Greedy Goblin

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pay to hurt another player

The discussion on "pay to win" is a quite futile one, due to the endless arguments on what's considered "winning" in an MMO and what is "cosmetic" or not and who is entitled to be subsidized during gaming and why.

I suggest to get rid of this term fully and use "pay to hurt another player". After all, none of us care about what others do when we are unaffected. In gaming we have no reason to care if the game company sells virtual items to increase the satisfaction of the buyer as long as it doesn't decrease ours. Skins and other "cosmetic" items are such. Gold ammo in World of Tanks is obviously used to hurt another player.

The grey area is increased progression rate. This case the outcome depends on the necessity of progression. For example in World of Tanks you can fully play in a lower tier tank, having bigger tank don't make you any stronger, just places you to a different battle - against similar tanks. So offering XP boost is fine. World of Warcraft on the other hand ties the social status of the player to his item level. A "gearless noob" is excluded from team play and forced to do LFR and other repeated, unenjoyable "farming" activities to stop being one. Had WoW provide methods for lesser geared (but not skilless) players to do enjoyable content, this wouldn't be a problem.

I obviously believe that gaming companies need to be paid and charging flat leaves money on the table. However I fully reject a model where someone can buy the privilege of defeating me. This is why I suggest the payment method to be evaluated on the basis of "pay to hurt another player".

PS: the PLEX system is an exception since here the power is merely shifted within the playerbase. By paying one gets power that might hurt others, but the seller loses the same power.

PS2: I don't think anyone paid to hurt this moron, besides himself.


dobablo said...

PLEX isn't an exception. The buyer is buying power from the ISK seller but the ISK seller was never a threat until that transaction occured.
Someone not buying power through PLEX has to make do with their own resources while their opponent has hired third party power through the use of real world currency. The net sum of active power projection in the world goes up since the sold power was deemed excess to requirements by the original seller and would have presumably sat idle otherwise.

Gevlon said...

@dobablo: what makes you think "presumably sat idle otherwise". I am one of these "ISK sellers" as I'm PLEX-ing 8-10 accounts a month. If I didn't, I'd spend that extra 7-8B/month on the GRR project, so that money wouldn't set idle. That's about 15-20% of my total income.

You might be right that many "ISK sellers" are highsec miners/missioners who wouldn't spend their PLEX-ed ISK on combat ships to PvP themselves, but direct ship PvP isn't the only form of competition. For example he'd buy better ratting equipment, allowing him to be more competitive to fellow ratters. Or start trading with his capital, competing with existing traders.

Your whole point can be summarized as "the utility of ISK is higher in the hand of the buyer than the seller", while the typical picture of the ISK buyer is the dumb kid with dad's credit card, building a blinged ship.

penuruloki said...

"Your whole point can be summarized as "the utility of ISK is higher in the hand of the buyer than the seller", while the typical picture of the ISK buyer is the dumb kid with dad's credit card, building a blinged ship."

I'm not sure you can reliably say where the utility would be higher in the transaction (it will vary with each buyer and seller), but differences in SP and activity will definitely affect the equation, even more so than the WoW version of the transaction.

Witness the other common picture of an isk buyer, a pvper who doesn't want to pve to replace their losses. Selling a PLEX to, eg a miner means keeping a trained and experienced combat pilot active in pvp vs forcing them to mine/rat/mission etc to replace their losses. The PLEX transaction is really no different than your GRR project, except you forfeit the potential sub time you could have gained for more input on how the isk is used. Would you say that your donations aren't affecting the power balance in the game?

Samus said...

You previously claimed the WoW Token made that game fully Pay2Win, but it functions just like PLEX (gold is only moved between players), and if anything you can "win" EVE more with ISK than you can "win" WoW with gold. Have you changed your opinion?

Gevlon said...

@Samus: I've always claimed that WoW token is rigged, it's not a clear transaction between 2 players. You sell to Blizzard and buy from Blizzard, using the price set by Blizzard.