Greedy Goblin

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chargebacks and outwhaling

I start to understand why Black Desert players are so upset about the latest "P2W" installment. 254 pages on official forum after heavy moderating. The r/blackdesertonline mods had to start an official megathread and nuke the other threads since the top page had nothing else on it. What did the BDO devs do? Announced that you can put cash shop items on the marketplace. Practically PLEX. The reason I found it stupid is that people weren't so upset when the mentioned cash shop items were introduced. I'd guess that Adam buying backpack of uberness is a bigger issue than Adam trading it to Betty. I was obviously wrong in the eyes of "the community".

The outrage was so big that the devs had to send out mass e-mails to people who requested chargebacks on their purchases. This is very interesting, not because lots of players think that they are scammed and want to force their money returned. Not even because the company is threatening them by closing their account which hints that they are still playing after they issued a chargeback request (please try to threaten my by losing my EVE or WoT accounts).

This is interesting, because people had something to chargeback. It's not the "free players" (those who only bought the initial game) are upset. Almost all comment warrior starts with "I spent X dollars and I'm outraged". How can you be outraged over (perceived) pay-to-win, after you paid to win?

Simple: players don't want fairness, they want to buy advantage over other players. They gladly paid for extra lodging, horse breed reset, instant resurrection, XP scroll, marketplace tax cut backpack. They were not outraged, they happily opened their wallets to get ahead of the "scrubs". Their problem is that while they could afford $50-100/month to get ahead of the others, they can't afford going full whale, buying backpacks for the whole server for in-game credits. If these players wanted fair games, they could keep them alive by their subscriptions. No, they want advantage and their definition of "pay to win" is "letting people pay more than I can and beat me". It's the money equivalent of "everyone spending more time in the game is a no-lifer".

Don't get me wrong, these customers are mad and really mean to hurt the dev by getting their money back. But their "moral standpoint" is ridiculous: if I can afford it, it's an OK convenience item, if I can't afford it, it's horrible P2W. This is why the gaming companies can't do right: players want to be able to buy advantage, but don't want anyone to buy more advantage then them. As "more than they can afford" is different for everyone, the devs can't shoot for any price point. Damn if they P2W, damn if they don't!

PS: I just received my 100 days BDO loyalty award. I didn't know it was this long. Many of you believed that after I posted my quit EVE post, I'll crawl back. I didn't. OK, I still read some EVE blogs and sometimes even r/eve, but didn't fire up the client and now I'm sure that I will stand by my decision: no EVE while the devs control the political scene of EVE and ally with some players and fight against other players.

PS2: I'm curious how this chargeback incident will unfold. If there are mass chargebacks (seems like it), the company will be damaged even if they successfully dispute them as creditors put them to "high risk" partners like bait and switch telemarketers who dance on the edge of the law.


Anonymous said...

It doesn't seem it is the price they cannot afford.

Unless people who spend several hundred dollars at a time suddenly lost the ability to do so.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the devs promised they wouldn't implement this wildly successful monetary scheme!
And more importantly, the difference between this p2w and the old p2w is that in the old system, you still had to play to earn your silver, since 2*0 is zero. You're confusing "pay to make more gainful play" with "pay to not play." It actually is unfair to at first say "you can buy bonuses," then retract that to "you can buy things directly." They're mad because they got bait-and-switched. Devs should have just implemented the cash shop from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

i dont know BDO at all except from your posts, so I might be completely wrong.

but if all power items can be put on the market, i see two issues from a non-whale point of view;

1 - people willing to spend less than me can buy power items with silver
2 - people willing to spend more than me can sell power items and use silver to buy gear.

case one makes the no-lifer better off and adds to inflation as more people want to farm. case two adds to inflation because top gear has more people competing for it.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion xp costumes were not p2win and can explain why.
I play Valk as you and even if we put on 2 costumes, a good ranger without costume will kill stuff faster than us.
Trent costume was OP in pvp and should have not been put into the game like it is (it was the source of the first mass outrage on forums).
Cash shop items are too expensive and if you read back on the forum, people reasoned that they need these prices to be able to keep out the p2w nasties out of the game.

I personally stopped playing. For me its a matter of not wanting to support this kind of business model to get successful as it will hurt the future of the industry and us as costomers.

Seeing people selling 30EUR costumes for 20 mil silver....thats like 40mil silver=60EUR=Witcher3 game price at launch and they spent 4 years to develop that masterpiece.
Will stay away from this abomination.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: but for every quitter, there come 3x more $ from whales who sell costumes for these ridiculous prices.

The question is: what game will you support, because I don't see any which didn't bow to the whales already.

Shivaro said...

I think you still got it wrong.
The only people that this effect are the competitive people - people that participate in end game node and territory node pvp. People that train horses/fish/trade/life skill/pve only etc' don't care about all of this "p2w" drama.
This competitive people all have costumes, pets, weight limit max etc'. So they see themselves and other competitive people on the same footing (no one cares that some fisher don't have 10% xp costume). no one have advantage in they eyes(more costume wont help you more then one, etc'). PA/Daum successfully made them pay few hundreds euro just to stay on equal footing. In the competitive community eyes, the only "real p2w" was buying dyes and selling in AH and horse skill reset tickets. They accepted this type of p2w because both had terrible cash-> silver ratio and they both take a lot real time to do.
Now with the new change it become a bottomless pit. To stay competitive (under the new 5 item/week rule)they will need to spend about 150$ a week. and they all know its just the start, cause once the community accept this change the company will just keep raising the p2w bar to the point that you could basically can transfer endless cash to endless power. Since most of the competitive community played AA they all know where its going.
As a result the competitive community is now leaving the game(this will takes some time). So the game will be full of non competitive player and whales. The whales will merge into one supper power on each server (whales don't seek competition they want to pwnd other players).
The game will merge server, go f2p and will keep shrinking until it will disappeared.
But right now the game is losing the competitive player base - hence game is dead meme.
As you have seen, the competitive player spend a lot of money on the game. and the developer decision will cut their money stream (+ shorten the game lifespan) instead getting money from very small community of whales. that is why i think that PA/Daum made a huge business mistake.

ariantes said...

Let's not forget that if they successfully dispute the chargebacks, all people who chargeback have their credit history damaged (it is basically fraud if you chargeback after more than 14 days after pruchase). In this case, like so many others, following advice on the internet will/might bite you in the ass.

Anonymous said...

Only played BDO in the first two months and had my fun with it but it couldn't get me hooked long term. With all the cashshop outrage I suspect that people played their first korean game. Good! get burned and learn from this experience! Not that seasoned players told them so.

I'm back to Path of Exile. And in ARPG-land there comes some korean good looking shit too - "Lost Ark". Their business model isn't announced yet, but take an educated guess.

Well everyone old enough to have the ability to read and the attention span to understand paragraphs full of words. should look into the history of gaming. Not only PC gaming but gambling and slot machines in casinos, bars and entertainment centers. And also Toy history and their schemes to make profit.

Gevlon said...

@Shivaro: I don't see theoretical difference between the following cases:
- buy all costumes, pets, weight limit max to be at equal footing
- spend $150/week to be at equal footing
- spend $10000/week to be at equal footing
The only practical difference is the price tag: those who can do the first might can't do the second and likely not the third. But that's a technicality. For a poor person even the first is impossible, therefore the game was always pay to win for him, while for a millionaire even the third is irrelevant, so the game is still an "everyone is at equal footing" game.

This is my point. The problem of the "competitive people" isn't that the game sells advantage for cash, but that they can be outwhaled.

Also, I don't see why should the game shrink and disappear if the "competitive people" leave. Fishers and whales can keep it running forever.

maxim said...

Costumes, pets and weight limits do run out. Doing new costume every week can't be kept up for long. So the first is different from the other two in that you will eventually buy everything (and every time you are buying something, someone spent some effort modelling / drawing / coding etc.)
The difference between $150 a week and $10000 a week is indeed a difference between a poor and a millionaire. This is not an insignificant difference, IRL revolutions happened on the back of it.

maxim said...

The "fishers and whales" thing is more complex.
Basically, fishers and whales take away from the community, but don't give to it. So the community withers, so does the game.
How long that would take depends on how many people are giving to the game community. Competitive people are usually "givers", in the sense that they provide stories and emotions for community to consume. When those leave, the amount of "givers" is reduced. Whether it is enough to kill BDO is anyone's guess. From what i can tell, it is not a very competitive game to begin with, so it might not really feel the impact.

Shivaro said...

1) by this argument subscription is also p2w
2) you are very good at analyzing economical trends and market, you still need improvement understanding people nature :P. people were willing to pay ~100$ month to play this game as long at this 100$ was hard cap. people refuse to pay 150$ per week now and more so they know this is just the start and eventual they couldn't be on equal footing in the game.
Large amount of the people that spent money on the game came from the competitive community. This community is in the process of leaving the game. The cash shop have little to offer for noncompetitive people. So you think the game revenue from whale will outdo the revenue from the competitive community. I doubt it, but i don't know. What i do know is that this change made to the game irrelevant to me and many others.
For comparison, you do agree that eve have some p2w element to it (plex, skill injectors) but you could live with this p2w as player for over three years. What if eve sell you option with only RL cash to have a 100 people F1 pressing fleet following you around, would you stay in that game? do you think it would have no effect on the community?

Anonymous said...

Im following this game for a long time and something tells me that there is more to this story than we see.
I think we have a war between the developer (pearl abyss) and publisher (daum/kakao).
Something changed in past months in the relationship between these two and we see now the drama it caused.
Its possible that daum EU/NA will pay all claim to the players and then ask the money back from pearl abyss.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: I completely disagree, but it's offtopic here. I believe that the "emotions" that the "community" provides are largely negative and their departure will make the game more enjoyable for the rest.

@Shivaro: I fully understand their position. They could pay $100 so it was fair. They can't pay $1000 so it's unfair. If someone couldn't pay $100 they told them to stop being poor. If someone with $1000 tells them to stop being poor, they are outraged.

Subscription locked out the non-payers from the game. They weren't defeated, they were simply missing.

Shivaro said...

@Gevlon: To pay 100$ a month for your hobby is reasonable for most people that have enough money/free time to have hobby. To pay 1000$ a month is probably not ok for a lot of people. Since the game is made from communities, this will break the community and even people that can effort 1000$ a month will leave since their community left.
People that were competitive didn't left because they can be out whaled, but because they thought they found competitive environment where your in game action decide your position, only to find out its another p2w scum.

Gevlon said...

@Shivaro: how could anyone consider BDO a competitive environment? It's an MMO with no time lock, allowing players to simply grind more than the competition. How could someone with 4 hours a day game time compete with one who has 12 hours for it? Competition can only happen in fixed-time match e-sports.

Smokeman said...


Yes, from a purist point of view, $10 a month P2W is the same as $100 dollar a month P2W is the same as $1000 dollar a month P2W.

But in practical terms, they are light years apart. It all comes down to the number of people that can afford that. With $1000 a month P2W, only the very affluent (Or slightly less affluent making really bad choices.) will be paying, everyone else will realize they cannot compete and quit, or at the minimum, justify playing with no paid advantage.

You have to have enough low dollar P2W players to make the scheme viable. As such, you cannot overprice your P2W model. A thousand 50 dollar a month players is a far better play environment than 1 50,000 dollar a month player, or even 50 1000 dollar a month players.

They placed the P2W price at 600 dollars a month, it was way too high and they're seeing serious flashback because of it. If they don't drop that price hard, they lose all the P2W players and go belly up.

Smokeman said...

"Competition can only happen in fixed-time match e-sports."

COMPLETELY FAIR competition works that way, but this is different. The "Competitive" player here is the one that maxes the statistically significant P2W amount. That amount then becomes the "competitive" player's price tag.

The first step is figure out what an hour of time is worth. Next, how much the maximum P2W contribution to the cash shop compensates for that.

It will come down to something like "6 hours a day plus 30 dollars a month in the cash shop" equates to the statistical maximum, where "24 hours a day and 30 dollars in the cash shop" only gives you a 20% advantage. While 20% is significant, it's literally impossible to do, as no human can play a game 24 hours a day.

The cash shop contribution has to crush the time contribution, and be at a price point a sufficient number of "competitive players" can afford.

Shivaro said...

@Gevlon again i'm talking about player perception. I'm not claiming its real fair competition.
You trying to analyze this only from the economical/mathematical stand of point, while as i keep telling you perception is big factor in any social interactive system.
Also i do think that the game was p2w before the change. But personalty i see it as scale and not as yes/no question. before you could buy 200$ of things that gave you advantage and you could spent addition 15$ a month(value pack)- that is it, you couldn't put 500$ a week and get advantage out of it.
Now you can put additional 150$ a week and get power. And what is worst none can tell what the ceiling of p2w going to be tomorrow (if any).
People perception was that it was somewhat a competitive environment. not on personal level but more so in group level. The game also support vary range of competition with the node level system.

Shivaro said...

@Gevlon also wasn't you being relevant in the game with so little keyboard time just prove that you can compete with few hours per day?

Samus said...

I think the source of the outrage is the perceived "bait and switch." The BDO developers had previously said they would not do this. They essentially said, "you will never have to pay more than $X to be a top player, so if you can pay $X come play our game!" So players who could pay $X per month all flocked to BDO, seeing that the modest amount they could pay-to-win would make them a top player.

I know you see the players all saying "$X is okay but $Y is totally different!" And you are right that this is totally arbitrary, reflecting only how much those players want to pay. But BDO did sell the game as "$X makes you a top player," and then after they took the $X, they changed the game and didn't deliver their part of the deal.

maxim said...

Not sure what you are disagreeing with here. We seem to be on the same page in thinking that BDO, being not a very competitive game, will likely not even notice some of the more competitive people leaving.

Your notion of competitive people being "negative" is simply a byproduct of BDO not being a competitive game. Competitive people can't help but be negative if they fail to find a meaningful space to compete in.

The salien point here, however, is that an MMO cannot survive if all it has is just fishers and whales. Games that devolve into that state basically stop being actual MMOs (where multitudes of players interact with each other) and become simply glorified single-player experiences with always-online requirement.

Whether positive or negative, competitive people needed other people to be there. Whalers and fishers can be just as happy whaling and fishing against a reasonable convincing set of bots.

Smokeman said...


You put that far more succinctly than I did, thanks.

And the "new price" wasn't even "X x 1.5" or "X x 2", which they could have possible gotten away with, but it was "X x 5" at least, at least as far as I can tell. That was just a totally boner move and they deserve every ounce of blowback.

Merbal said...

I would like to point out that your comment "players don't want fairness, they want to buy advantage over other players" only applies to people that engage in those systems. There are reasons I don't play "free to play" titles that allow you to purchase power. I imagine that I am not alone in this.

Anonymous said...

The alternative hypothesis is people spent more money because they were promised it won't turn into p2w trash. It's like investing more into the cosmetic side of a nice house rather than a temporary rented flat.