Greedy Goblin

Friday, July 22, 2016

Tears over subscription

Black Desert Online reddit thread has the following top topics:

The official forums are sorted by last comment, so some useful topics are present on the top page, but I could find the following ones:

We can say that several players are upset (or trolling the upset ones). What horrible thing the devs do? Introduced a de facto subscription to the game. For $15/month you can buy a monthly buff that increase character and bank slots, weight limit, give various "beauty" stuff and decrease tax on the marketplace. Since the math is unclear to many people, I made a simple test inside the game and found that the tax moved to 15.5% from 35%:

Devs need salary. BDO isn't a web game made by a few guys who are happy to earn enough to pay rent and food from advertising. It's an MMO with huge World and graphics matching recent single player games. Someone has to pay for it. It seemed that they want to live on constant "quality of life" sells, but it has a problem. A latecomer must buy all of them at once to be competitive and after a few years this can be a one-time $1000 buy. Not the best way to get new players. If they give discounts later, people will simply not buy anything and wait for discounts. The only way out is limited time buffs. It's like a subscription: you pay to have access to it for $15/month.

Why not have formal subscription than? Because that's dead. Let me summarize it for BDO players: EVE Online used to be subscription, you simply couldn't log in without having a subscription paid with credit card, or an in game "gift card" called PLEX that you could sell for ingame money to other players, but someone had to buy it from the developer. The price was set by supply and demand, an average grinder could earn enough credits to buy one over 10 hours of grinding. So far, nothing surprising.

The interesting thing is that the EVE devs started to sell a cash shop item that allowed players to remove "experience points" from their character and then sell the package on the in-game marketplace. The buyer could use it to add the points to his own character, gaining skills. In EVE, you get these points automatically if you subscribe. The price of the package is once again set by the market. If many players extract their skills and few buy packages, the price is low, if many buys and few sells, the price is high. Well, the price is very high, one package sells for 2/3 price of the subscription. The fun thing is that the subscription gives 4x more points than a package over a month. But whales want them now and there aren't enough players to sell. If you did the math, you realize that one can now play EVE completely free (don't do it!), just by selling the points he gets in a month to buy a card.

This means that the players, not the devs decided that in-game power is more valuable than subscription and turned the game into a free-to-play + cash shop game. Players want power, not game access, that's the sad truth, so you can cry over "P2W" all day, the majority of the players want to buy power. So deal with it or simply stop playing video games. While the minority is filling the forums and reddit with tears, the majority fills the wallet of the developer, so they'll just keep introducing new power items. Or not, since with the value pack they can sell the same power item again and again every month.

I understand that paying for something that you imagined to get for free sucks. But I had very bad experience in EVE where I could play for free. As I didn't pay to the developers, they were free to not only ignore my interest, but flat out harass me. For them I was just a freeloader who can be abused for fun. In BDO I'm a paying customer and treated accordingly. When I was unhappy with the ghillie suit change, they returned the price in less than a day. The point is that you can only expect decent service if you pay for it.

PS: I used the free beauty feature "Marv's palette" to change the color of the absolutely ridiculous processing costume. I colored the black parts with light green, the white ones with dark green and the hair bow to the hair color to make it as invisible as possible:
The dress is still outright stupid (you shouldn't work with molten metal with any skin exposed, not even your face), but at least she doesn't look like a prostitute. I am really sad that there isn't even a niche market for decent looking costumes, I can't even buy one for money, while various stripper outfits are for sale. But I realize that this is what the majority wants and there is no point rageposting against sexism on the forums.


Hanura H'arasch said...

I have a hypothesis: MMO developers simply spent too much money on huge pretty zones/dungeons/whatever that are obsoleted in a few months.

Because it seems to be the only genre of online games that can't be financed with skins alone. I mean have been playing HotS (Blizzard's new DOTA) competitively these last months without spending a dime. And the only "disadvantage" I experienced was not being able to buy every hero from the start. But that's irrelevant anyway, as I can buy new heroes faster than I can master them.

Maybe procedurally generated environments would help? Something that reduces the enormous expense of creating new content.

Smokeman said...

This demonstrates that "subscription" isn't dead. What's dead is "Play for free."

The model of "Allow the players to sub for in game currency" is what has to die, as it leads directly, as in "Don't pass Go", to RMT.

In game currency and real money can never be allowed to mix.

Gevlon said...

@Hanura: MMOs are definitely the most expensive games to make and they need constant development, so buy-to-play can't fly. Procedurally generated worlds necessarily have hotspots (where RNG placed more resources) and players just camp there, ignoring the rest of the World.

@Smokeman: formal subscriptions are dead. Simply not allowing players to trade "PLEX" for in-game currency (while can be a valid choice) doesn't remove the result we found in EVE: players would rather spend on power than on game access. So quasi-subscriptions are the way: monthly power buys.

Orson Brawl said...

MMO developers just can't win. People don't want to part subscriptions yet scream about cash shops and freemium models. These games are hobbies for us but how the developers put food on the table and pay their rent. A little perspective is needed for most people but most people can't see past their own little world. Personally, I have no issue giving an MMO 15-20 bucks a month for a game I enjoy. That price is a steal for the amount of content your typical AAA MMO provides.

Anonymous said...

Most people are pissed because the developer was not honest. They advertise this EU/NA version of the game as not having a subscription (people refereed to the subscription model they have for kr, ru & jp versions)... so people bought tons of dyes and inventory space...just to see that subscription model introduced few months later offering free inventory space and dyes.

They should have put this subscription from the beginning and all should have been just fine.
All cards would have been on the table...but what they did was just nickel & dime people for these quality of life options just to introduce a subcription model that offers all these options in a pack. That is what pissed me off

Anonymous said...

"the majority of the players want to buy power" this might be true, but does a majority of players do it? Can they?
Coming from the gambling game scene (think slots and the likes) our income was roughly 80% from whales. Those last 20%, while not ignored, was certainly not prioritized.. even though they were around 90% of the players.
So I believe that your statement might need some tweaking - the players with the most money will spend the most to gain power, therefore they will be the most important players for the developers.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: you are right, the correct term is that "most of the money wants to buy power", meaning that if Joe spends $1000 and 20 other players spend $50 each, then the opinion of Joe has the same weight than 20 others.

This is the only thing visible from the EVE skill pack price as we can see that 1000 skillpacks sold for $X, but we can't see if 1000 players bought 1 each or a single whale bought them all.

maxim said...

For 20 bucks a month i can buy much more single-player content than any MMO could conceivably offer. Heck, i don't even need to buy much content - plenty of games i want to play more but didn't have the chance to so far. Granted, i'm not a very social player, but that's the case for me and (i imagine) for a lot of other people.

In that light, the only MMO's that deserve sub money in my eyes are those who follow the original dream of an MMO - a life in an alternate world, complete with actual history, lore and real stakes. At this point, i don't think many such MMOs exist anymore. WoW is almost the last bastion of that old style MMO creation, and even that is slowly failing (due to Warcraft's world-builders mostly failing in pretty much everything post-TBC).

Shame, really.

maxim said...

I just got this association.
Consider an (admittedly, somewhat crappy) translation of one of Pushkin's verses:

"All is mine" -­ so gold was saying;
"All is mine" - ­was saying steel.
"Will buy all" -­ so gold was saying;
"Will take all" - was saying steel

Now consider that the games don't really have "steel". In most modern games it is very hard to actually harm or destroy anything that has value. Even Eve, despite the propaganda, is not much of an exception.

In the absense of real and traditional competition in MMOs, obviously, gold wins. This is applicable not just to MMOs, but to all games.

The only games that are exempt seem to be either those with significant eSport component (where "steel" manifests in competitive space), or "git gud" games where buying power kind of defeats the whole point of playing it in eyes of most of playerbase.

Esteban said...

Final Fantasy XIV is a fairly successful traditional sub MMO.

Trenjeska Schutte said...

The riding costume is one that fully covers a female (at least my tamer. She really looks like a girl in riding gear like you would in the real world.
So far that in deed is the only fully covering costume that doesnt look drab like the starting witch full robe.

Anonymous said...

Final Fantasy XIV is a fairly successful traditional sub MMO.
I never looked into FF XIV. will try it. Is it good for latecomers that have never touched it?

Anonymous said...

I advise you all to spend money carefuly on BDO....dont go all in.

I can tell you that Daum is not starving at all. They are big on Asia mobile games market (some mobile game features are present also in BDO) + several shops.

BDO is available in othere 3 regions ( KR, JP, RU) apart from EU/NA = same content developed for 4 markets. Sure, the game is awesome but it is developed in a way to make you pay for almost everything.

Truth is that they are all in for as much money they can get out of you.

The dev needs money, that is true....but the dev is deffinately not starving.

I believe they will introduce more major convenience items to our pearl store as they seen that we tend to spend absurd amount of money on pixel confort.

...proceed with care

Tithian said...

I never looked into FF XIV. will try it. Is it good for latecomers that have never touched it?

Yes, being a latecomer is irrelevant in the overall scheme. Sure, you missed the level 50 endgame, but it is never too late to join and generally there are enough catch-up mechanisms to get you up to speed when you hit the cap.

However, the trek to the 60 (the new cap) is LONG, and even before you'll be able to get into the expansion areas you will have to go through the content added in the 2.1 - 2.5 patches, which is a lot of freaking content (it will take you as long as 1-50, almost).

Even with no-lifing (4-8 hours per day), you should expect it'll take you around 2 months to level the appropriate jobs and start getting involved in the level 60 endgame.

Anonymous said...

WoW is a subscription game which seems to work fine, but, there are many games which are F2P with a sub option, which actually call it a sub.

LOTRO, EQ2, SWTOR all have sub options which give VERY nice benefits, but, those games are sold as F2P with sub option, and are marketed as such, they are not marketed as B2P

Smokeman said...

Anonymous said...

"Most people are pissed because the developer was not honest."

This is how ALL non-subscription models go. Once you start down that slippery slope, you will eventually just start grabbing the cash. It's human nature. Sure, when the "PLEX" or "WoW Token" was introduced, they probably thought it would be benign and still result in an even playing field... but it will always decay into a cash grab. Look at Eve, selling PLEX wasn't enough, so now they sell skills. WoW still only sells tokens, but how long will that last? It will only get easier and easier to buy tokens, and personally, I think they abandoned the link between gold token sales and time token sales long ago. The pressure to ramp up the "pay to win" to grab more cash must be enormous on the people that run the company.

Anonymous said...

I advise you all to spend money carefuly on BDO....dont go all in.
Yeah good advice! Spend already 380EUR total on BDO (clients, pearls) and will stop spending for now until valencia is completely rolled out and wait what PA/DAUM do next. Generally everyone should check what they spend on entertainment be it getting drunk in pubs, going to cinema or reading comics.

I'm OK with the cash shop, they can get more revenue as with sub only, so it's only logical for them to go that route. Sure I miss subscription. People tend to forget that software games evolved out of slot machines and toys. And those industries are per definition entertainment+moneygrab (I do like LEGO and pacman that doesn't change what they are).

Anonymous said...

What's interesting to me is how people recognise they can vote with their feet, but not that they can also legislate. If all the whales got together, design some tasteful outfits, and held a public vote over the forums, the devs would almost certainly add them to the game. Most of the work would already done for them.

Asphodel said...

As far as I can tell from reading your blog, there is no 'real' game jet, just some grinding and crafting. Paying a subscription for that seems like a waste of money to me. Is there a game in bdo yet? And if so, why aren't you playing it?

Anonymous said...

> If all the whales got together, design some tasteful outfits, and held a public vote over the forums, the devs would almost certainly add them to the game.

● Assuming that the whales actually WANT tasteful outfits instead of stripper clothes.
● Assuming that the whales are skilled 3d modelers (instead of, e.g. factory owners).
● Assuming that the devs are willing to import someone else's work and deal with the IP complications.
● Assuming that the vote doesn't get sabotaged (e.g. 5 votes for "tasteful armor #1", 6 votes for "tasteful armor #2", 99999 votes for "END THE FED GOOGLE RON PAUL GIVE DIRETIDE").
● Assuming that the thread doesn't immediately erupt into flameware ("Screw you pay-2-win fags! You're ruining the game! Plz uninstall!")

Gevlon said...

Decent outfits are already in the game: NPCs wear it. Hell, the Silver Cloths are decent enough. They should only make it a costume covering armor.

Trenjeska Schutte said...

Yes the silver embroideds will be available soon enough . At the rate they add content to the pearl shop I'm expecting that coupon to do so within a month

Anonymous said...

It's not the majority, as in 51% or more of players. It's just that one whale spends more money on a game than one thousand normal players. It's a very "vocal" (with their wallet) minority.

Gevlon said...

That's the majority. Companies count in $ and not in heads.