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Shadow of War = Pay to Win

Did I ever tell you guys that I found Shadow of Mordor really boring? I just couldn’t get into the Nemesis system. I see why it’s neat. I see why other people would like it. I just don’t.

I suppose Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment might realize there are people like me out there, because they recently announced their new microtransaction system called the “Market.”

Through the Market, players can purchase Loot Chests, War Chests, XP Boosts and Bundles (accessed only with an internet connection).

  • Loot Chests contain Gear (weapons and armor) of varying rarity. Equipping and upgrading these weapons and armor enhance Talion’s character abilities. Loot Chests can also contain XP Boosts that help level up Talion faster.
  • War Chests provide Orc Followers of varying rarity to help forge a strong army. They can also contain Training Orders to level up and customize Orc Followers.
  • XP Boosts are consumables that help level up Talion faster.
  • Bundles package up Loot Chests, War Chests and Boosts together at a great value.

So instead of spending the time defeating orcs, destroying gear, destroying orc followers, and finding Mirian stashes, players can basically just buy their way to the win.

WBIE is also using “Gold” as another form of in-game currency that can be used to buy the chests and exp boosts. You can check out the official announcement where they go into more detail about how to get gold.

WBIE claims, “No content in the game is gated by Gold. All content can be acquired naturally through normal gameplay.” […] “Gold does not give you any advantage over other players. A player who invests enough time can progress the same amount and have access to the same content as a player who purchases Gold. Gold is not required to progress or advance in the game at all.”

Thankfully “Online Vendettas,” where you go and fight other people’s fortresses, don’t kill off your followers if you lose. That would crank the pay-to-win to another level.

“But Keen, you just said you didn’t even like Shadow of Mordor anyway so why do you care?”

For this particular game, I guess it won’t impact me. I have no plans to pick up Shadow of War because I didn’t like its predecessor. But yet again I find myself referencing recent burns such as Fortnite and thinking how badly those F2P gimmicks annoyed me. I think it’s bad form for them to be in any game, really.

Thoughts? I know there are some of you who regularly comment who say any F2P game is an immediate skip. Would this qualify, despite having a price tag? If not, I would be really interested in hearing why.

  • It depends entirely on your personal approach to gaming, I’d say. For me the F2P phenomenon has been an absolute, unquestionable, inarguable win. There’s no aspect of any game I play (which would be almost entirely MMOs) that has been damaged in any way I can see by companies moving to a F2P model and there have been huge benefits for me, directly.

    I’ve played far more games than I ever would or could have done under either a Subscription model or even Buy to Play. My understanding, experience and knowledge of the genre has increased enormously as a result, allowing me to place each game I try in a much broader experiential context. Having free access to a much wider range of MMOs has both deepened and expanded my interest in the genre.

    In terms of how it affects my immediate experience of the games themselves I see no negatives whatsoever. The only financial effect it has had is to save me money. I don’t believe I have spent a single penny on any form of microtransaction within a F2P game and the money I have spent in the stores of Buy to Play games like GW2 is a tiny fraction of what I would have spent to maintain a subscription.

    I’ve actually spent far more money in the in-game store for SOE/DBG than I have for any other game and I have two subscriptions for that company’s games that I’ve been paying for more than a decade and a half! Indeed, the main result of the transition to F2P at SOE was that I now have half a dozen accounts there instead of just two.

    As for the way the gameplay inside the games has changed as a result of the change in payment model, I can see those changes but far from harming my enjoyment they actively enhance it. I get a lot of free stuff from the sweeteners they like to drop to encourage people to keep logging in or to try the in-game store. F2P games tend to pay more attention than Sub games to the start of the game, since it’s their shop window, and as a player who prefers low level to high level that works very well.

    I even like lockboxes. I never, ever pay real money for them and there is no part of me that itches with desire for any specific item they might contain, but I love opening the odd, free one that drops. It’s really exciting. As someone who hugely prefers RNG loot over any form of currency or purchase option, opening boxes to see what’s inside is hugely entertaining.

    As for P2W, I would happily play MMOs where every possible item and service in the game was available for direct purchase with real money. I probably wouldn’t buy any of it but it would be nice to know it was there if I wanted it. As I’ve often said, I’m not really a “gamer” in many of the traditional senses. I want to be in the worlds, inhabit my characters, explore and enjoy. I don’t give the traditional rat’s backside who among the people I’m playing with has what or how they got it. If they want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to kit themselves out then let them. Makes no odds to me.

    I realize this is a highly solipsistic view and that such an attitude may not be in the long-term health of the genre (or of gaming in general) but we’ve had F2P for a decade or so now and for my (no) money the gaming experience is just getting better and better, so I can only speak as I find. Naturally people who feel their gaming experience has declined over the same period will see things very differently.

    • I would have no problem with Shadow of War if it were free or discounted. The new model is “Have my cake and eat it too.”

      I’m playing the hell out of Darkest Dungeon right now. I spent $20 it and the dlc. Amazing art direction, sound and mechanics. A game built for the love of gaming.

      That’s what I’m going to play going forward. An absurd waste of my 1080? Titanfall 2 gives it a workout.

      I’m only going to support devs who love games more than my money.

      • That is my perspective as well. I am totally ok with f2p game models and microtransactions in those games but I will not buy a base game AND participate in microtransactions. This is why I am not buying Fortnite. If it was f2p (which they say it will be eventually) I would be ok with resource grind and a cash shop but keep that out of a game that charges me a base price.

        I enjoyed the first game and was interested in the new game but this business model makes the game a no buy for me. I don’t trust that the devs are not tweaking the numbers behind the scenes to make the experience more drawn out for someone that does not partake in their cash shop.

        Also I really hope the industry self regulates loot crates (aka gambling) before the government gets involved. They need to show drop chances for each potential item in the crate. Only a naive person trusts that the devs are being ‘fair and honest’. Imagine the outrage if players are buying crates at X price for two weeks and the devs realize they can tweak some drop chances and potentially increase sales. Suddenly that epic in a crate goes from a 15% chance to a 10% chance and you as the consumer would have no idea. Hardly seem honest. It is all about the math and if they don’t want to reveal the math they can not be trusted.

  • I didn’t enjoy the first one, but this one looked a lot more fun and it was on my radar. I won’t be picking it up due to the microtransactions. Even if they were only cosmetic, no interest. I have plenty of other games to play. Just the presence of a little $ icon during the game asking me to spend more money on optional shit is enough to take me out of the experience, I won’t support it.

    I need to buy into the total experience, whether it is the cost of the game, or a subscription. One price to get into the park, however high, and then go on all the rides you want. Anything beyond that destroys “the magic circle” and the agitation it causes me isn’t worth my time.

  • I have no problem with MTX for PvE games. You are trading time for money. The loot chests are basically buying a boss encounter already killed, with random loot. The XP boosts speed up leveing. If you have more time than money, and don’t mind a grindier game, then don’t pay.

    More and more games are doing this. Even WoW has gotten into it with tokens, boosts, and its catch up mechanisms, which include crafted gear, which you can pay for by buying gold. But usually its to speed you to end game (both in PvP and raids). But while WoW gets you to end-game, it tries to mute those speed effects on competitive PvE and PvP. For example, Mythic raids always start a week later than Normal and Hardmode raids for examxple, so buying gear isn’t the only way get ready for the next tier.

    The problem is when either the game hits a “soft enrage” cap, meaning you get so pissed off you feel forced to pay, or you hit a wall, where money is only way around it or P2W affects real competitive play.

    PathOfExile is mostly pay to look bad-ass, but the stash tabs are a form of soft enrage, in that you feel the need to pay money to make trading easier, and to save up gear for later characters. I’ve spent about $80 so far. The funny thing is the number of character shots starts at 24, so its not the number of characters I play, just how much junk I hang onto 🙂

    • I love the use of terms like “soft enrage” to describe cash shop compulsion. I’m going to use that!

      Well-said all around. 🙂

  • Although I think cash shop stuff on top of a purchase price for a game is dumb and should go away it wouldn’t stop me from playing and enjoying a game, especially a single player game. I just ignore it and play the game.

    I enjoyed Shadow of Mordor and and will play Shadow of War but like most games these days I don’t feel a need to play them on day 1 and will wait until I can pick it up on a good sale.