Gold for Game Time

It was only a matter of time before WoW adopted a system like EVE’s PLEX or WildStar’s CREDD. Gold for Game Time is a means by which players can take in-game currency/effort and exchange it for the ability to keep playing.

Most people usually like these types of systems. You can have a subscription for $14.99 a month or you can play the game a lot and use gold. Sounds like a win-win, and really in most cases the systems are great. There are points to be made that it helps the in-game economy to not be saturated with currency (thus making currency worth something if no major currency sinks exist).

I have a few personal issues with trading gold for game game.

Fudges with Immersion

I’m one of those old codgers sitting in my rocking chair shouting at the kids to get off my lawn when it comes to immersion. I’m all about creating that virtual world where the community lives and thrives off of the dynamic interaction of each individual. When a system like this is implemented, suddenly the reason for everything shifts away from in-game systems to this external system.

Yes, players will still go through the motions and take actions intended to generate cash, but their reason for doing it will have changed. This seemingly minuscule and perhaps even hair-splitting point to many is a monumental shift for me.

Developmental Changes

When developers know that gold can now be exchanged for game time then gold is suddenly no longer a system internal to the game. The in-game currency starts to affect their bottom line. Decisions about development and the course of the game will now forever be impacted. It’s like when a game goes F2P and developers are no longer interested in creating the best content possible to keep people playing; rather they work on creating the best way to get people to buy something.

The whole idea isn’t a sure thing in WoW, but even if it is I’m not saying this is bad. These systems work.  They really do change the game, though.

  • I agree with all of that but I have a much more decremental problem with these systems: they seem like an incredible waste of time and effort for the player. Not, of course, for the player who buys the Time Card with cash and sells it in-game for Gold – that makes sense. It’s the player who buys it with in-game gold and then, presumably, actually uses it to add game time to his account.

    At minimum wage in the UK it would take, what, an hour and a half to earn the cost of a month’s subscription to the average MMO? How long would it take to farm that much gold above and beyond the gold you already need for normal in-game purposes? It just seems like a really bad way to spend your time.

    Am I missing something?

  • From my understand of how blizzard said they’re going to implement this it seems to be driven by the players. The gold won’t be leaving the game economy as we won’t be buying the game time directly from Blizzard with gold, it’ll be going to other players. As far as blizzard are concerned they’re still going to be getting their $15 for 30 days playtime, plus it’ll give the opportunity for those who may have plenty of free time and no cash to keep playing (Kids, unemployed, students etc). Looks like a win all around to me.

  • I had to re-read your post twice. Because the first time it sounded like the devs are selling the game time for in-game currency. Not sure about WildStar and WoW, but it’s note true for EVE.

    If anything it fosters “interaction of each individual” – I have time (to play) you have money (to buy PLEX/CRED) – let’s make an exchange.

    “When a system like this is implemented, suddenly the reason for everything shifts away from in-game systems to this external system.” – this can, but doesn’t have to be, a valid risk. I believe it’s more an individual player thing – do I play to buy game time or do I play to have fun/socialize and making in-game money for game time is just a side effect?

  • @bhagpusss :

    You are probably correct from a purely objective analytical POV, but when I left WoW back in TBC I had so much gold on top of great gear that I would have gladly spent it on game time.

  • “The in-game currency starts to affect their bottom line. Decisions about development and the course of the game will now forever be impacted. ”

    I’m not sure this is the case in such a system. It’s not like with F2P where you have to encourage people to use your cash shop or get nothing. All the game time bought with gold has already been purchased by another player for $15 a month. For Blizzard the same rule it always has had applies – keep people subscribed. People want to stay subbed, they will buy the subscription one way or another. I suppose you could argue that they could make gold extremely difficult to come by, therefore encouraging people to purchase time and sell it for gold, but I personally don’t see that happening. For one thing if enough people tried that it would drive down the price significantly.

    I think ultimately this will be a way to let the ultra-rich players out there to get rid of some cash and add a nice gold sink to the game, which will help Blizzard deal with inflation.

  • @Bhag: “How long would it take to farm that much gold above and beyond the gold you already need for normal in-game purposes?”

    In EVE if you are into the market, or have already put in the work to set up a larger production chain, getting enough ISK for a PLEX doesn’t take much time at all (possibly even minutes).

    However the number of people who can generate so much ISK so quickly is limited, mostly because most don’t care, or can’t be bothered to go to such extremes, but if someone is really concerned about it, it’s certainly possible.

    Adding a PLEX-like system to any sub MMO is a win for the game. It keeps you away from F2P garbage, makes it easier to keep people subbed to the game, and can help the economy if done right.

  • Bhagpuss, there are ways to get massive amounts of gold of other players very quickly. For instance, top guilds selling carries through the hardest raid content. I know the top guilds came into the current expansion with staggering rich warchests from doing that in the previous content; going forward, I suspect many will be hoping to pay their subs purely as an incidental by carrying people through raids they were going to do anyway.

  • I really don’t know what to feel about it. For all I know is that the sub cost (real money) is not an issue for me and I don’t see myself ever use in-game currency to buy game time. I am not rich, but I find the 13 euro for a month of entertainment ridiculous cheap.

    What I worry about is what will become to the in-game currency…

    -Will my in game currency have less value now or more?
    -Will the company make the in-game currency much more important in character development in order to make it more attractive?
    -Will I see more people using bots to farm materials/gold in order to buy the game time? (and effectively have more competition on farming spots and be forced to sell cheaper…because of more bots?)

    Syncaine “Adding a PLEX-like system to any sub MMO is a win for the game. It keeps you away from F2P garbage”

    I totally prefer a Plex – like system over any f2p system, but I don’t think that Blizzard have reached the point where they are in “danger” to “forced” to a f2p model to survive…I think is just a greedy move that will probably worsen the quality of the game (although I am not so sure how it will work).

  • […] Bhagpuss and others bandy about the whole “you’re getting paid less than minimum wage if you farm for gold” canard, but that’s completely irrelevant IMO. One derives a “virtual wage” from any form of entertainment, which is the reason you’re playing videogames and not working 18 hours every day. Indeed, every single day that you forgo the possibility of overtime work is a day in which that one or more hour of free-time gained is worth 1.5x your rate of pay. And if you think $0.18/hour or whatever is bad, think about the $0.00 you get from a single-player game! […]

  • “-Will my in game currency have less value now or more?”

    More, since anyone who has ‘too much’ gold can now start buying account time, basically making gold matter for everyone but the uber-rich (people with years and years worth of PLEX). One way gold value drops when people don’t have anything to do with it; that’s borderline impossible with PLEX.

    “-Will the company make the in-game currency much more important in character development in order to make it more attractive?”

    If they are smart, no. At least not to the point where the average player feels forced to buy a PLEX and sell it for gold just to keep playing ‘normally’. That would cause people to quit, and clearly that’s not the intent with PLEX. Keeping the value relatively stable, which granted is very hard, is the way to go, but that requires a well-balanced and functional economy. That’s pretty rare in the MMO space.

    “-Will I see more people using bots to farm materials/gold in order to buy the game time? (and effectively have more competition on farming spots and be forced to sell cheaper…because of more bots?)”

    Other way around. Because PLEX makes RMT much harder (lot of factors here), you should see fewer bots as its now harder to make a profit in that game, especially if the company is decent at banning farming bots as well.

    If done right this should make the game much better (for both the company and the players), or at least no worse than before the system. There are ways to completely screw it up of course, just like anytime anyone tries to copy/paste EVE.

  • As long as game time does not become the game’s currency, and gold still holds value within the game beyond simply buying game time, then this stands at least a chance of not being horrible.

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