Psychochild's Blog

A developer's musings on game development and writing.

14 November, 2006

WTS [Club of LtM-bashing +3] $10
Filed under: — Psychochild @ 6:40 PM

Over at Broken Toys, Scott rants about the evils of EA and manages to work in a clever denunciation of RMT while he’s at it. You are a sly one, Mr. Jennings. At the center of his arguments against both EA and RMT is his assertion that, “Simply because if someone is paying money – the measure, by almost any criteria, of the value of a person’s time in our society – to avoid part of your game, that part of the game is not fun.”

Time to start the argument!

So, what got Scott in an uproar? Well, the fact that EA wants to make more money; no wonder he’s such a perpetually angry man. Well, okay, it’s the way they want to make money: you can pay to unlock bonuses you might otherwise have to spend hours unlocking in the game. How very capitalist of them!

To put this in perspective, remember that we’re game developers. We’re reading this news on our souped-up gaming rigs (my $500 video card works better than your $150 “budget” offering) or our cutting-edge laptop (it was worth the extra $1000 for a computer under 2 lbs/for the blazing fast mobile processor/etc), and we spit out our ramen (all we can afford to eat after buying our computers) as we read that some people would rather pay a bit of money rather than play 40 hours in a game! Why, this obviously indicates that people hate our games, why else would they pay more (we ask as we wipe the ramen broth off our $800 widescreen monitor)? People never pay extra for something they value, especially not impermanent virtual items (now pardon us while we see how our employers’ stocks are doing)!

The supreme irony here is that we’re talking about a golf computer game in the EA example: Tiger Woods PGA Tour 97. You know, golf: the game where you can always spend more money to try to improve your game. If anything, really, EA is giving you a more authentic golf experience by trying to squeeze a bit more money out of the player. (The other irony here is that later that day Scott posted the Communist Manifesto set to a cartoon backdrop. Does no economic system make you happy, Mr. Jennings?)

So, is the problem that people don’t want to play the game? No, rather, it’s that some people don’t have the time to play the game. It’s easy for us game developers to look down our nose at people who can’t hack it and brag about playing 16 hours per day. We sometimes forget that while we can log onto our games of choice, that gets most people fired at other jobs. Hell, some of us are realizing that we can play as many games as we used to due to limited time.

So, what is happening here? People with more money and limited time are given the opportunity to pay instead of being required to play. Don’t want to dedicate hours of your life to unlocking “big heads mode” in the game? Spend a few Microsoft Points and you’re good to go. Don’t want to spend the money? You can spend 40-50 hours hitting little balls into little holes with bent sticks.

“But, Brian,” you retort, “what happens when they take the next step and make you pay for content that you can’t earn in the game?!” I believe those are called expansion packs and are already pretty common in the industry, or so I’m told.

But, now we get to RMT in online games. Surely that’s the work of the devil! Well, I hate to disappoint some people (I’ve always loved you, Amber, I hope we can at least be friends), but there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with RMT. (OMG, did he just go there? BREAK OUT THE PITCHFORKS AND TORCHES!)

Now before you break out the pitchforks and torches (TOO LATE!), let me clarify: it should be up to the developer if they want RMT in their game or not. For example, we forbid trades in Meridian 59 through the EULA because we believe it is harmful to the game. The game’s design makes it so that gear isn’t worth trading, anyway. But, no, it’s not a design issue here. One of the smartest designers I know tried to develop an eBay-proof economy which is still full of holes. And, I haven’t seen anyone pick up the gauntlet and try to refine this design in the two years since this was published. Maybe that should be a future Weekend Design Challenge. :)

What is happening here is pretty simple. We make these games that require a significant time investment in order to advance. Some developers tell us that’s by design. But, some people have more money than time. So, what do they do in order to keep up with their friends? Well, they buy character advancement. Duh.

The esteemed Mr. Jennings seems to think this is unnatural, and even comes up with a convoluted simile to describe it:

It’s like picking up a DVD of the Lord of the Rings, and then paying an intern/illegal alien/teen runaway/whoever you prefer to exploit to constantly skip straight to the battle of Helms Deep.

The first problem is, of course, that the simile is wrong. It’s better to say that you were running late (long day at the office) when your friend started watching LotR. So, you paid someone a bit of cash to watch the first bit and tell you what you missed when you get in. Okay, still a bit strange, but rich people are different than you and me, okay? They want to hire illegal immigrants to raise their kids then complain when they have to pay employment taxes. But, the point is that the first part of the movie didn’t bore you, you just didn’t have the time to actually watch the movie due to your busy schedule even though you still wanted to watch it with your friends.

The second problem is that this happens all the time. One of my friends is a huge LotR fanatic. He can quote chapter and verse of The Silmarillion and even knows the difference between Finwë, Fëanor, Fingolfin, Finarfin, and Fingon off the top of his head. One time I saw him reading The Fellowship of the Ring and saw him skipping around a bit. I thought this was strange behavior for a fanatic, but he explained that he was skipping around to his favorite parts. Does this mean that ol’ Tolkien wrote a boring book and my friend felt compelled to skip the boring parts? Nope, he had read the book so many times he just wanted to get to his favorite parts. After playing online games for over a decade, I’m sure some people feel the same way about the mundane parts of modern games as well.

Finally, I think that we’ll start seeing more RMT-like business models in the future. I’ve previously posted that the subscription business model is doomed, and that we’ll start seeing more microtransaction type business models. Honestly, it’s the only business model that makes sense for a smaller scale game. It allows people that can’t be happy unless their catassing to play with people that have grown-up jobs.

Go ahead, tell me I’m wrong. Just no death threats. :P







24 Comments »

  1. “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

    More seriously: the problem in your metaphor is that no one is billing those folks to skip around to the parts they like. More specifically, no one is seeing the fact that they aren’t best served by a linear narrative as a GREAT MONEY MAKING OPPORTUNITY!

    I don’t mind capitalism, I’m all for it myself. I have TWO LCD monitors, bucko. But I do mind it when it becomes the entire focal point of what should be a creative endeavor. When we start charging for cheat codes instead of including them as cool easter eggs, is this really customer service, or just yet another craven money grab? And at what point will money grab after money grab finally kill the golden goose?

    That goose-death is closer than you think… did YOU pay for every Oblivion add on after the first couple of money-wasters? I’m told the most recent one is pretty good, but I didn’t buy it, because I felt cheated from paying $2 for a fancy horse.

    Comment by Scott Jennings — 14 November, 2006 @ 6:57 PM

  2. “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

    Hey, I tried to come up with an intelligent response. Well, a wordy response at least. ;)

    But I do mind it when it becomes the entire focal point of what should be a creative endeavor.

    Man, did you get into the wrong industry! That train left the station before either of us got our first jobs, to be honest. I wish it were true that we could focus entirely on the creative side, but it’s not. I’ve grown accustomed to this eating thing and I need to make money. Hint: subscriptions aren’t doing that for me.

    When we start charging for cheat codes instead of including them as cool easter eggs, is this really customer service, or just yet another craven money grab?

    Yes, and at one point Counter-Strike was a neat mod for a relatively popular FPS. Now you have pay $20 to play the latest incarnation. Didn’t see you lamenting this change of practice. The reality is that games are a business, and they’re going to try to make more money so us developers can afford our dual monitors. (Well, so you can afford it, I just have my one 21″ CRT.)

    [D]id YOU pay for every Oblivion add on after the first couple of money-wasters?

    I haven’t even spent money on Oblivion yet! See the “I don’t have the time” defense above.

    Note that I personally think RMT is a bit silly, and I wouldn’t pay money just to have someone level up my Oblivion, WoW, or EQ2 character. But, I also think buying expensive golf clubs is a bit silly, too, but if people will spend the money, that’s their prerogative. Few people seem to think that expensive golf clubs are an unfair advantage. As I said, my complaint is when people violate the rules set down by game administrators. But, otherwise, if you don’t like it then don’t buy the game. I won’t be buying the game (ignoring the fact that I don’t yet own an Xbox 360), and certainly won’t be spending money to unlock the enhancements.

    My further thoughts,

    Comment by Psychochild — 14 November, 2006 @ 7:35 PM

  3. I pk you! I ste4l ur stuffz

    Comment by Notin — 14 November, 2006 @ 7:55 PM

  4. I’d just like to take a moment and marvel at your friend for apparently managing to read The Silmarillion more than once. After finishing that, I was scared away from trying any of his other books…

    Comment by Trin — 14 November, 2006 @ 9:05 PM

  5. Hey, i’ve read The Silmarillion more than once. Although to be fair, i was immobile, hospitalised and drugged so that may explain it.

    RMT… Good point about expansions, Brian, i’d never considered them that way. And it’s also quite amusing to watch the inventer of the the word “catass” in context defending catassing play-styles.

    The problem isn’t levelling services, it’s level apartheid (actually i’d say it was the concept of levels, but from an RMT perspective). The problem is not gold-sellers, the problem is mudflation. The problem is always the design, not those exploiting its flaws. Because in the end, Scott’s right – if you make a game that’s not interesting enough to actually play, your design is wrong.

    Comment by Cael — 15 November, 2006 @ 3:06 AM

  6. Few people seem to think that expensive golf clubs are an unfair advantage.

    because they’re not!
    i could buy the biggest Callaway Big Bertha in the World, and Tiger Woods could still outdrive me with a wiffle-ball bat.

    but a level 60 character in an MMO is definitely an advantage over a level 10. and the Flaming Sword of Pwnage (150-275 dmg, 135 spd, +25 vs Undead) is definitely an advantage over the Basic Cutlass.

    if advantage in MMOs was based on Player skill, then that analogy might hold water.
    then you could say “Few people seem to think that an expensive broadsword is an unfair advantage.” because a skilled player would likely beat Mr. Bought-my-broadsword with a stick.
    but advantage in MMOs is not based on Player skill. it’s based on items and levels/skills.

    *mutters something about stupid item-centric, loot&level games*

    Comment by Kohs — 15 November, 2006 @ 5:47 AM

  7. Hang on… if we’re talking about MMO’s, what experienced player really thinks that buying a powerleveled character or a big heap of gold is a real advantage? Anyone who plays these games knows a bad or inexperienced player after 5 minutes of grouping with him or her. So buying a level 60 Warrior and a Greatsword of Uberness does you no good unless you also know that you’ll have to put that sword a way and whip out a shield when it comes time to tank. (and the big heaps of gold won’t help you unless you understand the economy of that game, otherwise you’ll just pay out the nose for overpriced items that are worse than easily accessible dungeon loot)

    And if you do understand that, then you’re probably either an MMO veteran and endgame fan who didn’t want to drag himself through lowbie content because he has a full-time job (in which case you’ll pick up your role quickly anyway), or a veteran of that particular game who simply wanted an extra character and didn’t want to level him up yourself. I don’t see what’s unfair about that, especially in PvE. At the end of the day, players want to have fun and if they can have more fun shelling out $200 than playing for 200 hours, then good for them. It doesn’t really affect you. You don’t like it, don’t play with them.

    The only real argument that could be made is that it affects PvP, but again, I don’t see any real difference there. Generally a given player will either have excess time or excess money, and as the saying goes, time is money. Whether you’re willing to raid for the uber items or buy the uber character, the people with the most of either resource will triumph in item-centric games, which is a design choice and not the fault of the players who invest those resources. As others have said, the only way to stop that is to make it purely skill-based, and not everyone likes skill-based systems because not everyone is skilled.

    If I suck at a game, I’m not going to play it for very long. If I have lots of time and cash but I’m pretty bad at twitch gaming, I’m going to choose WoW PvP over counter-strike, mostly because that’s where my individual talents (in this case, having money or time) will reap me the most value.

    Comment by Cameron Sorden — 15 November, 2006 @ 10:05 AM

  8. We remain friends. :) Actually I agree with your essay more than I disagree, although my perspective is one tinted through my spectacles of the average player.

    I am at peace with a universe in which legitimate RMT-based games (i.e., RMT by design) exist side-by-side with games where RMT is anathema. I personally would not play a legitimate RMT-based game, but as long as all players are on an equal footing, I’m down with it.

    Scott’s argument that paying to skip content means that content isn’t fun applies, I believe, mostly to MMOs. (His quote started off “One of the quickest ways I can usually start an argument with others in the MMO industry is…”) With regards to EA, I think it’s simple enough: players resist change, and they resist being harvested. Cheat codes have always been a de facto agreement between player and publisher–kind of a secret handshake. A few players will feel clever for discovering it, others will at least feel like they’re part of an inside joke. EA is changing all that. It’s certainly well within their right, but it breaks a long-standing relationship with the players, and I just can’t see how that can be a good thing.

    Comment by Amber — 15 November, 2006 @ 2:32 PM

  9. It’s funny to read the posts by Kohs and Cameron Sorden one after another. They’re both right, in a way.

    However, Kohs is taking an extreme view. You can sell a lot more type of items than pure power items. What if you could buy an option to let you have 2x the maximum rested experience of a “normal” player? Is this an overwhelming advantage? Not really. But, it might be really useful to the person that can only play in weekend binges. Or, consider an option that allows you to teleport to your home city once ever 15 minutes instead of once per hour. Okay, so Paladins might abuse the bubblehearth a bit more, but for most other people it might be a nice little addition. Maybe you buy an an option so that griffin flights are free? Or that you get a +10% bonus to money received from killing monsters? None of these options is as powerful as a SWORD OF INSTANT FLAMING DEATH +INFINITY! as Kohs fears, but they might be nice perks for someone who can’t play as much as other people.

    Amber then wrote:
    Scott’s argument that paying to skip content means that content isn’t fun applies, I believe, mostly to MMOs.

    But, not all skipped content is unfun. People skip content for many reasons: they already know the content, they don’t have time to go through the content even if it is fun, they know a shortcut that makes them feel special, etc. I agree, if the content isn’t fun then you need to evaluate it. But, just because someone skips it doesn’t mean it’s automatically not fun to anyone.

    [...]but [selling cheats] breaks a long-standing relationship with the players, and I just can’t see how that can be a good thing.

    The cold, hard reality is that it’s been getting more expensive to make games for a while now, but revenues aren’t necessarily increasing. In fact, during a console transition you usually sell less as the base hasn’t been established yet. So, EA is trying to offset the costs of development, probably by getting people to slowly warm up to the idea. Yeah, we’re cheap and we hate the idea of change, but the alternative is that games that service a niche might become an endangered species. Look at adventure games if you want some precedent of what happens when you don’t have enough fanbase (or, at least, there’s the perception that there isn’t a fanbase). It was simply too expensive to make adventure games for the limited audience at the time. Honestly, the alternative is that some of these types of games may not be made if there isn’t some way to make more money out of them. Yeah, sucks to have to worry about business realities as a game fan, but them’s the breaks. Depressed yet? :P

    More thoughts,

    Comment by Psychochild — 15 November, 2006 @ 5:57 PM

  10. “So, EA is trying to offset the costs of development, probably by getting people to slowly warm up to the idea.”

    This seems to be more in relation to console and single player games, and I think the heart of the problem is this: People don’t want to pay $70/80/90 for a title, but they also feel like they should get a finished product when they pay for it. When development costs go up, prices need to go up. What micro-transactions do is provide a sneaky (and legitimate) way for developers to raise the revenue of a game by masking the actual cost for the “whole” product (from a player perspective), while offering a “limited features” version at a lower cost. It’s market segmentation. Just like you can buy a bare bones car or you can buy a car with all the perks: leather seats, high-end sound system, rust-proof super-coat. You don’t think you’re getting ripped off when you buy the less feature-enhanced car. You’re getting what you pay for. If you want the super-enhanced features of your game, you have to pay the full price of a major development team working on it, and “hardcore” players will. If people are willing to pay for these, why wouldn’t they put them out there?

    On the other hand, when you start talking about charging $90 for a single game, stakes are considerably higher and purchasing decisions become more involved. When you make a bad purchase and get a game you don’t like, that’s a fair amount of cash that you’ve spent and you’ve basically wasted $50 (assuming you get 40-45% trade-in value for it at a local retailer, which may or may not continue to be an option in the future). Consumer and press reviews become much more important and you’ll probably see less emphasis on brands and licenses driving sales of what are often crappy titles, because consumers will do more research on products that they’re spending so much money on. This will probably create significant risks for any company interested in entering the console gaming market because with costs so high your game is going to have to be a guaranteed hit to even make your money back (which is sort of the case now anyway, I believe, no?).

    I would bet even money that as these trends continue we’ll see a surge in popularity of indie titles and small budget games with solid gameplay and less emphasis on amazing and jaw-dropping graphics in the latest poorly thought-out movie tie-in. Next-gen graphics are incredible and make me want to grab every new system when I walk by the demos, but at the end of the day what do you think will be the easier sell to my girlfriend: $450 so I can play Marvel Ultimate Alliance in all its next-gen glory, or $20 for Blades of Avernum or Atlantis Sky Patrol (both very entertaining titles). We play games to entertain ourselves, and there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns in cost vs. enjoyment. I’ve saved myself a lot of money by playing WoW on weekends instead of buying the flavor of the month title over the last six months.

    Food for thought.

    Comment by Cameron Sorden — 15 November, 2006 @ 6:47 PM

  11. i don’t believe my view is so extreme.
    my views on MMOs are certainly unorthodox, but i’d hardly call them extreme.

    MMOs do not account for player-skill as much as Golf.
    some MMOs seem to not account for player-skill at all, but i realize that it takes at least a basic knowledge to operate an MMO character.
    however, levels in MMOs often do create insurmountable power differentials, regardless of who’s at the controls.
    that’s the very nature of levels. they’re an easy way of showing which characters are more skilled or powerful.

    i share Cael’s view on the issue of officially-sanctioned RMTs in MMOs.
    if players want to “skip ahead” in any way, then your design is flawed.

    people play MMOs for enjoyment.
    the same reason people watch movies.

    if lots of people are complaining that nothing interesting happens in the first hour of a movie, wouldn’t that cause people to be more likely to skip ahead, and have someone fill them in on whatever they need to know once they get to the good part?

    some might say that movie is flawed.
    others might say “that’s just how storytelling works, you start with an exposition, build up characters, you can’t just jump into the good part of the story!”
    to that, i would say, yes, you need exposition, but it doesn’t have to bore the hell out of everyone!

    back in ’85, did anyone have their friends play through the first levels of Super Mario Bros?
    i don’t know of anyone who did that. maybe there were some who did though?

    i realize that officially-sanctioned RMTs benefit game companies financially, but at what cost?
    it seems like a slippery slope to me. especially in the realm of MMOs.

    will there still be room in the market for the idealistic, non-sell-out games as well? ;)

    Comment by Kohs — 15 November, 2006 @ 8:57 PM

  12. I think that any game which seriously supports RMT for non-trivial things will lose the hardcore audience. The hardcore tend to have a serious distaste for “buying” achievement.

    Now, you may say that’s okay, the hardcore are a waste of money to try to cater for, given their proportion of the audience. But I think that any game where the hardcore leave, the casuals soon will soon follow suit.

    (The casuals may leave a game the hardcore like, but that is a different problem.)

    Comment by GSH — 16 November, 2006 @ 12:11 AM

  13. my example may have been extreme. but my view is not. idealistic and unorthodox? yeah. but not extreme.
    i don’t see how i was saying that the “uber-gear” was the only option. it’s a good candidate for the worst case scenario, but i realize there are other options available as well.
    perhaps there are some things concerning officially-sanctioned RMT which would fall into a “happy medium”. *shrug*

    Psychochild wrote: “No, no, no. As other people have said, it’s in human nature to want to get ahead and be first. Some people think it’s perfectly acceptable to do so by paying money. I think the design would be more flawed if people didn’t want to get ahead. That means that your goals aren’t compelling and exciting.”

    well of course you want people to advance along in the game. but MMO advancement is so… unnatural? counterintuitive?

    revisiting the movie analogy for a moment, you obviously need a good ending. a compelling resolution. otherwise viewers will leave feeling dissatisfied.
    but if your story is ONLY compelling at the end, then people would be more likely to either skip ahead and only watch the end, or just not watch at all.

    skipping ahead from level 1-2 to level 4-1 in Super Mario Bros. does not mean that 1-3 to 3-4 are boring.
    unless you do it every time you play.

    the difference between a single-player side-scroller and an MMO is where my SMB analogy breaks down, which is where the confusion of what i’m trying to say stems from, i believe.
    because SMB, in comparison, is a quick bite type of game. you can always go back and start over. like a short story.
    MMOs, on the other hand, tend to be more like Proust’s epic 7-part In Search of Lost Time. going back means investing a good amount of time (perhaps that’s why it got lost? :P)

    so comparatively, the behavior of skipping ahead would have to be frequently repeated in a game like SMB in order to relate to a one-time behavior in an MMO.

    if Nintendo saw a market for selling a “level select screen” for SMB back in ’85, that would suggest that many people wanted to skip ahead. at least enough to make developing a sales system cost-effective.
    wouldn’t that suggest that maybe some levels weren’t so fun to play for a decent amount of people?

    i think RMTs in any form, whether they be in the extreme case, or the mild, speaks to the loss of patience spreading throughout our society.
    loss of patience on the production end – to develop a thoroughly compelling work of “art”, through fine craftsmanship.
    and loss of patience on the consumption end – to appreciate fine craftsmanship/art, and take in every aspect of an experience.

    everything is instant gratification. sell this, buy that. trample each other to get ahead. gimme gimme now!
    i’m just not sure who’s more to blame for this. consumers? or producers?

    and if the only people to want to counter this trend are those who would create text-MUDs, then that makes me very sad. i like the pretty graphics.
    i don’t believe that’s the case however.
    obviously i don’t believe that Blizzard, SOE, or any other major game company, have anything in mind besides making money.
    but i do think there is room for smaller development companies (CCP for example) who do promote a more idealistic view and reflect that in their game development.
    to paraphrase a hippie, i may be a dreamer, but i’m not the only one. which means there’s at least a decent sized market for MMOs i’d like to play.
    someone would do well to capture that market.

    but i digress…
    *shrug*

    Comment by Kohs — 17 November, 2006 @ 6:33 AM

  14. are you’re talking about “save games”, Grimwell?

    officially-sanctioned RMTs would be more like selling a level select screen to new players.
    in which case a player could pay Nintendo $15 and see World 7 right off the bat.

    as far as i know, Nintendo did not offer any alternative to get to the end of the game besides playing through the entire game. whether it be level by level, or all in one shot was up to the player.

    Comment by Kohs — 17 November, 2006 @ 11:03 AM

  15. No, you’re right Grimwell. There were at least two warp zones in the original SMB I can remember off the top of my head, and no save points (until Super Mario All Stars on the SNES remade Mario 1-3 with enhanced graphics and saves).

    And I still don’t see what’s “wrong” with Nintendo doing exactly what you’re describing, Kohs. Lets assume the Nintendo did offer a level select screen for $15. You don’t have to buy it if you don’t see the value in it. If I do see the value, and I pay my $15, and I’m happy with my ability to play any level at will, that’s neither unfair for the people who don’t pay $15 nor does it mean that levels 1-6 aren’t fun. I still can play them if I want to. I just have more options. If a boss in World 2 is making me angry, I can skip him, because I bought the “feature enhanced” version. If people are willing to pay for that option, then by definition there’s a market for it and Nintendo would be foolish not to take advantage of that as long as there’s more money to be made than it would cost to implement it.

    Comment by Cameron Sorden — 17 November, 2006 @ 3:34 PM

  16. well, a flaw in the analogy rears its ugly head again (yes, i realize i was the one to bring up the SMB analogy).
    SMB is a single player game, so your actions do not effect anyone else.
    the multiplayer nature of MMOs mean just the opposite.

    so yes, perhaps in the case of a single player game, like SMB, there is nothing inherently “wrong” with offering officially-sanctioned RMTs.

    except for the fact that the very existence of the “skip ahead” market is evidence of a flawed design in whatever level people tend to want to skip.
    if that many people were frustrated by the boss of World 2, then something isn’t right with that boss.

    so while a company would be foolish not to take advantage of a potential market, they’re equally, if not, more foolish to have released the game with flaws in the first place.

    so in the case of an MMO, if $50 will get you a top-level character, that would obviously put you at an advantage over other players who didn’t pay the extra $50.
    and in an MMO, you can’t just go back and play the lower levels.
    if we’re talking about a game like WoW, you could go back and do the low level quests, but your high-level character will mow through them, and you wouldn’t get the same play-experience that you would as a low level character.
    and yes, i realize you could roll another character to get that play-experience, but if you wanted that play-experience in the first place, why would you have bought the high-level character?

    i suppose the line blurs when you talk about “minor” stuff, like Psychochild brought up.
    things like 2x max rested XP. or free shuttle flights.
    those don’t put players at such a stark advantage over other players, but they do offer an advantage nonetheless.
    and like i said above, the existence of the market for selling those advantages is evidence of design flaws.

    could those flaws run as deep as the very essence of the XP/level systems themselves?
    i happen to believe so.

    Comment by Kohs — 17 November, 2006 @ 8:28 PM

  17. Kohs wrote:
    SMB is a single player game, so your actions do not effect anyone else.
    the multiplayer nature of MMOs mean just the opposite.

    Except for the fact that Scott was originally complaining about what EA was doing with a single-player game (Tiger Woods), and then extending that to to rant about RMT in multiplayer games.

    and like i said above, the existence of the market for selling those advantages is evidence of design flaws.

    Obviously you are stuck on this meme and nothing will change your opinion. So, let me add one last idea: read this article about a player who bought a vanity item for $240. She paid for an in-game item. What “design flaw” was she avoiding? Here’s the answer: none. She bought the item to give her character something unique. You may not like the fact that people can pay to get extra items, but don’t try to ignore a legitimate business model as a sign of “design flaws” because of it.

    Comment by Psychochild — 18 November, 2006 @ 1:10 AM

  18. well, RMTs in single player games are different than in MMOs.
    Scott may have been complaining about Tiger Woods, but i was focused on MMOs.

    and the design flaw in the cherry pie example might be that the game did not allow for the level of uniqueness she wanted.
    does Achaea allow for players to bake pies as part of the game?
    i have never played it, so i don’t know.
    but if they don’t, and she bought the pie to enhance her Roleplaying experience. that’s her advantage over other players.
    it may not be numerical, and therefore quantifiable. but it is still an advantage.

    i think i can see how it can be viewed as a legitimate business model. but i’m not convinced it’s an ethical one, or one which will remain legitimate for too long.
    eventually it will come down to the haves and have-nots in real life. those with money to burn on RMTs, and those without.

    so you’ve shifted the “grind” (now a money grind) from inside the game, to outside. and being that real life tends to have a tougher economy than any MMO, i don’t think people will stand for it for very long.

    Comment by Kohs — 18 November, 2006 @ 7:20 AM

  19. RMT and Crumpets

    [...] Psychochild countered by saying it’s not that games are boring, but “rather, it’s that some people don’t have the time to play the game” as many hours a week as we pampered game developers do. [...]

    Pingback by Moorgard.com — 19 November, 2006 @ 11:13 PM

  20. A bit of a comment I posted over at Moorgard.com, which I haven’t covered in this post or comments:

    For a lot of people it’s an economic issue. Say you’re a lawyer making $150/hour. Now say that it would take you 4 hours to farm $300 worth of gold. It makes economic sense for you to buy it, unless the “fun” of farming gold was worth at least $75/hour. (Hint: if it were, we could charge more than $10-15/month.) So, it really doesn’t make sense to say that it is always a fun issue as Lum did in his original article.

    Comment by Psychochild — 20 November, 2006 @ 2:35 AM

  21. [...] Psychochild [...]

    Pingback by My 2 Copper - Game design opinions, commentary, and ideas — 21 November, 2006 @ 11:05 AM

  22. The Hidden Effects of RMT

    [...] It started (this time) with Lum, and then spread to Psychochild and from there to Grouchy Gnome, Moorgard, Cael, and Nick over at My 2 Copper: Real Money Transactions. [...]

    Pingback by weblog.probablynot.com — 22 November, 2006 @ 6:31 AM

  23. RMT blues

    [...] Lots of commentary out there this past couple of weeks revolving loosely around RMT. ( from Scott Jennings, Brian Green, Matt Mihaly, and Ryan Shwayder (Nerfbat), amongst others. For my part, I’m just wishy-washy on the whole topic. While I have no love for gold farmers, and personally think spending RL money on something as transient as virtual gold pieces in a MMO is often inadvisable, I also understand and sympathize with the motivations of some of the purchasers, and think that RMT controlled by the developer would actually be a very reasonable business model to pursue. [...]

    Pingback by Voyages in Eternity — 22 November, 2006 @ 1:00 PM

  24. Because it’s not over until I say it is

    [...] months ago. Or the somewhat more civil but nonetheless passionate clash of wills occuring some time later [...]

    Pingback by Mahogany Finish — 19 February, 2008 @ 7:23 PM

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