When in game stores go bad

In articles recently I’ve defended both ArenaNet and Blizzard against accusations of being money-grabbers out to squeeze you for any penny.  In summary: both companies have to make money in order to make your game. 

In the case of ArenaNet, they have kept the store controlled and they repeatedly update things like storage to give you more without cost.  Ultimately, you can play the whole game without spending a penny of real cash other than the box.  Blizzard are seeking to specifically enhance their standing in the East, while also making up for the loss of subs, the decrease in the real value of their subs due to inflation and the increased cost of an expanded development team (please note: in no way and I defending the cost of those helms).

Further to this, I argue that it is your moral duty to pay for the games you enjoy rather than scrounging off of others.  If you like Guild Wars 2 and play it a lot, you should monetise it. Now I want to talk about when cash shops go wrong.

Star Wars: The Old Republic
Alas, SWTOR.  Don’t get me wrong, when SWTOR is good, its very good, but when its bad its utterly diabolical.  The cash shop, sadly, fits into the latter category.  A list of terrible cash shop features might be:

  • Excessive reliance on random chests to obtain cool items.
  • Far too many types of random chest available at once.
  • Monetizing basic game functionality such as action bars.
  • Requiring monetization to reach the end game.
  • Excessive free to play separation from monetized players.

I could go on, and on, and on.  This is not the only game to have taken this approach to its cash shop.  In fact, I think it is largely following a model that The Lord of the Rings Online and other games have successfully used before.

Guidelines for a cash shop It seems that some limitations to cash shops are emerging out of these examples.  They might be:

  1. No pay to win.  This does not mean no pay to speed things up, but no one wants the best gear to be on a cash shop.
  2. Don’t put too much basic functionality behind a cash wall.  The initial game experience needs to be a positive, rather than frustrating, experience of you want to monetize.  Discovering you don’t have enough action bar space, can’t get a mount or don’t have enough storage too early will turn many players off instead of encouraging them to spend money.
  3. Remember that the minority of players make the majority of cash shop purchases and plan accordingly.
  4. Don’t divide players with a wall of cash.  Social connections are vital to MMOs.
  5. Lots of optional extras … but not in a myriad of chests/random packs.  If you do want a random item, keep it simple and streamlined.
  6. People like to collect stuff.
  7. People like their toons to look good.

Blue Post Archive

I’ve just found a great wesbite.  Its a Blue Post Archive.  You can access all the old Blue Posts through this.  And search them.

Heres just a couple of quotes from posts I found using the search term ‘raid difficulty’.

From Raid Guild Leader’s Perspective on BC by Panthero with the response from Tigole:

1) The scale up in difficulty from 5 mans to heroic 5 mans and Karazhan is intense. We cleared through MoV on our first timer, then spent this week banging our heads against Romeo and Juliet. Most of our team has the best gear out of 5 mans. Since our gear is not going to get much better, and our skills will improve only so much after 2 years of raiding, the only way we’ll be able to reliably beat this level of content is using massive amounts of consumables. At least 2-4 flasks, and food, pots, and elixirs for everyone.

Yes thats right Kara was hard once.

4) There seems to be a distinct lack of 25 man raids that are going to be doable by “normal” guilds. If every 25 man boss is Loatheb, where does that leave us? I understand the desire to provide a challenge for the elite guilds. I understand that you don’t want DnT or Nihlium clearing the black temple by July. However, you need to provide 25 man content that can be cleared by a group of adults with lives. Ideally, this would mean:
Perfect execution is not required – 1 or 2 DCs or random deaths (except the tanks) would not mean a wipe
Consumable use is minimized – Only flask the tanks and use mana pots for your internal tuning
Aim for a normal guild to be able to down the encounter after ~10-20 attempts – no barrier encounters
If you are going to make resist fights make the resist gear craftable and relatively easy to get

As a side note, Karazhan violates almost all of these guidelines.

I agree. As I have already stated on these forums, Magtheridon is proving more difficult than intended. We are planning on toning him down. We’ve made some minor fixes to Gruul as well but I think that encounter needs to be toned down too. Gruul and Mag should feel like Onyxia did 6 months into vanilla WoW.

Now this is interesting.  If the aim is for a normal guild to be able to down a boss in 10-20 attempts (i.e. within one week with the progress encounter only being part of your raiding) then this suggests raiding in Cataclysm is harder than in TBC.  It also shows that nerfs are not a new thing. Perhaps a part of the reason for nerfing the content is that its a little overtuned compared to this ideal?

From Why my guild dislikes 1.10 raid changes by Ukulkos with the response from Eyonix:

2) Time

I have to confess, I haven’t seen the changes to BRS yet regarding the lowered number of trash mobs. However, as I understand it Strat, Scholo and notably BRD are still the same mob density, and so the fact is that a 5 man group will still take longer to clear the instance than a 10 man group. I had trouble finding the time to do these instances two or three times a week even in a 10 man group. As a largely social and mature (read, employed) guild, I know a lot of my guildmates were in a similar position. If these early instances take longer in continuous stretches to do, it means we flat out can’t do them as often, which comes with a related difficulty in forming a group at the times when we can do them.

We’ve removed some tedium, but you’re right not very much. Rest assured though, we will continue to monitor the time it’s taking players to complete these instances. We ran many tests, and even when wearing all greens items, we completed Stratholme and Scholomance in under 90 minutes.

Basically, back in vanilla, many players did nothing more than run the level 60 normal instances.  Because that took as long as raiding!  Thats certainly all I did.  I remember running Strat and Scholo with friends.  I have to say I would like to see more of the ‘mini raid’ style heroics.  I think the troll heroics offer something along this line, and hopefully there will be more of these.  They should take more time, but offer a greater reward for it.  But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for short heroics too.  I don’t always have 90+ minutes to spend in a dungeon.

And in case you thought random ranting and WoW is dying and everyone agrees with me threads were new you can read this.

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