Greedy Goblin

Friday, October 31, 2014

I don't pay to win, I just pay to ... win

The situation is extremely clear: as the definition of "win" is "reaching your goal", if paying real world money gets you closer to your goals, you are paying to win. All the excuses are wrong. The pay-to-win people usually claim that their win is not guaranteed by the payment. It's true, but irrelevant. Just because it's possible to win a soccer game 10 vs 11, bribing the referee to ban one of the opposing team without reason is still cheating. Playing 11 vs 10 is a huge advantage. Just like having gold ammo or being able to spend all your game time on fighting because you bought dozens of replacement ships from $.

The "my real world income is higher than the $1-2/hour I can earn in the game" is wrong for three reasons:
  1. your income is $0.00 while playing a video game. Unless you are an RMT seller, you create absolutely no monetary value. Being more productive while working than while playing is obvious.
  2. if you can earn 50-150M per active playing hour, you are either very newbie, very "just smelling the flowers and watching the scenery"-casual or fail very hard
  3. finding that paying gets you in-game progress easier than playing is an obvious criteria for deciding to pay to win. Saying it loud isn't more of an argument than "I cheat because it's easier to progress this way".
Now the trick in EVE, compared to World of Tanks is that you don't pay the developer to win. In WoT, you buy gold ammo and you can pop enemy tanks like they were tissue paper. In EVE, you buy a PLEX from CCP, but it doesn't make you any stronger. However you can trade it to better players for their power. For example in every month I don't use 9B for my purposes. From this money, I could send another highsec wardeccer after the major CFC alliances for nice kills. Instead, I give that ISK to bad players who pay my subscriptions in return.

The PLEX method - unlike the WoT method - isn't obviously wrong. If Adam sells power to Bob, Cecilia isn't worse off. She is now relatively weaker than Bob, but got equal relative strength compared to Adam. If we ignore the real-money part of the PLEX trade, we get the good old boosting: a good player helps a bad one because he is a friend. However we know that good players aren't a few percent better than average ones but 10-100x. So Adam may have 100B, Cecilia has 1B and Bob has nothing. After paying $30 Bob can buy 1.6B ISK, becoming stronger than Cecilia, while Adam is still much stronger. Of course she could just become as good as the 100B guys, but he doesn't even know where to start. The straightforward methods (mine, rat, mission more or better on her one account) are totally not competitive with PLEX purchases. So for the players who are unable/unwilling to make a jump into multiboxing and/or trading, the only way to win is to pay.


Provi Miner said...

but you miss the point Goblin. Isk is not a leveling factor like gold ammo. A lot of Isk just means you are going to lose a lot more a lot faster.

So bob now has 1.6 bil Isk compared to your 0 Isk. you both undock you in your barely capable car cal and Bob in his new shiny Raven Navy Issue. A hunter comes into system He can kill you with ease but when concord pops him he loses Isk. Or he can attack bob without guarantee of success cause that RNI is way tougher than your caracal. Still that hunter will seek out bob and take his shot because that is his method for earning.

Your point is pointless because andy bob and you are not the only three in the game. Your referee reference is pointless because this is not a us vs them situation.

Eve has a nice very visible "invisible hand" of business. its called bankers. Recently you posted the loss of titan to a tower, right? How does that happen if Bob owned that titan and paid real cash he should be so much stronger than a puny little tower. Bob lost that titan cause $ can buy survival at best it slightly tilts the odds. Consider if you will the case of "god of gaming" or some such. He bought his stuff I didn't He died I lived. your example would be valid if he was playing solo or just against me but he wasn't and he died. All the spending of $ means is you just became an easy kill board stat. Bob and your playing ability matters so much more than the ship you both fly.

your goon experiment is another direct evidence. They have billions if not trillions more than you to throw at a single point but you are doing a very lopsided war because where you spend your Isk is hitting its mark where as the goons are not. Mittens could flood the goons with Isk purchased for $ what do you think the result would be? MoA's Isk ratio would soar.

So no goblin you can not pay to win in eve as there is always a "hand" to keep you in check

Anonymous said...

Would you want the developers to remove PLEX from the game then?

Anonymous said...

TMC's ALOD tends to prove that "pay to win" is usually not possible, even if you get ISK from selling PLEX you still need the skill to fly the ship properly, just having a large ship doesn't guarantee success and again the ALOD has proven that people who step into a ship they have no experience tend to die horribly.

maxim said...

Well, the simple truth of the matter is that the only way for in-game-purchase model to avoid pay-to-win defined as broadly as you seem to want to define it is to sell hats TF-style.

Saying that Eve is pay-to-win because you can exchange money for ISK that you can exchange for everything in the game is both obvious and completely uninteresting.
Yes, you can buy some amount of Eve-power with cash. You can even buy a lot. So what? There are checks and balances on that much more numerous and powerful than in any other pay-to-win game in existence.

Your argument that it was a change in bombers that made Eve's system's pay-to-win aspects come into focus was much more interesting, because it gave some insight in how these checks and balances actually operate.

This current article, however, is just you pushing an ethical agenda. Which is fine, but i am already stocked in ethical agenda department :)

Gevlon said...

It is true that someone with only lot of money and zero brain will only end up as a huge ALOD. But that's avoiding the problem. Someone with lot of money can roflstomp someone with equal brain and less money.

Take two examples:
- the p2w guy stays in the minor league, buys 10000 assault frigs and brawls against people who have to grind for their frigs. He'll have more time to fight, so he'll sooner or later have better hand-eye coordination than competitors and become a really good PvP-er.

- the p2w guy jumps to the major league but has brain. Instead of buying multiboxed titans and losing them hilariously, he starts to support successful groups financially. A millionaire, throwing $10000/month (about 500B/month) could easily finance enough pirate groups to finish what I'm doing: destroying GSF.

Removing PLEX? The game would be better without it. The problem is that it was created to combat RMT. Without PLEX, the same p2w people would just buy ISK from botters. Some would be banned, most not.

My suggestion is rather limiting the mindless farming that an account can do in a day, so botfarms and multiboxed nolifers couldn't mass-create ISK for sale via PLEX or illicit RMT.

maxim said...

I don't really have a problem with either of these scenarios. Both of them essentially mean more content and narrative for the game. Which is almost always good.

I find the approach that PLEX is only about combatting RMT to be wrong. This may have been a deciding factor in early decisions, but PLEX is much more than that to the current game. You literally can no longer just remove it.

Grytsko said...

Gevlon, your point #1 is a bit wrong. Say I'm a freelance software engineer earning $25/hour. Then grinding $2/hour ingame (while I don't like grinding) is strange for me when I can just work a little more and then buy PLEX (also I like computer programming!)

It's a simple opportunity cost argument. Grinding in game actually costs me 23$/hour and I don't like the process furthermore. PvPing on other hand costs $25/hour but is a leisure I like.

I'm talking here about small increase in working hours, not like 24 hours per day, so it's a valid argument. Of course it doesn't scale infinitely.

I don't see anything special in mastering ways of ISK making in EVE. You can do it, cool, but why should I? If I need power ingame I'd better earn it by computer programming than by multiboxing etc (as it requires quite some investments and has no use outside of the game).

Gevlon said...

"If I need power ingame I'd better earn it by computer programming than by [playing]"
The definition of pay-to-win, right there.

rischwa said...

I think you base your analysis on multiple misconceptions.
The first is your definition of win. In a competitive environment a win is usually a victory over competitors and not the reaching of an arbitrary goal.
In EVE there is no singular defined "win" condition, but there are different ones for different parts of gameplay.
In 1v1 friglolling (or however you call it) for example its obviously killing the other one while surviving for a single fight or your 1v1 k/d for multiple fights.
Most competitive eve players I know are doing solo/small scale PVP,
because it provides a gameplay challenge in contrast to the vast majority of things you can do in eve.
Missioning, mining, trading or being a line member in a large fleet, are all trivial and thus often considered boring tasks.
You cannot p2w with plex for 1v1 friglolling.
You could only increase the time actually spend doing a challenging thing in opposite to waste time grinding your entry fee to the activity.
But, this does not increase your odds to win a single fight, nor you k/d over multiple, so it is not p2w.

Grytsko said...

From economic standpoint I'm forced to pay to win. It's by design. So what? EVE isn't a cybersport like Starcraft. No equal opportunities here.

Gevlon said...

@rischwa: with money you can buy a perfect pilot, high grade implants, off-grid booster or a logi/ECM alt who bails you out if you aren't winning 1v1.

@Grytsko: you can choose to learn to play. Or you can abandon the game, voting with your wallet. Winning by P2W is a waste of money. You know that you only won because you had more money. But you already known that you have more money, since you can place your salary in the World income distribution. So you are paying money and spending time to figure out something that you could find at a glance of the statistics factbook.

Grytsko said...

Gevlon, I understand that you and I have very different motivation in game. I consider what you call "learning to play" boring and not beneficial. You derogatory call what I do "friglolling" while I find something good in it.

I don't claim either of motives is "true". But still I can comprehend your point of view, I just don't share it. Also I understand why I look like somebody who is "a bad player" to you. It's OK, actually I think the diversity of EVE population makes it so interesting.

You, on the other hand, claim that only your motives and goals set is true. This is sad. You are a smart guy but not that good at understanding other people. I'd suggest you to read "The Social Animal" by Brooks (or something more scientific on the same topic if Brooks is too flimsy for you).

Please understand, people have very different goals in EVE. I, for one, don't find getting rich ingame by ingame-only means (what you did) a "win". I acknowledge its difficulty and what you did is obviously a feat, I just don't find such gameplay worth my time. You on the other hand don't find mastering solo PvP skills/green solo killboard a "win". I think this kind of motive divergence causes the most of flame in the comments.

P.S. I can imagine EVE played by 100k Gevlon Goblin clones =) (well even not clones but people with same identical motives, just different skills distribution). It wouldn't be a game I'd like to play =) Current EVE is OK on the other hand.

Zyan said...

Ok normaly I don't care about the RMT thing, or how much money I would be able to make. I play eve because I like it, it is okay for me to pay my monthly fee. I am pretty sure I would be able to plex some of my play time, but I don't care about it.
So I'm failed to play eve? No, because I have what I want - fun and enough ISK to do what I want, without the pressure in my head, that I still have to mine or mission run for another 15h to get my next plex.

As long as you have fun in the game, you win. If you earn enough ISK while having fun, it is a nice bonus, but that's all. You don't have more fun.
Only if you do things in Eve which you don't like, i.e. you have to mine or mission run another boring 10h to get your plex, only then i would say that you have failed, because you are a slave of your own.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

So basically, game risk (Losing your shit.) in Eve can be offset three ways.

One: Learning the system of isk and grinding said isk.

Two: Buying your way to risk abatement with PLEX's RMT.

Three: Being a slave to someone else for THEIR isk.

When Everquest came out, me and all my friends (All my friends worked at the same game company I did.) went out and bought it. It was awesome at first, but the risk / reward was abysmal. You DARED not do anything that might result in your death after a certain point.

Imagine if they had designed it such that in game cash could mitigate that risk. RMT would be rampant and the obvious solution (Other than fixing the original design flaw.) would be to have sanctioned RMT ala something like PLEX.

But you COULD reach max level without it... you just had to mindlessly gang up on the green mobs for 2 exp each for hours on end, you could grind to win.

Or you could do what I did, which was quit for the first game with a risk / reward ratio more suited to me to come along.

Eve is just waiting for a better designed game to come along.

rischwa said...

@Gevlon well that's the thing. You COULD do that, but it's no longer real competitive gameplay and therefor boosters/ecm/alts are frowned upon by many in the 1v1 "scene".
Someone who does not take advantage of those things and buys PLEX to remove the grind for their losses is still doing something requiring far more skill than almost every other activity in this game.
Then calling someone bad at eve, because he is not interested in mind numbing trivial tasks in his spare time to pay for the entry fee to the (to him/her) interesting/competitive side of eve, is imho wrong.

When I was rather new to EVE, I made "a lot" of ISK through trading to pay for 5 accounts, buy a char etc. . I liked it for a short while, but it became boring so I stopped it and am now paying for 3 of my 4 remaining accounts with RL money. I don't see that i'm worse at EVE now than i was back then. Making enough ISK just was a solved problem to me so it became uninteresting.

I think there is a difference between p2w where you buy an actual advantage in the competition (like gold ammo) and i'd say "pay to play" by just paying your entry fee to the tournament with rl money instead of grinding for it.
That does not mean, of course, that EVE does not contain p2w (there is modules/ammo/drones/booster alts etc. that have very high costs and give a real advantage), I just don't see those being used/bought by a lot of people who you are calling "bad at eve".

But, I support your stance on reducing the viability of mindless grinding and I also think a removal of PLEX (in a perfect world without RMT etc) would be better for most of the gameplay that makes EVE unique (just not the competitive PVP part).

bob said...

Really depends how you view the various aspects of the game. I look at it this way:

PvE/ISK generation is typically single player mode in Eve. Multi-boxing fleets for ratting, incursions and mining. Or having an army of trading alts to generate ISK on your own is how the vast majority of people in this game generate ISK; as a solo activity.

There are some exceptions to this such as incursions, I use to run them and they are the only PvE activity in Eve I ever enjoyed because it has a social and mildly competitive aspect.

But in general making ISK in Eve is a something you do on your own.

PVP is much more of a multiplayer activity and it’s the part of the game I want to spend 100% of my time on.

Hence I pay cash for all of my four accounts as well as fund my small gang PVP game style with it.

In your view that makes me awful at Eve. However; from my perspective I’m simply opting out of the part of the game loathe. I get zero enjoyment from trading, hauling, mining, building or missioning they bore me shitless.

If you view Eve like chess you could argue that using PLEX to fund your in game purchases is analogous to someone playing the opening for you and letting you take over in the middle game.

But; I don’t view Eve like that. I view it as one of those boxes you buy with lots of games like chess, checkers, snakes and ladders – you rummage through the box and pick the thing you want to do.

But - this doesn’t scale.

If I wanted to get into capital warfare I very much doubt I’d drop $3000 to buy a titan. I would have to earn in game. That’s why PLEX is such an elegant mechanic

Rasmus Forlorn said...

Maybe Gevlon just hates the fact of life that there are people around who do not need to grind for their victories?

It's true in probably any domain in life...

Seldom can money directly buy you victories, but it always confers an advantage to the guy who owns enough $$$ to be able to focus 100% of his time on one thing, rather than be bogged down by having to support his choices with grinding activities.

You always get people who rise from a humble background to achieve greatness by doing heroic work (and often sleeping little) - I guess they are the minority though.

Talent, for the masses, seems to be way less related to success than exercise. The more you do X, the better you get at X. The grand master at X? He put in 20000 hours of practicing and beats you because you only put in 200.

Now if I use my $$$ to enable me to focus the few hours I play per week on a PVP, rather than having to squeeze grinding to replace lost gear into the same amount of hours... sure, over time I become a better PVPer than the guy who also needs to grind and does not have more time available to play.

Not because I had 'gold ammo', but because I exploded (others) more often in that given year than the other guy.

All this does is making my playing time more 'efficient'. If that's cheating, sports as a whole is in serious trouble: you could easily extend this argument to "having a coach is cheating" (whom you... pay) as you did not develop all your skills just practicing alone in front of a mirror.

A bit too pure for my taste.

jstk said...

@Rasmus Forlorn

The PLEX system exists exactly because of people like you. It's subtle enough to make them think they're good at a game when they aren't even able to sustain themselves witouth rolling their credit card. Paying to bypass timesinks (which are hardly timesinks if you are good at what you do) is no different than paying to buy gold ammo. It is paying to achieve your goals in a game faster than other people who don't.

Rasmus Forlorn said...

I do not claim I am good at "EVE". I like to PVP and I (one day) want to become good at "PVPing in EVE".

I don't see where being good at "Making ISK in EVE" is needed for being good at "PVPing in EVE".

These are two different aspects of the same game.

Sure, it's best if you excel at all aspects of a game and I have deep respect for people who do.

I simply don't have the playing time to do so myself and thus I chose one aspect I want to become good at and compensate my lack of interest in the other aspect giving extra $$$ to CCP. If I couldn't do that, I would not be playing EVE at all.

Just remember: The only thing I buy with $$$ is the online time I would have to invest in order to support my hobby. I cannot (and would not) buy gold gear with $$$. I fly the same (mostly) T1 and (occassionally) T2 hulls everyone else can fly.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

Heh. Right here, this comment explains it all:

"The PLEX system exists exactly because of people like you. It's subtle enough to make them think they're good at a game when they aren't even able to sustain themselves witouth rolling their credit card. Paying to bypass timesinks (which are hardly timesinks if you are good at what you do) is no different than paying to buy gold ammo. It is paying to achieve your goals in a game faster than other people who don't."

that's just straight up envy. He's saying "I can't afford to buy PLEX, so you have to do what I do, which is spend all my free time grinding."

PLEX doesn't make you better at PvP any better than getting a WoW level 90 boost makes you a better raider.

What they DO do is allow you to focus your time on what you WANTED TO DO IN THE FIRST PLACE (PvP or Raiding.) instead of doing that which does not increase your skills one whit: pointlessly grinding to meet the arbitrary price of admission.

It's like if Chess Tournaments required you to bring your own solid gold chess pieces... A rich guy would just buy them and be done with it, but anyone else would have to grind for the cash first. When in reality. having to use solid gold chess pieces makes no difference to the game at all.

Requiring you to grind : buy PLEX to play the game you wanted to in the first place is just bad design, and risks losing all it's customers to the first game that comes along that realizes that.

And THEN there's pay to win, like gold ammo... that's just a whole new level of stupid. It's like buying a second queen in a chess game. It's two separate issues entirely.

RMT is bad game design, Pay to Win is not even a game. Both are bad, but bad in different ways.

jstk said...

I do not envy anyone who decides to spend money in a game. I have my own income, more than enough to buy a lot of PLEXes if I wanted to but I don't need to spend a cent in this game because it's trivial to make isk to begin with. I don't grind any isk, typical isk grinding activities are some of the shittiest money makers in this game. Making money in an MMO is a large part of progress, weather you believe it or not. ISK is what makes the world go around, what makes PVP matter, what makes empires matter and what gives meaning to losses.

You're comparing an MMO with a competitive game. Really? MMOs are defined by a sense of constant character/account progress. A game of chess is only determined by your own skill and judgement. You're not paying to win chess or golf because you can afford to buy a private instructor. Your ability to play chess does not rely on any items that I'm aware of.

How about this? Before PLEX existed, people would cheat by using real life money in RMT websites to gain ISK witouth having to play the game. Suddently, CCP introduces PLEX which is virtually the same thing except the money is going for CCP, and it's suddently not pay 2 win anymore and everyone is happy about it.

Using your money to bypass progress or time in a game is the very definition of pay2win in a game. It may not be as direct as gold ammo but it obviously creates an advantage to the buyer (not that PLEX buyers are particulary rich, they are often dirt poor people in the game).

Buying plex is buying currency. Plain and simple. If you rmt a million gold in WoW you also need to learn how to PVP and raid to be sucessful. Just because you P2W does not mean you instantly win the game, that is a stupid assumption.