Cash Shop Ramblings

February 23, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Posted in General | Leave a comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I have not regretted purchasing Lord of the Rings Online’s lifetime subscription.  It was an investment, and whilst it might not have saved me as much cash as those who bought it at game release, I did manage to get it during one of their periodic half-price offers.

I like it because it means I don’t have to worry about the subscription going out of my poor beleaguered bank account.  It means that I can worry less about having various game subscriptions adding up and collectively crippling me financially.

In essence, I like the fact that paying  a large lump sum has rendered my game of choice, barring expansions, free.  This is different to paying for a 6-month or 12-month fee, as there’s always the spectre of that big payment coming up at some point in the future.  Usually 6 months or a year into the future, but constantly counting down…

And this is where Free-to-Play comes in.  There’s a part of me that sees Free-to-Play, and worries where the cost is.  And that’s why games such as Runescape, Allods Online, Umm, Thingy and Wossname are relatively unknown to me.

Yes, the only two Free-to-Play games that have managed to ping on my (powers of spelling, don’t fail me now) Gamedar are Runescape (because I knew some people who were addicted to it) and Allods, because of the blogs I’ve read that have posted about it.  The others sort of pinged, and then were victims of my goldfish memory.

I’m unlikely to want to try Runescape, but Allods Online has me wondering.  In my own befuddled way, I’ve investigated and found that there is no box price.  Seems handy, seeing as I’d be more than unlikely to invest £30 or so on a World of Warcraft clone when for the same amount I can have 3 months of game time.  This is possibly three times longer than I’d spend in a World of Warcraft clone…

But with no box price, and no monthly subscription, Allods Online could be a wonderful opportunity for some guilt-free gaming.  Playing as and when, with no worries about wasting money on a game.

It doesn’t look bad, and with it being a clone of a game I’ve already been playing for a few years, it looks like it will be easy and simple to pick up and put down.  Is this a good thing?  Well, it could act as a sort of sorbet for my MMO dining.  Good for a change, that sort of thing.

This is all, of course, without talking about DnD Online.  It seems to have gained the sort of respect and admiration as a Free-to-Play game that it lacked as a subscription title, and that’s in no doubt due to the fact that the cash shop is well stocked with things that players want, but don’t feel they need, and at more than reasonable prices.

Of course, that’s the thing:  A cash shop needs to have something that we as players want.  I’m not sure about you, but if I feel I *need* to purchase something, I’ll look for gaming where I don’t feel that need.  And finally, if something is a reasonable price, I’ll look on it reasonably.  Take the piss, and I’ll take the piss back.

Yes, we’re heading where many blogs have gone before, and that is Allods Online’s recent cash shop shennanigans.

I fear the possibilities of the cash-shop system.  I should be all early-adopter about it, but I like to think that my subscription allows me the opportunity to have fun and enjoy a game, with all parts of the game open to me.  But cash shops are the way of the future; Blizzard nailed that proof of concept with two vanity pets.

Which have a combined price equal to 6 bag slots in Allods Online.  Go figure.

When you look at it that way, those bag slots don’t seem so overpriced.  As far as I’m aware, World of Warcraft pets don’t carry anything for you…

Of course cash shops are going to try and get us to spend money.  It would be really, really naive to think otherwise (and if you do, I have a bridge to sell.  It’s in London, one careful owner; a granny who only used it to go to the shops).  Companies are there to make a profit for their shareholders, so the cash shop is a source of revenue.  And one that they will use ruthlessly, if they can.

At the moment, I tend to judge a game by how much good game goo it has.  But soon I’ll be judging a game by how much of an impact the cash shop has on gameplay.  If the cash shop is, in essence, selling a temporary *teh win* button, then I’d have to think really, really hard about whether or not to play.  Because if I need to pay to succeed, that’s not playing a game, it’s paying a game.

My time is worth a lot to me, and I’d hate to spend time on a game, only to find that I would have been better off spending that time on something else.



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