Over the last couple of weeks there have been a couple of topics that frazzled me a bit when I heard them discussed. I really try not to respond to podcaster or blogger comments that I disagree with, because I do not feel I can debate well with the written word.  I am much more comfortable debating in person and often do with my co-workers and friends.

But these two topics struck me enough that I decided I should record my thoughts for future reflection.  My comments below are not so much direct responses to people I disagree with, they are simply my thoughts on the topics as I believe today.

First topic, Micro transactions in Subscription based games.

I was listening to a fairly popular MMO centric podcast last week and the hosts spent several minutes complaining and ranting about TERA Online’s press statements about their payment plans.

“TERA is not a micro-transaction or cash-shop item game. The game is built and designed to function as a subscription-based game. We would have to make dramatic changes to the game’s design to support micro-transactions and there is no intention of doing so.

TERA will have paid services, which could include character transfer, name change and gender change. We do not have a complete list of these services yet, but we will let you know as we confirm them – those services will likely be available inside the game.”

– Xaen

To me that is very clear, to the podacast hosts (and some comment authors) it was not.

Mico-transaction/cash shop based games have their game systems built (or altered) to encourage the purchase of goods, while solely subscription based games do not.

This does not mean a subscription based game is not allowed to charge for meta game services or for vanity items that do not alter gameplay.  From the producer statement above, they have built TERA to be a sub-based game, but they are making sure they have the systems in place to handle the meta game services.

If anyone believes companies should include all the meta game services within the price of the subscription, does not fully understand the costs of running these games.   I would guess that a game that did include such services like name and server changes into the monthly sub, would see limits on such services as well as an increase in the monthly subscription.

I can not predict the future, but we are seeing a lot of games trying hybrid models.  Offering the game micro transaction fueled to lower the barrier of entry for new players, as well as offering subscriptions for the committed players. I find this model very enticing as long as the ability to switch from micro transaction based to sub and back again is smooth.

Second Topic, ArenaNet is WoWifying Guild Wars 2.

While I was stuck in bed last week for medical reasons, I spent a lot of time following Guild Wars 2 news coming out of GamesCom. During this time I was amazed at how impress the game is looking, and at how many improvements ArenaNet has made in the game over Guild Wars 1.

What did not surprise me was the number of Guild Wars 1 fans crying doom and gloom from the mountain tops about how Guild Wars 2 is becoming too much like WoW and how the designers are making tragic errors.

My response is to ArenaNet, “Don’t let this vocal minority discourage you.”

  • I love advancing characters in MMOs, so 80 levels is fine.
  • I enjoy finding new loot and replacing items every few levels.
  • The ability for items to have lots of stat bonuses on them, means there can be a lot more variety in the items, which is good.
  • As a person that generally plays healers, the removal of dedicated healing profession shocked me but after watching the gameplay footage I can completely understand the decision.
  • Skills that produce a “fear” effect, have been around in games for a long time before WoW.  Fear is an interesting effect, and if it fits into the gameplay then don’t remove it.
  • Same thing goes for potions that restore energy or health. If it fits into the new gameplay style you are building for the game, then don’t fret about people that have an aversion to them.

Two weeks ago I knew I was going to buy GW2, but I was not sure if I would play it for long.  After all the GamesCom demos, I want to play it right now, and expect I will be playing it for a long time.   ArenaNet the result of your development time looks to be a phenomenal game, so don’t let the naysayers get you down (even if they are dedicated GW1 players).

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