Let’s be honest. The ultimate goal has always been about making players pay MORE. Not less.
SOE has always pioneered on this field. They were the firsts to rise the monthly fee, to try to push up the standard monthly fee with SWG, to offer pay services as the ones for EQ2, to push out expansion packs every six months regularly, and then mini packs in the case of EQ2 again. Then RMT and even the Station Pass. Yes, cumulatively you pay “less”, but they probably noticed that the majority of the players didn’t keep subscriptions active for more than one game. So it’s always the same, trying to make the customer cumulatively pay more than the 15 dollars every month.
I’m pretty sure that if Blizzard and other prominent MMO companies went to propose SOE to make a cartel and all agree to rise the monthly fees, SOE would gladly accept.
So it all comes to “make you pay MORE”. Find ways to persuade you to pay more. And this is even legitimate for a commercial company (even if upside down).
If you are aware of this, then you also know exactly where it is going this myth of the “free game”. To be commercially viable, they would need to make a game where if one player plays for free, there’s another who not only pays for himself, but also for the player who didn’t spend any $. So, if someone can pay “less”, then someone else HAS TO pay “more”. You cannot escape this situation.
Whenever someone is trying to offer you something for “free”, he is trying to fuck you. With no exceptions.
So if you make a game with no monthly fee you have to COMPENSATE it through other means. And this compensation must equal or exceed the standard monthly fee, or this business model would be a fiasco. The only good part of all of it, being solely about the “accessibility”: if the game has zero costs upfront, then more likely players will approach it and decide to stay.
That’s one aspect. The other is about game design.
The problem of “alts”. It’s true (as Darniaq repeated on a thread on F13) that the most desirable aspect of RMT in “our” kind of games is buying leveled characters. It’s boring for EVERYONE going through the game after the third, fourth time and more. It is perfectly understandable if some players look for “shortcuts”. And if they accept RMT to be a good one.
This also doesn’t take anything off the quality of the game. It would happen even in WoW, where the treadmill is still an excellent experience. But it’s an experience that gets redundant.
Now the point is: you can decide to SPECULATE on this aspect and use the demand of the players as a perfect occasion to put your hands in the players’ wallet. Or you can observe this aspect and offer GAMEPLAY alternatives that can lead to better games.
I did already these kinds of homework. The main reasons why people feel the necessity of creating more alts are to (1) switch servers, often to go play with someone else, (2) try out different combinations/classes. I completely solved BOTH of these with my own design ideas that I repeated recently and that always been the basis of all I wrote since when I started writing.
Server travel goes to solve the first problem, and the “permeable” class system goes to solve the second. If I can start a new character with a different class, why it would be negative to let players develop different careers/classes on the SAME character? Why imposing the players to build brand new identities when what they want is MAINLY just a gameplay variation? Why we cannot offer this variation they ask without taking away forcefully also their identities?
All these questions are THE BASE OF GAME DESIGN. If you don’t consider these, then you have NO RIGHT to be in the game industry. These goals coincide with making good games, that are seen as good. They provide answers to needs and wishes of the players.
The contradiction with the wicked model of RMT is that it’s not convenient to think and provide those solutions. They are asking game designers to go against their job. Design trappings at the EXPENSE of players. Make worse games in order to profit. Create flaws in order to speculate on them.
Medics who don’t completely heal in order to continue to milk money off you. Medics who deliberately HURT in order to speculate.
And this is utterly disgusting. Not only it is wicked, but it will also BACKFIRE SPECTACULARLY, as it is completely foolish and contradictory.
And that’s the second aspect. The third aspect is that Smed’s laudable purpose of making a free game, based on RMT, but where the RMT only affects “non-game impacting items”, is just impracticable. And I’m don’t say this because I don’t like it. I’m saying this because it’s not commercially sustainable. It goes nowhere. It’s a soap bubble.
The basic problem is: how can you fund a whole game where the small minority who practices RMT is supposed to cover the costs for every other player?
It’s not going to happen. Second Life is a soap bubble itself. People forget that it isn’t commercially profitable. So or you do these kinds of stuff for researching purposes, or you HAVE TO put there a “trap” so that some players spend enough to cover the costs for players who are spending less. A game with “non-game impacting items” is a game completely playable without paying one dollar, and without a substitute source of income it is a game that is supposed to run without any money. Are now game developers benefactors?
Take another, but related form of RMT, already active in WoW. Why if I want to join my friends on another server with my current character I have to pay for the transfer?
Let’s assume Blizzard sold leveled 60 or 70 characters. I’m sure players would buy them so that they could play with their guilds.
Now the problem is that you can be an idiot and see these as perfect occasions to make money, or you can see these examples as GLARING examples of games’ flaws. I defined them “emergencies”, and emergencies they are. In the first case you are SPECULATING on players’ needs. Deliberately avoiding to fix these problems and make better game in order to speculate on these flaws. In order to perpetuate them.
They keyworld is: speculation. Those who support and promote RMT are speculators in this industry and you should know that speculators are by definition parasites that don’t help at all the cause. Because the interests conflict.
Speculating on the same barriers between players that it’s years I’m fighting against. I asked people in this industry to react and do something about those emergencies, but the current discussion about RMT is already an answer. These people have NO INTEREST of doing something, because their goal is just about PERPETUATING THE STATUS QUO AND SPECULATE ON IT.