‘Value’ of MMO games

The Ancient Gaming Noob has weighed in on a topic started by Keen this week on the value of gaming. The conversation has focused on monetary values and finding non-gaming comparisons like Starbucks coffees or cinema tickets. Monetisation of gaming is no new topic of discussion, the MMORPG genre has iterated over the years over several different models for encouraging us to part with our money.

For me this debate over whether games should be £X or $Y misses a much broader definition of value, of special relevance to the online and MMO gaming spaces. I can’t share a coffee regularly with close friends who live in a different part of the country, or even abroad, nor can I go to the cinema with them without organising well in advance. But I can play online with them on a basis whenever the time presents with little notice. The convenient connectivity of MMORPGs is a major part of their value to me, one that I would find hard to set a monetary value to.

Since I mostly game with others that does present another side to the value argument that may be less obvious. MMORPG gaming has traditionally been quite the financial commitment – a subscription + expansions was the norm back in the late 2000s when I started. Even now many games are buy-to-play or have paid for expansions. Thus choosing what to play does have financial implications for others as well as myself. Trying a free to play game is easy enough, beyond the often sizable and time-consuming download, but delving deeper into a F2P game or trying a buy-to-play or sub game requires agreement on the value of said game. So this moves the valuation of a game beyond the personal choices of solo computer or mobile gaming the above-linked debate mostly addresses, and into a more complex social-sphere. Choosing what to play isn’t only about whether everyone ‘fancies’ playing it, there is sometimes also a value judgement to be made collectively as well.


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