How the world turns…especially when it is a virtual world. A few years ago if you had even breathed the words “free to play” or “cash shop” you would have been ridden out of town on a rail (or railgun if you are an Eve Online player).
I know…I screamed a bit about it myself. When Bill Roper was still at the tiller steering Champions Online I assumed Cryptic was greedy, had lost their mind, or both. (As regular listeners know Mr. Roper has been promoted within Cryptic).
Mind you have I have since apologized to Mr. Roper, and on the air.
As it turns out Cryptic was just faster off the draw then other developers. Even while the part of the blogosphere still carries missives bitching about having to pay to play some of the new Star Trek Online races, Blizzard was busy pumping out Starry Ponies for players who wanted to be the only one, or maybe the first one on their virtual block without one – and ended up being neither. Then the hue and cry of those who felt betrayed began anew (Hey Activision has to do something to pay for West and Zampella vs. Activision don’t they?). At least before with the Panderan Monk you could point to the fact that they were giving 50% of the take…er…profits to charity. Now, of course, Sony’s Cash Station has their own new mount for $25.00 . For those who want to see a nice picture of the three new big kitties on the EQ2 block head on over to We Fly Spitfires and take a gander at their latest entry Everquest 2 Introduces it’s own greed steed.
Well, some players will say, as they plunk down $25.00, at least it doesn’t affect the game play.
And so what if it did?
Does that mean you would quit playing?
If your answer was “yes” you are either just kidding yourself, stalwart to stand up for your principles, or simply don’t care. (put a checkmark for me in the last column please). Think of it this way. Time and again we here at No Prisoners, No Mercy have spoken about that bane of the gamers/developers/publishers existence – the gold seller (isk or whatever you call your own brand of virtual currency). All are sure that it will ruin the game and the economy. In fact more than once I have pointed out how the advent of RMT in Ultima Online turned their virtual landscape into one giant a megalopolis that would make New York City, and its Burroughs look like a small village.
Yet the game is still around, and still being played.
Eve Online has RMT, just so long as the CCP is the one you are buying the virtual goods from. Now mind you, you aren’t exactly buying isk. What you are doing is buy a token that can be sold in game, on the market for 30 days play time. Now you may say to yourself, but that’s only buying virtual currency, that doesn’t affect the balance of power.
Sure it does.
Just so long as the pilots in a given corp have the skills to fly them, and I have the money in real world to burn, I can field enormous game breaking (or more importantly server breaking) fleets that would maraud across the virtual landscape. Now mind you the operative words thate are “have the talent to fly them (it takes real world months, and months to learn). While it may be a bit of a stretch the point is it CAN affect the balance of power, and people DO buy isk as well as pay for a monthly fee – and over 300,000 people still play the game.
More importantly, however, is ask yourself what your time is worth?
It doesn’t take all that long to learn to fly a freighter. In fact, that’s why CCP had to change the game a bit so the skills couldn’t be learned on a trial account. While the freighter may be the biggest thing flying in Empire skies (read high security) it is also one of the most expensive. A Charon is one big mamma jamma of a freighter with a cost to match – roughly 750 million isk. That’s doesn’t include the 100 million isk plus cost to learn to fly the massive beast.
Now I know there are many players who will right us (and they have) with all the clever ways to make so much money in virtual worlds you can afford to use it for toilet paper. As for myself, when I mine solo, with top level skills, and zero wastage refining, I still only make roughly 3 million isk per hour. That means mining solo (which granted I don’t always do) it would take me roughly 250 real world hours to earn enough virtual money to buy the big ship. Or I could spend roughly 2 hours working in the real world, buy some plex (read give CCP a few extra months of play time in addition to what I already pay) and be back to enjoying the game at the end of the evening.
Keen from Keen and Graevs was on the show once and we talked about how hard it was to become something like a grand master armorer in Ultima Online. Yes, one line of thought is that it was so hard that it really meant something. The other side of the coin is that the massive grind necessary to get the new toy like the freighter is simply a giant pain the ass.
Now, the point that I will leave you with, are words to ponder, that will ultimately decide if the end result is worth it or not. Is the “quick fix” to get the new toy worth it?
After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.