WoW, TF2 and Microtransactions

Posted by HumanityPlague (251 posts) -

In the world of MMO's (and other MM type things), the idea of Microtransactions seems to be akin to the devil's penis being inserted in a newly formed orifice that every player has grown.

What the hell?

There is a good, and a bad side to microtransactions, as with everything else.

The good:

Gives non-serious/hardcore people a reasonable shot

Some unique vanity items

The bad:

Exclusionary (to poor people)

Can give an unfair advantage

Here's the thing though, I both like & dislike transactions. And I'll give a few examples of the good and the bad.

A good microtransaction: There's an item in WoW called "Ashes of Al'ar". It's a mount, the Phoenix one, that drops off a raid boss that no one is doing anymore. A good MT would be to sell it for 7$, and have at it. This example would be great. Or another is, one of the top staff's in the game currently is the "Spire of Scarlet Pain". It's a good item. Instead of going through the complete hassle of farming for it, why not just sell it for 10$? There's two riders on this idea however. 1. The Spire is a purple (epic) item. Why not make the bought version blue, or red, or something? Keep all the stats on it, just a different text color, to differentiate it from the dropped version. And 2. The way the WoW store is set up now is insane. 10$ for a pet, and 25$ for a mount is over the line. I'd say a price drop is in order, maybe 5$ for the pet, and 10$ for the mount. Possibly 15$ for the stuffed animal (with mount), because that's an actual physical item.

A bad microtransaction: The way TF2 does some stuff. Don't get me wrong, the way TF2 does items is usually fine. The more you play, the higher the odds are that an item drops. It's not super hard to comprehend, and can be fun. The issues I have are two fold, one the prices (fairly insane, like WoW's), but the other issue is the Mann-Co Supply Crate drop. So, let's say you do get a Crate drop, how do you open it? Well, you have to BUY a key to open it. There's no way to craft a key, although it can be traded from player to player. So, in order to use the item (or find out what's inside), you have to buy an item to activate it? Does this strike anyone as a bit fishy?

In the end, I think Microtransactions can be a good thing. It's just a matter of the company doing them, not being greedy about it, and offering players who put in the time special value. Now come on Blizzard, sell me the Headless Horseman's mount.

#1 Posted by HumanityPlague (251 posts) -

In the world of MMO's (and other MM type things), the idea of Microtransactions seems to be akin to the devil's penis being inserted in a newly formed orifice that every player has grown.

What the hell?

There is a good, and a bad side to microtransactions, as with everything else.

The good:

Gives non-serious/hardcore people a reasonable shot

Some unique vanity items

The bad:

Exclusionary (to poor people)

Can give an unfair advantage

Here's the thing though, I both like & dislike transactions. And I'll give a few examples of the good and the bad.

A good microtransaction: There's an item in WoW called "Ashes of Al'ar". It's a mount, the Phoenix one, that drops off a raid boss that no one is doing anymore. A good MT would be to sell it for 7$, and have at it. This example would be great. Or another is, one of the top staff's in the game currently is the "Spire of Scarlet Pain". It's a good item. Instead of going through the complete hassle of farming for it, why not just sell it for 10$? There's two riders on this idea however. 1. The Spire is a purple (epic) item. Why not make the bought version blue, or red, or something? Keep all the stats on it, just a different text color, to differentiate it from the dropped version. And 2. The way the WoW store is set up now is insane. 10$ for a pet, and 25$ for a mount is over the line. I'd say a price drop is in order, maybe 5$ for the pet, and 10$ for the mount. Possibly 15$ for the stuffed animal (with mount), because that's an actual physical item.

A bad microtransaction: The way TF2 does some stuff. Don't get me wrong, the way TF2 does items is usually fine. The more you play, the higher the odds are that an item drops. It's not super hard to comprehend, and can be fun. The issues I have are two fold, one the prices (fairly insane, like WoW's), but the other issue is the Mann-Co Supply Crate drop. So, let's say you do get a Crate drop, how do you open it? Well, you have to BUY a key to open it. There's no way to craft a key, although it can be traded from player to player. So, in order to use the item (or find out what's inside), you have to buy an item to activate it? Does this strike anyone as a bit fishy?

In the end, I think Microtransactions can be a good thing. It's just a matter of the company doing them, not being greedy about it, and offering players who put in the time special value. Now come on Blizzard, sell me the Headless Horseman's mount.

#2 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

#3 Posted by ReyGitano (2467 posts) -

Life itself is exclusionary to poor people. At least with Free to Play games they get a taste of glory. I don't think there's anything dirty about the way Valve handles their micro transactions. You don't need to buy a key, and there's nothing in those crates that you need to enjoy the game. It's just Valve enticing people with a discount.

#4 Posted by DonPixel (2628 posts) -

@CL60 said:

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

No one is doing that

#5 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@CL60 said:
If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..
In TF2 the base gear is some of the best. THe new stuff just offers different ways to play. I still see people owning with the basic items and getting top of the leaderboards on TF2 
#6 Posted by scarace360 (4828 posts) -

they need to either drop the price of keys or put them on sale every once in a while.

#7 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -
@DonPixel said:

@CL60 said:

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

No one is doing that

@The_Laughing_Man said:
@CL60 said:
If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..
In TF2 the base gear is some of the best. THe new stuff just offers different ways to play. I still see people owning with the basic items and getting top of the leaderboards on TF2 
I was talking about how he wants WoW to sell the best items in the game for 10 dollars.
#8 Posted by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -
@CL60 said:
@DonPixel said:

@CL60 said:

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

No one is doing that

@The_Laughing_Man said:
@CL60 said:
If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..
In TF2 the base gear is some of the best. THe new stuff just offers different ways to play. I still see people owning with the basic items and getting top of the leaderboards on TF2 
I was talking about how he wants WoW to sell the best items in the game for 10 dollars.
Really?...Really? Are they that low now? Could we be seeing the fall of WoW? (Not sarcasim) Arnt they like the highest grossing thing on the internet? 
#9 Posted by Hunkulese (2875 posts) -

Your two wow suggestions were terrible.

#10 Posted by Sjupp (1912 posts) -

@The_Laughing_Man said:

@CL60 said:
@DonPixel said:

@CL60 said:

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

No one is doing that

@The_Laughing_Man said:
@CL60 said:
If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..
In TF2 the base gear is some of the best. THe new stuff just offers different ways to play. I still see people owning with the basic items and getting top of the leaderboards on TF2
I was talking about how he wants WoW to sell the best items in the game for 10 dollars.
Really?...Really? Are they that low now? Could we be seeing the fall of WoW? (Not sarcasim) Arnt they like the highest grossing thing on the internet?

What? They aren't selling in-game items except for mounts and vanity pets as far as I know. Also speaking of nothing. That scout shotgun-pistol thing is retardedly OP. *Thread hijack*

#11 Posted by CL60 (16906 posts) -
@The_Laughing_Man said:
@CL60 said:
@DonPixel said:

@CL60 said:

If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..

No one is doing that

@The_Laughing_Man said:
@CL60 said:
If a P2P MMO has a way to buy the best gear in the game with real money, that's not an MMO I want to play..
In TF2 the base gear is some of the best. THe new stuff just offers different ways to play. I still see people owning with the basic items and getting top of the leaderboards on TF2 
I was talking about how he wants WoW to sell the best items in the game for 10 dollars.
Really?...Really? Are they that low now? Could we be seeing the fall of WoW? (Not sarcasim) Arnt they like the highest grossing thing on the internet? 
I never said they are. I'm talking about the original post. He suggested they start doing that, and I said if a P2P MMO lets you buy the best items in the game, I do not want to play it. Ever.
#12 Posted by ajamafalous (12164 posts) -

I think you have those backwards.

Things that have a distinct advantage should never be sold.

Crates are completely optional. If you don't want to open them you don't have to. You suffer in no way. Trade the crate for an item you want. 90% of the crates I've opened have had either paint or hats in them anyway. Purely cosmetic items.

#13 Posted by supermike6 (3645 posts) -

I hate microtransactions. They have just always rubbed me the wrong way. I honestly would have rather paid Valve $2.50 to just get a premium account without getting a stupid in-game key for it.

#14 Posted by l4wd0g (2016 posts) -

WoW isn't free to play, and having free to level 20 actually restricts the game to the point that the 14 day free trial was a much better offer.

#15 Posted by 71Ranchero (2834 posts) -

Blizzard would never sell epics for micro. They couldn't even if they wanted to because the backlash would be so bad.

#16 Posted by HumanityPlague (251 posts) -

@Hunkulese: Thanks for that insightful, well-intentioned, descriptive, informative comment. Really, it warms the heart with your verbose response, completely disregarding my point. KUDOS to you, sir!

#17 Edited by DonPixel (2628 posts) -

@The_Laughing_Man: @Atramentous: I played WoW for 4 years.. It is a freaking Wal Mart nowadays anyway THEY WONT EVER EVER SELL In game items that affect game play in any significant way.. That would turn out at least a million fans into psycho killers believe me.

Just check out the history behind "true name initiative" and forums.. Some community manager at Blizzard was getting dead treats at home.

#18 Posted by MajorToms (398 posts) -

I tend to agree with you. I don't hate nor love Micro-transactions. And I do agree that prices in both stores are borderline ridiculous. When I look at TF2s situation before F2P it was somewhat frustrating to receive a crate. I mean, I don't want to spend $5 to $7.50 a week for a game I already have, just to find out what is inside a crate I had no intention in receiving. But now it kind of makes sense.

They've given the game away for free, so they have to have these mystery items. The problem is $2.50 to find out that the crate you have only had an Equalizer inside is just a waste of $2.50. It's stupid that a key is worth $2.50, but it's more stupid that they would allow such a weapon to be unboxed in the first place. It's almost criminal in my opinion. I love VALVe, but I think it's an extremely dirty move.

Before the game was free to play we had threads in the TF2 steam forums that proposed multiple different ideas to use the crates. Craft 6 crate to make scrap metal, make keys by crafting a crate with refined metals, etc... But now that notion seems to be gone for good. VALVe wouldn't make money that way.

The one good thing VALVe have done is keeping the "Pay to win" element out of the game. The only thing I think that is still "Pay to win" is the Polycount item sets, which require the hats for the set boost. The hats are so rare that people would just buy it so they could have the set boost.

The good thing with TF2 is that all weapons with UNIQUE stats is available through the drop system, free of charge. It's just a matter of finding it or trading for it.

#19 Posted by Hunkulese (2875 posts) -

@HumanityPlague: Is it really not obvious how terrible your ideas are? The Phoenix mount is a rare mount that brings a sense of accomplishment with it. It's one of the rare mounts that people take notice of but you think it's just to give it to anyone who has $7? Just because you're too lazy to go back and farm for it? Your second idea is also garbage. Selling any item let alone one of the best current game items is not a good idea. You talk about how you hate exclusionary micro transactions but you don't see this as exclusionary? Someone with a lot of extra money can have whatever they want but if you can't afford to buy your gear your screwed? What happens when guilds refuse to take you on a raid because you didn't buy enough gear? I'm guessing your a fan of systems like the EA sports games where you just pay extra to max your stats.

Blizzards micro transactions are perfect the way they are. Give people who want something unique a bunch of useless crap but don't sell anything that affects gameplay (and yes farming for rare mounts is part of WoW's gameplay). The prices are fine because tons of people are buying whatever they try and sell. We don't live in fairy tale land. Blizzard and Valve are in it to make money and they're doing a bang-up job.

#20 Posted by FateOfNever (1855 posts) -

Your "good" examples really just sound like "I don't like having to play the game to get things I want.  I want it all handed to me."  Which, by the way, is a bad microtransaction. 

#21 Posted by HumanityPlague (251 posts) -
@FateOfNever: Kind of, but not really.  At this point in WoW's life cycle, there is SO much forgotten content, that no one really cares about going through it.  The mount only drops off one dude, that I'm never going to kill solo, and no one is going to want to do it with me (outside of me paying them gold)  Currently, the staff is selling for (approximately) about 35,000 gold on my server (because it's BoE, good, etc.)  Also, there's only been 2 for sale so far, because everyone is gobbling them up.  The disconnect in WoW is, you always have to group, (and raid) to get the gear.  If you want to play the game solo,  then you'll only reach a certain level of stuff available.  I'm only really now seeing Burning Crusade content (since I never did it, when it mattered), because my guy is 15 levels higher than anything else.  I'm saying that there should be an easier way of doing it.  Sure, let the person who invests the time/social aspect get the purpley items, that's fine.  But, if I had the option of just paying 20$ for 3 mounts I want, or 15$ for 2 pets, or 10$ for a belt and a staff (with cosmetic changes signifying that I paid for it), than sure.
#22 Edited by Loose (411 posts) -

I don't think I could ever play an MMO in which high-end items were sold via micro-transactions. The only things that should be purchasable with real moneyz in any online game are vanity items/apparel.

#23 Posted by FateOfNever (1855 posts) -
@HumanityPlague: I'll get to the mounts in a moment, but first, the thing about equipment is that, if you're unwilling to earn the equipment yourself, or feel you are incapable of earning that equipment due to a lack of people to play with, then why do you need the gear?  Let's say you don't belong to a guild and have no friends (as it sounds is your situation since you mention no one even being willing to run Tempest Keep with you unless you pay them).  This means that, realistically, the only thing you're doing is 5 man dungeons using the dungeon finder.  So why do you need 'top gear'?  Because you like the way it looks?  I can understand where you would be coming from with that, but I don't think you comprehend how that would effect the game.  Top end guilds would REQUIRE people to start buying gear because spending time to gear farm for people would be too inefficient.  People that have no idea how to play the game would have access to gear that would inflate their gear score and let them into 5 man dungeons that they have no right getting into because they have zero experience but could buy their way in.  The moment you have the ability to buy things that effect your stats, you've already started down the wrong path with microtransactions.  Another thing to consider is that the entire point of an MMO, the thing that keeps most people going, is the idea of better gear and clearing harder content.  If you're not clearing that harder content (which you need that gear for), then the only thing to do is to obtain the better gear.  If you can just BUY the gear, then what point is there to the game?  The only thing left is the social aspect of the game, but it sounds like you don't buy into the social aspect that much, so, why do you want to be able to buy gear then?  You won't use it to clear better content, you won't have earned it, it won't make you friends, and it won't get you into PuG raids or anything because people will still cut you out as soon as they realize you have no idea what you're doing.
 
As for the mounts - the mounts are, more than anything, a trophy.  People get furious enough when you can buy mounts in the store that are at all similar to a mount that might exist in game that is difficult to obtain.  People flipped their shit when the Dark Phoenix was revealed and they didn't even know HOW it was going to be obtainable.  The moment people thought the Dark Phoenix was going to be an easily obtainable recolored Ashes of Al'ar they got pissed.  There are people out there that busted their asses to get the phoenix (and some that just cheated their way there by ninja'ing) and offering it for real money would just be disrespectful to the people that actually earned that mount, and all of the other rare ones.  On top of this, rare drop vanity items like this also keep people playing.  They give people a carrot to go with the stick.  If you remove that carrot, or allow the person to just give someone money to untie the carrot from the stick and hand it to them, the whole thing falls apart.  The pets and mounts they currently sell in the store though are only available through the store, thusly, you're not removing the carrot from the stick, you're just allow people to buy another carrot to go along with the carrot that they might be going after (whether that carrot is more difficult content or a rare mount, or what have you). 
 
I can understand the frustration of having very few people to play with, don't get me wrong on that.  I was part of a guild for a long time that was pretty much only about 6 people big and all but three of them were completely unreliable.  Every now and then someone would bring in another person who would be even more unreliable than those already there.  We never got to do raid content and barely got to see 5 man content.  The guild has, at this point, just about all disbanded.  I also never got to see BC raid content until Cata, where me and a friend started to two-man everything we were willing to give a shot.  I also want the Ashes, and many other things in the game.  I do not, however, want to simply throw money at it and get the reward, and even having that option available devalues such items, because I know I could still earn those things, but the question becomes "why?"  I would be seen as an idiot to actually try to earn one of those rewards rather than just pay 25-30$ or whatever for it from the store, and I would feel like an idiot too due to their low drop rates.  People may not like the slippery slope argument, but, in an MMO, it is a very real threat.  
 
Also.. I really hope any of that made any sense at all since I'm really tired and lost my train of thought more than once while typing that all out.
#24 Posted by SirPsychoSexy (1331 posts) -
@HumanityPlague: Sounds to me like you are playing the wrong genre. If you want to get the best and coolest gear in a MMO, you can't play solo. The moment a MMO starts selling items or the rarest mounts is when I quit.
#25 Posted by SSully (4334 posts) -

You literally have it completely backwards on how micro-transactions should work. TF2 is how they SHOULD work. All of the items that you do get in the game are not that game changing because the perks they do offer aren't that huge, and they almost always have a negative aspect to them. Not only that but you get the same gear randomly just by playing the game. Most of the stuff you don't find randomly are useless cosmetic items. Just because you dont like the idea of paying to open the crates doesn't make it a bad system. You are just falling into valves way of offering players a faster way to get gear. Just ignore the crates if you don't want to pay to open them, it is that easy.

#26 Posted by medacris (674 posts) -

I don't mind how TF2 does transactions. Most of the items they're selling are completely aesthetic or drop in-game anyways, so as long as you're patient and play a lot, all of the items are relatively easy to get, or don't really effect you anyways, so they're no big deal. The only exception is Unusual items, and I don't want any of those anyways (unless it's one of those hats with the circling heart effect...maybe).
 
I do wish Crates dropped less. If you have money, you've probably already spent it on TF2, if you don't, they're annoying because the game's reminding you that you have no money to spend, or you have money and don't want Crates because they're a crapshoot.

#27 Posted by Nick (698 posts) -

I've gotten 3 crates from playing TF2 over the last couple days, which is annoying when I don't want to buy a key and the crate takes the place of another item that I could have gotten.

#28 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8607 posts) -

Micro transactions suck.
They're never micro (anything above 1 euro/dollar ain't micro in my eyes).
I want to play a game, not constantly break the immersion to buy stuff from the dev.

#29 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7100 posts) -

@FateOfNever said:

Your "good" examples really just sound like "I don't like having to play the game to get things I want. I want it all handed to me." Which, by the way, is a bad microtransaction.

I was gonna post something but then I saw that you already posted it, but with better wording.

#30 Posted by Levio (1786 posts) -

Here's something worth considering: in MMO's, the most interesting items are those that are rare. Whether it's a rain cloud, a little robot that follows you, or a picnic basket, it's not interesting at all if everyone has it.

Microtransactions are one way of making such items rare. Of course, they could always be a rare drop instead, but then people would be complaining about the rare drop rate. If they were very expensive ingame, people would complain about the price, etc...

Ideally, every character would get 1 or 2 items/aspects unique to them to set them apart. That way everybody has something cool to show off. But that would be like 400,000 items total, so we'll have to wait for the ultimate game to come out before that happens.

#31 Posted by loopy_101 (287 posts) -

Stick with TF2 Beta I say.

#32 Posted by Gamer_152 (14113 posts) -

In general I subscribe to the widely-held belief that if items are being sold in a game for real money that give players a significant gameplay advantage, then that's bad. It means the game has a great bias towards those who are wealthier or more willing to pay for things, it makes players who've gained items through gameplay feel as though they are being unfairly treated when they participate in games with those who haven't, and it invalidates the sense of worth that all items seem to have when gained through gameplay. Of course if players have had to buy a game and/or pay a subscription fee to play, it only leaves a much worse taste in my mouth when non-cosmetic microtransactions are lumped on top of the whole thing.
 
As for helping new players who can't or don't want too dedicate as much time as others, there are plenty of ways designers can do that without introducing microtransactions, the microtransactions are there solely for the purpose of making cash. Additionally, I believe cutting out the actual gameplay bit in the gameplay-reward scenario is bad game design, if players are paying cash out of their pocket specifically to not have to play your game then what does that say about the game you've developed? I know, I know, again, not all players can or want too dedicate as much time as others but then I believe the time-intensive RPGs just aren't the environment for them. I don't believe you can chuck two types of people into the same game, make one work hours to get rewards, let the other have the rewards for much less or no work, and expect everything to go well, you're always going to be screwing someone over.
 
In all honesty I hope the microtransaction panic in EVE right now makes CCP either withdraw their plans immediately or does some damage to the game, because while I never like to see a unique and high quality developer or game take a downturn, it would at least send the message that you shouldn't be able to just pay your way to the top of these game worlds. I think it's appropriate for some F2P games but there still has to be a limit, being wealthy should never be the equivalent to being dedicated or skilled in a game. The reason I make an exception for TF2 is purely because of the ridiculous amount of free content that Valve provided over the years and the excellent job that Valve have done catering to the fans. As for the crate complaint I'm still not sure what the real issue is, how is this that different from Valve just selling a "random item" box in the game store?

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