Perceived value and rare horses

Liore from Herding Cats has an interesting post about cash shops in MMOs and how they can impact on some non-standard measurements of achievement. In this context raid progression or PVP ranking are often considered as measurements of a characters development. However, at least in the past, there has been other achievements not always linked to the above. Status and pride could also come from having a hard-to-obtain title, rare pet or mount.

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When I came back to Rift last year for the one year deal I received a lot of compliments and questions about my spectral warhorse mount. It was a very rare drop from rifts in the very first monthly event after Rift launched (wiki link: the River of Souls). I love this mount and continue to use it as my only mount on this character when I play, I did see others after the event but coming back a year later it was even rarer since there were fewer players from the launch era still in the game.

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They since added other spectral-type mounts into the game and also to the store.

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Although the horse I have still remains rare, the spectral effect that made it stand out is not at all rare anymore. Personally I wouldn’t buy such a mount from the store, and I wouldn’t be that motivated to grind the event for one either – the value of the warhorse is in its rarity.

As Liore raises in her post there has been plenty of controversy during the wave of Free to Play conversions among MMOs that the cash store should not offer shortcuts to character power progression (a.k.a ‘pay to win’). It is interesting however that there has been less controversy over the potentially negative effect of cash stores on the players who are primarily collectors, achievers or explorers.

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4 Responses to Perceived value and rare horses

  1. There is a very strong “I don’t care so you shouldn’t either” vibe amongst less mature gamers, so when somebody isn’t a collector, achiever, or explorer type and thus does not value those things, the automatic response is along the lines of, “nobody cares” or “you’re wrong, nobody values these things in the way you say you do.” And that goes for non-raiders commenting on raid content and solo focused players commenting on group content and so on.

    I have seen arguments where one person in a comment thread tells another that they do not care about the things they say they care about, as though they held some omnipotent insight into all gamers.

    MMOs are played by a very diverse group of players. It is a truism that no matter what feature you are talking about, it is somebody’s favorite thing. Even if you don’t care about it. Even if you hate it. Frankly, especially if you hate it.

    But the power/progression focused faction tends to have the loudest voice. If you sell something that impacts them, they scream bloody murder about selling power. And I tend to agree with them if the company has said they wouldn’t. But if the cash shop offers up something cosmetic for the RMT currency that you spent time working on to obtain and you point out the betrayal of equity and worth of your item, that same group tries to shout you down. Nobody cares!

    But dammit, I care.

    And that was something of a blow with the Rift F2P conversion, that they put so many event related items up in the shop for the RMT currency. That pretty much killed my desire to go do holiday events in Rift, something I had done in the past. Nothing special or unique to be obtained any more.

    But, of course, nobody cares.

    • Telwyn says:

      I agree wholeheartedly, and actually valued the times more when items were rare or seemingly unobtainable, especially by me the non-raider.

    • Jonny 5iVe says:

      I wouldn’t say that people don’t care, and I wouldn’t stereotype about this supposed group of players. It seems a little hypocritical to be totally honest.

      Anyway. People just can’t be pleased…

      – If they sell items in the cash shop that give your character some sort of in-game bonus, people complain.
      – If they sell items in the cash shop that were previously only obtainable through grinding out some kind of event, and/or having some luck, people complain.

      Developers need, and quite rightly deserve to make money from their work.

      I’ve heard people comment that RIFT was ~too~ generous with its F2P conversion, and I’m inclined to agree with them. Apart from some cool aesthetic stuff to buy, there’s practically zero incentive to give TRION any money at all.

      But you know, people will ~still~ complain that players are able to support the developers, and in return save themselves a small amount of grind to get a fancy looking horse. You only get unlimited playtime in a triple A quality game, with no restrictions, for absolutely nothing.

      What a crap deal.

      Jeeeez.

      So what do you propose as an alternative?

      Sell stuff that’s exclusive for the cash shop?

      If that were to happen, artists would have to spend time creating the art assets, programmers would have to add additional scripts, sound engineers might have to create new audio, marketing executives would have to ensure that the playerbase knows that they exist, website developers would need to update the website to inform users that these items are available, testers would need to iterate through their testing phases, server engineers would need to patch the new assets onto the live servers.

      Seems like a lot of work just to get some cash shop exclusive items, which again, people would complain about because they want to be able to obtain anything they want without having to pay for it. It is advertised as unrestricted F2P after all… Not to mention that whilst all those people are working on these new exclusive items, they’re not working their way through their development timeline, which is what ultimately is going to keep them employed.

      TL;DR: Cash shops ~need~ to sell things. These things are divided into two; practical, and cosmetic. Cosmetic stuff has absolutely zero impact on other players (in PvP for example), so it’s considered “safer” to sell to make some much needed profit.

      TL;SDR: People will ~always~ bitch and complain.

      • Yes, companies need to make money. Not under debate. But excusing whatever any given company decides to do by waving that flag is becoming tiresome.

        Rift needs to generate revenue. They have chosen to do so in a way that has pretty much guaranteed that I won’t be giving them any money in the future. Likewise for whatever subset of their customers who value the same things I do. That could be quite an insubstantial number for all I know. They made that choice, I have expressed my opinion about it.

        But pretty much telling me to shut up about my opinion sounds like you’re going down the “I don’t care so neither should you” path and makes me wonder who should be calling whom a hypocrite.

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