Pay to play, pay to spawn item

One item I want to address today in light of Smed being Smed: Since the beginning of time, you have been able to pay another player real money to get something in a game.

In UO I could buy a fully maxed character, a huge house, a powerful item, or a ‘fluff’ thing like a broken water tile with real money. The same is true for basically every single MMO. If you want to spend money instead of time to get something, you could always and still can do it. In some games this requires more effort, or the ban risk is higher, but its an option in EVERY SINGLE MMO.

And because the above is 100% true, this also means that every single item and account in an MMO has a real-world money value. That you may not be aware of what the value is, or that it even has a value, doesn’t change the fact that it does. That’s just you with your head in the sand, and pretending everyone else is also right there in the sand with you is beyond silly.

Now, the new-ish trend in games, and in MMOs in particular, isn’t the ‘money for items’ exchange, its the ‘money to dev to spawn item’ exchange. That is new, and that is how you go down the Pay-4-Power trail.

The only thing I can give CCP money for in EVE is account time (and cosmetics via Aurum), be it direct (pay my sub) or indirect (PLEX). I can’t give CCP money and have them spawn me a ship, ammo, skill points, or anything else that has direct power. I can give SOE/Smed money and he will spawn guns and ammo for me. That is the critical difference. That’s why people are pissed off, and rightfully so.

Especially because it’s one thing to make a Pay-4-Power game, which itself isn’t the end of the world. Plenty of games are exactly that, and can still be fun games whether you do pay and go all wallet-warrior, or don’t pay and see how far up the hill you can climb. But the worst thing a P4P game dev can do is lie and pretend the game isn’t P4P.

If you embrace what you are and are honest about it, players can make an informed decision, and don’t feel that they are supporting liars who think the players are too stupid to know what they are playing.

Smed taking a piss on every H1Z1 player and tell them its just raining is probably not how SOE wants to be represented, is it?*

* Answer: 50/50, because SOE.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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11 Responses to Pay to play, pay to spawn item

  1. Justin says:

    EVE definitely “feels” different, but how is buying PLEX and then selling it for ISK any different? If you have the skill points, you can effectively pay CCP for ships or ammo. Certainly CCP is very honest about this, but it’s really a form of pay 4 power, no?

    • SynCaine says:

      No, you can’t. You can pay CCP to get an item, that you then can turn into ISK, which you can then use to buy a player-made item.

      That’s very different from SOE spawning guns/ammo into the game for you directly.

      In the first example, everything is still player-driven, other than who pays for who’s sub. In the second, the devs are creating an unlimited amount of items, so long as people pay.

      • Esteban says:

        The difference that makes to the economy of the game as a whole is huge, agreed. However, the individual that drops PLEX money can still increase their power right there and then, just like in a Smedfest.

        Abstracted, you are using real money to hire other players to help you PvP. Even with all the clever brakes EVE’s design puts on the effectiveness of the manoeuvre, it still amounts to fighting with the wallet.

        • A concerned Minmatar says:

          The big difference is that you take this isk from somebody else. Consider three players A,B,C. A is poor at the game and would like to pay for isk. B is good and has lots of isk, wants to sell some to play for free. C is a good player that has lots of isk, and is not involved in any PLEX transactions.

          Let’s analyze the situation from C’s point of view. A is going to buy isk, either via PLEX or a hypothetical system where CCP spawns it from nowhere. Before the transaction, C’s competition is B. A is a non-factor to him, because he sucks. If A buys a PLEX and sells it to B, the new competition is both A and B, but they only have what was originally B’s power to split between them. So the economic power of C’s competition is unchanged.

          Now suppose A bought the same amount of isk from CCP. The competition of C is again A and B, but now B’s power is undiminished while A is also a valid competitor. The economic power of C’s competition has increased. Additionally since C’s relative power has diminished, you could argue that CCP stole his power through inflation and granted it to A.

        • SynCaine says:

          Along with the above, another example of a major difference.

          Say I’m a billionaire and want to wallet-win in a game.

          I plan to spend $10m in EVE to buy a huge fleet of titans. So first I buy a crazy amount of PLEX from CCP, all at the same price because CCP is spawning them. I then go to sell all of that PLEX in-game. But because I just dumped so much inventory, PLEX prices plummet shortly after I start selling.

          Still, lets pretend I now have enough ISK to buy all those titans I want. First few I buy I get at the ‘normal’ price, but soon once again I’m inflating demand, perhaps to the point where no one is willing to sell me a titan at anything lower than 3x normal value. Plus all of this is noticed by the community, since I’m forced to interact with them to do all of this. The game being EVE, those titans are likely going to meet a quick death, assuming of course the ‘sales’ aren’t scams to separate a fool from his ISK.

          Now lets pretend Smed runs EVE.

          I give Smed $10m, he spawns $10m worth of titans for me.

          Errr sorry, I give Smed $10m, he spawns $10m worth of lottery boxes that may or may not contain titans.

        • Esteban says:

          I understand the macroeconomic argument quite well, and I am not dismissing it. However, while everyone is technically connected, not everyone is everyone else’s direct adversary.

          In Minmatar’s scheme, if players C and A are in direct conflict, it is quite unlikely that player B happens to be involved with it as well. In effect, the distant player B is saying to A: pay my sub with real money and I’ll donate you some of my in-game power (ISK) for your conflict with C that I don’t care about.

          True, overall competition to C across the entirety of EVE remains at the same economic power, but that is small consolation because B wasn’t interfering with C. Their local competition (A) just got a Smeddish shot in the arm. It means little that the rest of the closed system has cooled down slightly when the part under your arse just grew red hot.

          Syncaine: yeah, an extreme example like the billionaire who actually moves titan prices highlights the difference very well, even leaving aside that he’d make mainstream news and briefly unite all of EVE in a rush to pop those turkeys. On the other hand, the wormhole corp who drop $500 to add a few caps to beat up on a rival would see very little downside.

        • A concerned Minmatar says:

          Player C is arbitrary. Are you sure that across the whole of EVE, I can’t find a single player to name C who has both B and A as adversaries for some choice of A,B?

          Regardless, as you say, the case of triplets of single pilots A,B,C is not that interesting. That example is only a prelude to the macroeconomic consideration. It gets interesting when you consider the relative economic power of the population containing C versus the one containing A and B.

  2. Izlain says:

    But people can steal your airdrop… so it’s not like you automatically get gear in your inventory… It’s really getting blown out of proportion. I’ve found plenty of guns in game without paying for drops (though you get some with the purchase price).

    • SynCaine says:

      Paying for an air drop automatically causes SOE to spawn a lottery loot chest into the game. That’s the point.

      • Izlain says:

        You do lose everything once you die though, so I don’t see where it’s lasting power. Sure you might get a gun, and you might kill someone with it, but you will run out of bullets really quickly. Someone else can pick up the empty gun, but what good is that? I don’t think it’s worth people getting so uppity about, but that’s what the Alpha Early Access is about, and these things might change so we could all be wasting our time talking about it.

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