Hard TargetApril 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Posted in Guild Wars 2, mmorpg | 11 Comments
Tags: Guild Wars 2, MMO, mmorpg
A lot of free to play games require you use the cash shop to fix purposefully broken mechanics. They need to make money so I don’t resent them for this, but I also don’t play their games. I think the most important quality of a cash shop in an MMO is that you need to make your customers feel like they’re not being forced into the cash shop.
That should be Arenanet’s target in winning approval for their model. They’ll need to convince people that the gold for gems system means that you don’t have to spend real cash. That the items they sell aren’t required to play. That nothing in the shop is an unfair exploitation of the player base. That no one has a real advantage over others.
Being able to buy gems with in game gold is an excellent compromise for people who never wanted a cash shop in the first place. The system solves a lot of problems while creating few. People with no intention of spending money have equal access to the cash shop.
And most of the items give you marginal boosts at best. The experience boost for example, perhaps one of the items that people have the biggest problems with. In a game with a flat experience curve, where the developers have specifically gone out of their way to make experience less of a grind, these complaints seem invalid.
Cosmetic or utility items are matters of aesthetics or convenience. I can’t imagine an argument that could convince me a costume gives someone an advantage over another.
The above examples are great ways to soften the need for using the cash shop. But what happens when game systems become so unbalanced or dysfunctional that the only alternative is to use the cash shop? A common problem in other free to play games.
Unfortunately in this case it doesn’t matter if the items in question are cosmetic or non-game breaking. If people feel like they need to use cash shop items to accomplish their goal, they will feel like they’re being forced. And at that point it won’t matter if they can buy gems with their own gold. They’ll feel like they’re being cheated. Cheated out of gold, or gems, or money, or all three.
And that is why in my previous post I was worried about less obvious options like the dye items. From an outsiders perspective the system looks like an unforgiving grind, even if a grind over cosmetic unlocks.
The real test will come when we actually get our hands on the game. Only then will we know for sure just how important the cash shop is to our individual experience. Some may feel compelled to use it, some may find little use for it.
Personally I don’t see myself using the cash shop often but I do see myself using it, and that is exactly the target I think Arenanet should be hitting.
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