Seriously, I think about half of the blog posts I caught up on over the weekend had to do about this insane and almost comical Allods cash shop fiasco. I’ve never seen a game go from beloved to gutter trash so quickly, but that right there is the power of horrible decisions. They had a great game, a huge buzz, massive amounts of players trying to cram in the front door — and all it took was for them to mark up items 1000% to turn glory into ash. Whodathunkit?
If the Allods folks are smart, they’ll backpedal on this, and right quickly. It doesn’t seem as though they are, as their official statement on the matter basically says “We understand that the pricing isn’t popular, but… yeah.” I really don’t understand what’s gotten into these MMO studios lately. It’s as if they realize that the doors have been thrown wide open for microtransactions, and so they lose all sense of restraint and common sense. I mean, when players are seriously rankled over Cryptic’s somewhat underhanded addition of two beta-played races to the paid store on launch, how much more will they revolt when you’re charging obscene amounts of money for practically everything?
Spinks did have some food for thought that I appreciated:
I’m in two minds about this. On one hand, it sounds like a lot to pay for a few bag slots. On the other hand, if Blizzard sold a larger backpack for $20, players would be queuing up to pay for it. And people on Second Life regularly spend more than that on items which have far less utility. And it’s going to be very tedious if these debates break out every time some cash shop decides to charge for anything.
But I don’t really want to talk about Allods today, not any longer, at least. Instead, this whole Chicken Little riot has made me realize just how awesome Turbine was in handling the DDO’s transition from pure subscription to microtransaction/free-to-play. What did they do right that other companies now seem to be doing oh so very wrong? A number of explanations pop into my head:
- The pricing is reasonable. It really is. As you’re paying to expand the core free game in DDO, content chunks can be added from around $3-$10, as well as classes, races and other little cool things. But at no point were you asked to whip out your wallet to spend $20 on a tiny increase in bag space, or for a mount.
- They offer a lot of discounts. DDO continues to keep their item shop in the players’ attention by frequently offering discounts on purchasing points, as well as certain items and content. A smart, patient player can save quite a bit and make their money last longer.
- They were really transparent about the whole deal all the way through DDO:EU’s beta. You knew what was coming, how much everything cost, and they got the pricing to a level that was pleasing to parties all around. No big last-minute additions or changes to be had.
- They bent over backwards to both make the shop attractive while emphasizing that it wasn’t necessary to purchase anything to enjoy your game. Turbine even went one step further to give players an opportunity to earn points in game for doing nothing more than just playing. Sure, it wasn’t a lot of points, but still — it was free.
- They didn’t penalize your gameplay for not having purchased something. In a recent patch, DDO’s given free players adventures that will enable them to level to the cap without spending a dime, as well as eliminating “leveling sigils” which were barriers to progressing (unless you either purchased an item or found it in a dungeon). You don’t have as wide of an experience as a subscriber or purchaser when you’re a free player, but they don’t “punish” you for not buying stuff.
And it’s not like DDO was the vanguard here — plenty of other games have pioneer successful and popular microtransaction models that don’t involve looting, pillaging barbarians plowing into your house and making off with the contents of your wallet and your firstborn.