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Cryptic's Roper Explains Microtransactions For Champions Online

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the dollars-per-experience-point dept.

PC Games (Games) 82

Karen Hertzberg writes "Many MMO gamers have expressed concern over the recent announcement that micro-transactions would play a role in the upcoming release of Champions Online. Knowing that MTs can be a touchy subject for fans, Ten Ton Hammer sat down with Bill Roper for an interview. He reveals more about Cryptic's take on the business model, what type of items you can expect to find through MTs, and how the system will be integrated into Champions Online come launch day. Roper said, 'The idea is wanting to be able to have things there that players can get if they want to, but they don't negatively impact the balance of the game. It's not like we're expecting players to go and purchase things through micro-transactions that then give them some huge leg up. All those things I think people get worried about, but really the focus is on having things that are fun, cosmetic or are things that are more account-wide and maintenance based.'"

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Beta Tester Feelings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792269)

I'm currently in the beta for this delightful game, and while I won't go into too much (though I may answer some basic questions), I just wanted to say that it's shaping up nicely. Some might disagree with me, but I really like it so far. It's not perfect, and there's still plenty of rough edges, but it's decent enough. It's just so... different from other things I've dealt with. You won't find another MMO with it's combat model (trust me, once you put the controller in your hands, it's super smooth).

Re:Beta Tester Feelings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796593)

Yeah, and you're obviously not an astroturfer... seeing as you are an AC, mind going into specifics?

Re:Beta Tester Feelings... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796725)

I'm in it too; the AC posting is due to the NDA still in place. Sorry, no specifics.

Mod me down bitches! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792309)

Niggers.

I'm not actually racist at all. But to see how people froth at the mouth and make knee-jerk judgements over a simple fucking word is very amusing! It never occurrs to ppl that taking everything so goddamned seriously might just be part of the problem of why real racism hasn't gone away. So I said the word, be a good little altar boy now and get pissed off at me and mod me down. Find reassurance that you are one of the faithful in the Cult of Political Correctness.

Re:Mod me down bitches! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792367)

I wasnt raised racist. But i've learned to be one. It's just quick and dirty self preservation when dealing with masses of unknown people.

Works pretty good for the most part.

An ideal solution would be for jerkwads to be visually identifyable.

Until that day. Simple racisim does the job well enough.

Re:Mod me down bitches! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792875)

An ideal solution would be for jerkwads to be visually identifyable.

But, they ARE visibly identifyable -unless you're blind. In which case the smell should be enough to tell you you're dealing with a nigger^W jerkwad.

Re:Mod me down bitches! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792541)

No I modded you Insightful because I totally agree that people get offended too easily. Though I should have modded you offtopic.

He doesn't even know what microtransactions are... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792379)

Roper has confused microtransactions with on-line purchases. How did he get that job? A microtransaction is a charge so small that you don't really notice it and the charge is made in such a way that its not really noticed, and dont require any complicated action, by the buyer. I don't understand how anyone can confuse that with buying a char transfer for WoW, or buying something from iTune's.

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (1)

True Vox (841523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794621)

How small are you thinking of? According to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] they're defining it as anything "to mean payments too small to be affordably processed by credit card or other electronic transaction processing mechanism". Furthermore, below they refine it to often transactions below a dollar. THAT should include an iTunes purchase, no? That said, a character transfer in WoW is CLEARLY NOT a microtransaction (why they rape you like that for a transfer, I'll never know), so I agree with you there. :)

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28795937)

Why do they charge so much for a character transfer? Because they can. That should be obvious. They picked their price to maximize the profit form transfers.

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (1)

True Vox (841523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28828011)

Sadly, that's the only reasonable answer. Doesn't mean I need think they're not dicks though. :)

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28796615)

The prices are high to discourage people from doing it repeatedly. With a low cost people could be bouncing from server to server being scammers and general bastards. It harms the community on individual servers. If your just moving the one time to join new friends or follow the guild, a hit of 15-20 bucks doesn't affect you much. If you planning on being a ninja on 15 different servers in 3 months, its going to cost you a good bit more.

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (1)

True Vox (841523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28824819)

OK, fine. That's reasonable enough... but why not just limit server transfers to one cheap one every 6 months (or a year - what ever) and every one after that is expensive to discourage ninjaing? It would have the same effect, without raping me for what is effectively a "Copy - Paste" operation.

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (2, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796293)

No, the term Microtransaction has become a standard definition for MMO's that have items for purchase, ranging anywhere from $1 to $10 or so. The credit card/financial definition is certainly the source of the term, but its definition is now pretty irrelevant when talking about MMOs.

If you say a MMO with microtransactions, that means they will have a store of items that will cost a few bucks or so. The reason this is a big deal is that with a subscription-based MMO, this is faily uncommon, and is seen as being greedy. Microtransactions are usually only seen in Free to Play or Freemium (Free but with a premium subscription option) MMOs, as that would be their primary form of revenue generation. In subscritpion-based MMOs, it's just seen as a lame attempt to milk more cash out of already paying customers.

I think this is a bad idea and is nothing but a cash grab. I know I will definately be avoiding Champions now. The thing that worries me is there are rumors they will do this with ST:O as well. I don't like being a part of games where RL income can affect how you do in the game. I quite frankly see it as a form of cheating.

There's also the fact where the 'standard' content suffers because they reserve things for the pay item store. In freebie MMOs this is expected, but when you're already paying a subscription and for boxes of the game, that's just bullshit.

And there's also the fact I know I don't have the self-control and would probably spend exhorbitant amounts of money if I ever tried to play one....

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (2, Interesting)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796851)

This is a site with microtransactions:

http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/pacerdesc.html [uscourts.gov]

Yes, the US government runs the site. PACER is intended to give access to court documents, however, to protect the business models of Westlaw and Lexis-Nexis there is an $0.08 charge per page, for both legal filings and for varying definitions of a page for many HTML rendered pages.

In the last quarterly billing cycle I managed to generate $38 in fees, so yes microtransactions do suck and are an extremely bad idea.

Re:He doesn't even know what microtransactions are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28800025)

iTune's.

iTune's? SERIOUSLY? Lrn2 apostrophe.

Microtransactions = deal buster (0)

bl968 (190792) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792395)

I will not play a game that rewards, or give extra benefits to, those who give cash to the company. Charge everyone a small fee, but keep everyone equal.

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792853)

That's nonsense right there.

You assume everyone is equal right now, and that's simply not true. There are enough people in MMOs that have multiple accounts and pass money from one to the other. There are people with nothing else to do, who can grind all day, and there are people with job, friends, family, who can't.

If you want an "everyone is equal" game, play chess or go. MMOs aren't equal as they are now. Adding micro-transactions simply allows people who have a job to offset their time disadvantage compared to people without a job with something else that they have that the others don't.

Except it's not necessarily that (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794153)

Well, I understand your point and would even side with it, if it was indeed that. Except it probably isn't. Even the summary mentions that they don't want to actually sell things which would break balance or give someone a leg up.

For example, since largely it's the same people who came up with City Of Heroes, here's what COH sells: higher resolution costume pieces.

If you come from an EQ/WoW school of MMO, that may sound like an advantage right there, but in reality it's 100% cosmetic. The costume or weapon don't have any stats or DPS like in WoW or EQ. The defense and attack powers are inherent in the super-hero, not in the costume pieces.

If you want to pretend that your hero gets his powers from some magical bracers, you put that in your description and wear some bracers. But technically the in-game bracers don't actually do anything. They're just a visual prop.

So really what you can buy in COH are some meshes and textures for your character. The only benefit is looking good, not extra DPS, nor extra defense, nor anything else which would actually translate in any actual in-game advantage.

The only morally questionable item they have for sale for RL cash is a jetpack. But the funny thing is, you can get an identical (performance-wise) jetpack at level 5 by just doing the bank mission, and at level 14 you can get an innate power that's actually faster. On the COV side, you can get 3 different ones, or you can just hike your butt to Grandville and buy one for a very small price in in-game currency even at level 1. Grandville _is_ the top level area but there are no enemies between the boat and the vendor.

So realistically the only advantage you'll get out of it is at levels 1 to 5. Or maybe 1 to 6 if you do that bank mission later, or had a ton of rested xp at level 4.

And it's only transportation. For about an hour (because that's about how long levels 1 to 5 take) you have faster transport than you would have had normally, but it won't help you at all in a fight.

Now I do have a bit of a moral problem even with the transport advantage, but, let's face it, it's not like it'll break the game if a newbie is spared running a couple of miles total on foot in their first hour. If anyone is silly enough to pay RL money for that, well, let's just say it'll tick me off a lot less than the guys paying RL money for gold to buy purple twink gear in WoW.

What do you expect them to say ?? (1)

Archfeld (6757) | more than 5 years ago | (#28798743)

Why YES, we are seeking to milk our players for every dime we can, and YES this will cause balance issues but we've found thru studies that 1 player who will PAY $$$ for side objects is worth 3 players who won't ?? Of course they are going to downplay any balance or game mechanics issues, they ARE trying to make a profit here. That said I hope they can strike a nice balance, and that it beneifts the game and ALL the players as a whole, but I'm most certainly not going to hold my breath on the belief that this is anything but a grab for some more czash but hugely greedy publishers and venal corps.

Re:What do you expect them to say ?? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800881)

Well, I guess we'll wait and see.

As I was saying, there _is_ at least one example which sold stuff that gave no actual in game advantage. So it's possible.

Whether CO will be like that... well, I'm not psychic. I'll just wait until they actually do something wrong, before I get all pumped up to whine about it :P

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794809)

I've never seen anyone give a reasonable response to this question, so I'll ask you:

Why do you care about how other people in the game came about obtaining the powers they have?

If I play for 30 minutes and get myself a +1 sword of backscratching (which sounds about like what the Champions guy was talking about - nothing major, just minor bennies) or I pay $.50 to get the same thing, what possible difference will it make to you that I've done so?

Please don't say that players who buy things vs. players who "earn" them in game are different - I've met *plenty* of people with months /played in various games who are among the worst when it comes to teaming, and I've met people who bought high-level characters off of eBay who are among the best. And do remember, they're talking about stuff that is mostly cosmetic and extremely low-powered/convenience stuff, not "buy a max level character" or "buy the power cosmic for your character" kind of stuff. So what's your reasoning for why it matters?

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

OnomatopoeiaSound (1276560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28811057)

I don't see if it matters if it only gives a heads up on pre-existing content. However, if it gives the people things that the regular customers don't get, then I'll be pissed. If the thing was free with microtransactions, the people paying for the extra gear or whatnot could go hog wild for all I care. But if I'm being charged monthly or whatever, I don't think it's fair for me to be shown up by somebody with more disposable income who buys all the fancy bits. That happens enough in real life, I don't think it has a place in the game world. Of course, the company will be doing whatever makes them the most money so there's nothing I can do about it. Heh. I probably will still buy the game if it looks good. I'm a sucker for superheroes.

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28811565)

I can see your point, I guess I just don't agree with it.

I guess my feeling is that there's no equality in this situation in the first place, and as long as it isn't having a huge effect on my experience, I don't really care what people have access to that I don't.

For example, I have a really nice gaming rig - I can play games at the highest settings and my FPS won't dip much at all when I'm in a huge battle. This is HUGE in player vs. player combat because I'll be able to react to events in real time; someone with a crap system might get slowed down to 1fps and thus be much less reactive. It's real-life money giving me an advantage in game - and definitely having more of an effect on other players than "You paid $5 for this widget, now you can have 8 new costume pieces with 100% more SPARKLES!" Should there be a *maximum* system allowance for multi-player games, so that outside factors don't play into the game much?

And, honestly, if a $.50 microtransaction to be able to have a special codpiece on your hero is going to be difficult to swing, paying $15 a month for a video game subscription is probably not the soundest choice. I don't know that "amount of disposable income" really enters into it once you're talking about paying for a luxury subscription service - if you're playing MMOs, it's really more about "how much money do you want to spend on playing video games" instead of haves vs. have-nots.

I will say that I did come up with one reason for why people shouldn't be allowed to spend RL money on things that will make their characters better (as opposed to cosmetic frippery) - advancement in the game (becoming more powerful) should reasonably only be achieved through playing the game. People who are unemployed and play the game for 12 hours a day are spending that time *in* the game, playing it, so it's fair that they are more powerful, whereas someone who works and can only play for 2 hours a day should not be able to just spend money to have as powerful a character - they aren't actually playing the game to get better.

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

OnomatopoeiaSound (1276560) | more than 5 years ago | (#28812357)

Heh. I see your point to I suppose. It's just that when I think of micro-transactions in terms of gaming, I think of $5.00 here and there for the codpiece of awesome. To me that, while not a lot of money, isn't something I'd want to spend. I just think that if it breaks the balance of the game, then it's something that shouldn't be there. I'm just starting in PvP myself, and I don't take it seriously, but it would bother me if somebody who was the same level as I was had the codpiece of assrapery just because they spent the money for it. I do realize that my dislike of the whole microtransaction thing is possibly illogical, but that's just how I feel. As many others have said in this thread, to me it feels like, well, cheating. If somebody put in the time to get the awesome gear, more power to them. Even though I should be fine with people spending money for awesome gear, as it's basically the same principal, I don't. I also want to mention my previous statement: I'm fine with people paying for stuff that they could have gotten through playing the game. I don't think that brings in any balance issues. Or if they want to pay for cosmetic things, like those companion pets that don't do anything in WOW, that's fine too. But if they buy something that changes how the game plays, and it's something that your average player (or even your hardcore player) couldn't get through just playing, then I have a problem with it. As I said, if the game is good it won't stop me from playing, it's just that I'll sneer and maybe say some sarastic remark every time I see somebody with the codpiece of awesome that they paid real world money for. Something like "NEERRRD". And yes, I'm fully aware of the hypocrisy in that. I'm sure someone will point it out later on though.

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795303)

I will not play a game that rewards, or give extra benefits to, those who give cash to the company. Charge everyone a small fee, but keep everyone equal.

Well that isn't the case even now. What is the difference between a lawyer who works 60 hours a week who buys a WoW character than his wealthy retired client that sit at home all day and grinds characters?

I doubt many wealthy retirees or busy lawyers play WoW, but my point is the same. Wealthy in the real world can get you a better character passively or actively.

Re:Microtransactions = deal buster (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28797775)

Whereas I would because I don't really give a crap that other people can buy extra stuff. I'll enjoy the cheaper game without that stuff. Of course I'm probably exactly the player they don't want, which is lucky since I last all of 1 week on MMOs before they bore me silly and I never touch that one again.

Thx activision/blizzard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792429)

Since wow does micro transactions everyone has to now...

Microtransaction = Cheating (2, Insightful)

killdozer3k (779295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792501)

Microtransaction = Cheating. Its like the rich kid who gets al the best baseball equipment and coaching. It leaves the other teammates feeling like he cheated. In fact he did, because his effort is as much a product of his parents money as it is his skill, and so it is here. the game world is really supposed to exist in itself. In a monthly pay game, when you get the magic sword you got it by working for it, not buying it at the store because you have a great job outside of the fantasy world. THis is why gold farmers are all about cheating. Here you have the publisher becoming the gold farmer. MMO's and all RPG's are supposed to be about merit and skill. When you take that away you destroy your achievements.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (3, Insightful)

ZosoZ (1603973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792819)

In the majority of MMOs out there at the moment merit and skill are a long, long, long way behind time, and to a lesser extent luck, as the determining factor in success (if you define success as "gaining gold and/or levels and/or magic swords"). I'm strongly opposed to any system that just layers "micro"transactions on top of existing mechanics so you need time *and* money, but I can't get worked up about a guy buying a magic sword for $5 compared to a guy killing boars for ten hours and using the in-game money he made to buy the sword at the auction house.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792845)

That is only true if you think of the game as a competition.

I don't. The rest of my life is competitive enough as it is, thank you. I play games to relax and to challenge myself. Grinding isn't a challenge, so if I can bypass it, I will. If you call it cheating, I'll call you dumb. Also, arrogant because you are trying to put rules on my play.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793309)

Games are supposed to be fun, and competitive. I understand that some people don't want to waste all day to get items so they can have fun, but it's clear that buying your way to the top is unfair.

It sounds to me (Disclamer: I don't play MMORPGs) like there needs to be two separate worlds. A "house league" world where you can buy stuff and just have fun. And a "Select league" world where its only things you have earned, where its very competitive and all about skill.

Then they could implement some way to move between them, but disabling the purchased items in the "select league" world.

Then then again, that may disrupt the cash flow. Which from the article seems to be more important to these guys then making a quality game.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (2)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793377)

What, exactly, is "unfair" about buying stuff instead of grinding for it?

Note: I'm not talking about anything that would require skill. I agree that if you want to get, say, a title "great marksmen", you should actually play and get a certain hit percentage.

But what, exactly, is unfair about investing $10 to get 100 monster skulls compared to investing 2 hours of time to get 100 monster skulls?

A huge part about MMOs is not about skill at all. Every idiot can complete 90% of the quests. The only skills they require is walking towards where the arrow points to and clicking on monsters to activate auto-attack.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

inhuman_4 (1294516) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794301)

What, exactly, is "unfair" about buying stuff instead of grinding for it?

Your right thats rather unclear.

There is nothing wrong with spending $10 to get 100 monster skulls. Provided that you don't see yourself as competing with other players.

However many people do see themselves in competition with others, and derive a sense of accomplishment (I am assuming its like a long term K/D ratio in FPS, I don't play MMORPGs) from getting items for their character. People only do the boring parts for the item or what ever at the end. An investment of time results in a reward.

But if you can just buy the reward, without the effort then it diminishes the value of the reward.

From your posts I get that you are just buying stuff to skip the boring parts and have fun, and thats cool. Your not doing it to improve your position relative to others. But some people will do it to improve their position relative to others, and that is what is unfair.

Now I am not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to play. But it should be clear who invested their time and effort to get the where they are, and those who are just using cash to get a leg up on the competition. It's not really about someone (like you) who purchases one or two items needed to do something fun. Its the people who drop $500 to max out their character so they can strut their stuff without having earned it.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794421)

It's not really about someone (like you) who purchases one or two items needed to do something fun. Its the people who drop $500 to max out their character so they can strut their stuff without having earned it.

Yes, but compare to what? It's not as if I couldn't put down $500 today to have my character power-leveled and equipped with the best gear, is it? It's just a black market, that's all. What they're doing is making it a legit market. We should all know from the drug market experience over the past 30 or so years that pushing things to a black market does nothing to reduce demand, it only drives up the profits of the dealers and creates expenses to keep the black market in check.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795077)

Just because something develops a black market doesn't mean we should allow it because it is hard to deal with. If you don't like grinding, then MMOs aren't something you really should be playing. While you might just be playing it for "fun". Other people derive fun out of the competition. Achievements are a big thing now. Someone feels much more accomplished if they spent the time to get the achievement rather than someone who bought it.
 
If you want a game where people can buy their progress, that's fine, but it is going to turn off a huge amount of people and leave you with a niche game. And that is what really drives all this...not pissing of your customers.
 
You ask earlier what is unfair about buying your quest items or spending 2 hours getting them. The answer: nothing to you, but it means a lot to a lot of other people out there. People want to escape the real world where the rich have all the advantages. You allow everything to be purchasable and you just pissed off the majority of your customers.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

allenw (33234) | more than 5 years ago | (#28800335)

Unless there is a mark that says "Item was bought", I'd argue that most players wouldn't know the difference between a bought or won item anyway.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801567)

I don't think that will help. It will just label the people who buy stuff. People won't want to group with the guy with labels. It will just make stupid drama and cause subscribers to quit. A lot of people feel really strongly about this. Whether it is rational or not is a different debate.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28804661)

If you don't like grinding, then MMOs aren't something you really should be playing.

Largely true, which is why I have carefully selected those that I do, and avoid the pure grinding parts in them. I don't need the super-special rare items that you need 20 hours of grinding to get, and that give you a 0.5% advantage over some item you can buy from the weapon trader.

Other people derive fun out of the competition. Achievements are a big thing now. Someone feels much more accomplished if they spent the time to get the achievement rather than someone who bought it.

And I never said achievements should be buyable. If you like competition, you should compete based on skill, not based on how many hours you can put into the game, wouldn't you agree?

People want to escape the real world where the rich have all the advantages. You allow everything to be purchasable and you just pissed off the majority of your customers.

That's a good argument, yes.

I would argue for two things in response. One, setting prices so they're mass-market prices. It should be affordable not only for the rich. Two, no problem at all making it visible in-game whether I bought my stuff or not. If you want to boast with having grinded all your gear, be my guest.

But there's no actual challenge in getting to level 60 or whatever. It's only a matter of time. The fact that there's no penalty for dying in most MMORPGs makes sure of that. No matter how bad you play, eventually you'll get there.

I'd be the first to sign up to a MMO where actual skill determines your level, not just accumulated experience points.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (2, Insightful)

toad3k (882007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795455)

It devalues the work other people have put into their characters and therefore makes playing the game at all that much more pointless, thereby gradually spoiling the game.

It is similar to saying, I don't want to study for four years for a degree, so if I can bribe someone to give me a degree without the studying, why shouldn't I do it? Similar to steroid use. If I bust my ass off for a good body, it is inevitable that someone will accuse me of steroid abuse eventually, degrading the effort, making it pointless to bother at all.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28804629)

It devalues the work other people have put into their characters

Good. I'm all for devalueing pointless, repetitive work. We have machines for that. Us humans should engage in challenging work that requires skill.

Your degree example doesn't hold. A degree is a paper that says "xyz has these and these skills". Almost no item or level in an MMO is equivalent to that, all they say is "xyz somehow killed the end boss abc", which in most cases essentially translates to "put x ours of time into it".

Time has no value. What you do with the time has.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28797615)

Maybe because the mmo idea is a world of people playing together, not paying together to avoid playing together?

Its not exactly attractive to those that actually want to play the game, to be offered a world full of companions who would rather lay down 100 bucks to show off their wares at the auction house than actually partake in the game. It makes for a bloody dull world, with absolutely zip immersion.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28804615)

Funny. Most of the times, difference in equipment or level is the reason why I can't play with people who I'd like to play with.

You assume that everyone who would buy stuff is there to show it off. I claim the opposite. The people I know who'd buy stuff are those who are more interested in playing than in showing off or grinding.

But heck, as some other poster suggested, make every item in two different variants, one that can only be bought and one that can only be gained in-game. Then you could still be showing off your "hard earned" stuff and laught at the people who have the yellow (or whatever) version from the shop.

But those of us who couldn't care how you got your stuff could continue playing.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (2, Insightful)

PainKilleR-CE (597083) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794151)

It sounds like you just don't understand MMOs. There really isn't skill involved until you've already collected all of the loot and are just in PvP playing against other players that have also managed to collect all of the best equipment. Everything is an investment of time and/or money, and some people already simply pay to have their character leveled and equipped to the point at which they can jump into the end-game and compete in the only skill portion of the game. If the company gets in on the action by setting a price on these things, then the only thing it's really doing is shutting out (or reducing the profit of) the black market and legitimizing the actions of the people that do this.

Until MMOs change in some fundamental way in which the game is no longer about grinding your way to the top level and then going on loot runs 20-million times to get the same top tier equipment that everyone else on the server is trying to get, there's not going to be any significant skill involved in anything but the last 1% of the game experience. Most of what comes before that is made easier by having friends that can help you and knowing the best places to level and loot in the game, and there will always be people out there willing to sell their services in these areas to make it easier to get to that last 1%.

On the other hand, they're specifically trying to make the point that the items they're putting up for sale are going to be more about cosmetic changes than competitive changes. It's like selling decorations for the house your character may have in the game rather than buying the +5 Sword of Player-Killing.

I prefer MTs (2, Insightful)

WolfgangPG (827468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794317)

I don't understand the MT hate. You aren't forced to buy anything from Cryptic off of the MT store and they have said everything you can buy will be earnable by playing the game. I will take them at their word here -- if they are selling a silly hat on the store, then I expect to be able to somehow earn it in the game if I don't want to buy it.

This is just a bunch of people who think having Tier 8 or whatever actually matters. If you are a gear whore -- then you can still earn gear the "legit way". If you want to collect the pets, you can still get your pets the legit way. I think the big thing is they maybe should consider making it clear that someone bought and item vs earned it. Maybe an A and B Variant.

What this does do is let people who can only do 1 aspect of the game -- say Raid or Farm get the other stuff. If I only have time to Raid, but I want the special horse you get for farming -- I am kinda screwed, but now I could just buy the horse off of the MT store.

The whole "well Rich Kids will benefit" thing is silly -- currently the person with the most time benefits or who is lucky or who bought stuff off ebay and the rich kid might already have 2 or 3 accounts. I don't care if you earned it by beating the boss -- it has no effect on my enjoyment of the game if you bought your gear or earned by playing a lot more time than me.

In fact I like the MT -- My little brother is in college -- he plays WoW 20+ hours a week.

I work a full time job and play 8 hours a week. He gets items I don't have time to get and he wants me to run dungeons that I am "not geared enough" to run. Now with Microtransactions I have a choice -- I can play the game and keep hoping for a drop or trying to craft an item -- or I can go online, buy the item I need so people consider me "geared enough" and then start questing with my brother. When dungeons have a gear level requirement -- to do Ulduar most people want Tier 7 at least gear as an example -- well if I don't have time to run Naxx enough to get geared up for Ulduar -- I can pay a few bucks and start questing with my bro.

In WoW (and most MMOs), getting gear from Dungeons is luck based. I ran Strat 80 times before I got my lightforge pants. I would have bought them off the store instead of running the dungeon. In theory since it is luck based -- you might not ever get the drop you want -- it might not drop or someone might out roll you.

As long as people are not forced into Microtransactions -- I don't see the problem. The only issue is if you measure your e-peen because you have Tier 8 before everyone else and think that actually means something... until Tier 9 comes out...

To make poeple happy they could always change the name of items. Like if you get an item drop it could be named "Gloves of the Eagle" where as if you bought it off the Games store they could be "Gloves of the Eagle B" or something, same stats and whatnot, just letting people know "hey Wolfd00d bought these". I wouldn't care, but this way e-peens can still feel good about themselves.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794669)

It diminishes the value of what the other players have EARNED.

If i spent days working on an item or questing for some special item, and your mom just goes and buys it for you... what the hell was the point of me earning it the hard way? It makes honest players feel like suckers.

It's not cheating in that it is not against the rules, Blizzard WANTS players to gold farm and twink. But it's certainly unfair for people to players who can't afford to buy imaginary property with real money, it's also unsportsmanlike. It also makes gold farming sweatshops possible, which is dubious at best.

It's arrogant to want a game to be fair or for players to earn their stripes rather than buy them? Life is unfair enough as it is, thank you. i play games to get away from constant reminders of how the game of life is so terribly stacked against me.

RULES? In a GAME?!?! Oh the horror! How DARE we expect fairness from a game?!

There's a web game called Kingdom of Loathing. It's a funny MMO with stick figure drawings and meat is the currency. i was happily leveling up and doing the quests. i introduced my brother to the game. He started hanging out in the chat rooms and other players started giving him quest items and meat. He did in a few weeks what took me a few months. It was like the devs took a big steaming shit on my head and said "fuck you, sucker!". i quit and never returned. But fairness doesn't matter to everyone, i guess.

What i would like to see in MRPGs are no-trade servers. This would allow honest players to compete/play with only other honest players. Or maybe there could be a status on your character that says you're not a twink. While you have that status, maybe you get an XP bonus, or better sale prices with NPCs.

This is why my game of choice is PlanetSide: it requires skill, knowledge of the game, team work, strategy, there's no farming, no twinking, no grinding, no n00bst0mping, no Chinese gold farmers (but there are Chinese players).... Buying a character would only give you flexibility, not an instagibbing mass murdering machine.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796345)

Funny, I was going to use Kingdom of Loathing as an example of a place that I think does things right. While they're not really microtransactions (their "item of the month" donation item is $10), there's a lot that still holds true.
  1. They make their game free to everyone. Donators keep it going, but lots of people can play and never pay anything.
  2. A limitation on turns lessens the divide between people who only have a little time to play, and people who are free to invest their entire day to the game.
  3. Anything that can be acquired by donation can be traded in-game so that non-donators effectively have access to the same stuff (if they don't mind farming or have other ways to earn the money).
  4. They have what could be called different modes of play, one of which is *completely* detached from the ability to interact with other players, and another of which is mostly detached from other players. The first option in particular basically eliminates any benefit that might be gained from donating, from other players, or even from your own past achievements (it's a "start over with nothing and get your stuff back at the end" kind of scenario.)

To be unhappy with the developers of an MMO because players are allowed to interact with and help other players seems silly to me. One would think part of the point of being massively multiplayer would be for people to help each other. Insisting that the only "fair" interaction in an MMO is competition on a completely level playing field leaves out half of the possibilities.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28804597)

It diminishes the value of what the other players have EARNED.

If i spent days working on an item or questing for some special item, and your mom just goes and buys it for you... what the hell was the point of me earning it the hard way? It makes honest players feel like suckers.

One, for people who work for their money, paying for something is just as much "earning it the hard way".
Two, the "work" you refer to is the exact kind of work that humans have built machines for ever since they were able to - stupid, repetitive, non-challenging work. We call it "grinding" for a reason.
Three, there is absolutely nothing dishonest about buying an item if the game so allows. We can argue about honesty in regards to games where buying stuff is expressively forbidden, but that's not what this topic is about.
Four, if your enjoyment of having the item suffers because others got it in a different way, maybe you need to check your own values instead of forcing them on others?

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28800347)

There IS competition in most of them, and at a minimum there is *interaction* in any decent game. The effect of buying gear (or even just good consumables - healing potions or whatever) on player vs player situations should be obvious, and of course griefers would be even worse if they were *rich* griefers who bought greater abilities to torment normal players. You will not be "relaxing and challenging" yourself much if you bought things in moderation but some dickhead with the elite expensive +20 Poleaxe of Reaming is corpse camping you.

IMO, eliminating the real/game money barriers lets a game slide into a balkanized have-vs-havenot scenario that resembles the un-fun-ness of real life. If you call people who dislike that dumb, we'll call you names back :( The "I have money but no time / he has time but no money" argument in favor of buying in-game stuff with real money falls apart in the face of people who have both time and money.

Of course, even if you like buying stuff in moderation, that doesn't mean the game system will work well with it. If you hate "grinding" but like questing, well, you're going to have trouble finding groups to quest in if everyone else bought their way out of that quest chain. Likewise, if you obsess about getting to the endgame content instantly, you're going to find those areas crowded as hell to the point of not being very fun if everyone else also bought their way to that area.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28804585)

Yes, some of that is true.

The most important part is that the model can not simply be added to an existing MMO that was designed with the assumption of grinding built-in, for example. If the entire reward concept is built on micro-rewards given for repetitive actions, then buying your way around that will frustrate you quickly because you bypass the addictive part of the game.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794255)

That's only true if microtransactions get you anything that actually contributes to the grind.

In Anarchy Online, microtransactions can get you a spiffy apartment, useful for nothing more than hanging out with friends in. Or a hoverboard, which can't be used in combat, automatically "unsummons" when attacked, and is weaker and not as good as vehicles you can purchase with ingame credits. Or a flying bike which is similar. Or social clothing which offers no bonuses to any skills and merely looks cool and/or different.

In Age of Conan, you can now purchase 1 extra character slot. You can also purchase character transfers; i.e. purchase the right to transfer a character from one server to another.

None of these things are character improvements. They don't offer any kind of shortcut towards endgame or give you an advantage over any other player. I have a strong feeling that the microtransactions planned for Champions Online will be similar. Things like custom costume options, special particle effects on your powers, etc. Stuff that doesn't have any effect on gameplay but things that folks might want anyway to make them stand out as different.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (2, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794861)

MMOs and RPGs have never been about merit and skill. They've been about who can sit in their chair the longest and press the attack button the longest.
the longer you do it, the more powerful your character. Nearly every MMO out there is about grinding. It is the #1 complaint for a reason...
Microtransactions don't have anything to do with cheating as long as they are done properly. A lot of western companies haven't figured that out yet, but asian companies have been doing it a long time. Here in Korea every game is run on microtransactions. I don't hear anyone whining about cheating. What I do see is people able to equally enjoy the same games. In Korea the microtransactions run completely on things which don't impact the gameplay, things like:

1 - Cosmetics. Everyone can get a helmet, you want a blue one? Same stats
2 - XP Boosts. This is time management. Not everyone can spend 10 hours a day grinding away. Someone pays a few bucks and they can get the same benefit in 7 hours. This is time compression and unless you get your jollies off being the first guy to level X, it doesn't affect the game in any way. It actually potentially hinders the person who has used time compression because they don't have the same amount of experience in using their character to that level (if the level has any meaning, a FPS has levels, but they don't do anything, so racing through them doesn't do anything)
3 - Money boosts. I don't play MMORPGs in Korea, because my Korean isn't that advanced, but in FPS, this is the same as the XP boosts. I don't eve know if money boosts are included in RPGs here. Does this unbalance the game? not really. in 10 hours without bosts you're level X with Y money, he pays 2 fees, and in 7 hours he's level X with Y money. No real difference
4 - extra character slots
5 - other time compression purchases

there isn't anything that you can buy, that I have seen, that would actually give one character an advantage of another. If you did PVP or anything like that they would all have access to the same gear, just in different colors, the same abilities, HP, money, etc.

So if you think that someone getting a blue hat is cheating vs someone who has a red hat, you've got a pretty twisted definition of cheating. No, there is nothing "cheating" about time compression. If you want to choose to play the game a few extra hours to get the same benefit without paying, you can. if you want to speed it up you can pay for it. The other difference between games in asia with microtransactions is that they're free to download, not like some western companies who try to charge for the game then charge for MTs on top of that.

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

SIInudeity (822415) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795291)

What about the guys, who play wow 24/7, while Im at work/having a social life etc. Isnt that considered cheating then?

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (1)

Mursk (928595) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795433)

Yes; playing WoW AND having a social life is clearly against the rules.

Oh, were you referring to the other guy?

Re:Microtransaction = Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28798567)

Except the article is saying you can't buy the magic sword (or cybernetic enhancement to give you +20% damage). You can buy the goldfish-bowl shoes to complete your pimp outfit or unlock a different set of textures to make your costume look more unique. Some people might feel that isn't fair but it is certainly not cheating.

MMO's and all RPG's are supposed to be about merit and skill. When you take that away you destroy your achievements.

That's funny... I thought they were about having fun. I played Everquest and WoW for years both in casual and raid guilds. I don't feel like I ever achieved a god damn thing in game, despite my success in obtaining items/unlocking content. I still play WoW and will continue to as long as it keeps me entertained. When I look back at my time in everquest I don't feel any pride whatsoever in what I "accomplished". When I talk to my former guildmates nobody ever mentions how great it felt to achieve anything or get some uber-item. My greatest achievement was building a strong enough friendship with some guildmates that I can visit them when I travel and have even crashed at their houses a few times.

Oh please - stop with the PR attempt (1)

H00bster (1603955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792523)

Microtransactions: This would be the payment model that has so much going for it: 1.Instead of playing the games to win items you buy them.. so the point of playing is to allow the folks with money to burn work less? 2.The model that relies on a few people subsidising the rest of the player base, hoping that the urge to compete will cause people to shove coins in like some fruit machine that never pays out. 3.Lets companies who can't come up with outstanding original products to compete with World of Warcarft give in and try to beg for spare change instead. Welfare for failed MMOs? We don't need to improve our products or stop churning out crap, we can just rip people off to get money instead.. YYAAYY. 4. How about crafting in games? Didn't the 'fluff' items used to come under the skill sets. Interesting to see that Cryptic on other news sites are saying that solo players wont need to be in 'guilds' to win the same items. Not going in your nice little shop are they? Even if the items on sale do stay at the 'cosmetic level' does anyone really think that if this games gets established that someones eyes wont light up with the chance to claim they've boosted profits with a little 'greying' of the line between cosmetic and useful gameplay items. 5. The argument 'Other games do it' Most games give a way free items, for example pre-ordering boxed sets you might get a free mount. Given that most MMO games struggle to get one expansion pack out a year at best, it's going to be pretty much impossible to see a regular flood of items. Plus these are free things that come with buying an expansion pack and are not created for their own sake, they are little bits of blurb on the side of a box. Can anyone tell me a good reason how this all benefits the majority of game players.. please? Oh, and it's not a Free to play game, so you still have to pay a months subs up front, so all the cheapskates out there hoping to get a free game, well you're out of luck :) Not that I don't think my above arguments don't apply to real f2p games anyway. The price of a months subs for just about any of these onlines games is usually around, or less than, the price of a DVD that will be watched once and thrown in a pile to gather dust and never be seen again. To be brutally honest if you can't afford this each month you can't afford the prioce of the fancy graphics cards to run them. But that's not the argument here, this is just dumb. Only last year the studio was releasing interviews describing micro transactionas as dumb, I wonder whose been arm twisting for this. Surely that Star Trek IP doesn't come cheap...

Corpo-Speak (2, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792545)

There's a lot of bull being thrown around in that interview. In response to the first question about whether the US market can accept micro-transaction games:

"I think a great example of that is Rock Band. That game is based wholly on micro-transactions and has a really high cost of entry, you know? With Rock Band you're not just buying the game, you're buying all of the peripherals and equipment... World of Warcraft has micro-transactions and people don't even think about it. Their micro-transactions are fairly steep at times - like $25 to move your character to another realm - and that's account-wide micro-transactions."

If an item is "really high cost" and/or "fairly steep", then it's not a micro-transaction, duh. And look, our game is comparable to both Rock Band and WOW, right.

Re:Corpo-Speak (1)

Ferret96 (1293480) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793691)

The argument you made with Rock Band you can make with ANY console game. In order to play any Wii game you need several peripherals, in order to play a 360 game you need to buy a controller... The need to buy the equipment up front is something that is given for some console games, hell even Duck Hunt needed the Nintendo Laser Gun (which, if you were like me and broke the one it came with, you needed to buy another one). Also World of Warcraft has only ONE extra cost at this point in the form of Realm Moves, with a second coming along the way in the form of changing you Race/Side. However both of these costs have no actual impact on in game play or cause a ripple effect, where if you are the one WITHOUT that thing then you're SOL. I'm also skeptical that Bill Roper used these two games as examples for micro-transaction games in the US and avoids using the obvious example if Second Life. Second Life is a game that has micro-transactions truly integrated into it's game system and is well known to his target audience. Second Life as a good example of a free to play system where if you really want to get into the bones of the game than you need to shell out some cash.

Re:Corpo-Speak (1)

True Vox (841523) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794857)

Really? I haven't played for about a year or so, but I could have SWORN a name change had something like a $10 cost associated with it in WoW.

Re:Corpo-Speak (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794117)

Rock Band + WoW = Raids where 25 people get together to play epic 5-6 hour medleys. There is no death penalty in game, but players may become exhausted and pass out. It is recommended that you play with a buddy so that, in case you do pass out, your buddy can flip you on your stomach so you don't choke on your own vomit and die. Should you complete the raid you will be rewarded with an animation of the final boss's head exploding to the background applause of a cheering stadium and you'll have the chance to advance to the next raid medley.

Re:Corpo-Speak (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795153)

I agree, the guy has no idea what a micro-transaction is. Character transfers are a service Blizzard provides that they don't really want to encourage. But if you really want to, you can pay some money and they will do it. The money is more of a deterrent.
 
You need to look at the Korean games to understand micro-transactions. 50 cents to buy a new outfit or a new item for your virtual home.
 
I think his definition of a micro-transactionsis anything that you pay for above and beyond the cost of the game and the monthly fee. Which just isn't correct. In regards to MMO, it is just small amounts of money used to purchase in-game content that usually is cosmetic but doesn't necessarily preclude it from an object that can give you a competitive advantage (some real examples I have read are potions that allow you to level faster).

Hellgate part 2? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28792549)

This sounds a lot like the subscriber/non-subscriber deal from Hellgate London. Either way, if Bill Roper gets his hands in like Flagship, this mmo, microtransactions or no, won't see it's first birthday.

I wish it were:Hellgate part 2 :p (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794441)

Well, I understand your point, but the alternative is that it's designed by Jack Emmert (Statesman) like COH :p

Now the game had a lot of good ideas (for my taste) and I still love the superhero setting. So Statesman gets my recognition for that.

But seriously, the game had _massive_ balance problems that could have been avoided by just doing some arithmetic on the back of a napkin. Jack Emmert was also genuinely surprised as to what happened to his game's balance when you just use level 22 equipment. Seriously, stuff like that a power that was supposed to be situational actually became _more_ than permanent (it actually stacked with itself!) if you use more than two standard equipment pieces available in bog-normal stores at level 22 was a surprise to him.

And attempts to rebalance it are best described as turning the knobs from 10 to 0 and then back to 10 and seeing what happens. Fixing the "city of blasters" screw up created the "city of fire tankers" screw up. Your hero could go from zero to god-mode and back to nobody in 3 consecutive patches. The last rebalancing attempt that Mr Emmert oversaw was the ED; and although as a principle something like that needed to be done, the way it was done actually broke whole "sets" of powers, like making Defense (and any tanker or scrapper who was based on that) useless.

I know someone will probably go "yeah, well, WoW nerfs players occasionally too" but trust me, WoW never did anything even close to the _scale_ of COH's balance swings. When you got boosted in a patch, suddenly you could do dungeons instanced for 8 people by yourself. Better yet, you could herd every single soul in the dungeon with impunity. At equal level. Then some patch would come and move you from that to non-viable overnight. _That_ kind of wild balance swings.

And all balance calculations for attack chains were made by players on the boards for him in the end, because two years after launch Cryptic was still using the wrong variable and not understanding what the limiting factor in an attack chain is.

Other elementary ideas also apparently weren't obvious either in design or in the beta. Like that in a game based on fighting large groups instead of one big boss, the tank _needs_ an AOE taunt. Seriously, you were apparently supposed to fight platoon sized groups with a single-target taunt.

COH only began to recover and become something stable and balanced after Statesman stepped down and Positron took the lead.

So if they can get someone responsible for Hellgate to do more of the CO design instead of Emmert... please, please, please, let them. Bring in John Romero too while we're at it :P

Oh no rich Jocks! (0, Flamebait)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792561)

Perhaps they could make an MMO based on a school environment. The more money and material items you have the better your social standing and the more rewards you get as a consequence.

I'm sure coming home to immerse in a world like this would be exactly what the average (not-rich) geek wants!

We live to be pushed around by the rich and powerful!

/sarcasm.

I smell a re-hash. (1)

arakon (97351) | more than 5 years ago | (#28792811)

Anyone looked up the term "Flagshipped"?

There was nothing wrong with the game Hellgate London but they screwed the pooch with a bad payment model by trying to sell a game as an MMO that was definitely not an MMO.

I smell a another debacle in the making. Bill Roper at the helm is apparently not a good idea.

Re:I smell a re-hash. (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794231)

There was nothing wrong with the game Hellgate London [snip]

Slightly off-topic, but there was plenty wrong with HGL. We could start with poor class choices (the only melee character is a holy warrior? wtf...), end with poor itemization (let's see, I need 54 more sizzling doodads to get +4 damage to my blue uzi, or I could just get a glitched rocket launcher by farming an early quest boss), and hit every point along the way where Flagship utterly failed to listen to any bit of beta reviewer commentary that didn't begin and end with OMG THIS IS THE BEST GAME EVAR! But really, let's not go there.

Paying a couple bucks a month for a solid game I can play with friends online with a neat scifi/demonic background, sure. Paying anything for a rushed, unbalanced, buggy grinder with a gimmicky background by a couple of big names who seem to no longer be able to put out any decent games? No thanks. Roper's done some good stuff for Blizzard and gaming in general, but if this is the direction he's taken he'd better buy his Pacific island now while he's still got investors sponsoring his craptastic new gaming endeavors.

Re:I smell a re-hash. (1)

arakon (97351) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801149)

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I had fun with the game playing it as just an out there FPS. I wasn't looking for an in-depth rpg.

What I didn't like about it was the subscribe to play content instead of pay X for the content to play whenever you like (see guild wars model). Also the no LAN play. If they had charged per expansion I am quite sure they would still be running today. The whole free players vs subscribers thing was a huge fiasco.

Most people were not willing to pay the monthly fee because no matter how they strutted it, HG:L was not an MMO. It did not have the depth/story/character growth that people expect in RPGs.

What it did have was more than a little bit of twitch action that people like myself find fun in FPS games. Quake - Unreal...

So now that the servers are shit-canned I've got a shiny box game that is worthless.

The business model was flawed and was IMO the primary reason it failed. Bill Roper's plan. Not every game is an MMO but he told investors that it was going to be a steady revenue stream and forced the game to a model it was unsuited for.

I think he might be doing the same thing here, using buzzwords to hype a game to investors not really thinking about the dynamics of the game and its audience.

Of course I could be wrong, perhaps from the ground up this is designed to be an MMO and the payment model may very well work, but I won't be buying it, due to the earlier "Bill Roper Burn".

An interesting choice (1)

isoteareth (321937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793287)

I always see incredibly negative feedback to micro transactions in subscription games. While forum polls are obviously very biased by the vocal minority, they tend to also have an overwhelmingly negative response to questions about integrating micro payments into subscription MMOs. My impression is that a non-trivial percent of MMO players will not subscribe to a game that also integrates micro payments in a substantial way. Perhaps marketing research has shown that the revenue from micro payments will more than offset the cost of lost subscriptions, but I personally consider it to be a bold gamble. There's a certain value proposition in the MMO market, and if you're saying your game is worth both a subscription fee and micro payments you're really going to have to deliver something that other companies aren't.

Even in WoW, where the micro transactions are hidden behind the card game there is often a general sentiment of contempt for those players who show off their card game items. Ride your Goblin Rocket around and while some players will ooh and aah others will be laughing at you.

The comparison to Rock Band, or to paid character transfers are entirely ridiculous when talking about access to items and content in an MMO.

Re:An interesting choice (1)

isoteareth (321937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793337)

Oh, wait, Bill Roper...now I see. I guess the backlash to Hellgate's ridiculous payment model didn't burn him deeply enough.

Re:An interesting choice (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793369)

One point of note though is that City of Heroes already has pay for DLC vanity items like he's talking about. Those transactions are actually viewed pretty favorably by the CoH players so Champions is probably counting on their target market already being broken in on that regard. In fact they probably got the idea from watching it work so well for the new group running CoH.

Personally I'm of two minds on the issue. I think the prices companies charge for this sort of stuff are way too high considering the work that goes into them. At the same time though I'd love for them to move to a model where new content is paid for so we stop seeing games that make crap like raids which only a small percentage of the audience is interested in. Imagine if WoW sold raids and heroics. They'd quickly see that they'd make far more profit making the heroics that the casual gamers enjoy instead of the crappy raids which most never get to see. Frankly though I'd expect the subscription costs to go down slightly if they did that.

Re:An interesting choice (1)

isoteareth (321937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28793439)

The interesting thing about MMO pricing is how well your profits scale as you add players. While some additional expenses are incurred with each new player development costs largely remain the same at 100k players and 10,000k players. This means that a company like Blizzard can invest enormous resources into ongoing development compared to a company like Turbine, and still be making vastly more money on a per subscription basis.

This makes it difficult to determine a fair rate, since a game like WoW is basically printing money while a smaller company may be scraping by on the same monthly fee. Further, as a customer the companies profit isn't really a concern, so the company pulling in 50 times the money but spending only 5 times what the smaller company does on continuing development is still likely to be a better proposition.

It is interesting that you mention raiding in WoW, because Blizzard has come to the same conclusion you have in that their raids were not reaching enough of their audience. Wrath of the Lich King has shown a different philosophy from Blizzard in raid design, where they have tried to make raiding more accessible to players by offering raid options for smaller groups, lowering the difficulty of standard raid encounters and making the gear onramp easier. The end game is still clearly focused on raid rather than small group instances, but raids are being run by a greater percentage of the players than in the past. I do however have friends who have canceled recently because they are not presently able to devote the amount of contiguous time required for raiding. I personally have stopped playing for the time being simply because I am weary of having my evenings scheduled for raiding week after week.

I like the idea of MTs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28794171)

I don't understand the MT hate. You aren't forced to buy anything from Cryptic off of the MT store and they have said everything you can buy will be earnable by playing the game. I will take them at their word here -- if they are selling a silly hat on the store, then I expect to be able to somehow earn it in the game if I don't want to buy it.

This is just a bunch of people who think having Tier 8 or whatever actually matters. If you are a gear whore -- then you can still earn gear the "legit way". If you want to collect the pets, you can still get your pets the legit way. I think the big thing is they maybe should consider making it clear that someone bought and item vs earned it. Maybe an A and B Variant.

What this does do is let people who can only do 1 aspect of the game -- say Raid or Farm get the other stuff. If I only have time to Raid, but I want the special horse you get for farming -- I am kinda screwed, but now I could just buy the horse off of the MT store.

The whole "well Rich Kids will benefit" thing is silly -- currently the person with the most time benefits or who is lucky or who bought stuff off ebay and the rich kid might already have 2 or 3 accounts.

I don't care if you earned it by beating the boss -- it has no effect on my enjoyment of the game if you bought your gear or earned by playing a lot more time than me.

In fact I like the MT -- My little brother is in college -- he plays WoW 20+ hours a week.

I work a full time job and play 8 hours a week. He gets items I don't have time to get and he wants me to run dungeons that I am "not geared enough" to run.

Now with Microtransactions I have a choice -- I can play the game and keep hoping for a drop or trying to craft an item -- or I can go online, buy the item I need so people consider me "geared enough" and then start questing with my brother. When dungeons have a gear level requirement -- to do Ulduar most people want Tier 7 at least gear as an example -- well if I don't have time to run Naxx enough to get geared up for Ulduar -- I can pay a few bucks and start questing with my bro.

In WoW (and most MMOs), getting gear from Dungeons is luck based. I ran Strat 80 times before I got my lightforge pants. I would have bought them off the store instead of running the dungeon. In theory since it is luck based -- you might not ever get the drop you want -- it might not drop or someone might out roll you.

As long as people are not forced into Microtransactions -- I don't see the problem. The only issue is if you measure your e-peen because you have Tier 8 before everyone else and think that actually means something... until Tier 9 comes out...

To make poeple happy they could always change the name of items. Like if you get an item drop it could be named "Gloves of the Eagle" where as if you bought it off the Games store they could be "Gloves of the Eagle B" or something, same stats and whatnot, just letting people know "hey Wolfd00d bought these". I wouldn't care, but this way e-peens can still feel good about themselves.

Re:I like the idea of MTs (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795249)

That's fine for you, but a lot of people find it stupid that you could progress in a game by buying your way through it. The whole point of end game in most MMOs is to work with other people to get better gear. There is no need to run Ulduar with your brother if you could just buy the Ulduar gear. There is nothing to work towards so people would quit the game after they beat all the dungeons which would be trivial since everyone would have bought the best gear. Gear is the game.
 
And gear progression isn't really all that hard in WoW. Give a few months and people are so well equipped they can just run you through the dungeon that was so hard before and let you take the gear.

Re:I like the idea of MTs (1)

WolfgangPG (827468) | more than 5 years ago | (#28796531)

1) Some people don't like repeating a dungeon 30 times to get all the drops. They like beating it a few times and moving on to PvP or whatever they enjoy more.

2) If you bought WoW now -- you would have to level to 80, clear Heroics, do Naxx, then Ulduar and then get ready for the next stuff -- if you want to be elite. It is just easier and more fun if they sold maybe Tier 8 but made you earn Tier 9, then once Tier 10 is out, start selling Tier 8.

3) I agree it is fine line between buying gear and people just quitting because their is no carrot.

4) Gear progression isn't hard. As others have stated -- MMOs are pretty easy, what is hard is how time consuming they are. No matter how you slice it, WoW takes a fair amount of time.

Re:I like the idea of MTs (1)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801717)

Yeah, I know some people don't like running dungeons a lot, but that is what PvE endgame is about. If you want to do PvP, gear is earned by doing more PvP so that really isn't an issue.
 
If you bought WoW now, you would probably enjoy your first play though, I know I did.
 
If you take time out of the MMO, you don't really have an MMO anymore. There are plenty of skill based multiplayer games out there. But subscription based MMOs are designed to make you spend a lot of time on them. You remove that, and people spend less time playing. As much as people hate the grind, they also love it.

Re:I like the idea of MTs (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 5 years ago | (#28801359)

Silly me. Here I thought the point of playing a game was to have fun. I run a dungeon because it's fun, not to get some gear out of it. Then I buy my way out of the ones that I don't find fun.

If you prefer to just buy your way out of all of the dungeons, why are you even playing?

Hmm, methinks the point has been missed... (1)

amateur6 (1597289) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794289)

FTFA: "And it's not even because that item has a gameplay effect; it's that cool mount, or that cool pet that is a super rare drop or that kind of thing. [...] But if I had the opportunity to get something that was similar or something that I felt was equally cool, so not even necessarily the exact same thing, I might say, 'Oh cool, I'm going to buy this cool pet for myself.' I don't think that negates from the enjoyment of my game, or the enjoyment other people have with their game because they're going to be getting stuff that's equally as cool if not cooler by playing, but they didn't have to spend any money on it." ...except that then it would no longer be "super rare" or, probably, "cool". Duh.

City of Heroes has been doing this. (2, Informative)

Chas (5144) | more than 5 years ago | (#28794529)

Seriously, this isn't necessarily some huge, game-breaking thing.

Their previous product, City of Heroes, has been doing this for over a year now with Super Boosters.

What these boosters deliver are a few extra costume options, some extra emotes and what is usually a neat, but relatively useless power.

The first, though not officially a "super booster" was the Wedding Pack [paragonwiki.com]

SuperBooster I: Cyborg [paragonwiki.com]

SuperBooster II: Magic [paragonwiki.com]

SuperBooster III: Superscience [paragonwiki.com]

The only thing that has me worried...well, not worried, but apprehensive is that it sounds like they're going to allow the purchase of actual, game-changing items.

If that's ACTUALLY the case, then you DO have something to worry about other than the lousy play mechanics in the game.

Ahhh Bill Roper (1)

DrDragun (1475683) | more than 5 years ago | (#28795663)

He will always be the voice of the Warcraft footmen to me. Microtransactions blah blah blah AT ONCE SIRE

The guy doesn't have a great solo track record. (1)

Joelfabulous (1045392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28798015)

Isn't this from the guy that ran Hellgate: London into the ground in the most ridiculous way possible?

I can't find the link, but I remember reading a postmortem of Hellgate from the community and a few developers that discussed how ever since he's gone solo, the man has managed to bring all sorts of fail to the party.

Jack Emmert was previously against these (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28798111)

Posting AC for various reasons.

After reading this I immediately recalled Jack Emmert speaking against micro-transactions

"Micro-transactions or Subscriptions?

Cryptic's Jack Emmert: "[Microtransactions] are like the new hip thing. But subcriptions are nice. I like paying one fee and then not worrying about it.. It's not the wave of the future guys. The world's biggest MMO is Rob's game [World of Warcraft]. Last I checked, it ain't item-based. It's a buzz term.. It just makes me want to die. Frankly I'd rather send out mass e-mails saying 'send me a dollar.' I think I'd get the same response."

http://www.mmogamer.com/02/25/2008/future-of-mmos-roundtable-at-gdc08-recap [mmogamer.com]
Cryptic Studioâ(TM)s Jack Emmert: Microtransactions are the biggest bunch of nonsense. I like paying one fee and not worrying about it â" like my cellphone. The worldâ(TM)s biggest MMO isnâ(TM)t item based, even though the black market item GDP is bigger than Russia ⦠microtransactions make me want to die.

Poor Business Model for a Subscription Game (1)

rliden (1473185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28798441)

The problem here is that they are delivering fluff content for pay that used to be delivered for free, in game, just for purchasing the game and buying a subscription. Now a subscription doesn't get you everything. It's just a door opener to spend more money. The player is basically paying for content twice.

The other problem is the "slippery slope" dilemma. I hate the whole slippery slope argument in general, but I think it can apply here. If they see fluff as a viable model for MTs where does that stop? What other content will they try and sell as an MT that they used to provide as part of the purchase and sub? When will they decide that some "fluff" items are 'special edition' and only available in the store as a micro-transaction?

I'll just say no thanks and pass.

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