Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The third generation of pay to win

Game note: I've started Archeage, but I'm just dragging myself, despite I can't say anything bad about the game. I remember how gladly I jumped into BDO (after I defeated the UI monster) and played for hours. I closed Archeage after half an hour with busy promises that I'll continue. Somehow killing mobs, just because a guy with ! over his head told me so is not satisfying anymore. Maybe it's the recent disappointment with Crowfall. Maybe it foreshadows a long grind on rails instead of getting into an interesting World like it was with Albion. Damn that gold speculation and the corrupted devs who ruined Albion Online! I try to keep an open mind and give proper chance to Archeage, but somehow I already think I'm playing the wrong genre.

I've tested Crowfall some more and found another problematic thing. This isn't a "don't play Crowfall" post, as the skill system is completely transparent. As long as you can make an informed decision, the game is OK. It's just not for the taste of some people and for the taste of others. The problem is when they offer something and secretly do the opposite.

The skill system of Crowfall is the exact copy of EVE's. You train skills offline. Now, I played EVE for years and never complained about the skill system, simply because it never bothered me, both because trading isn't skillpoint intensive and because throwing a PLEX for another specialized alt was peanuts for me. Only after the skill injector prices I realized how highly the average player values skillpoints. If something players want, it's "win" by definition. And the only way skillpoints enter the system is someone paying real money.

In Crowfall, you can train one "universal" and 3 "archetype" (class) skills. The latter won't be a problem, simply because you can play only one class at one time, so having an alt for all classes isn't much of an advantage assuming class balance will be OK. The problem is with universal skills. There are 3 trees: general combat (+damage to enemies, - damage to you for all classes), crafting and "exploration" that includes harvesting resources. You can train only one at a time, so someone with a specialized combat, crafting and harvesting alt will be at huge advantage. Here is the combat basics tree with the amount of days needed to train the skills:

    • Combat Basics: 126 days
    • Weapon Basics: 153
    • Weapon Styles: 180
    • Armor Basics: 183
    • Stealth: Unknown
    • Siege: Unknown
    All together: about 33 months
    • Crafting basics: 117
    • Runemaking: 168
    • Necromacy: 168
    • Woodworking: 168
    • Leatherworking: 168
    • Stonemasonry: Unknown
    • Tailoring: Unknown
    • Jewelcrafting: Unknown
    • Mass Production: Unknown
    • Blacksmithing: 207
    All together: about 55 months
    • Exploration basics: 84
    • Exavation (Harvesting): 168
    • Vessels: 189
    • Farming: Unknown
    • Animal Husbandry: Unknown
    All together: about 25 months
Honestly, I'd move "Vessels" to the "Combat" tree as it increases basic skills that are increasing combat power and I expect combat characters to learn it.

Anyway, it's clear that anybody trying to do crafting on the same character as combat, he puts himself at great disadvantage to specialists. You can also greatly increase your crafting profit, if you keep a separate character to all crafting types. Since crafting itself involves no button pressing, just waiting, you can keep them logged in concurrently, increasing output. Each account will cost $50 up-front, with no need for subscription, but no way to create new accounts with "PLEX" (in-game purchased ticket sold by someone else). I would say a dedicated crafter who wants to make an in-game fortune will have to throw $400 just for crafting accounts on top of that whatever the prices of Eternal Kingdom parcels and buildings will be for crafting and having shops.

Albion Online had something similar with crafting focus and learning points, but that wasn't so critical, due to the $10/crafter character price. I considered it a simple mistake, but now I think it's a new trend on pay-to-win. Let's see the three generations:
  1. "gold ammo", making characters more powerful in combat by shop items. This is clear and obvious P2W which turned down many paying, but not whale players.
  2. The poster child is BDO Weight Limit. In this system the character combat power depends on gear that can be purchased from other players or crafted using "stones" and "shards" purchased from other player. While everyone can make wealth by grinding, the shop items make characters more powerful in industry, allowing them to get stupidly rich with very little grinding. While the effect is the same, the "P2W" is not as visible as no power item is sold and complete nolifers can indeed keep up with the spenders.
  3. No shop item gives a character any advantage, neither combat or industry, so these systems can claim "the Store does have a number of items available for purchase, none of which offer pay to win benefits.". The trick is that the player will be more powerful by having a bunch of slave characters with the sole purpose of supporting the main. As the alts are invisible to other players, no one can tell where the power came from
Again: this isn't shady or rigging. You can read the pricing and the training data clearly on the interface, you know what you are up to or against. If you accept it, it's your call. I'm not sure that Crowfall will be a good enough game to throw $400 on it even if it's published with all advertised features. I was prepared to throw about $200 on the Albion Online altfarm if I didn't find the gold speculation system, which is rigged. However I do see that Crowfall (if released) will be a "$500 up front or GTFO" game.


Anonymous said...

If what you want in Archeage is playing the economy game, no need to kill a single monster, crafting/trading grants much more xp than grinding (and much more money of course)

Anonymous said...

I keep hearing this thing on different blogs even amongst friends.
So I am curious,
IF a player has no interest in actually being "competitive" only plays games for own personal enjoyment, and never appears in any stat boards or anything of related nature to be considered "competitive", how is paying real money for in game items/services pay to win?

Is it pay-to-win only simply because someone else is perceiving the other can out play him/her because of disposable income?
And because of that such a person takes drastic action said person to attempt to ruin their game even though that player does not care about your level of gaming?

What is pay-to-win? If you are not playing the game to be competitive or professional at it, what does it matter if you pay more money than the next person into the game?

Gevlon said...

In a competitive game, an uncompetitive, "lol" player is still competing and if he gets power for his money, he ruins the competition for others.

With simple example: just because a WoT player can't care less about his stats and only plays because "blowing up tanks is fun", he still defeats better players with his gold ammo, damaging their stats.

Anonymous said...

Face it, nobody is making a game for you. Everyone is busy churning out vapour ware (Crowfall, Star Citizen), gambling-based games (the whole mobile market, CCGs, Asian Gatcha games), grindy PVE themeparks following the WoW model or following some fad.

Everyone who wants the game you want is playing EVE, because that's the closest it gets, and it's the only of its kind.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: I don't think so. As long as there is demand (who is ready to pay), there will be supply. Sure, many went for the low hanging vaporware fruit or the gambling scheme (which is being closed gradually by authorities), just like there are more porn channels than Discovery Channel. But Discovery exists!

Albion Online was a great design, created exactly for my taste. Too bad that the company couldn't stop a handful of corrupted to ruin it. But soon the corporations learn the utmost importance of internal security.

People are leaving EVE fast. Where do they go? Aren't they a market to cater to?

Anonymous said...

I'm old, since ultima I wanted the freedom to kill anyone. And if I'm restricted faction wise I would buy an account per faction. If the mmo is too piss easy and group content could be soloed I would buy additional accounts. Some games benefited from multiple accounts like EVE other don't like BDO.

In BDO I bought a third account to open a guild so my partner and I could do guild bosses together. The alt fishes for relics on a laptop and contributes scrolls daily weekly scrolls not really worth it. SWG did had one charslot at the beginning so if you wanted to be self sufficient you had to invest in accounts. It is obvious why you would want multiple accounts in EVE. And so on.

All boils down what you want to play and how your entertainment budget can help support that or not.

Anonymous said...


((In a competitive game, an uncompetitive, "lol" player is still competing and if he gets power for his money, he ruins the competition for others.

With simple example: just because a WoT player can't care less about his stats and only plays because "blowing up tanks is fun", he still defeats better players with his gold ammo, damaging their stats.))

Ok, so how, what, where is the competitive game in Albion, WoW, Archage, EvE, Elder Scrolls, SWOTOR, Final FAntasy, you know MMORPG's not arena games because like i said if player is not really interested in those type of games then he/she wont play them.
For example in any of those i have mentioned if you are playing more for the storylines and plots, and at your own pace....why should it matter/not matter if someone else gets butthurt because you are paying more RL cash into the game than he/she is? Im not competing with anybody myself adn i play a lot of those at different times in the above list, and i always get turned off by this "competiveness" attitude, holier than thou thing when people start bashing on you for how you want to play. And it gets worse once they learn you do not care about nor have any intention "competing" with them.
Why would i be considerd Pay-to-Win?