Earned convenience versus in-built convenience

MMORPGs generally feature a certain balance between convenience and inconvenience in your characters activities. For instance travel may be easy at high level but relatively slow and difficult at low-level. Likewise accessing your mail could be the main reason you have to go back to the nearest town, or rested experience the reasonĀ  you always log off in a tavern.

Playing WoW over the years there has been an increasing amount of ‘earned convenience’. So you could go through the trouble of leveling engineering and have a repair bot to create a temporary your dungeon group to repair damage and sell their grey junk items. The effort to level the skill, find the recipe and the materials to make this one-use item was well worth it if it saved your whole group repeated trips out of the dungeon to repair broken gear. Later in the Wrath expansion they introduced the Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth which featured a repair NPC and a vendor for common spell materials – this one was sold in at the main base city for the expansion but was (at the time) very expensive.

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Guild Wars 2 has many built-in convenience features like the right-click deposit for all crafting materials to put them into the shared account bank. Also mails can be sent to other player’s characters from anywhere in the game. There are still ‘earned’ conveniences such as the armour repair canister or the temporary bank access item. These items can drop from an achievement chest but they are also available to buy from the gem store, an inducement for the lazy to buy these conveniences with real money.

I’m struck that I really appreciate ‘earned conveniences’ in games, but think a lot less of built-in or cash purchased equivalents. The first time I earned the Bree port in LOTRO I was really happy to have unlocked a different destination from my normal milestone skill – it gave me a choice of destination for my map skill at a time when travel was still a very big factor in normal questing. Now of course I have unlocked three different milestone skills on my main and have the extra ones, like the racial Bree port on top of that. The world feels a lot smaller and the skills I’ve unlocked via my monthly stipend of Turbine Points do not mean anywhere near as much to me.

Perhaps it’s an artificial distinction in this era of free-to-play and buy-to-play gaming, but once in a while it’s nice to feel like you’ve earned the shortcuts!

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4 Responses to Earned convenience versus in-built convenience

  1. bhagpuss says:

    I completely agree with you on the added emotional or psychological value of “earned conveniences”. I positively enjoy earning them and getting them is very satisfying.

    The strange thing, though, is that however I get them, be it earned or given (Veteran rewards, holiday bonuses etc), once I have them I rarely use them. I don’t even routinely use the innate conveniences built into games I play regularly, either by intent or because they no longer function. I use the map-click waypoint travel in GW2 very sparingly because I begrudge spending the silver and I filled most of my crafting bank slots months ago so I take daily trips back to the Guild Bank to store the surplus. In FFXIV I frequently don’t even remember to get on my Chocobo, I just run everywehre, and I don’t always even remember to use sprint! As for all those free boosters and bank summons and so on that I’ve acquired, 95% of them are stacked in the bank and likely to stay there forever.

    • Telwyn says:

      Yes, I have stacks of the convenience items in GW2 that I never use, using any seems like a slippery slope to gem store addiction. Though of course back when we tried some fractals for the one and only time with family we quickly wished we all had repair canisters as the deaths were so frequent we ended up practically naked from broken armour. Having to abandon the triple run of fractals after two completions because we lacked repair items was really frustrating!

  2. Joanne says:

    Agree with the sentiment of Bhag, I aim to earn the rewards with little to no intention of using them – or at least never actually finding a use for them.

  3. R says:

    I find myself on the opposite side of this one… if I was going to play a F2P game or if Blizzard was going to add cash perks to the store, those are the types of things that I *would* actually, and happily, pay for in my game of choice. Sure, it’s nice to have the option to get them in-game but for those without my available play time but with a similar enjoyment of perky things they’d be more than welcome. I find no cash value in cosmetic perks, even things like attractive mounts… buying larger bags, though? Additional bank slots? A mailbox or repair bot for non-engineers? A second hearthstone (with a separately bound location)? There are a bunch of things like that I’d seriously consider buying for a few bucks as a one-off.

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