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.
$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?