Last Friday when I posted about Battlefield Heroes and their cash shop controversy, I was just writing out one of those “what does it really mean?” sort of posts that has an interminable lead-in then ends (if you lasted that long) on the actual question that came to my mind.
Much to my surprise, the post had more reach than I expected, getting noted over at Massively, on Tobold’s blog, and, after a short delay, partially explained by a Packer’s loss (the same thing afflicted my brother-in-law), over at Heartless_ Gamer. (And in a parallel effort there was an unrelated post about subscription models over at Nerfbat as well.)
Perhaps not quite a “shit storm,” but well beyond my expectations. Of course it touched a tender subject, which is money and how much we pay to play these games. But we all know somebody has to pay, because nobody is making all of this entertainment for free. Even those with a passion to create have to eat and pay the rent.
My only real surprise is that for MMORPGs there seems to be two camps, the subscription model and the free-to-play item mall supported model. Tobold proposed what he saw as a different but more fair business model, something that sounds remarkably like a post I wrote three years ago, back before F2P was en vogue, prompted by my phone plan and my general cheap skate nature.
But we all want to get the most for our money and will seek out the plan that best serves us, another Tobold point.
Probably the most interesting thing to come out of this though was from Brian “Psycochild” Green who commented with a link to a presentation from Daniel James of Three Rings Design, makers of Puzzle Pirates, Bang! Howdy, and Whirled, that included detailed metrics based on the experiences of Three Rings in the F2P market. A good read if you are interested in the topic.
All of which was interesting, but never really got me closer to an answer on where the line between “not enough” and “too much” might be drawn when it comes to pushing item shop purchases in a fantasy MMORPG environment. Not that I expected an answer.
I did however end up spending some time on Sunday playing Bang! Howdy.
I have to admit, I totally did not get it.
Perhaps I should stick to fantasy MMORPGs. Subscription based ones… for now.