sometime depending on reviews before I dive in.

Zederok - March 27, 2012

@Balthazar Sure it seems so much simpler but the truth of the matter is that MMO subscription models are a niche within the gaming industry. I have a ton of friends who refuse to pay $15 a month to play a game but happily spend $100+ in buying new games for consoles or PC’s. (I am 41 if that matters) The idea of having to pony up money to play a recurring game is an antema to the diginity of millions of gamers. For better or for worse the cash shop that ANet is implementing is trying to:
a.) Bring in outside gamers who normally dont play MMO’s and
b.) Generate revenue without forcing people to pay

I suspect that alot (not even a majority even but still alot) of people will take part in a cash shop if its done well and contrary to all the hoopla and negativity I have seen here and elsewhere the things being discussed are not pay2win as many would have you believe.

If it bothers anyone that much just dont play I am sure ANet will do fine in fact more then fine if all the naysayers refused to play because I suspect they would garner way more people who would’nt play under a subscription model.

I will add one last thing, the very fact that ANet is developing an AAA MMO with this buisness model thats never been done before (under a AAA development company) will pave the way for this future sort of model for better or for worse.

Jericho - March 27, 2012

@Balthazar Yes the subscription model IS a heck of a lot easier, but the model that Anet is trying to push forward is one where we as a consumer actually hold more of the financial cards.

If you are a WoW subscriber, take a look back at the last 18months of service and tell me honestly, how many of those months would you have liked to ask for all or part of your money back from your subscription? For a lot of us who have gone 6-7 months at times without content will have a larger number than some others, but we all can agree that the level of content was not brought, and part of that is because of numbers and how those numbers convert to revenue in the current subscription based system.

With Anet’s system, we are going to see a game created that has its financial model based on how often content is created and distributed. Sure, a lot of people turned off their subscriptions to WoW because of lack of interesting and new content over the last 2 years. Their bottom line shows it on each earnings call, but has it really effected Activision at all? Have we seen concerted effort on their part to put out content that their playerbase feels is worthy? No. By basing the financial system on microtransactions the developer MUST push out regular and interesting content in order to keep players making purchases from the store on a regular basis. If they do not, they make no money. For WoW it usually will take 3-4 months of nothing for a person to unsubscribe. This is taken away in this model.

Yes there are slippery slope issues, and there are real issues with the keys for chests. But the system has some huge upside for the playerbase that a subscription system currently does.

Intruder313 - March 28, 2012

I’ll tell you what’s putting me right off: the price of the game itself is drowning in excessive monetisation.

£50 for the STANDARD edition? Hoping the box is a full £20 less.
The Digitial Deluxe is another £15 ($20-$25) more for 3 short-lived, virtual items.
The CE is not even priced but it’s more tat and some art/music with the obligatory statue.

I know it’s normal practice and the CE will sell out to the conspicuous consumption crowd but the standard price alone makes me worried about how they are going to approach revenue within the game.

I expect the box prices to appear in the next few days.

Crackbone - March 28, 2012

Keen,

I’m not dismissing the fact that everything could go sideways. However, when you consider the backlash that has occurred with the very mention of a cash shop, Arenanet would be committing financial suicide by going “too far.”

This title is nothing like those f2p games. This is way too high profile of a release for anyone at Arenanet to pull a fast one.

Whether I’m wrong or right this release of a mainstream cash shop is a good thing.

Being wrong means the game will crash under the criticism of the player base and the rest of the industry will take notice of the “failure” of Arenanet’s RMT model.

Being right means that the industry will learn how to build a game that’s accessible to more players and do it without a subscription.

I’m optimistic.

The issue I have with your blog post is that it’s fanning the flames of fear, uncertainty and doubt before the game has even been shown in an open beta. The simple fact is when you don’t know you have to look at history.

Could Arenanet completely lose their minds and release some crazy ass pay2win cash shop? Sure. It could happen.

Will they? Not if they want to really make a solid and long term cash cow.

Based on their RMT model in GW1, I tend to believe that it’s going to be a relatively conservative shop. It won’t make everyone happy, but it will more than likely be fair.

Its buy to win at this point - March 28, 2012

You can buy in game currency with real world currency. Nuff said. It has turned into a buy to win plan. Buying currency from the company that makes the game to buy in game items. I do understand it is a bit genius in one way as why go to an “iffy’ Chinese gold farmer when you can just buy it legitmattely right from the company. Still sounds, I dunno, “dirty” though. I am steering clear. My last hope right now is The Secret World and EQ next in the very distant future.

Keen
Keen - March 28, 2012

@Rasli: WvW looks really fun.

The Merovingian - March 28, 2012

http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/03/27/arenanet-president-talks-microtransactions-and-the-risks-of-going-subscription-free/

All we can hope is that it’s not the same old marketing speech and that they will be more honest than e.g. Turbine in LOTRO by keeping those promises.

Gankatron - March 28, 2012

I bet it will turn out well. AN has experience with a non-subscription system and they are currently my most respected AAA company.

The problem for me is that this based on two potentially flawed assumptions:

1) It would be completely nonsensical for a company to produce such an expensive, and polished, game that is obviously an act of love of the part of the design team, only to purposely sabotage it so severely to the point of failure.

The one word answer is Allods. Remember back seeing the astral ship battles and thinking that someone had finally gotten it right (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EA5SJglZ04g&feature=related), only to finally get into the game and see it runed (an intentional misspelling) by a pyramid scheme constructed from crystal chips?

Yes, as Robert Mcnamara said “Rationality won’t save us.” To really believe that they will pull it off I am forced to ignore all of my previous experiences with RMT systems.

2) A company with a sterling reputation and track history of crafting exceptional games will manage to pull it off in someway unbeknownst to us simple lewdies.

The one acronym answer is SWTOR. For 2 years prior to its launch blogs were asking the same basic question; “How will BioWare pull off an evolutionary merging of RPG and a MMO in a seamless way to justify a subscription?”

My answer back on this blog was that if anyone could do it a team like BioWare that produced some of the highest rated games ever made such as Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Jade Empire, and perhaps more to the point, KOTOR, must have some angle that we have not considered that will blow our minds! Somehow I put neglected to consider the curse involved when one carelessly places 2 vowels together in a particular order, namely “ea”.

No surprise in hindsight, they weren’t able to live up to my expectations or their hype, and instead produced a single player/coop RPG with MMO theme-park elements haphazardly stuck onto it. I now feel silly for ignoring commonsense in favor of hopeful excitement, but at least the lesson only cost me $60.

So, again I like to think that AN can work their magic and overcome my concerns over RMT-based systems, but once again I am forced into the uncomfortable position of having to ignore my past lessons in this genre.

Gg - June 20, 2012

I played in the betas and it did feel very much the way Keen has suggested.

After having payed for the game retail it did seem dirty to have to pay again for all the little extras. A lot of them were available in game, but a lot of them were not.

It certainly isnt the same pay-once methodology that initially made GW1 famous. Had this been the system at release of GW1, I would never have bought it. I dont see them convincing a lot of people to pay for the game, and pay for the expansions, and pay for in game shop items.

If they were giving access to the client for free it would be another matter entirely, cash shop is a great idea for free to play games. But it has no place in a pay-for-access game.

…….Which is sad, because it was quite an OK game to play, had it not been for the constant feeling you were being pressured for money.

Cravion - August 17, 2012

ive always played in cash shop games and its the most perfect balance at the start but that ends fast and what you are left with is people spending vasts amounts of money just to be the best and those that dont cash shop spend most of there time complaining about cash shoppers and dying constantly. I was so excited for gw2 until i found out that there is a cash shop, so let me get this straight other cash shop games are free to play, but arenanet wants us to pay for the game and then also in the cash shop and then for expansions also. Many many people i know bought this game for the non cash shop aspect most thought you could buy costumes but thats it all cosmetic. Some say craft % doesnt matter hahaha noobs you spend days looking for an item only to lose it when fail, but with forge stones you are much more likely to succeed goodluck with that mentality. Keys to chests thats fake.

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