Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pay to win in World of Warcraft

For long, World of Warcraft was a subscription game where you couldn't buy anything powerful for real money. With Warlords of Draenor they made some serious changes that allowed them to start selling power for real money. Of course they needed to fly under the radar doing so, so they sticked to the "pay-to-be-above-average" method, where payment won't make you equal to the best ones, just allow you to be near them, getting ahead of the majority.

In previous WoW expansions gear was clearly Bind on Pickup. Therefore you couldn't buy powerful gear from other players. The only way for you was raiding yourself. While you could buy boost runs, such runs were made available after the content was on farm by the topguilds. Now they changed that, making tradeskills be able to craft raid level loot. There are also ilvl 665 rare random drops that can be sold. Normal raids will drop 665 (they didn't open yet), but I already have 2 pieces of 665, right from the AH (using the old stash left from when I was making WoW gold).

So far, so good, but this comes from other players, I can only buy it from gold and I can't buy gold without doing illicit RMT. But Blizzard changed another thing: the crafting system. In the old crafting system you could create items from purchased raw materials, or you needed "orbs" that you had to farm yourself. Either way the limiting factor was that someone had to farm the materials, so the price of the item wasn't much above the price of the materials. Now the "orbs" are automatically created by your garrison. If you have a profession building (you should have), with a follower sitting in it and you use your daily cooldown, you can create 13 materials like truesteel ingot every day. You need 100 to create a piece of armor. The raw material and the work need for the craft is minimal, the (pretty high) price comes from the rarity created by the long wait.

To upgrade the ilvl 640 (above dungeon farmable) pieces to 655 (raid level), you need 150 truesteel ingots and 15 "savage blood" items, generated by another garrison building, the barn. Please note that while you can buy these from other players, they could only be created using the garrison buildings. Same goes for enchants, gems, flasks and everything you'd use. Since the crafting bottleneck is at the garrison buildings, the farmable ore, leather, fur or herbs are cheap as dirt, making traditional farming (even botting) waste of time. On the other hand the created items sell for 15-50K gold. Previously such income was only reachable for traders and boost-selling topraiders. Now anyone can have it if he doesn't use the created armor himself, but sells it. Of course most people choose to use it (farmed for free), and you can create one per profession building per month.

Correction: you can create two pieces per month per character. Every level 92 alt you have can have two profession buildings, crafting for sale, generating stellar income for no other investment than having the alt.

How do you get so many leveled alts? Well, you can level them from zero to 90 in about 100 hours instead of playing with your main during the rush for the new content. Or you can pay $60 and get an instant character boost. So Blizzard changed the WoW economy in a way that having alts prints gold and then started selling alts for real money. The only reason why the veterans aren't revolting is that they already had several alts or leveled them before the expansion, when they had nothing better to do. The casuals don't have this alt army and when they get to "have more alts or be behind the curve" they'll cough up those $60 purchases.

Update: since people claim that buying all the top gear isn't helping "winning WoW", here is the recent activity of Method, which was the No1 guild in last expansion:
Eack obtained Quadripedal Grips. 8 minutes ago
Finschmeistr obtained Iron Lookout's Arbalest. 8 minutes ago
Isheria obtained Belt of Singing Hooves. 26 minutes ago
Lynaleith obtained Cord of Ruination. 26 minutes ago
Berrek obtained Grandiose Robes. 57 minutes ago
Berrek obtained Crazed Bomber's Breastplate. 57 minutes ago
Habibiboom obtained Legguards of Sleeting Arrows. 1 hour ago
Apku obtained Bracers of Determined Resolve. 1 hour ago
Apku obtained Grandiose Bracers. 1 hour ago
Pottm obtained Undying Boots. 1 hour ago
Twold obtained Cristof's Crushing Cloak. 1 hour ago
Pottm obtained Grandiose Treads. 2 hours ago
Holypalaswë obtained Scroll of Whispered Secrets. 2 hours ago

Some of these items are world boss drops, but most of them are crafted and garrison follower mission gain. I wonder if they do it for fun, or because it helps them win.

PS: epic moron.


Anonymous said...

Pretty sure you can buy gold without illicit RMT. Just buy tradable items from the store or tcg cards.

Anonymous said...

WoW is further along in a couple of ways:

WoW has always had legal, within the TOS, gold sales. You were allowed to buy TCG trading cards for mounts (e.g. spectral tiger) and pets (available on eBay and Amazon) and sell those for in-game gold. I don't think it is still being sold, but you could also buy a guardian cub pet from Blizzard for RL$ and sell for gold.

In MOP, gold, including gold bought as per above, could buy raid level gear from the BMAH.

Blizzard already sells XP potions and the tokens for extra raid rolls in the cash shop in Asia.

Note also that most people who were previously alt capped at 11 can now have 22 or 33 via the server mergers/connected realms. So nearly everyone has open alt slots now.

The Superdata estimates for WoW's cash shop in 2013 was triple CCP's revenue. And I have to believe the cost of making cash shop items is much less than traditional content.

Ulsaki said...

It's actually far less than 100 hours to get to 92. I levelled a lot of new alts before WoD since my server got merged. For DK's, it took something like 18-19 hours to get from 55 --> 90 post 6.0.2 (with minimal rested XP) which reduced the XP in Cata and MoP zones. For other classes, it takes about 3-5 hours to get to 55.

Anyone could have levelled an alt to 90 before the expansion by playing a few hours every evening for a week or two.

Anyone with a brain could have looked at professions and figured out what would be the most profitable. I went for Inscription/Tailoring, since DMF cards have always sold well, and bags will sell constantly. I dropped Alchemy on existing alts for Tailoring as well due to the huge weakness of the CD (other professions might produce 500-1000G from a CD, Alchemy something like 30G from Catalysts since there is no Truegold/Living Steel this time).

From the start zone of WoD to a level 2 garrison (which can be done at 90 by completing something like 6 quests after getting a L1 garrison), it takes something like 1-2 hours.

Levelling my alts from ~91-92 to 96 is the next step, which should probably take something like 2-3 hours with rested XP and using the +20% XP potion for 100 garrison resources. There's also going to be some delay and overhead getting followers to 100 to double work order mats, compared to +50% mats for a level 90-99 follower.

It's hard to say exactly how the market will go (though crafted gear is useful for alts since it can be used at 91 and has extremely overpowered stats for levelling, like MoP archaeology weapons), but I'm projecting making something like at least 1.5M this month. In the past week or so I've made about 750K.

The best thing about alts is that once the initial investment of time/gold is done, they take very little time, and gold per hour tends towards an extremely high value. I'd estimate something like 50K gold per hour at the moment.

At the moment it takes something like 1-2 minutes per alt to log in and process work orders. When their garrisons hit max and professions hit max, I can log in every 3 days instead (L3 buildings and storehouse mean more work orders can be queued and CDs get 3 charges). That would take it to something like 150K gold per hour.

In short, alts are extremely profitable for a relatively modest investment of time. They're also very useful if you had other in game goals such as soloing old content.

Lolname said...

That's a hell of a conspiracy theory you have there Gevlon. I would love to know the number of people who are thinking "Wow garrisons make lots of gold, if I had heaps of alts I could make heaps of gold! Here Blizzard take $60". Compared to the number of players who are thinking "Priests look like fun to play, ugh levelling sucks. Here Blizzard take my $60".

Gevlon said...

"Priests look like fun to play, ugh levelling sucks. Here Blizzard take my $60" is pay to win as you pay exactly to avoid the "suck".

maxim said...

It is true that having at least a couple of garrison alts is extremely beneficial.
It is also true that you can buy alts for money.

However, i don't think Pay-to-Win is a fair assessment of what is happening here.

Having gear doesn't make you automatically "win" any content beyond the trivial one. Just having gear won't beat you Mythic bosses and won't get you rated in arenas. It will get you there faster, but "pay to get ready to fight faster" and "pay to actually win" are two very different animals.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: are you trolling here? It's like saying "having gold ammo in WoT is beneficial, but doesn't automatically means to win"

Of course that an incompetent player can't win even in perfect gear. But "having X is beneficial" + "you can buy X for real money" is pay to win.

Anonymous said...

How exactly is having an armada of alt garrisons printing money/gold ?

All they do is inject materials/items into the economy not a single copper is generated by profession buildings. Unless you turn in the daily research for Coin Pouches. Until then nothing but shifting of wealth is taking place in favour of those that prepare their alts/garrisons early in the expansions.

Gevlon said...

Gold doesn't help you raid. Items do. We just measure their value in gold.

maxim said...

I am not trolling.

Pay to win is a technical term in game design. You don't get to stretch its meaning however you want.

Specifically, "pay to win" can only be applied if core game conflict is being made completely effortlessly and either very fast, or immediately, for money.

Logging in every day for months and playing the undercut AH game is neither immediate, nor fast. And it only allows you to meaningfully participate in top tier content, not trivialise it. Pay-to-win doesn't apply.

I understand you don't like people bypassing game economy for money, but "pay-to-win" really is not the word for it.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: Unless your payment gives you an instant "you won" screen, while non-payers can never get it, you didn't "pay to win". Since no games do that, there are no pay to win games. Reduction ad absurdum.

The solution is that "pay to win" is a dumb term. The proper one is "pay for advantage".

Now you say having infinite amount of gold, allowing purchase better than dungeon gear is not "enough" advantage. I repeat: this is the best available gear. True, even this doesn't guarantee first week Mythic clear, while topguilds will probably clear it without buying everything.

By your logic Lance Armstrong wasn't cheating because his drugs wouldn't make any random dude a winner, he also needed lot of training and skill.

The case is simple: If the game company sells X (other than access to the game) and X provides any advantage, the game is "pay for advantage" which is the exact term instead of the sensational "pay to win".

Unknown said...

The question is: P2W what? Even if you can equip 3 x 670 items and all the 665 you bought from the max-92-alt scheme profits, what follows?
Is it [Ahead of the Curve] achievement (Kill Heroic Imperator in reasonable time) for the scrub who'd otherwise be stuck on Normal farming the gear for too long?
Is it the "world pvp" power for the ultra-scrub who otherwise would not be able to even get into normal?

You can't buy into Mythic (everything else will be sold anyway) and you can't buy into the Arena ratings that matter. So the scheme becomes:
1. Pay multiple amounts of $60 (easy)
2. Get into the business of managing lvl 92 alts (tedious)
3. Cache in on the market of lvl 640 gear (non-issue for a trader, PITA otherwise)
4. ... (time passes, gold accumulates)
5a. Buy lvl 670/655 gear for your main (easy) <- Is this a payoff?
5aa. (not that easy) Get into the Heroic Groups when you secretly so bad you can't even complete Normal
5ab. (harder but manageable) Get the [Ahead of the Curve] "for real money" when you deserved none.
5ac. Project your power by dominating the Nagrand World PvP (not going to happen, Ashran welfare brats do that)

I don't get it. P2W does not save much time here and does not bring much W. Did I miss something?

BMAH selling Mythic gear is the more blatant P2W going on, by the way. Look into that, if your stash is big enough.

Péter Zoltán said...

Casuals (or non-raiders to be precise) don't need gear anyway, so what would they gain by paying? Higher ilvl which is useless for them because they cannot utilize it? How is that pay to win when there is no battle to win?

Gevlon said...

I wrote an update with the recent activity of Method. They are getting lot of epic gear from crafting and followers. Probably just for fun, not because it's for the win.

BMAH is part of the problem. If you have gold, you can buy more gear. How do you get gold I wonder? By buying lot of lvl 90 alts.

maxim said...

You are misrepresenting my argument and then reducing your own misrepresentation to absurdity.
If you are fine with insulting your own intelligence like that, i guess i don't mind :D

There are plenty of Pay-to-win games out there, in which people that have not paid have no chance against people who did. It is not a case of better or worse skill, it is a case of simple numerical superiority. The genres range from Travian to Candy Crush, through gear-grinding RPGs.

Pay-to-win games definitely exist, and the extent of pay-to-win in these games is way way worse than what you've been speaking up against in Eve and WoW.

As for WoW specifically:

You are, for some reason, pretending that you can just go out there right now and straight up buy tier-3 craftables. These won't hit the big market for at least a month more.

Also, a simple fact is that it will take you way longer to farm enough money with Garrison selling tier-1 craftables to purchase a tier-3 than to just make a tier-3 for yourself, unless you are willing to run like 10 alts simultaneously (but then you'll kill the market price of tier-1 craftables, so it'll even right back out)

Also, this will only be "best available gear" until we get raids with tier pieces. At which point it will be ilvl-padding garbage.


Lance Armstrong was cheating because the rules of game he plays EXPLICITLY FORBID the use of artificial supplements. The purpose of sport is to establish the benchmarks of performance of well-trained human body, not of drug-addled abomination that gets a burst of performance for one contest and is then ruined.

Last time i checked, getting gold capped in WoW and using to your own advantage was never forbidden and is, in fact, very much in line with WoW's design ideals. You could always profit from having extra alts - profession cooldowns have been aroudn since TBC, and people used them for profit just as long.

The fact that you can buy alts at lvl90 now is irrelevant, unless you consider the 1-90 content and 1-700 profession grinding somehow important to the endgame.

In short, nothing really changed.
Not sure what you are getting worked up over.

Gevlon said...

@Maxim: you are at the edge of being banned from this blog for trolling.

Obviously you can create T3 yourself cheaper than buying one, otherwise there would be no profit for the seller. The point is that creating T3 yourself is trivial:
- have three alts with the same profession
- One create the T1 and the secondary stat rerollers
- The second creates the T2 upgrade
- The third creates the T3 upgrade item
- Maybe you need more alts for savage blood farming, I have no barn to give numbers.

The point of the article is:
1: craftables are powerful items
2: creating craftables is much faster by having lot of alts
3: Blizzard sells alts for real money
1+2+3 = Blizzard sells powerful items for real money.

Disprove that or get the hell out!

PS: yes, profession cooldowns were always here, so alts were always powerful. But Blizzard didn't sell them for real money!!!

@Péter Zoltán: losers keep being losers even with 655 gear, that's trivial, but irrelevant.

James said...

I didn't read all the comments, but (at least on my server) the game is becoming P2W for other reasons. Which is people selling everything. In the past, big guilds would sell different runs for title / mounts but this required quite a lot of gold and the 'service' wasn't exactly spammed in chat 24/7. Now ever since the loom craziness (with people selling normal garrosh kills for as low as 4k gold), it seems people really spam chat with selling EVERYTHING. Sorry for the caps, but the chat is full (spam mode) with 'selling CM quest','selling CM medal', 'selling invasion','selling achi for follower', selling selling selling. Soon, the selling hc / selling mythic will begin again. This game seems to be going down the route of - make gold and buy runs and gear and achis and whatever your heart wishes. BoEs and crafted gear are small fries. I'll buy a 600$ spectral, sell it for gold and buy what I want. I'm not sure if this defines P2W but seems so to me. Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem ok wither way.

Unknown said...

@Gevlon I'm not Maxim but let me try:
"1+2+3 = Blizzard sells powerful items for real money. Disprove that or get the hell out!"
Blizzard sells powerful items for real money AND TIME. Only T3 craftables are powerful times, you cannot farm Savage Bloods with lvl 92 alts so you'll need to sell T1 craft to get bloods/T3 crafts/665 BoE items.

Imagine blizzard sells special item in the in-game store that transforms into the BoE 670 epics in time X. Now imagine X is one year. Nobody cares as in 1 year iLvl 670 items will be irrelevant.

This makes all the difference here: Power ~ 1/Time. In 6 weeks the Blackrock Foundry releases and the 670 epics you bought from selling you alt's crafts are Flex-level = mostly irrelevant.

Now you can buy the TIME decrease by getting, say, 22 alts on the merged servers but then you face the problem that each alt is ~5 hours of play to production and ~5-10 mins per day management, and selling 640/buying 665 takes even more time. So you decreased the passive TIME required but the cost is the active TIME, in its worst aspect - the Tediousness. Players don't buy power per se, they buy the enjoyment that comes from it. Enjoyment ~ 1/Tediousness. By the time you get your 10th bought alt ($600 and 50 play hours well spent) "online" and producing 14 Savage Leathers per day, you are so burned out you don't even want to play the 670-geared-to-be main.

Conclusion: Blizzard sells powerful items for real money AND TIME. The TIME comes in Active and Passive components. While you can cheat the Passive TIME component to a degree it costs more money and more Active TIME to do so. The rates are set in a way which makes the exchange decidedly unattractive. And the kicker is - the power of the items sold is decreasing with the very same TIME you pay to get them.

Anonymous said...

This probably makes me sound like an old fart but, in WoW at least, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

I got gold CM medals in MoP by running with a fixed group one evening a week, until we all had the achievement. I felt nice achieving this, and ok, showing the transmorg gear off in raids. Someone buying their runs, getting the achievement and the gear, does not diminish my achievement, or the satisfaction I got from it one bit. He did pay, but he did NOT pay to win. Someone showing off his bought CM gear in a raid would probably be referred to as a loser rather than a winner.

Same for WoD, someone buying a, lets say, Highmaul clear, does not win over me, or diminishes my achievements one bit. I do not consider paying 60$ to buy lvl 90's, leveling them, etc etc, pay to win, as he does not beat anyone but the point of the game.

If 60$ would buy a Deathstar in PvP to kill me in Arena, that would be an entirely different case.

Gevlon said...

@Viacheslav Rostovtsev: in this moment, on my server (EU-Arathor), savage blood goes for 2000 gold. I've just sold a T1 armor piece for 13K.

To upgrade 3 pieces twice, you need 2*3*15=90 savage bloods, 180K gold. You can generate this gold by selling 15 T1 items. You also need 3*400 truesteel ingot like BoPs, so you have the opportunity cost of 12 more T1s.

So you can produce 3xT3 with 3-4 lvl 92 alts, with current prices.

@Anonymous: guy with purchased gear, higher ilvl than you apply to a guild. You apply too. Who will be recruited?

blachawk said...

Current prices will drop significantly in the coming weeks.

Demand is going to settle down, and as more people get their alt armies established, supply will go way, way up.

Everyone who levels ten alts to 100 is going to be in for a big disappointment when the expected 50k per character per week income turns out to be closer to 5k per week.

Gevlon said...

@Blackhawk: indeed. That's why it's important to have the alt army NOW. Which can only be done by paying $60 multiple times.

Unknown said...

15 T1 items is 15*100/13 = 115 alt-days
3 T3 Items is 3*(100+150+200)/13 = 104 alt-days

219 alt-days total; let's say you want the gear on the new year (2 weeks to strut around like a boss before your gear is irrelevant via BRF Flex)

That's 30 real world days, so you need 219/30 = 7 alts, 6 if your main is doing the same (let's discount the "extra" production main enjoys, say it is spent to create the stats-altering items).

6 alts = $6*60 + 6*5 hours to level + 15 hours (30*6*5 minutes) to update the production =

$360 + 45 hours (not counting time spent on main) to get 3 slots out of 15 upgraded for 2 weeks before irrelevance. This guy hardly kicks the guild recruitment market down.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: Who will be recruited? If the guild is any good, the prospect with the best logs. What are the uptimes if his buffs, does he use the best talents for each fight, how often do his dot`s fall off etc.

maxim said...


You are saying that there is the following scheme that appears as pay-to-win to you.

1) Roll a series of new alts

2) Buy level 90 upgrades for a series of new alts (the "pay" part)

3) Quest with them until you have access to required garrison buildings

4) Use one of the alts to generate BoP resources for t3 epics in your main gear type (leather example: 6 work orders + craft cooldown = 22 burnished leathers a day. 400 burnished leathers = 20 days for grade 3 epic)

4a) While that alt is making main gear type, the second and third profession building are free to make other necessary weaponry, jewelry etc
(your main may or may not need to reroll professions to get maximum BoP crafting speed)

5) Use other alts to generate resources to make t1 epics to pay for necessary Savage Blood (they will each make 1 epic a week to sell, if we assume 5 Savage Bloods per sale, then 2 alts are sufficient)
these alts can also generate stat-rerolling items.

6) Be geared in 8 ivl 670 items of full Leather set after 196 days (half a year), having sold 6 t1 epics for Savage Blood and 1 more for misc stuff (making one single alt sufficient for most your needs and maybe one more for backup in case of great amount of rerolls needed)
Be also geared in 670 items in all othe slots from second profession building
(actually you'll have to make cloak in leatherworking as well, but i'm willing to let that skip)

4b) Have all alts generate t1 epics
5b) Sell t1 epics
6b) Buy t3 epics as they become available (probably faster than half a year)
I'm ballparking this method at 5t1 epics for 1 t3 epic (and that might be generous - consider the difference in price between, say, normal gems and endgame gems), which means you will need to spend 200 alt-days farming resources. 100 days with 2 alts, 50 days with 4 alts etc. Even with 10 alts, still 20 days.

You are saying that, in your mind, this is equivalent to a "buy money get loot" pay-to-win scheme. You are also saying that this is something new that didn't exist before.

I disagree, because i see two sets of important differences ----> Part 2

maxim said...

Set of differences (1). Pay-to-win scheme involves

a) instant gratification. Not 20 days of obligation

b) just you and the developer involved. You do not contribute to game economy, you do not create content for other players, you just go out there and take your fun from those that didn't pay. In case of above schemes, you are obviously redistributing gold from your pockets in pockets of good amount of other players

c) Pay-to-win items are usually best in the game. The 665 epics you'll get are merely Heroic raid quality. By the time you are done getting them, people will have Mythic gear (not to mention will benefit from tier bonuses)

Set of differences (2) - i don't see this as being significantly different from what we had before.

Well, rather i didn't before i wrote it out like i just did.

Now i see that Blizzard did, in fact, make it significantly easier to have level 90 alts for money. A 10-alt 20-day tier-3 scheme would probably not be feasible before the ability to pay for all 10 alts for anyone who doesn't come with these alts pre-made

However, paying for 10 level-90 alts wouldn't make you any different from someone who had these alts at launch. It would simply put you in the same position.

You are not paying to win over that someone. You are not even paying for advantage against anyone who is relevant. You are paying for advantage over people who don't have that, but they won't be your opponents in arenas and mythic raiding race.
You are paying to have an equal starting ground.

That's ok in my books.
I understand that some people are antimicrotransaction purists and think that being able to buy anything in games for money that impacts in-game performance is EVIL. I am not one of those.

P.S: If you think that me not being an anti-microtransaction purist means i should be banned from your comment section - i have nothing more to say to you. Ban away.

I'll be perfectly comfortable being free from obligation to consume your posts responsible and will just consume them :D

Anonymous said...

"pay for advantage" has a nice ring to it. it's exactly that.

This is an example of P2W in its full glory and Aion was a sub game.
look for P2W in the Aion cashshop (KOR, EU or US doesn't matter). they sell 100% enchant help (you can fail enchants--pray to RNGesus) and 100% manastone slotting help (will be patched in 4.8. pre-4.8 you fail one manastone you lose all prior sloted stones. gear has upto 6 slots)
panda-candy gives extra max run-speed, casting-speed, attack-speed .. if you want to be competitive to have a stack of there 1h buffs is a must.
cashshop pots, healing pots that heal double the amount of normal ones on don't share CD.

In other f2p worlds .. you have heavy unfair RNG built into the game, so people will buy the "helpers" so they can compete with crafts, enchants or have some pots extra.

WOW doesn't have RNG anywhere. everything relevant is instant and doesn't require RNG-procs.

Gevlon said...

@maxim and Viacheslav Rostovtsev : Your time numbers are surely off, as I'm already wearing 665 items and many are available currently on the market.

Granted I bought them with "old" gold, but I already sold 3 blacksmith items for all together 40000 gold. And that's from one profession of one character. With 3 alts I could create 40K*2*3 = 240K. Open the AH and see what 240K could buy you.

Remember, most people farmed his items for free and consider 10K a lot of gold. You can buy awful lot of stuff below creation price.

1: you can buy top level gear from the AH right now (observable fact)
2: you can create lot of gold from professions (observable fact)
3: professions are limited by daily cooldowns and garrison building time limits (obvious)
4: these limits can be circumvented by having lot of alts
1 + 2 + 3 + 4: you can get top gear by having lot of alts.
5: you can buy an almost ready alt for $60

I can't imagine how it doesn't combine into pay-to-win.

True, most hardcore had countless alts already so by buying lot of alts, I just get at equal footing. But it's industry standard in pay-to-win games: you have the option for stupid amount of grinding or you can skip the grind by paying.

Also, please note that in previous WoW expansions having alts was mostly a vanity and people had little reason to do it. It was changed only recently when alts were also offered for $. Coincidence?

Nielas said...

"guy with purchased gear, higher ilvl than you apply to a guild. You apply too. Who will be recruited?"

Let me propose a modified scenario: LolKid and Gevlon both apply to join Goons. LolKid is admitted in but Gevlon is rejected. Who is the real winner in this scenario?

"Winning" in a MMORPG like WoW is very subjective which makes it very hard to define what is Pay-to-Win in the context of the game. Some people consider the ability to buy pets for RL cash to be P2W because you have to pay to win the "who has the most pets" game objective.

Shandren said...

Hmm this may not be much of a contribution to the debate. But definitions of what exactly constitutes "pay to win" aside, I cant see how gevlons point can be refuted. Alts CAN make you a LOT of money, a few hours of play and you start clicking proffession dailies/workorders and sell the crafted item. This nets you gold (and lots of it) which can be used to buy a lot of things that people consider partial win-conditions. Better gear (even bis items)/new pets/new mounts/ that transmog item you wanted/ etc, etc.
At the very least it is pay for advantage/progress towards a goal or something similar.

The points against Gevlon that seems to make sense is that you still have to do some not insignificant amount of playing the alts. Especially when you consider they start with no professions, unless they were level ...something i cant recall around 60...

Also trading real life money for gold has been possible legally for a good long while now, which doesnt make the argument any weaker though, it just means the newsvalue might not be as high. And it's always been possible to buy good/bis boe items.

Is wow p2w? Depends on definition of p2w i guess... Is it pay for advantage? Of cause it is, and it has been for a while. Does this ruin the game to the extent that blatant pay to win sometimes does? Not for me at least.

Lolname said...

"Also, please note that in previous WoW expansions having alts was mostly a vanity and people had little reason to do it. It was changed only recently when alts were also offered for $. Coincidence?"

This is absolutely false.

Ever since the introduction of profession cooldowns alts have been a great source of income. Why else did people run with armies of Transmute spec alchemists? This was even more profitable in MoP when scroll of wisdom were required for darkmoon cards so goblins expanded their armies to include inscription. Add to this the benefits of having access to the tillers farm on more then one character, and this is hardly the first expansion where having multiple high level characters has resulted in increased gold making opportunities.

maxim said...

At this point, you can't have crafted more than a single t3 for yourself.
Three t1s, on another hand, sound about right.

I accept that i have underestimated the speed at which t3 items become available on the mass market. Didn't expect people to put their first t3s out for sale. I guess this might have something to do with stat randomization.

I have already written a wall of text about differences between this scheme and pay-to-win, which come down to:
1) VERY delayed gratification
2) Not actually purchasing an advantage against other established players who didn't pay extra
3) Being reliant on other players to do business with

I think that these differences are significant enough to make this decidedly NOT the same thing as the games that emrace the actual pay-to-win that actually deserves the bad rep it got.

If you don't think these differences to be important, fine. If you don't want to discuss these differences, also fine. But let us not pretend these differences are not there.

Gevlon said...

@maxim: people don't put out their first T3. Slave-alts do. Those characters do not intend to progress, their only purpose in life is to serve the main character by sending it items and gold.

1) After you admit that you are surprised by speed, you still upkeep "very delayed gratification". Interesting.
2) This is a non-argument. It's like saying: "buying all champions and rune pages in League of Legends for about $5000 isn't P2W because all established top players already have them"
3) How does it matter? It's like selling in-game credits for $ isn't P2W because gold first need to be traded for items. Also, you are only reliant if you want to be. If you farm savage blood on your main, you can craft all the items for yourself by your alts.

maxim said...

1) You still need to spend at least a week putting together the t1 epics you can sell for the scheme to take off. This is weeks of delay in gratification.
And you only get to wait a week if you buy an extreme amount of alts for the amount that in any other pay-to-win game would proper you to the top within minutes. If you buy one or two alts, the gratification gets delayed much longer.

2) "Pay-to-win" is problematic not because you buy in-game resources for money, but because it removes the gameplay part.
I don't see a problem with "pay to get on equal footing" model, provided that between "equal footing" and "winning" thre is still enough actual game left to win.

3) If you need to farm for your pay-to-win component, then it is no longer just "pay-to-win", because you actually need to play, too.

maxim said...

That's a bit late to the party, but you can also run into this :D