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Member Since 10 Jan 2012
Offline Last Active Nov 25 2013 02:07 PM

#1601874 I hear a lot of mixed information regarding the item mall

Posted Lord_Demosthene on 15 July 2012 - 04:56 PM

Many players are in denial of this simple truth, because they find it uncomfortable. From a business standpoint, however, Guild Wars 2 is basically a variant of a f2p game, because the bulk of it's sustainable income will be generated from cash shop. Box sales of the initial release will cover development costs and the rest of it will go to shareholders, to reward their patience and interest in the game during the long development process. It will work exactly the same with boxed/digital expansions. Anet has already been paid in full for the development of their game, and their live development & support staff is paid fixed wages with little premiums here or there based on game's business performance metrics, but overall they don't see the money that the game is earning over time.

Anet's structure and budget is completely up to NCSoft at this point, and the publisher isn't interested in ethics but in making money. Anet's future reputation and condition rests solely on it's ability to please NCSoft shareholders, and that will happen only when the game's business model is effective. An effective business model is oriented towards maximum profit, and the profit it generates is directly correlated to how much the customers are actually willing to spend on the game as a whole, despite their reservations, doubts or discomfort caused by the influence of cash shop on the gameplay.

In another words, Anet will search for the most common 'pain threshold' it's customers are willing to accept, and adjust the cash shop products accordingly. The following means that the game will be potentially less popular (smaller playerbase), but will generate highest profit, which means: NCSoft will be happy, and in turn Anet will stay longer in business to make great games. Development budget (and in turn quality) of future installments will increase only when there is a direct correlation between profits and product's quality, and when the additional profits outweight additional costs, which sadly, more often than not, simply is not the case.

How would the game's monthly revenue be calculated then?

Like in a traditonal f2p game, except that we'd have to account for compulsory box/digital game sales as well. In other words, there would be no distinction between ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) and ARPPU (Average Revenue Per Paying User), because even players NOT spending real money in the cash shop would be considered paying users.

What does it mean for the game's business model then?

In a traditional f2p game, the developer would strive to maximise the ARPU through aggressive cash shop campaign, primarily relying on comparatively fewer but highly spending individuals, to sustain the monthy revenue. Because of inherently low conversion rate (paying users/all users), attempts would be made to inconvenience non-paying users further, in hope to force them to either quit the game (and stop generating costs) or start using the cash shop (if the alternative cost of quitting is higher than spending money in cash shop instead).

Most often, however, attempts to persuade already paying users to pay more for the same benefits backfire. In general, the welfare of non-paying users is an afterthought, and their satisfaction derived from the game is addressed by the developers only when the overall condition of the playerbase impacts paying users, making them spend less money, make purchases less often or downright quit the game.

How is Guild Wars 2 different? People not spending real money on the cash shop are in a less precarious position, because the balance is tipped more in their favour thanks to initial game purchase. In turn ARPU isn't completely dependant on cash shop purchases, but is also determined by box/digital game sales. Which means: less aggressive cash shop campaign (cosmetic & convenience items, comparatively lower gameplay advantages), and less tensions in the game community as a result.

Why is Guild Wars 2 not a clear-cut b2p game then? Because of the cash shop. As far as the money goes, despite the box sales cash shop is still a dominant source of revenue throughout game's lifecycle, making it more akin to variation of a f2p business model, rather than a clear-cut b2p one.

Simple comparison:

- entry barrier: compulsory game purchase vs no entry fee
- sustainable income: box/digital game release, boxed/digital game expansions, cash shop vs cash shop

What defines game's audience? Entry barrier (if it's too narrow, game won't make enough money, if it's too wide, it will be too difficult to keep it's customers satisfied with the product).
What makes or breaks a business model in the long run? Sustainable income (affects the profitability of the game after launch).

Lastly, about the advantages themselves provided by the cash shop - every cash shop purchase IS an advantage, in one way or another:

a) gameplay/mechanics (higher damage, harder to kill, access to exclusive content granting gameplay/mechanical advantages not found in the standard game, chance to find valuable items, ability to open special chests, quality of loot, the rate of gaining experience, the rate of increasing crafting level, chance of success when salvaging, crafting, cooking)
B) content (access to exclusive content NOT providing a gameplay/mechanical advantage, but e.g. new story elements or new aesthetics)
c) aesthetics (exclusive item skins, costumes, particle and sound effects)
d) convenience (time and gold savers, such as remote storage access or free map teleport, allowing you to make a more effective use of your time and resources, indirectly giving you a gameplay advantage by speeding up your progress relative to others - if the advantage is more obvious, such as direct exp rate boost, then it's a clear-cut gameplay/mechanics advantage)

What it boils down to? In case of convenience items, classical time vs money conflict. Aesthetics? Plain human vanity. Content? It's more practical to release content in small bits digitally, instead of providing free game content updates or leaving players with nothing to play with until you release the next, big, boxed game expansion (so you balance the small with the big). Gameplay/mechanics? Powerplaying, I want to be better than others and do what others can't, and will pay for it.

Does Anet's model exclude any type of cash shop item? No, in fact all of them are already present. The only difference is in proportions, and comparative advantage gained by money in case of gameplay/mechanics boosts - since they already got your money, and you feel entitled to the game because you bought it, they have more to lose than to gain in the long run by introducing a more aggressive variant of the cash shop. This doesn't mean, however, that no tangible advantages are provided by your money.

Game economy: noticed how gems and gold are inter-connected? That's the very definition of power playing in the game's economy. Technically you can find every item you need on your own, but it's not practical - which means you will be trading with other players instead. As a result, prices of end-game items you'll likely be interested in will be inflated, because the seller will assume that there are people selling gems for gold, and will want a share of that extra himself. Poor get poorer, rich get richer - nothing unusual, if not for the fact it will happen at an accelerated rate.

If one assumed no party is economically handicapped because gold-gems transfer is a choice, I'd agree if every player had the same disposable income, spending habits and a credit card. Because that is not the case, however, gem sellers are inherently priviledged - gems will be mostly bought by those unable to buy them with real money, and mutual gem-gold purchases between actual gem sellers will be fairly marginal.

What's the root of the problem, then? Game's economy is not a closed system, but is as much influenced by real money transfers as actual in-game activity. Call it legitimate Real Money Trading, if you will. True equivalement of a gem is dollar here, NOT gold (because gems were created outside the system, as a result of real money transfer and not in-game player activity). In essence, dollars buy gold, and while gold is not artificially added to the system, the gems are if we treated game's economy as a closed system.

The effect is similar to inflation - amount of gold and item supply remain static, but the purchasing power of gem buyers shrinks in relation to gem sellers, effectively turning gems into alternative currency for in-game items and primary currency for cash shop items in relation to in-game gold, allowing dollars to compete with player effort (time * skill = effort) for in-game resources. Because resources available for trade at any given time are limited, just like player time, comparatively less people will be able to afford valuable, high-demand, end-game items, and chances are you'll be one of them unless you start selling gems yourself. Essentially, a direct advantage driven by access to in-game resources through in-game economy, that would have been otherwise unavailable.

Depending on what a player wants to achieve in the game, his or her satisfaction will be more or less influenced by following factors:

a) physical/mental health
B) previous game experience
c) social skills, network of friends and acquintances
d) effort put in the game
e) the state of in-game economy
f) the quality of gaming equipment and internet access

Is having quick reflexes advantageous in a competitive PvP environment?
What about living 20km from the game server, playing at steady 60+ fps or using an ergonomic keyboard?
How about correct mindset to achieve difficult goals?

See, all of the above are some sort of an advantage. They define us as people, and as players. Socio-economic status even in games without cash shop has an influence on the quality of our gaming experience, and what we can achieve. And yet, people don't complain - because these differences are socially acceptable even in competitive environment. It is assumed that if you want something, you'll do everything to get it in order to earn it.

What's missing from the equation then?

g) direct money transfer to gain an in-game advantage

Right? Wrong? Socially acceptable? Depends entirely on the kind of advantage it provides. How much, how often, what for. But in abstract, it's not very different from any other advantage you may already have. As seen above, computer games, just like life, are hardly about even chances, and even less so about even outcomes.

If you play the game in a more efficient way than another player, you have an advantage over him. MMOs strive on competition - for social graces, guild priviledges, server reputation, in-game rewards and titles. You may lie to yourself that you don't compete with other players, but it's not true - every time you enter an auction house, and based on what you do you'll either marginally undercut somebody (and cause them a headache because they needed money in an instant), earn above-average profit (because you waited it out with higher price, and now compete with other market speculators trying to make the most profit - they'd buy your item and resell it for higher instead, if you didn't set a price similar to theirs) or lose out (you sold for a laughable price and benefitted a speculant who will use that extraordinary gain to further his own grasp over the market, making you buy less for more). Similar goes for buying. What about any other in-game activity, that isn't directly tied with the auction house? Whether you compete or not, have an advantage or not, depends entirely on the context, regardless of your awareness about it, or wiliingness to compete.

Would a +20% damage boost in PvP be considered acceptable then?

It's debatable, yes, but I'd lean towards NO, despite it's actual business merits. There are games, however, where such practice is considered normal by players, and in time GW2 could become one of them. Will it? Depends entirely on the pain threshold that the community can endure, before it says "Enough!" and causes sufficient financial damage to revert the business decision. It is not, however, inherently moral or immoral, because as it stands, we're far less equal in actual real life than in-game, and the only thing Anet done with their business model is to monetise on this inequality. We value our money and time differently, based entirely on our own welfare. Business has done this for ages: it understood what people actually are, instead of implying what they should be in an utopian paradise. That's why business makes money, and is good at it.

Like it? Don't like it? Consider for a second a wild thought: GW2 wouldn't even exist, if it wasn't designed to earn as much money as possible in it's own market niche. Expect the cash shop to remain conservative at first, and then consistently erode your moral compass. Not because you'll like it, but because the current cash shop offer is far from the "pain threshold" players are actually willing to endure. Want to protest? Vote with your wallet. Individual protest rarely makes a difference, however.

And a tip to people disgruntled with cash shop:

Ironically enough, by buying gems with gold you fuel the same problem that caused you grief and anger in the first place. If you don't like cash shop, then don't buy gems at all. Or better yet, don't buy the game perfectly knowing what it's business model implies, and what effect it will have on the core gameplay, and in turn your satisfaction from the game.

#1399813 TERA Online

Posted Vorch on 02 May 2012 - 09:49 AM

View PostSycophantix, on 02 May 2012 - 08:53 AM, said:

GG GW2. Your game is over-hyped, your community is hugely “FANBOIED” which has soured my taste for the game, and your BETA was a huge disappointment to many.

PWNED!! Enjoy your sub-par graphics, clunky gameplay, cash-shop, button spamming to win, homogenized roles.


I like how he calls the community hugely fanboy-ed, and then makes the statements at the end.

My background: Played TERA to level 24 on Archer and 23 on Lancer

1. Grind can take 2 hours or 2 months. If something is fun and diverse, it won't feel like grind. For some (myself included), TERA's combat is fun; indeed, it is the selling point of the game. I will NOT say that the leveling is diverse in the least as 1-20 feels like a game with the EXACT same quests over and over again. Do other MMOs have kill x amount of y quests? Yes. However, they either vary it up enough to either provide a varied experience or at LEAST give it some context. The best thing that TERA can do for it's self is remake the 1-20 experience. That doesn't mean add a preview at the beginning and then send the people right back into the zone that has caused so much hate. AT LEAST put 3-4 BAMs in the low level experience...that ALONE would save people a TON of grief and EVERYONE wants BAMs added to noob island. If EME can't be bothered to do that, REMOVE or SHORTEN the 1-20 experience.

2. Provide examples on how TERA is great of exploring. I would LOVE to have some sort of incentive to explore in TERA. The world is beautiful, but because the game has been largely based around the fun stuff happening at a later level, people (myself included) have been rushing through the content from 1-20. For me, I'm focusing on getting my 8 characters through the 1-20 experience as fast as I can starting this week. That way, I can actually get to the fun parts.

3. In MMORPGs, story is extremely important: it provides context for your actions. Hence the RPG portion. If you want to just make a game about leveling and fighting, play an FPS. IMO, the game has really strong lore, but HORRIBLE lore presentation.

4. TERA has a few locked on moves, but the vast majority is based on aim and range. That said, the hitboxes have been normalized AND the hit boxes for enemies extends past their bodies. What some people mean when they say target assist is that if you aim in the general surface area of the monster, you will hit it. It's true: aim at most monsters and put your reticule about 1 foot off of their body. The attack will still hit if you are in range. I personally don't have a problem hitting an enemy b/c most of them are so big. Besides piglings and the groups of flowers, the smallest is about the size of a moose. I'd really like to see mobs with specific points on their body that need to be hit. This would actually make the game alot more about aiming than about hitting any part of the body for about the same damage.

5. Combat in GW2 and TERA are LARGELY different. TERA is based on aiming and is much more forgiving at the beginning and holds your hand for 20+ levels. GW2 is based on positioning and movement with a system that can have you on the floor begging for rez within the first 10 mins. Also, idk what this talk about "button spamming" is in GW2. I've seen people say that they are pressing 111111111...you don't. 1 is your auto attack, you click it once and forget about it until you use a different move and it continues to cast on cooldown between your move choices. It's similar to how you don't actually have to click the mouse button in TERA to do your auto attack...you can just hold it down.

I'd just like to end this saying that I, and many others, have made these suggestions over and over again on TERA's forums. On these forums, constructive criticism of GW2 (as long as it is civil) does not get flamed. Moderator's, though sometimes harsh imo, make sure that the topics stay on topic. On TERA's forums, however, criticism of the game is LARGELY met with cries of trolling or fanboism. Tell me, how often have you seen the following picture in response to ANY SORT OF NEGATIVE FEEDBACK TO TERA?



It's not that EME is a bad developer. IMO, they are really trying to make this game accessible. It's the community's virulent hatred of negative criticism and defense of their game that chokes the game's development. I have not seen the words "carebear" and "troll" used at such frequency in a forum. Can't count the times that someone has been told to leave the game if they don't like something. If the beginning area doesn't turn you off enough, then the community sure as hell will...

I'm playing TERA, but not for the story or the community. It's a game reminiscent of Monster Hunter for me and I'll be purchasing it later this month (have finals, hospital clincials, etc.) to get my golden weapons. It has SO much potential and only small problems to fix, imo, to get there! However, those small problems all have extremely dire consequences. Fix the noob island and actually regulate the community and I GUARANTEE you that this game's subs will start to rise. Neglect both...and we'll see a drop in subs and possible go F2P.