How Much is that Horsie in the Window?

Darren has gone back to give Runes of Magic another try and seems to be more disposed to like it than he was the first time around.

But then he hit a snag.  He started looking at the Real Money Transaction, or RMT, aspect of the game and did not like what he saw.

Specifically, he saw that a permanent horse in the game was going for about $10 after translation from cash to virtual currency to actual Equus ferus magicus.

His response was rage and shock.  And I have to admit, my initial gut reaction was right there with him.

$10 for a virtual horse?   You must be mad!

And from both of our perspectives as people who have not made any real commitment to the game, it is a pretty reasonably point of view.  Plonking down $10 for a game I might stop playing tomorrow seems like a bad investment.

Then I thought back to the pre-expansion days of World of Warcraft and the pain of scraping together the gold for an epic mount and the riding skill.  If, back then, there had been a $10 package from Blizzard to get the riding skill and your mount, I would have gotten in line like a lot of other people and snapped that puppy up.

A lot of people spent more than $10 buying gold from illicit gold sellers to buy that mount.  If there had been a legitimate method I am sure they would have taken it.

But then, when were talking about people in WoW buying their epic mount, we are talking about people who have made a real commitment to the game.  $10 in the scope of that commitment is not such a big deal.  Many of those who would have thrown in the $10 without thinking twice at level 60 might not have been so eager on their first day to part with cash for a virtual horse.

This is something we will have to come to grips with as RMT financing of MMOs becomes more common.  The value of virtual items is all a matter of perspective.  To a player committed to a game, who has invested time and effort, something like $10 for a permanent horse might seem trivial, and all the more so in a game that is otherwise free to play.  But to somebody there on day one, week one, or even month one, $10 for a horse may seem like an excess, a squandering of cash on a trivial item.

I am sure we will see this play out again and again.

We saw it when SOE started offering RMT in EQ and EQ2 via their Station Cash program.  I personally found some of the items they were offering for $10 to be over-priced fluff being just appearance items.  Darren thought they lacked substance, but wasn’t as up in arms as he has been about the ROM horse, but I suspect that is because he actually wants the horse.  But some people bought them I am sure.

And I am sure we will see if for the next big title that finances itself either partially or wholly through RMT.

Has anybody analyzed the RMT offerings of Battelfield Heroes or Dungeons and Dragons Online yet?

15 responses to “How Much is that Horsie in the Window?

  1. At Fan Faire, Smedley showed that when Station Cash first launched, uptake was about 5% in both EQ and EQ2. Now it is about 20% in EQ and closer to 30% in EQ2. And yes, I’ve bit — I bought an appearance item, a house pet, and a plushie recently. It occurs to me that I’ve spent more than that on LoN cards too. I have no interest in paying for potions though, perhaps because they are so readily available already with a veteran account.

  2. I haven’t analyzed the DDO offerings, per se… but then they haven’t finalized the prices yet. They do – however – seem to fit more into the “experience” model that Darren talks about in his second horse-rage article. =) (i.e. they sell you content, not perks)

  3. If the horse is $10 now in Runes of Magic they must have lowered the price, or the exchange rate is much better for USD than for Euro.

    Anyway no-one is forcing anyone to buy the mount and I think the option to get a permament one or a rental directly from start for some money is definitely preferable to wait 40 levels or something similar to be able to buy one for a pile of in-game currency.

    Getting around pre-mount in games like WoW or LOTRO is a bit of a painful experience if one is used to more speedier travel in other MMOs and there is a lot of time wasted on just running while sitting at the keyboard.

    Of course one would perhaps prefer that it had not become such big step to get in some MMOs in the first place. If mounts and/or faster travel had already been there pretty much from the begining, then it would have been a bit more unlikely that other games would have been able to capitablize on that.

  4. RoM does a lovely job at giving players choice.

    like the somewhat-extreme-examples you gave. If your going to quit tomorrow, then rent the horse with in game gold. I had enough gold, in less than an hour to rent one with the in-game gold.

    I’ve played for 3 months, and love the game but haven’t used the Item Mall yet. I will eventually and the first thing I’m buying is a permanent mount.

  5. I wonder what the percentage of players using Station Cash would be in EQ2 if you removed the bouncing baby bear that was part of the Child’s Play Winter Charity drive. I know that is the only Station Cash item I have bought. So am I included in that 30% figure?

  6. RoM really does a lovely job at giving players choice.

    like the somewhat-extreme-examples you gave. If your going to quit tomorrow, then rent the horse with in game gold. I had enough gold, in less than an hour to rent one with the in-game gold.

    I’ve played for 3 months, and love the game but haven’t used the Item Mall yet. I will eventually and the first thing I’m buying is a permanent mount.

  7. I don’t mind RMT so long as you can obtain the item through the game by other means but I really don’t like it when it becomes a choice between spending the cash or not having it at all. In that situation you just end up spending more money than you would on a normal subscription model.

  8. @We Fly Spitfires
    That’s why I like Runes of Magic’s RMT shop. I used to play Shaiya full-time, and still like it a lot, but you can buy “NOS” which gives you double criticle hits for an hour, and there’s many other items toward power. So when I go into the very fun looking massive war zones I just get slaughtered by the “NOSsers”

    Interestingly enough, if you’ve played a few free MMORPGs and visited their forums long enough to see the “universal” complaints and talk you see in all of them, Runes of Magic still is the same: Forum wise.

  9. Pingback: The Horse You Rode In On « pΘtshΘt

  10. @hwoto…: basically the forum talk is the same everywhere – f2p or p2p. In WoW were the same complaints as in AoC or RoM like “devs hating my class”. F2P only adds the QQ “I paid this item and are not OP. Fix it!”. I avoid reading MMO-forums coz it can kill the playing fun ;)

    @sente: you get basic horses for 10€/$10 (+60% speed). The 65%-mounts are usualy 299diam=15€/$15. But I never buy at this price, I wait for sales. I got my mounts for 2 toon at 199 resp. 209 diams ~10€ each.

    @wilhelm: I already had in mind for some time to make a comparison between the sums I spent in Eve / WoW / RoM / theHunter.

    About the horse: when I remember my WoW-times, I had the first mount in about 2 month AFAIR. That made it worth ca. 26€ (=2 monthly fees). That is not really exact but a rather good estimate. In RoM you need not to buy anything from item shop. It is only convenience stuff: want to be faster – horse. Want better stats – jewels. Want better gain of XP/TP – charms and furniture.

    With one toon, you can be par or below a subscription model. Having a lot of alts becomes expensive. With two toons both having a horse and furniture and some charms I spent slightly more than in a subscription model. But as promised – I’ll make a comparison.

  11. @Sören:
    I believe they have lowered the horse prices in RoM. Back in open beta when only the regular horses were available I am pretty certain that I paid 299 diamonds for my horse. Which of course were on sale a few weeks later.

  12. @sente
    You’re correct. They have since lowered the price, in diamonds, to 199(I believe). I haven’t bought one yet, but plan to. I also plan to wait for a diamond sale(they’ve had quite a few already).

  13. I think the MMO crowd needs to spend some time over at Magic the Gathering Online, where people spend hundreds of dollars a year for virtual MTG cards. These are digital cards that can only be used ONLINE, not in real life sitting at a table.

    Why? Convenience. You can get a game in MTGO anytime of any day, at any level. Casual? In spades. Draft? No problem. Multi-player? They have that too. Tournaments every weekend. Everything is full retail price with no discount. It is an astounding business model.

    You don’t want to invest the hours to run your character all over RoM, or alternately, invest the hours to farm gold to buy a horse, then spend some real money for convenience. Compared to MTGO, this is very cheap entertainment, and much less amazing.

  14. I find Darren’s comments on the subject completely out of whack. Too many assumptions about how/what he values must surely be the norm, when clearly it isn’t. Many players in ROM are on the permanent mounts and very early. Obviously, I’m not alone in valuing my time available to complete content versus a few bucks.

    It bugs me when people don’t seem to understand that these games aren’t made and supported for free. For a true F2P game they have to sell basic necessities to earn money. Not everyone would buy fluff items. I know I wouldn’t. I’d buy a mount and farm a pet. so they wouldn’t make money on me which is why the play both sides of it.

    I suggest that people feel free to walk for 40 levels if $10 seems to high. You’ve now saved a couple of months worth of a subscription. If you make it to 40 and still feel $10 is too high then continue walking or renting mounts.

  15. @Soren – I agree that doing RMT for multiple toons *can* become expensive but it’s all discretionary, so it’s in the players control.

    One of the reasons I stopped playing ROM is the borking of the class combo I’d selected. I don’t typically do alts until I’m at max level. Plus I’m going to want the things I had for my original character, minus the crafting workshop. I won’t do that again on another toon.

    I decided to wait to see the new classes before re-rolling. then I’ll do like before. I’ll buy some diamonds when they’re on sale buy the mount and hold the rest. Depending on how quickly you level 5 to 10 bucks a month would keep the average character with nice gear enhancements and a couple of potions if you’re into that thing.

    So no, I wouldn’t RMT multiple chars beyond the mounts

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