Purchasing In-Game Benefits

Any discussion not specifically related to Chaos Reborn
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Purchasing In-Game Benefits

Post by Thanos » Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:38 pm

Over the course of the last few years the elephant in the room for gamers has been the notion of buying benefits in multiplayer games. "Pay to Win" being the common accusation but in truth the larger issue extends beyond buying power. Many games offer exp boosts or have a subscription model that offers convenience rather than power. And then there is this notion of the "social safety net" that was offered in the Chaos Reborn kickstarter which, while clearly not Pay to Win, could bother some. So where is the line? At what point does this sort of thing leave a bad taste in your mouth?

As someone who enjoys multiplayer games but has sworn off subscription-based titles, I have mixed feelings when I look at how certain games are monetized. And I'm not just talking about so-called Pay to Win games. I'm fine with a game offering something like exp boosts to players but I don't generally buy them myself because I enjoy the sense of accomplishment I get grinding exp. As such I usually end up buying $20-60 worth of cosmetic items in Free To Play games depending on how much I feel the game is worth. But I seem to be fairly unique in this.

For example, I have several friends who have spent large amounts of money on Star Citizen. Now, I love the space sim genre a lot. And I certainly plan on playing Star Citizen when it comes out. But I would never want to buy a ship with real money. For me part of the joy of space simulation games is starting out in a crappy shuttle and working my way up to a much better vessel. Part of the enjoyment of playing is knowing the struggle I had to endure to get where I am. Starting a space sim with a hanger full of mid to top tier ships sounds terrible to me. It would be like paying to reduce the total amount of hours spent playing. I can see how this might appeal to someone with limited time to play video games but in that case wouldn't they just generally be happier playing a different sort of game? Maybe one that doesn't require a significant investment of time?

tldr; The great debate of our time: in-game purchases. Where is the line for you and why?

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Re: Purchasing In-Game Benefits

Post by krayzkrok » Sun Apr 20, 2014 3:49 pm

If it's something that you can legitimately and reasonably obtain within the game, then there's little difference for me between someone who plays the game solidly for 5 days until they obtain said item / benefit, or whether they pay money to shortcut that. As long as I can eventually get the same benefit by playing the game, I have something to aim for.

If it's something that has gameplay value that can't be obtained by playing the game, or even something that has a vanishingly small chance of being obtained, then paying money to get such an item is crossing the line because it gives a player a benefit that others can't get unless they pay money. Aesthetic items (caps, clothes etc) don't count, because they have no gameplay value, and if you want pay to bling your avatar up, by all means go for it.

The Chaos Returns Kickstarter rewards fall squarely into the first category for me.

This only applies to items used in multiplayer obviously, and there are exceptions to both rules too, but that's the general drift.

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Re: Purchasing In-Game Benefits

Post by DigitalDuck » Sun Apr 20, 2014 5:14 pm

My stance:

The game should be designed assuming any kind of purchasing model doesn't exist. And therefore it should be playable assuming any kind of purchasing model doesn't exist. If parts of the game are clearly broken in order to "encourage" people to spend money, then I find it has the opposite effect on me and makes me avoid the game.

In multiplayer games, if someone can beat me just because they bought an item that makes the game easier for them, this makes me avoid the game too. That said, I also hate the "experience" model generally when it applies to actual gameplay stuff e.g. making your wizard survive more hits just because you've been playing the game for longer (that's "play-to-win"!).

Other than those two cases, though, I'm all for in-game benefits. After all, not everyone has the time to unlock everything, and if they want to pay for it then that's entirely their choice. And if it's not an unlockable item, but only purchasable, that's fine too - because without the option to buy this, it'd be absorbed into the price of the game instead.

That's something important to note - a lot of people are against in-game items and DLC because they think it's a way of charging more money for the same content, but it's not.

Using DLC model:
Game - $35
DLC - $15

Not using DLC model:
Game (including what would be DLC) - $50

Purchasable items and content don't particularly add to the cost of the game - they simply give you the choice of spending less and not paying for the extra fluff you don't care about. :mrgreen:

... I kinda went off on a tangent there, so I should answer the question and get out. The line for me is when the gameplay mechanics are changed in order to make people buy in-game benefits, or when opponents can beat you in multiplayer games because they've paid for buffs.
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Re: Purchasing In-Game Benefits

Post by torp » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:06 am

That said, I also hate the "experience" model generally when it applies to actual gameplay stuff e.g. making your wizard survive more hits just because you've been playing the game for longer (that's "play-to-win"!).
It's "grind to win" and it's what makes PvP worthless in most MMOs. Not sure what happens in the dudebro shooters in fashion because I don't play those.

For me, paying for extra significant content is fine, paying for minor benefits or time-expiring content is not. Or paying for content in advance...

Dishonored content addons == A-OK, just take my money already!

Bioshock Infinite season pass (or whatever other games have "season passes"): No, I don't pay in advance for something that may or may not be interesting. I might get the DLC *after* i see the review.

Timed experience bonus in a MMO: Not interested. If it's just a benefit for impatient kids, I'll still play the game (the pre-WB Lord of the Rings online, for example - I bought most of the content packs, but I never had to use a boost item, even if i got them for free). If it's required to have an enjoyable experience - *cough* Dungeon Keeper - then the game is not worth the storage space.

Special weapons or other ingame benefits as preorder bonuses or paid DLC, even if not time limited: they can stick it where the sun don't shine. And if they make a real difference to the game play, they can do the same with the game. If not, I'll just ignore them. I'm looking at you Dark Souls 2 - the preorder weapons are weak and ugly compared to what you can find in the first hour of playing the game :)