MMORPGs – Value For Money?
There’s been a lot of discussion amongst bloggers recently about Dungeons & Dragons: Online becoming free to play (albeit with microtransactions) and generally how the new RMT business models we’re seeing cropping up will effect the future of MMORPGs. It all made me wonder if MMOs were genuinely good value for money.
I’ve never had a problem with the standard monthly subscription model and the idea of plonking down £10 ($15) or so every 4 weeks doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, the only problem I ever had with it was trying to convince my parents to let me use their credit card (they were scared about putting money into the magic-electronic-go-fun-interwebbery-machine) when I was still a teenager back in 1999. Fortunately I got my first credit card soon after (yay to banks for trusting immature students) and have never looked back since.
Personally I think £10/$15 for a months entertainment is excellent value for money and I constantly lock horns with friends and colleagues who refuse to play MMORPGs just because of the subscription model idea. They argue that they don’t want to be beholden to the developers and don’t want to pay for something they “don’t actually own”. Ironically enough they seem to have no problems forking out the same amount for a cinema ticket even though they don’t get to the film home with them. Regardless, this has definitely given me a new perspective as to why MMO developers want to attract people in with Free2Play games. They obviously think that there are plenty of potential gamers out there who consider MMORPGs to be poor value for money.
So thus the microtransaction and RMT model is born. I still feel very resistant to this because I know it’s just going to end up with me spending more money than I intended (incoming! flashback to forking out hundreds of pounds for TCGs). I’m a pretty vain and competitive player so RMT could potentially be very dangerous for me.
Having said that, there are certain types of RMT I like and some I don’t. I like having the option of being able to buy experience potions in Everquest 2, for example, because it allows me, the player, to control my speed of leveling. I’d rather spend £5 than invest 10 hours of game play leveling up an alt through content I’ve done a hundred times. Whether that’s a good thing for the gameworld or not is another discussion. However, I think I’m definitely against buying usable items as it diminishes in-game accomplishments, endangers the game world economy and would also eventually lead me being 50k in debt as I try to become the ultimate Warrior on the server.
I think MMORPGs are excellent value for money as they stand. The future of Free2Play and RMT will certainly be interesting to see. The upside is that we may see better “value for time” as the player is given more options (do it the hard way or pay for it) whilst the downside is that we may up being at the mercy of greedy developers who want us to buy all of the best or good looking items rather than play for them.