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March 15, 2009

Comments

Virlomi

I haven't gotten high enough to experience it myself, but the common complaint I've seen about the RoM cash shop is the ability to make overpowered items. A cash shop decked player would have TWICE the stats of a normal player... and given that Frogster has promised that the cash shop wouldn't be unbalanced, I think the complaints are justified. What makes it worse, I think, is that a lot of these people have been playing F2P games for a long time and have experienced similar balancing issues. When Frogster made their promise, it was like a dream come true for many... only to be crushed. :P

About Frogster making cash shop items available in-game... well, I don't think you need to worry about that at all. :P I am sure the drop rates will be so godawful that people won't even bother trying to get them. Or, the items could have a time limit on them, like the arena horse which lasts for 30 days I believe. Or they could add more to the Phirius Token shop, which is such a joke, honestly. 23 days worth of full dailies for a 30 day mount, haha... People would probably just cave in and buy the damn thing >.>

Veksar

I personally don't know much about this game, but I can say that this bit of news certainly makes me slightly more interested in it. I would assume that what ever item shop items are available for purchase via in game gold, are likely going to be fairly expensive. In addition I'd assume that the item shop items that will drop from pve encounters, will likely fall somewhere between the uncommon to very rare categories.
That being said there will always be people who want everything instantly I think those are the primary people who would use an item shop anyway. I think the game will likely not suffer much if at all due to this change, and I believe it will likely attract a larger audience, where people who don't generally like item shops are concerned...

mbp

Saylah the standard free to play + micro transactions model has the problem that a small number of committed players end up paying a great deal of money in order to subsidise the hordes of more casual folks who play for free.

I think that both the RMT currency exchange and the sales of item shop gear for in game gold may be a conscious attempt by Frogster to shift the burden of paying for the game from the shoulders of a small number of very committed individuals to the much wider number of moderately committed folks.

If they get the balance right it could work like this: Hardcore players should be able to generate in game gold at a rate in excess of their needs. Moderate core players on the other hand may not be able to do this - instead they will buy diamonds and sell those to hard core players for in game gold. In this way the much larger number of moderate core players end up subsidising the play of the hard core. This is precisely what the real money exchange does in EVE and it is a fairer solution all round than expecting a small number of players to spend €100's every month.

The availability of shop items for presumably large amounts of in game gold does no more than put a cap on the exchange rates. I would imagine that once the market has time to settle it will be cheaper to buy diamonds from a player than to buy items directly with in game gold.

I downloaded and tried RoM over the weekend Saylah, partly on your recommendation. I am not sure if I will be hanging around but I must admit that I am impressed at the amount of stuff in the game.

Sören

For example, I've in mind the time costs of some items.

Daily quests farming time for token:
* Sealing device = 1.5d
* 10 Transmutor charges ~ 3d
* 30-day-mount ~ 17d

Well, the mount is quite expensive, so the permanent version is worth its 10€. So what is in the cash shop what is more than a simple farming-time-vs-money convenience? Permanent mount, tp/exp-potions, furniture, bag space rent, rune slot driller, ... But even four of these are time-saving-vs-money items.

I'm afraid they had to increase drastically the token/gold prices of those items to make more people exchange money for time. When they did a last minute change to the combat formula, maybe the in-game prices are beta too. Let's have a look on it on thursday, after the official launch.

Nef

IIRC the jewels you can buy in-game don't have as high a success chance as the diamond bought ones. I've gone through a couple dozen before and only got a +1. (course, I could just have really, really bad luck)

But, yeah -- they shouldn't offer too much for free or they won't make enough to support and improve the game later on.

Alysianah aka Saylah

I have noticed that with those too. I didn't buy in with gold but I'm assuming the free ones they give you as encouragement to use the jewels are the same as the ones bought for gold. I went thru 6 of them before getting a success. For the ones purchased with Diamonds only 1 out of 3 fails in my experience.

mbp

Saylah, I thought I posted a quite lengthy comment but it looks like I yet again failed to pass the Captcha idiot filter test :(

Anyway the gist is that I think that Frogster may just be doing something very clever by shifting the burden of paying for the mmo off the shoulders of the small cadre of hardcore players who usually get screwed in an rmt mmo onto the much wider "middle core" community.

I did try RoM myself by the way - got to level 8 over the weekend in about 4 hours. It s very impressive for a free to play. I probably won't stay around though. I was hoping to tempt my wife into playing but the game is probably too combat focussed and not pretty enough to hold her attention sadly.

Alysianah aka Saylah

Not sure I understand your point though. They get no money for items purchased with gold so how are they shifting the cost? It seems the opposite. They will be more reliant on a small percentage of the population spending really big vs. lots of people spending small.

Yep, the game is combat focused. You're in the same boat as me wanting to play with rl female friends but they won't kill to advance in a game.

Maybe we'll find that happy medium in Free Realms. Crazy thing is that my BFF just purchased a gaming rig but won't play any MMOs!! Grrrrrrr. She wants better performance when playing The Sims.

Green Armadillo

@Saylah RE: mbp's comment:
Frogster gets paid by people who buy diamonds, who can then sell them to people who have gold (payer or non-payer). Payers have no incentive to do this if there are no significant gold-sinks in the game. Meanwhile, the non-payers get a very small taste of what they can have for diamonds, which might prove an effective incentive to get them to buy diamonds in the future.

Whether it works is a separate question (and rather hard to balance), but that's the theory behind it.

mbp

Saylah - I discussed this at greater length in a post on my own blog but @Green Armadillo's analysis is a good one.

My understanding of the more usual rmt model is as follows: You get a large number of casual players who spend little or no real cash but still consume server bandwidth. You also get a sizeable number of "middle core" players who are prepared to spend a little cash in order to buy convenience. Then you get a small number of hard core (call them addicts if you like) who are forced to spend very large sums in order to stay competitive in the game.

Having an RMT exchange allows this hard core to trade gold (which they have an excess of due to long playing hours) for diamonds from the middle core. Frogster sells the same number of diamonds in each case so their revenue is unchanged its just that the the middle core spend a little bit more each (but not so much as to hurt) while the relatively few hard core players can keep their expenditure to reasonable levels by funding their purchases with in game gold.

Allowing people to directly buy shop items with (large amounts of) gold is probably an anti-inflationary measure - it provides a gold sink and it puts a cap on the gold value of diamonds. As GA says it may also provide people with a taster of what they can ge for diamonds in the future.

Tesh

That's effectively what Puzzle Pirates does, actually. Gold sinks are a huge key to making it work, as well as their blind currency exchange which just responds to market forces.

It's worked nicely for them. I'm still not sure that it's shifting the burden to the "middle class", but it does shuffle the currencies around a bit, giving everyone the ability to find their own sweet spot. That's worth its weight in gold.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Green - So you think this is more of an incentive/taste of the RMT options. I can see that being good. I know they try to do that with the little gift bag items. That's how I first became aware of some of the gear enhancement items.

Yep, it's hard to balance and I'm hoping for the best on their behalf. :-)

Saylah

eck. I'm not sure what was swallowing the comments. I pushed them all out and will remove dups manually.

Saylah

@Virlomi - I wasn't aware that you could increase your stats that much using the Cash Shop. So far my most expensive expenditures are more like what Soren discusses, things that save me time.

I've used the enhancement jewels here and there but I can't see spending cash to upgrade items that I will out level. I buffed my Ventis set a bit knowing that I'd been in it for several levels but other items just get nice runes.

Besides which the biggest enhancement items I see for gear are the mana and fusion stones. I mean those can REALLY have a huge impact on the quality of your gear. Is there a component of those that requires an RMT purchase? My understanding is they are player made. I've yet to see anything in the shop that matches the stats I see on those things in the auction house.

Saylah

@mbp - Now that your original fully comment is there I understand where you're coming from. If I were playing one of the other fantasy MMOs I wouldn't be playing ROM - it's too similar. However, since I've stopped playing them for one reason or another, this fills the gap quite wonderfully.

See you and your wife in Free Realms! *Wink*

Winged Nazgul

I'm curious as to why people assume that's it's a problem with RMT shops to have a small portion of the player population overpay in order to support the free playing majority? As far as I can tell, that's the goal and SOP for RMT. After all, if they simply want to have a middle class shoulder the burden, wouldn't a subscription model make more sense?

The good RMT games will ensure they give enough value to the overpayers so they stick around while at the same time balance it so the free players don't feel like they are getting taken for a ride. The bad ones will just get greedy and fiddle while Rome burns.

Alysianah aka Saylah

@Winged - I'm concerned because it appears like a lot of concessions going on. I see people complain on the forums wanting more of the items for sale in game and poof, some patch comes with more RMT items for sale in game.

You can only spend but so much money on convenience items. They are often a one time purchase. So while I totally understand people not wanting RMT player gear to dominate, as you've said, there has to be a good value for the RMT items or players won't buy them and they won't make enough money.

For selfish reasons, I'd like this game around for some time.

Tesh

Winged, the fungibility between time and money inherent in a currency exchange is what makes the "middle class" work in a smart microtransaction game. The sub model no more rewards the middle class than a pure RMT-for-top-loot game. One just rewards time, the other rewards money.

It's the mix of the two, allowing people to pay with either, that makes a healthy middle class. (And, as in a real economy, a healthy middle class is very conducive to a healthy economy.)

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