Greedy Goblin

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I can farm it for free: F2P edition

"I can farm it for free" is a cliché statement from those with zero economy knowledge, or a pejorative statement about them. It claims that if something is achievable by farming (working), it's essentially free. This obviously means that the workforce of the person in question is worthless. Such people obviously remain poor as they waste their time on the least profitable form of farming.

Claiming "I can farm it for free" buys you a ticket into the idiot's club and no one will take you seriously. Except if you talk about free to play games. Then suddenly statements like "League of Legends is not pay-to-win because you can farm for champions in game" becomes acceptable instead of laughable. Since you can farm "gold ammo" in game, people seriously claim that World of Tanks, the poster child for P2W is no longer pay to win.

The situation is identical: the speaker doesn't consider farming time worthy. In these games you cannot buy power that is unreachable in-game, but reaching it in-game takes extreme amount of time. However this time is worthless in the eyes of those who don't consider the game pay-to-win. There is one reason why this exists: large group of players have indeed zero real money opportunity cost on their time, because they are not employed. They understand the original "farm for free" statement, as they see that 1 hour farming means 1 hour not spent in a way that earns more in-game currency. But they use it seriously for the F2P aspect, as they couldn't gain real money with their time.

However for players that actually keep the games running, this opportunity cost exist and is usually extremely high. The 100M ISK/hour ratting/missioning income could be replaced by paying $2/hour on the official PLEX market. This devalues in-game farming so much that CCP choose to crush broadcast multiplexing to stop this trend (see PS).

Anyone who says "the game is not P2W because it only sells time saving" is an idiot, since the point of all purchases is to save time: after all you don't need a car, you could just wake up an hour earlier and use public transport. Or 2 hours earlier and ride a bike. The "sell you time for money" is the definition of pay-to-win.

The only acceptable payments to a game company are box fee (buying the game), monthly subscription fee and totally powerless vanity. Anything that gives you power directly or buys you time (that you can spend on getting power) is pay to win.

Since game companies want to increase revenues, they always try to sneak in something that is so powerless in the eyes of the veterans that they ignore it. The "instant level 90" in WoW is a perfect example. Since "everyone" has a level 90 avatar and most of the veterans have many, they would never need this feature, so it's worthless vanity in their eyes. However for a new player who was lured in with the TV ads, it saves about 100-200 hours (newbies don't level optimally). Also, my girlfriend used the one "instant 90" packed with the release to be able to start this expansion as a bear tank. Without that, she'd either have to spend 50-80 hours to level one, pay $60 or give up on our random-raiding project. How is it not pay to win?

I'm afraid the fight against pay-to-win is a losing battle. "People want to win" + "people suck" + "company can make you winner with a few clicks" created a perfect storm. The only thing players can reach is keeping P2W out of the competitive ranges, making sure that you can only buy yourself into the top club, but not to the top of the club.


PS: people wanted my thoughts on the input multiplexing (ISBoxer) ban. They are here for almost a year. Granted, I'd rather ban the activity (farming 300 hours a day) instead of the tool that made it easy (play 6 hours, multiplex it 50 times), but it's a good start.

21 comments:

Basil said...

People can always trade real money for in-game time. If the company doesn't sanction it, it's done on exchanges the company doesn't have control over, player-to-player.

What do you mean by that "only acceptable" phrase? Are you implying that players shouldn't accept pay-to-skip-power-grinding based games?

Azuriel said...

There is one reason why this exists: large group of players have indeed zero real money opportunity cost on their time, because they are not employed.

Alternatively, it is because they see time spent playing the game as actually enjoyable.

This undoubtedly bizarre (to you) phenomenon manifests in the working world whenever someone chooses to take a pay cut, deny a promotion, or otherwise work in a less profitable field because they enjoy their present position better. If someone willingly makes less money than they could, does that make them an idiot? You tell me.

You might also want to swing by the river and tell all the morons with their fishing poles that they can just go to the store and buy salmon. Clearly wasting their time and money.

Gevlon said...

@Azuriel: claiming that someone actually likes mining and would do it if it wouldn't provide ore is laughable.

@Basil: yes, players with brain should avoid games with clear pay-to-win. And illicit RMT can be controlled by the company by an aggressive banning policy.

Raphael said...

"@Azuriel: claiming that someone actually likes mining and would do it if it wouldn't provide ore is laughable"

Claiming that would be laughable, only, Azuriel doesnt say they would continue doing it, just that they enjoy it, so do not min/max it.

Much like, someone might fly 4 characters with industrials between trade hubs delivering items to their alts, instead of optimising and using Red Frog, or another individual might run 100 jumps in a freighter without making any isk from it, because it is enjoyable.

I would raid without the loot (and may or may not have forgotten to loot several times before it being suggested maybe I should not master loot), because I enjoy the activity.
I mine in Eve to help my friends, I move several hundred jumps in an orca, freighter or JF to help them move, I fly halfway across eve to help someone stuck in a mission.....

You would not do any of these, but people do.
One of my corpmates knows exactly about the pricing of ore, and still prefers to get his own ore (not because he is spacepoor either).

In the real world, if I wanted to get paid a lot of money for my field, I would definitely not work where I am.

To some, ISK/Money/Gold is the be all and end all, to others, it is the means to an end.

dobablo said...

I don't agree that the L90 boost is P2W. Blizzard has decided that WoW is a 11 level game beginning from L90. Everyone buys the box. Everyone starts at L90. Legacy content is irrelevant and the having multiple alts has negligible impact.

Gevlon said...

@dobablo: if that would be the case, they should have provided unlimited lvl90 boosts. See the post tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I fail to see the correlation from time to power. The 90 boost is perfectly fine. It's WOW you don't need gold, you need gear. You get gear by spaming dungeons and raids. to do that you need gear score. Everything preventing the content is soulbound drop related.
If you can read the dungeon journal (like obviously 80% of the entire WOW population seem to fail at) you will get gear. Better if you join someone within a Legion with good players (the kind that at least read DJ and know that a class doesn't spam only 1 button).
I boosted to finally look into WOW, I joined a semi good player group via my partner.
Gold? I have to much, just by playing.
I also fail to see why people alt and buy all the heirlooms, don't they read about other classes and need to reroll that often? it isn't bag space or professions every hour can be better spend at flipping AH or actually playing the quest/dungeon/raid game.

So in a sub game like WOW a boost-to-current expansion start. doesn't break anything. the boost gear is completely worthless within the first couple hour of play.

There isn't good f2p. Path of Exile has the best F2P system. the only thing you really buy are bag-tabs. there are some vendor recipes that require some interesting combinations of gear to get the ORB-Currency you want. So that in a way is pay to horde to win. Still you do perfectly fine without much bag space.

Gold, ISK or orbs are not the reason why I play.
I play a lot together with my partner coops, mmos, arpgs and we have a blast. Currency is the last thing on our minds and in most games not really a problem to get.

dobablo said...

@Gevlon: On the contrary, multiple alts are powerless vanity which is typical cash-shop fodder. People pay for that vanity either through a one-off boost or by continuing to be active through a period when they would logically let their subscription lapse.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon, I think your mixing up concepts here. The "Minerals I mine are free" group aren't laughed at because they think their time is free, they are laughed at because they undervalue products. Say 1000 trit at 5 per unit for build an item that they then sell at 4500 to undercut another seller. That's what we laugh at.

Even for employed people, they play the game for a reason. Building up isk is part of the game. They could buy it with cash, sure, but then they've effectively paid to *not* play a game. And just because someone is employed doesn't mean they could do an extra hour of work instead of spending an hour mining. For most people overtime is not available in that way.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

13:04 Anonymous: " Say 1000 trit at 5 per unit for build an item that they then sell at 4500 to undercut another seller. That's what we laugh at."

Kind of like the suicide ganker that loses his ship to kill your ship, even though there is no way to recoup the loss?

From another point of view... if it's stupid to grind rather than to buy in game currency with real money, then it's stupid to play at all. Or, you could strike a compromise... grind some, buy some, in proportions that fit your view of the activity.

Everything you ever get in a game is ultimately "farmed for free." everything you spend on a game is a sunk cost you cannot recover (In general terms.)

Anonymous said...

"Even for employed people, they play the game for a reason. Building up isk is part of the game. They could buy it with cash, sure, but then they've effectively paid to *not* play a game. And just because someone is employed doesn't mean they could do an extra hour of work instead of spending an hour mining. For most people overtime is not available in that way."

Exactly this!
If I work and compare it to plex price per h, i would need more then 1b per h to make it even. So every activity in eve with earning ISKies would be nonsense. I should buy plex.
But I want to play that game and make those nonsense activities. Ok I do good ISK/h, and can easily plex my accounts.

These activities take time, but it is my freetime and i like it. It is not the goal to buy Plex to reduce the time on the activities.


Also I doubt you can Pay-to-Win in Eve. Did you won eve with your imense wealth? I doubt it highly. You arent better then any other skilled player. I guess more like manpower and numbers win eve.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

Raphael:

...industrials between trade hubs delivering items to their alts, instead of optimising and using Red Frog...

Do you know what I've always wondered? What the hell does Red Frog get out of this? Isk? If you're going to haul other people's freight, you might as well buy plex. Unless, for whatever reason, you LIKE being a space trucker. Which, really... I have no problem with. I was just wondering.

In general, "grind for isk" activities are rewarded with more than isk, your skills train, so you can get upgrades... you are learning how to be more ungankable by learning better situational awareness, etc. But you want your truck driver to be max skilled for the job, and max skilled in the route they are taking. You want them to learn nothing by hauling your goods.

Anonymous said...

What the hell does Red Frog get out of this? Isk?

yes ISK. see it like others mining/PI/BP-research on alts.
https://sites.google.com/site/redfrogrecruiting/prerequisites-for-pilots
with a remap this is done within a month. sure you could put in some time to train a bit into tank and alignment. If only 2 accounts the contracting alt sits within the same time in an interceptor and therefor is within minuts everywhere higsec. Or use a third account for the contracting alt and autopilot.

see anual report: http://red-frog.org/annual-report-2013.php

StoneJager said...

This is one of the issues I have with Gevlon. He's great on analytics, but when it comes less quantifiable things, he runs into problems.

You could mine trit for 1 hour and make 20 mil, or you could be doing [trading/incursions/etc] and making a hell of a lot more.

So, the obvious question is: why are you mining? You can make 100 mil/hour in incursions, then buy the minerals you need and still have money left over. Since Gevlon approaches most things from a pure numbers standpoint, this is the question that stumps him.

Ultimately, the answer (which also stumps him) is 'Because I want to.' That's really all there is to it. Is it a waste of time? Objectively, yes. Do *I* think it's a waste of time? No, because I'm enjoying myself.

Obviously, once I get bored, I change activities. ;)

Sorry Gevlon, 'fun' doesn't equate to a numerical value. :)

Gevlon said...

@StoneJager: it's obvious that they want to do it and don't do it by accident.

Wanting something objectively wrong is the definition of being a moron. For example: I want to lick windows and eat dog poop because it's fun for me.

StoneJager said...

And therein lies the problem. It all depends on the objective. If your objective is to make isk, then naturally do the highest isk/hour activity you can do.

However, many people's goals is not to just make isk. It's to have fun playing the game. Different people have different priorities in the game, and these priorities change depending on the situation. For example, my priorities most of the time are like this:

1. Have fun
2. Support the corporation
3. Make ISK

Obviously, these shift depending on what's going on. Sitting around repping a POS for 2 hours isn't #1, but I'm performing #2, and since the corp has a need, I choose to let it take priority. If I need isk to replace a ship I lost, I might grind some missions/incursions, or sell off some goods that I have stockpiled. Or, if I just want to kick back and relax, I might mine in a backwater system, prioritizing #1 and tossing #2 and #3 out the window.

And if you really want to lick windows and eat dog poop, fill your boots. Not my cup of tea, but hey, I'm not the boss of you, it's your life. ;)

Surloc said...

Sometimes minerals, and the things you produce with them are free. For example I make my isk running sites and via exploration. I make more than enough to support my play style. I mine as something to do when I'm watching TV or listening in on 1-2 hour long meeting which requires me for maybe 1-2 minutes. Some goes to replace ammo, and ships. A fair bit goes to friends and corpmates. The rest is converted into ammo, ships, and modules for the local market. I have the BPOs from my side income of selling researched BPOs, and the BPCs from hacking. Yes I'd make more hauling it to market, and hauling back modules to sell, but that's boring to me, and thus cost me time.

Iiene of Kul Tiras said...

So, Gevlon:

"Also, my girlfriend used the one "instant 90" packed with the release to be able to start this expansion as a bear tank. Without that, she'd either have to spend 50-80 hours to level one, pay $60 or give up on our random-raiding project. How is it not pay to win?"

First off, newbs don't get this option, you have to have had an existing account with a max level char, as your girlfriend did, to get a level 90 boost.

In my view, this promotion solves a design defect in the game. Once you slog through the levels once, why SHOULDN'T you be fast tracked on subsequent characters? Along that vein... why should you even need other characters on your account? Because your characters are pointlessly locked into an arbitrary "class", that once decided, is cast in stone? Look at how Eve does it... you want to switch role? Do it! Some of the skills will be common, reducing total train time as compared to a brand new char. The only time you need a second account is when you want to double box. Of course... that's "pay to win" too, right?

Second, by doing this, your girlfriend didn't "win" per se, she added value to the game for everyone else by combining market forces with available mechanics to provide what the game needs... more tanks.

It's win win... what's the worst thing someone can do? Be a DPS level boosting another DPS? They'll either both suck or both be above the tank. But only one at a time, so no net difference.

Ulsaki said...

I love the "farm it for free" crowd. They're idiots, but they're useful idiots. They have no concept of the value of their time or work, so they undervalue their product.

These are the same people grinding materials and doing daily quests to create gold that are the source of my wealth.

Anonymous said...

@Iiene of Kul Tiras:
First off, newbs don't get this option, you have to have had an existing account with a max level char, as your girlfriend did, to get a level 90 boost.

https://us.battle.net/support/en/article/level-90-character-boost

Nope. if you have bought WOD. you get one boost per account. if you want more boosts feel free and buy more 90 boosts as you like.
no restrictions what so ever.

99smite said...

Pleae Gevlon, do not tell them M&S that. A lot of stupid miners still mien shitty ore because "tritanium is needed to built my freighter"...
When I bought my first freighter in 2012, I had a good friend who was an industrialist who would have built it for me. He gave me a list of mineral components to get him, so that he could start building.
I can't remember exactly whether the price for an Obelisk at that time was 1.2 or 1.4B isk, but, when I checked the mineral prices, even if I was putting up buy orders for the minerals needed, it would have been more expensive to buy the minerals than to buy an Obelisk available on the market.
I still encounter people mining veldspar because they need tritanium, when I tell them that if they want to mine, they should at least mine the most expensive/valuable ore in highsec, sell it and get their trit from the profits, they told me that it wouldn't matter, it would cost them nothing to mine veldspar as they were spending their time mining anyway. I told them that I understood clearly now, why they had so much time on hands to spend mining... they were not pleased of course...
They were so dumb that they weren't even able to set up a mining operation in a C1 WH (bubble the wh exits, have a scout on wh grid permanently, dscan permanently, have mods in lows that allow you to accelerate faster.... They demanded to have corporate level wh mining events...
I am no longer memger of that corp...